“Frank Martin doesn’t care about the kids he coaches. If he did he wouldn’t have run off <insert name> and <insert name>, who gave their blood, sweat and tears to this basketball program.”
The words may be different, but that’s going to be the gist of it.
It happened in 2005, when Steve Spurrier didn’t renew the scholarships of six South Carolina football players (although much of the consternation was due to the timing of the non-renewals). And when Frank Martin figures out a way to create some personnel space in his program – whether via transfer, dismissal, non-renewal, whatever – he will be cast as a bad guy by a few.
He will be applauded quietly by those who know how these things work.
The South Carolina basketball program has been dormant for too long. It’s been too long since a conference championship, too long since an NCAA tournament victory, too long since a Gamecock basketball arena has been consistently filled with fans who had something to cheer about.
The list of guys who couldn’t get it done is extensive – Foster, Felton, Newton, Fogler*, Odom, Horn. Frank Martin will get it done, and if he doesn’t then Lord help us.
*LOVE Eddie Fogler, and he came closer to getting it done then anyone.
Frank Martin gets a pass this year, and will probably get a pass next year as long as his team shows some improvement. But while Martin has as much time and rope as any college basketball coach in the country, he knows there is also an urgency that simply comes with the territory.
And Martin is going to step on some toes along the way to get it done. He has to because South Carolina basketball is a mess.
He’s going to step on the most toes when the season is over and we start hearing about transfers and/or dismissals and/or academic casualties. Gman thinks that in addition to senior Lakeem Jackson we could see as many as four guys depart the program. I think that’s a little high, but I have to admit it wouldn’t shock me.
Michael Carrera will be back. Laimonas Chatkevicius will be back. Brian Richardson will be back. I hope Brenton Williams will be back (especially after seeing him torch MSU last night). I like to think Minda Kacinas will be back.
Outside of that, I wouldn’t stack cash on anyone else, including Bruce Ellington. (In our chat with Carey Rich last week, he interestingly stated that if he had to guess he didn’t think Ellington would return to basketball next season.)
While I have no idea who might be a candidate for a bus ticket out of Columbia, I’m sure Coach Martin has some idea, otherwise he wouldn’t be pursuing JUCO talent like Chad Frazier (who committed to Texas A&M last week).
JUCO and unsigned high school talent are being mined to join the likes of Sindarius Thornwell, Justin McKie, Desmond Ringer and Ty Johnson next year. As Rich stated in our podcast, this roster and team will look very different come the fall.
So when you see the opinion pieces about what a bad guy Frank Martin is this summer, don’t buy into it. He’s just doing the job we hired him to do, and difficult decisions that impact 18-22 year old kids are a part of that.