On Saturday afternoon, the South Carolina Men’s Basketball team fell to the Auburn Tigers 109-86, making for its third straight loss. This puts the Gamecocks at 3-5 (1-3) on the season so far.
FINAL | Auburn wins, 109-86. #Gamecocks remain home and will face Georgia Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.— Gamecock Men's Basketball (@GamecockMBB) January 23, 2021
Now, obviously the coronavirus has hit the Gamecocks harder than the majority of all other programs in the country. However, sitting at 3-5 (1-3) is still subpar for Frank Martin and this team.
This year’s Gamecocks had some of the highest expectations since the 2017 Final Four team. Frank Martin even went as far as to say that this squad is deeper than the team that finished the 16-17 season ranked #6 in the Coaches Poll.
So what’s going on with this team? Is it the defense? Is it the shooting? Coaching? The answer might just be all of the above.
The defensive side of the ball is the identity of any Frank Martin led team. Defensive toughness and discipline are especially key in the Frank Martin ideology.
However, the defense has not shown up very well this season. South Carolina’s 76.7 points allowed per game is good for last place in the SEC.
Whats even more concerning is how it has not gotten any better in recent games, rather the opposite is true. During this three game losing skid against LSU, Missouri, and Auburn, Carolina is allowing over 91 points per game.
South Carolina has also allowed shooting percentages over 50% in each of the last two games, with Missouri shooting 58.3% and Auburn shooting 51.9%.
After returning a plethora of guard and wing talent, many thought that this would be the year where the South Carolina offense took the next step into the top tier of the conference. However, the shooting numbers also haven’t lived up to the hype this season.
Carolina is shooting 62.7% from the free throw line (last in SEC), 42.2% from the field (13th in SEC) and 31.3% from three (10th in SEC). The Gamecocks 73.8 points per game is also in the bottom half of the SEC, despite allowing the most opposing points per game in the league.
With the aforementioned depth and veteran presences at the most important positions in todays game, it is honestly a mystery to me why the offense has been so unproductive.
While the only real statistic that can go back to Frank Martin is the 3-5 (1-3) win-loss record, I am really more concerned with the more subtle red flags that this 20-21 squad has shown.
Frank Martin has admitted this is one of if not his best team during his near decade running the program. At this point, the question that must be asked is, how much more can we expect if this is what we are going to get out of a team that was supposed to be one of our best in years?
Frank Martin’s identity, the defense, being one of the worst in the league is a blatant red flag. The inability to both get open shots and make shots is another clear warning sign, and I am not sure that the blame should be primarily on the players for either of these.
Whether it is the offensive scheme that isn’t creating open looks or just a lack of scoring drills during practice, something isn’t working behind closed doors for the men’s basketball program.
At the end of the day, it just comes down to winning and Frank Martin has not done a great job doing so in recent years. Martin is now 54-50 (29-29 since the Final Four run in 2017) and at this point the program, shows no signs of an upward trajectory.
Now, if this team hits its stride and ends up making a run to get into the NCAA Tournament, then that would be a hell of a job by Frank Martin and he would deserve to keep his job here.
But if things were to continue down this path, I think that Martin is coaching for his job this season.