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Frank Martin recaps South Carolina’s season, looks ahead

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The coach touched on multiple topics, including some controversial takes on fan support.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

While the South Carolina Gamecocks are unfortunately stuck at home during another March, coach Frank Martin met with the media to share some updates on injuries, the program’s recruiting philosophy, replacing star Chris Silva, and more.

On whether any players have announced their intent to depart the program

“If someone’s leaving, they haven’t told me. Next week we’ll have a team meeting with all the returning players, and we start our weight room sessions and individual instruction that take us to the end of the semester til the third week of April, I think.”

On recruiting without open scholarships, given player movement

“You don’t stop recruiting. Now, if we mislead people, shame on us. I can guarantee you we don’t mislead anybody. You can’t ever stop recruiting. If you do, you’re cheating the people that employ you. You’re cheating the players on your team. ... I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a thousand transfers this year. I have to do my job, because it might happen.”

On how to move on without Chris Silva next season

“You don’t ever replace your best player with a first-year guy. If that’s what you’re doing, you don’t have a program, you’re trying to find a team, and that’s not the way it works. We have a lot of guys coming back. I haven’t stuck my head in a pillowcase yet to try and figure out how next year’s team needs to play, but when you return a bunch of players, you kinda have a feel for the guys coming back. We probably won’t play solely through the low post next year. We probably might evolve defensively because we have so many 6-foot-6 athletic guys. I don’t have that answer for you. ... We build next year’s team based on the strength of the personnel going into next year’s team. That’s what you do, and that’s what we’ll do.”

On the legacy Silva leaves behind

“We all base success for athletes based on numbers, based on trophies, and I get it. That’s part of it, I’m not being critical of that stuff. But who you are as a person is valued a lot more than any of those numbers or materialistic things you can tie to someone’s success. He brought an enthusiasm for who he is and what we do. ... As coaches, we’re going to miss his personality. Not having his voice, his enthusiasm, his courage, his loyalty every single day. That’s going to be missed. I’m more concerned with how we replace that than how we replace points or assists or turnovers or blocks or fouls. Gotta find somebody to foul. I’ll be so depressed on the sideline if we don’t commit fouls. ... His enthussiasm for this university, that uniform, for his teammates, how we do things. You guys see the games, I’m telling you that’s how he is every day. ... His enthusiasm never changes. Everyone that he touched around here is going to remember that joy that he brought every single day he was around us.”

On perusing the transfer market

“We don’t recruit at this time of year and say, ‘Ooh, this guy’s better than the one I got. Let me push this one out and take him in.’ I’m not saying other people don’t do that, but Frank Martin does not do that. But we do have 900 transfers. You know that I don’t pay attention to negativity — you guys report how many guys have transferred out of here in my six years here. You guys know that better than you know my name. Just so you guys know, 85-95 percent of those guys were not told to leave. They left on their own. I’ve had to put a couple guys out of here for obvious reasons, and you guys know who they are. But I don’t recruit at this time of year to see if, ‘Ooh, that guy’s better than the one I got, let me push this one out and run this one in here.’ ... We have returning players; we signed the guys we wanted in the fall. It’s the first time in a couple years — I don’t want to say we’re ahead of the curve in recruiting, because I don’t think you ever get ahead of the curve in recruiting — but it’s the first time we’re going into a spring where we can really concentrate on underclassmen and not have to scramble to get another two guys or whatever. I hope it stays that way.”

On all the injuries, and Jermaine Couisnard’s status

“Couisnard’s been cleared to practice from Day 1, he’s been cleared to play next year from Day 1. That’s never been in question, it was just freshman eligibility. ... Justin’s (Minaya) cleared. Cudd had a strength test on his leg, I don’t know what the results are. Jason’s really close to being cleared. T.J. Moss has cast, boot, everything off. He said it’s the first time in a long time he can walk and have no pain in his foot, so it’s a matter now of strength before he gets cleared. A.J. (Lawson)’s good. He’ll be ready to go when we work out on Monday or Tuesday.”

On not making the NIT

“I wish there was a set criteria as to who belongs and who doesn’t belong. .. I’m just curious when we have the same overall record as other schools and we got a winning conference record and yet they got losing conference records — we were in the top four in our league from Day 1 to the last day, yet those teams finish in the bottom third of their league — how they get in and we get left out. People could say, ‘Well, you lost to Wyoming,’ yeah, but we also beat Mississippi State, Auburn, at Florida — we had some real good wins.”

On the SEC’s football-first focus

“That’s one of the reasons I came to the SEC. What causes me concern is the lack of attention for basketball. I’m not criticizing football, I live for football. ... We played Virginia here in December and they had more fans than us at the game. That’s what I’m talking about, that’s all. Basketball has to be part of our fabric that we get excited for. ... (Clemson coach) Brad Brownell and I, we laugh at this, there’s not an article written leading into the Clemson-South Carolina basketball game promoting that game. That’s what I’m talking about. ... Passionate fans is what we need. We need people to get excited. You know why the nation has disrepected the SEC for so long in men’s basketball? Because our media markets don’t cover the sport.”

On coaching struggles at South Carolina

“Since 1980, every guy who’s been a head coach here never, ever called a timeout again after they got fired here. You think that’s just the coach’s fault? We gotta keep building. ... I hope that when my time is (done) here, it’s because I retire, and if it’s not because I retire, I can still call a timeout again. There’s a list of guys who are pretty good at what we do. We have to do more here, including me.”

Notable

The Gamecocks are only a game or two away from finalizing their 2019-20 schedule. ... According to Martin, he’s had no contact with UNLV, which has been rumored as a possible new destination for him.