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December 11, 2013

Martin: Finals week tough to manage

Having played one game 23 days - a 79-52 walloping at the hands of then-No. 9 Oklahoma State - the Gamecocks are getting ready to play five games in a nine-day span beginning Tuesday night against Manhattan.

For head coach Frank Martin, the layoff after the Oklahoma State game is tough but important.

"(This) is the time of year that is most difficult for me to manage because it's finals," Martin said. "We stress to our guys to take care of their academics.

"I understand there's people around the country who think these kids come to school to play basketball, well, that makes me one of the people that's against what everyone else thinks. I believe you come to school for the whole experience, and academics is a big part of that.

"Our guys do go to class. They do go to study hall. They do go to tutors. That's what's great about working at this school, that's so important to every one of our athletes and coaches. That's why they built that building they call The Dodie, that's second to none in this country. That's how important it is to us."

Just finding practice time during finals week can be a challenge, said Martin, who confessed himself a creature of habit.

"I like to know that I practice at this time on this day, and I like our team (to know that)," Martin said. "That way we're mentally prepared for that time. With finals, everyone is on short sleep, stressed out because they didn't do as well on a test as they needed to so their grade can go from a 'B' to a 'C' or a 'B' to an 'A' or whatever.

"Today you practice at 10 a.m., tomorrow you practice at 4 p.m. the next day you practice at 8 p.m. It's up in the air, so it's a difficult week to manage."

Once the Manhattan games arrive, the Gamecocks (2-3) will play the Jaspers on Tuesday, USC-Upstate on Thursday then fly to Honolulu for the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic where they'll play three games in three days.

"Once we get past (finals) week, in the past, we've had a lot of practice time," Martin said. "Now, we have a bunch of games, so it's going to be an interesting dynamic for us to manage. We're going to have to take advantage of being able to put in that extra gym time, but at the same time we have a bunch of games to play, so we can't run ourselves into the ground, either.

"It's going to be a different dynamic that we have to manage. Knowing me, we'll be tired when we play games, but that's alright.

"I'd rather understand and be fresh in February than worry about our legs in December."



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