Frank Martin sounded, perhaps for the first time in his tenure, incredibly excited to begin a season here in Columbia.
"It's the first time that on the first day of practice I've got a clue as to what my personnel is all about," Martin said. "It's fun to go into your first day and have a feel as to what your players do and don't do well so you can try to put them in the right places."
Martin and the Gamecocks welcomed two freshmen to the court on Monday, as Marcus Stroman and TeMarcus Blanton participated in their first practice in Carolina uniforms. Martin believes the freshmen show promise, and that the upperclassmen in the program understand how to help them.
"The thing that's encouraging about those freshmen is they're going nose-to-nose with [Tyrone Johnson and Sindarius Thornwell] that are good players, that have been through it, and not backing down one step."
Martin believes the effort the Gamecocks put in over the off-season should lead to improvement from last year's 14-win season. "[Last year], those guys never flinched, they never dropped their heads. They continued to rely on the work and the commitment to go out there and work every day to help us get to the next day. And they relied on each other. And by the end of the year, things started coming around a little bit and we won some games, and it gave us confidence that winning is OK."
The Gamecocks open November 14 against North Florida. An early preview of the season can be found here.