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June 22, 2013

Martin ready for World University Games

Just over three months ago, Frank Martin was named an assistant coach for the 2013 USA Basketball Men's World University Games team.

Soon, Martin will make the long and exhausting trip to Kazan, Russia, along with head coach Bob McKillop of Davidson, assistant coach John Beilein of Michigan and the 12 players chosen after a week of tryouts to represent the USA at the bi-annual competition.

The 10-day event will mark Martin's second stint with the USA basketball program. He served as an on-court coach during the 2012 USA U18 national team training camp.

Martin will be away from his family and the USC program for three weeks, but says the experience is worth it.

"I've never been away from my family or my program for so long," Martin said on Friday at Colonial Life Arena. "But it's going to be a great experience. I'm real excited about it."

The men's basketball schedule at the World University Games extends from July 7-16.

Organized by the International University Sports Federation, the World University Games is a multi-sport competition open to men and women who are between the ages of 17-24 (born between Jan. 1, 1989, and Dec. 31, 1995), and are or have been within the past year, a student at a college or university.

Training camp to select the final 12-member team will be held June 24-July 1 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. The final roster will be determined shortly before the team's departure for Russia.

Twenty-seven hopefuls, including seven from Big Ten schools, yet none from the SEC, will arrive in Colorado Springs this weekend eyeing a spot on the roster. Martin, who flies to Colorado Springs on Monday, said on Friday that one player had been scratched due to an injury.

After three days of tryouts (June 24-26), the roster will be cut from 26 to 15 or 16 players. Those remaining players will compete for two more days until the final roster is set.

The lengthy plane trip to Kazan will consume more than 24 hours, Martin said.

"My knees will feel just awesome," Martin sarcastically said. "When we get there on (July 3), we have practice and exhibition games with the Russians and another country."

The USA's first official game in pool play is set for July 7. The Americans are competing in preliminary (pool) round play in Group C along with Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates.

Following the preliminary round, the first- and second-place teams in each of the four pools advance to the quarterfinals starting on July 14 to compete for first through eighth places. Meanwhile, the remaining teams will play out for ninth to 24th place.

The semifinals will be played on July 15, and the finals are scheduled for the following day.

"It's going to be great," Martin said. "I'm so excited. The players that have been invited and accepted invitations are big-time. And then being around Bob McKillop. Coaches learn from players so much. Everybody thinks it's a one-sided relationship.

"As a coach, when you get around real good players, you just learn so much. You learn how to teach better, you learn how to understand things better. Real good players understand. When you're trying to help them, they challenge your thought process. They comprehend. They don't just do it to do it. They understand what they're doing. So, if you're listening as a coach, you learn."

The coaching staff for the 2013 World University games was selected by the USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team Committee and approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors.

"This is an unbelievable honor," Martin said in a press release. "It's the ultimate honor as a coach/athlete to be a part of a team that represents your country. To be around such great coaches and great players and to put on that shirt that says USA is going to be an unbelievable moment for me."

Martin's involvement with USA Basketball marks the latest chapter in a busy spring and summer as he prepares for his second season directing the Gamecocks.

"Just being around McKillop and Beilein is going to be tremendous," Martin said. "All three of us have different theories on how to coach the game. Not personality-wise, just how we teach it and coach it and how our teams play. Being around them is going to improve me. If I can get better, then my players will get better when I get back into town."

Two weeks ago, Martin officially hired former Tulane and Miami head coach Perry Clark as the replacement for former assistant Brad Underwood, who accepted the head coaching job at Stephen F. Austin after the 2012-13 season.

"I'm excited about Perry Clark," Martin beamed. "Having the comfort of our staff being in place allows me to do this. I won't be around for that first recruiting weekend in July, which is no big deal. If I was sitting home watching TV, we don't deserve to sign anybody. But our staff will be out and beating up the road. I'll be in Kazan and be back for the second weekend."

Summer workouts are ongoing during the first session of summer school. Coaches are allowed to spend a maximum of two hours per week with each player, unlike football which prohibits any formal contact (workouts, watching film, etc.) between coaches and players during the summer months.

"I'm just in a good frame of mind right now," Martin said. "I'm enjoying the offseason. We've worked (the players) out for two weeks. We're bigger. Plain and simple. That's the first thing you notice when you're on the court."

July 7 vs. United Arab Emirates, 10:30 a.m.
July 8 vs. Czech Republic, 5 a.m.
July 10 vs. Sweden, 1 p.m.
July 11 vs. Australia, 10:30 a.m.
July 12 vs. Canada, 5 a.m.
(All Times Eastern)

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