It’s hot out there, and to many of us, college basketball is the last thing on our minds. But here at the SEC Microsite, we’re going to be rolling out mid-summer resets of each of the (now) 14 basketball programs in our league. We’re calling it Transition Basketball, and you can expect we’ll cover three or four teams a week until we’re done. By that time, we’ll actually start to be turning the slight corner into the fall, and from there it’s a smooth slope down to Midnight Madness in mid-October. Today’s update: South Carolina.
State of the Program
Last season couldn’t have been much worse for South Carolina. USC suffered early season losses to Elon, Tennessee State, Southern California, and Providence, and got a dose of high level basketball with a 25-point loss to North Carolina and a 34-point defeat to Kentucky. Things didn’t get any easier for the Gamecocks as they struggled to stay competitive all season. Coach Darrin Horn’s squad won just two games in conference play, and were eliminated in the first round of the SEC Tournament. However, there were a couple of bright spots as the season went on. Leading scorer Malik Cooke developed into a consistent threat, averaging 12.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Forwards Damontre Harris and Anthony Gill progressed throughout the year, finishing up the season with offensive rebounding percentages of 10.8% and 9.0%, respectively. But after the season, a shakeup was inevitable. Horn was fired. Cooke graduated. Harris and Gill transferred. South Carolina basketball reached a low point, and digging it out of its deep hole seemed impossible. Enter Frank Martin.
Hope and excitement throughout Columbia was restored. Martin won at least 21 games in each of his five seasons as the head coach at Kansas State. He took four of those teams to the NCAA Tournament, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2010. How athletic director Eric Hyman lured Martin to South Carolina we will never know, but Martin is there to begin an epic rebuilding job. He inherits a team that hasn’t been to the Big Dance since 2004, and there’s not much talent to work with this season. It’s hard to imagine Martin not making progress over the next couple of years, but it’s also difficult to envision that happening this season.