I'm just going to flat out say it, I'm frustrated. I know for a fact that I am not the only one who feels this way about the team. I can see that Frank is frustrated, along with his assistants. I know why we all feel this way too. We placed too high of expectations on this team. Coming out of the Baylor game, which we should have won, we honestly looked like the third or fourth best team in the SEC. That should have never happened. We viewed this team like it it had already hit it's ceiling and was going to push for a place in the NCAA Tournament. That couldn't be any more distant from the truth, let alone reality.
How We Got Here
I know Frank is in his second season leading the Gamecocks, but I am going to consider it to actually be his first. Why? This is now Frank Martin's team. These are his players, that he recruited to play for this university. The only exception is Brenton Williams, but you can see how Brenton has improved since Frank arrived last year. His starting five on the floor has been shaky. I'm going to use a term you don't always see when comes to college basketball, overhaul. It mainly occurs in the NBA when an organization is attempting to rebuild. Well that's exactly what Frank did. Frank brought in seven new recruits this year. So in his two short years as coach, he has brought in 10 recruits, and a transfer in Tyrone Johnson from Villanova. That's 11 new players, which in basketball terms is practically a whole new team. So all these players, new and old, have to learn Frank's system. That takes some time, especially when there are freshmen trying to make an impact right away. At times, they all look like they have no clue what they're doing. Then there are other times when they look like they can beat any opponent. So to say the least, they're inconsistent.
Coming to conference play, we looked decent. Riding a four game winning streak. We looked like we were ready to forget some losses, and build on the quality wins up to that point. Conference play hit us like a brick wall. Having to travel, at that time, to #10 Florida was the worst way we could have entered conference play. Although we showed some fight early in the second half, the Gators were just the better team. Since the Florida game, we looked exactly how I thought we would. Young. That showed against LSU, and at Texas A&M. We should've beat Ole Miss, both occasions. The Georgia game was a disaster, we looked rough, and played sloppy. We had late rallies cut short by Missouri and a struggling Auburn team. Out of those eight games mentioned, I can honestly say we should've won at least four, if not five. The ninth game, our only win in SEC play, was against a Texas A&M team that beat us just two weeks earlier. This is the game I am referring to when we look like we can dominate any team on the floor. We were scoring just about every offensive possession. Playing great defense. Making our free throws, and not panicking when A&M made a run in the second half. The way we played against A&M, is how a Frank Martin coached team looks night in and night out. That is the mentality and edge we need to take on the road this weekend at Tennessee.
If not, it might get ugly. On another note, the SEC has taken notice to how well Sindarius Thornwell has been of late. He has averaged 17.8 points per game in SEC play, and has become a go to option when we need a basket. Brenton Williams and Duane Notice have been playing well as of late, following Ty Johnson's injury. And Michael Carrera has seen an increase in minutes as well in SEC play. The effort is obviously there, but the win column just isn't increasing.
This team is so far from reaching it's full potential. Being 8-14 and 1-8 in SEC play is deflating and depressing to look at. This team plays too hard not to be at least .500. The ceiling this team has is growing each and every game. We are taking baby steps, when the fans, myself included, expected them to hit the ground running and be a 20 win team. That just wasn't going to happen. This team is extremely young and needs time to gain some experience. They need to mature and learn together along the way. Frank has a plan, and it will work. He turned around a struggling K-State program, and made them a national contender. Who says he can't do the same thing here? As fans, we need to jump on board and support this team. Yes it's frustrating and disappointing to watch, but when we win, it's the greatest feeling in the world.