South Carolina won two of three games this week, including a 17-point rout at Florida International on Monday.
But save all your positivity for later. Frank Martin’s not having it.
Following USC’s 76-70 victory over Massachusetts on Saturday inside Colonial Life Arena, the Gamecocks coach was anything but satisfied.
“The job me and my staff are doing right now is pathetic,” Martin said. “We regressed this week. We’re a worse basketball team today than we were eight days ago – and that’s my job to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Carolina is now 6-2. Saturday’s game was its first in Columbia in 19 days. The Gamecocks were less than sharp in front of a barely half-full arena, something Martin also noted in his post-game observations.
“There must have been some kind of a golf tournament or an evaluation of seventh-round offensive linemen or something in town because obviously our fans decided that showing up here today wasn’t that important,” Martin said. “But I can’t worry about fans. I got to get my team right. We’re soft. We had a bad week. We have not played worth a crap this week.
“And that’s my job, to get us to play the game the right way.”
The announced crowd was 10,382. That’s the fewest at CLA since 10,088 showed up last December for USC-Lander.
Nonetheless, Carolina didn’t put on a great show. The Gamecocks made three of 15 3-point attempts and missed 12 of their 29 free throw attempts.
UMass (3-5) overcame an early 12-point deficit to lead at halftime. The Minutemen became the second straight USC opponent to shoot over 45 percent from the field (45.8). Temple shot 48.3 percent en route to its 16-point win over the Gamecocks on Thursday in New York.
“You can play zone, man, box-and-1, pack-line, deny, trap, full-court press, if the guy guarding the ball can’t guard the basketball, you’re a bad defensive team,” Martin said. “And right now, we can’t guard the ball. Couldn’t guard it against FIU, couldn’t guard it against Temple, didn’t guard it today.
“I told you guys I liked these guys back in November. I told you that if you asked me in December, my opinion might be different. Guess what, it is different right now.”
On freshman Justin Minaya leading the team with 17 points, Martin said, “It’s sad when our best player has been on campus for four months.”
The Gamecocks return to CLA on Wednesday to face Wyoming.
“We’re a soft basketball team right now,” Martin said. “And for 35 years, my teams have never been soft.
“I told you, I didn’t coach (well). I got to help my staff do better. I got to help our players do better. But we’re a soft team right now, and that doesn’t fit with me.”