What Alanzo Frink was asked to do wasn’t totally fair.
Learning South Carolina men’s basketball coach Frank Martin’s rather demanding defensive schemes is far from easy. Learning them as a freshman is harder. Learning them as a freshman who misses most of the preseason and is behind in getting in shape is a real tough spot to be in.
See, what Frank Martin asks his big men to do, it’s foreign to most younger ones. Frink described his task in a concise way.
“Translate defense on anybody,” Frink said.
That translation might be on a wing or a guard. It might be at the 3-point line instead of the shadow of the hoop. It’s a whole different world.
And that’s hard for a raw, 6-foot-7, 270-pound player who missed time.
“In high school you play guys around the rim,” Frink said. “So just coming in to Frank Martin’s defense, you’ve got to play on the wing, and you’ve got to learn how to like, move your feet.”
His offseason, the first real one on campus, was built around that last part. He did ladder drills and worked on lateral quickness until he was sore. He slimmed down in a big way, attacking the team’s conditioning program after he got past a knee issue.
And that might balance out an offensive game that showed flashes but also had the lack of polish normal with a young big.
“He’s a tough player, he’s got a lot of skill, he’s got a lot of power in his game,” said grad transfer big man Micaiah Henry. “So he can come at you a lot of different ways. He has a smooth jump shot, can score over both shoulders. That’s something you definitely have to work, you know, to defend him. Can’t give him an inch or he’ll make you pay.”
A year ago, he averaged 2.7 points and 1.8 rebounds in 8.8 minutes a game. He shot 48 percent inside the arc, even took some 3s in the mix there.
Teammates say he’s a different kind of player from a year ago. He learned from going against Chris Silva, a player who went to the same high school in New Jersey (Roselle Catholic), who blocked almost everything anyone put up in practice.
One teammate knows him from way back, and has seen the growth through the years.
“I knew Alonzo back when we were like 16 playing with the Dominican team,” wing Justin Minaya said. “So we knew each other as 16 year olds playing with Team Dominican. I saw him then, and then saw him when he came here and saw how much bigger he got. I realized how good his hands were and how good he was finishing around the rim. And then another thing is how strong he is down low.”
Minaya joked he couldn’t truly warn Fink about life as a big with Frank Martin, scrambling around the court, cutting off passing lanes and pressuring guards 20 feet from the hoop.
Frink’s role this season isn’t exactly certain.
Silva and Felipe Haase’s departures leave a lot of frontcourt minutes available. Maik Kotsar is back, but then it’s players such as Frink, Henry, freshman Wildens Leveque and freshman Jalyn McCreary.
But no matter if he starts or doesn’t Frink says he can only stay ready.
“We’re definitely on our toes on the bench,” Frink said. “You never know who he’ll put in.”
He joked he might get the call just one second into game depending on Martin’s mood.
And as a second-year player, Frink is still adapting to life in Columbia. It’s a long way from the New York area. He’s adapting to college and getting used to a different kind of place.
And he’s still looking for someone to properly handle his rather large fro.
“I’m just trying to find a barber out here, cut my hair,” Frink said, noting his hair hasn’t been short since the start of middle school. “Most of the time I usually get my hair cut like once a week, twice a week. So just maintaining that once I have that good, I’ll be straight.”