Yes, Frank Martin is going through his first cycle as the head coach at South Carolina. But make no mistake, it’s the same coach that draws a crowd no matter where he goes and when he speaks.
The sixth-year head coach enters his first as the head man anywhere but Kansas State, but plenty of the questions thrown his way were directed to his knowledge of the Big 12 considering the SEC has added a pair of schools from the league in Missouri and Texas A&M.
“Missouri would have been in the top-5 every week had they not played K-State twice,” Martin said when asked about the newcomers.
After supplying a laugh to the media in attendance, the coach provided some insight on each school.
“They have a home-court advantage that will immediately allow them to contend for the SEC championship,” he said of the Tigers. “And Texas A&M is one of the most underrated programs in the country.”
Martin did eventually shed some light on the Gamecocks, but not without more laughs.
When asked about the biggest strength and weakness of his team, he said it was “size.” It happens to work both ways for Martin, who made four NCAA tournaments in five seasons at KSU despite often-small units.
“We’re small,” he said. “We’re short. We’ll probably end up running under people’s legs.”
Martin was more serious when he talked at length about Bruce Ellington, his star guard who is currently playing on the gridiron for Steve Spurrier. The Gamecocks' coach was emphatic that he wants Ellington to stay away from the hoops program until the day football season is over. It's obviously a courtesy to Spurrier, but Martin also reminded that Ellington can stay up to date with what the basketball team's doing through electronic means. But, as for on the court work, nada until the last second ticks away on the football team's season.
In discussing the difference between SEC basketball and Big 12 Martin cited the notoriety the conference has gained through football, something that's permeated through to basketball and a number of other sports. He just feels the stakes and attention to detail by fans; players and coaches alike are "bigger." Martin said he first got the SEC fever by watching the University of Florida when he was growing up in Miami. According to Martin, "it was all we had" to watch.
Couple of other quick notes: Martin grew up playing high school ball with Alabama coach Anthony Grant. In fact, Grant is the godfather of his oldest child. He said now that "business is in the way," it's a lot less likely he'll talk to Grant during the season. "It wouldn't be fair to him or to me."
Scout.com's Ben Love contributed to this report