Gamecocks announce intentions at SEC Media Day

USA TODAY Sports

Frank Martin and Brenton Williams traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, to meet with press from around the conference in anticipation of the upcoming basketball season.

Frank Martin and the South Carolina Gamecocks may have been picked 12th in the conference by the sportswriters in attendance, but that doesn't mean they don't think they can go out and be successful in the head coach's second season in Columbia.

"It's been great," said Martin. "There's a youthful excitement to our team that I go to bed at night thinking about it and I wake up excited about being a part of it."

The head coach expressed excitement about the influx of new players on the team this season and their potential to help turn around the moribund Gamecock basketball program. "Those guys care for one another, they want to do their job, they want to be responsible for rebuilding a program. They understand it's not going to be easy but they're all in, and that's all I can every ask for as a coach."

Senior Brenton Williams echoed that sentiment. "It's been going good so far. We're mostly going over the basics right now because it's still early, basically getting the young guys ready." The guard from Kissimmee, Florida added that each of the freshmen were "making individual strides and getting better day by day."

The Gamecocks finally released their schedule last month, and the slate is littered with challenging non-conference games. Williams described the team as "excited when [it] saw the schedule," and noted the non-conference portion made the team "more excited about the season, that we're going against teams that are considered big collegiate school as far as basketball."

The schedule fell in line with what Martin told Gamecock fans to expect from him and his scheduling philosophy. "I believe in playing a hard non-conference schedule. In a nutshell, this is the way I like to word it, I want to coach real good players. Real good players want to play in big-time games. Big-time games get on TV. You get to play on TV, then all of a sudden you recruit big-time players. So as you see it’s all connected. To coach the real good players, they wanna play in big-time games, they wanna play against other big-time players, and they wanna play on television. So we try to get our team challenged to play in as many hard games as possible."

With that challenge, as well as the challenge they face in conference play, the Gamecocks will have to work hard to quickly acclimate their eight new team members to the system that Frank Martin and the returning players worked to put in place during the disappointing 2012-13 season. Martin explained: "When those young guys come in, and they see those returning guys, and they see the way they stand up for the same things I stand up for, that creates a respect in your locker room, where there's a group of guys that all understand that we're all going to go through certain things, and that the people here are going to help us, and that I have to respect what's important to them - that creates chemistry."

The Gamecocks open their season Saturday, November 7, against the Longwood Lancers of Farmville, Virginia.
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