USC Men's Basketball

Conway takeaways: Putting Frank Martin’s 100 wins in perspective

Frank Martin recaps South Carolina’s play in Conway tournament

Gamecocks finish in fifth place after win over Western Michigan on Sunday.
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Gamecocks finish in fifth place after win over Western Michigan on Sunday.

South Carolina is 4-1 after beating Western Michigan on Sunday and claiming fifth place in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament in Conway.

The Gamecocks, after playing five games in 10 days, will enjoy a relatively light week – including a Thanksgiving feast at Frank Martin’s house – before next facing Florida International on Nov. 27 in Miami.

Here’s what we learned following Martin’s 100th win at USC:

Martin is the fifth coach in school history to reach the milestone

Martin is now in a club that includes Frank Johnson, Frank McGuire, Eddie Fogler and Dave Odom. McGuire was the quickest to 100 victories (154 games), followed by Odom (170), Johnson (174), Martin (175) and Fogler (187).

It took Martin 143 games to get to the century mark while at Kansas State. Of course, he was inheriting a program that was in better standing and featured future lottery pick Michael Beasley on his first team.

It’s been a slower climb at South Carolina, something that was expected when he replaced Darrin Horn in 2012. But the Gamecocks now, coming off a Final Four run, are in good shape.

Martin’s next goal? Getting Carolina in back-to-back NCAA Tournaments. That hasn’t happened since 1997-98 when Fogler was in charge.

At least one new player seems to be forming his identity

Martin’s feeling-out of USC’s new players will likely continue through the non-conference season and perhaps beyond. On Friday, he talked about how he’s still trying to call plays that best suit Delaware transfer Kory Holden’s game. On Sunday, there was a similar quote about Maine transfer Wes Myers.

Holden is a volume scorer with nice mid-range capabilities, but is still getting comfortable following offseason knee surgery. Myers, as shown in his 14 points against Western Michigan, can really thrive in 1-on-1 situations by taking defenders off the dribble, but where else can he be effective?

Frank Booker, though, appears to have carved his offensive niche. The Florida Atlantic transfer has started all five games – while Holden and Myers still come off the bench – and has taken an SEC-high 34 3-pointers. Justin Minaya and Hassani Gravett tie for second in that category – with 20 attempts from beyond the arc. In fact, Booker has tried just six 2-pointers all season.

The senior is shooting 38 percent from 3. That’s fourth on USC, behind Chris Silva, Felipe Haase and Holden.

The Illinois State loss was fluky

After upsetting South Carolina on Thursday, Illinois State trailed Boise State by as many as 33 on Friday. The Redbirds did rebound, however, to beat Tulsa on Sunday to earn third place in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

Nonetheless, the Gamecocks hardly gave ISU their best performance in Conway. Martin, after reviewing it with his staff, called it “the worst effort” USC has showed since 2012-13, his first season in Columbia.

And yet Carolina – despite a woeful offensive performance – still had a chance to beat the Redbirds.

Martin’s message was obviously received by his players in the following two games as they crushed UTEP and WMU by an average of 18.5 points.