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January 28, 2014

Martin: 'I will learn from this'

If adversity is good, Frank Martin's doing great.

With South Carolina on the verge of setting a school record for most consecutive losses to open SEC play since it joined the league in 1991, Martin is taking the long view on what this experience will mean for his career.

"This is good for me," Martin said about the growing pains he and his club (7-12, 0-6) are going through right now as the only winless team in SEC play. "I'll be a much better coach when this is all said and done.

"This is an unbelievable experience for me to have to go through this with all these young kids. It's a great experience for my staff. It's not fun when you're in it, don't get me wrong. I don't go home and celebrate every night. But this is good. You have to become a better teacher. You have to become a better motivator. You have to find patience. It doesn't feel healthy, but I know it's real healthy for my career.

"When you go through difficult times, you get better, not worse. The difficulty in this moment right now is not my players, it's the fact that we haven't won a game in the SEC. We get judged. I understand and our players understand that we have something to do. We get judged on wins and losses."

Martin said he understands why the media hasn't reported on his team's academic achievements from the fall, when 13 of his players had a 3.0 GPA or better.

"Not one of you guys has reported (on our GPA)," Martin said. "So I understand. I get it. It's all about wins and losses and we embrace that and are willing to accept that responsibility. So when you don't win games, it becomes difficult from that standpoint. You have to figure out a way to win. You have to teach better, you have to find more patience.

"I have to walk this fine line and create a balance of being demanding, which I always will be and that will never change, but at the same time coaching a little better, teaching a little better, maybe finding a way to have more patience as our guys grow and embrace what we're trying to teach. With all those things, you get better.

"When things are good, you're not being challenged, you're not in a difficult place, you kind of tend to stay the same. When you go through difficult moments, if you embrace it and you really really accept that you're in a difficult moment, when it's over - and it's all going to pass - then I will be much better as a coach because of the experience."

One thing that will help the Gamecocks is if Brent Williams can continue to play at the pace he did against Missouri, when he scored a season-high 32 points in the loss. When asked is it was reasonable to expect that level of play from Williams the rest of the way, Martin said if so, Williams has a bright future.

"If we can get that from him, he's going to make a lot of money playing this game," Martin said. "He's gotta make some shots for us. If he can shoot it for us the way he did in the second half of that Missouri game, that's awesome.

"It's great to coach a kid when you see him get in that zone like that. I've been fortunate at K-State, the two guys that own the single-game scoring record in the history of the Big 12 played for me, Deni Clemente had 44 and Michael Beasley had 44.

"Last year, Brent had 38 in a game, and this year he had 32 last game out. It's fun as a coach when you see a kid that's dialed-in like that and understands your system and is playing with so much confidence that he can have a game like that."

Martin said Williams and freshman Sindarius Thornwell have been the team's two most consistent players so far this season from an attention-to-detail standpoint.

"We don't have enough guys that really, really put their arms around (attention to detail)," Martin said. "The two guys that are the best on our team right now are Brent Williams and Sindarius Thornwell.

"Their willingness to understand what we do, their excitement about every day in practice, their attention to detail is real good, and that's why those two guys have been mainstays in our lineup for a while, and they continue to get better at it.

The other guys, it's not that they don't do it well, it's just that trying to find that consistency. I don't know where most people in today's day and age were raised, but where I was raised, if you don't do your job you don't get paid. That's what I'm trying to teach my guys."

UP NEXT: USC plays Texas A&M (12-7, 3-3) tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Colonial Life Arena. Martin said the game will be played as scheduled regardless of the weather until further notice.



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