USC Men's Basketball

USC’s Martin talks Twitter:‘I might check somebody that I think is being disrespectful.’

Frank Martin: Social media divides people

South Carolina men's basketball coach Frank Martin explains the perils of social media and why he's not quiet on Twitter.
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South Carolina men's basketball coach Frank Martin explains the perils of social media and why he's not quiet on Twitter.

Justin Minaya grinned. David Beatty couldn’t hide a smile, either. Felipe Haase simply responded: “I don’t have Twitter.”

Thursday afternoon in Colonial Life Arena represented the first time this season freshman members of South Carolina’s basketball team were made available to the media. The rookies spoke on their adjustment to college, USC’s 8-2 start, the upcoming Clemson matchup and, for a few of them, Frank Martin’s social media game.

The South Carolina coach hasn’t been shy in his Twitter interactions as of late. Martin has traded jokes with his friends, has thanked fans and, yes, has made it known he won’t stand for shots against his program.

He reiterated that last part Thursday when asked about his intentions for going “back and forth” with some of his 83,000 followers.

“Here’s my thing on social media,” Martin told reporters, “you want to say I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t care. I’m cool with it. I don’t know who you are. You have the right to express whatever you want to say.

“(USC athletics director) Ray Tanner tells me, ‘You don’t know what you’re doing,’ I’m gonna listen. If my wife tells me, ‘Frank, why are you doing this like this?,’ I’m gonna listen. It’s just simple.

“People I don’t know who they are, they can criticize me all they want. It’s irrelevant to me. I don’t do it to have a social media following. I could care less about all that.

“But I had a fan say that our players are mediocre. Please. Please. You think I’m gonna accept somebody saying our players are mediocre? You tell it to my face, I’m gonna react. You tell it to me on social media, I’m gonna react. And I think I responded in a professional manner. I didn’t insult anybody.”

Martin has tweeted around 70 times since last Thursday, some posts sparked by his comments following home wins against Massachusetts and Wyoming in which he asked for bigger crowds.

“I’m not trying to stir the pot and get fans in the stands,” Martin said. “What I sit here and tell you guys: I need our fans to help us. It is not right for our guys to play as hard as they try to play, for us to build the program that we built together with the fans for the last five years, to play in an empty gym. I need our fans to help us. I didn’t say our fans stink.”

Minaya, USC’s starting wing and leading scorer among Gamecock freshmen, follows nearly 340 Twitter accounts. His coach is definitely one of them.

“I see some of the stuff,” Minaya said, “but I see he’s always sticking up for us and everything, too. That just shows no matter how passionate he is, no matter how much he gets on you, we know how much he’s got our back and everything.”

Beatty, a reserve guard, counts Martin among the 670 Twitter accounts he follows.

“He’s a hard guy to understand,” Beatty said, “but at the end of the day he wants the best for you, and you can tell how hard he goes for his guys. He’s a passionate guy.

“I want somebody like that backing me up.”

Martin joined Twitter in May 2011. He became South Carolina’s coach less than a year later.

“If you follow me on social media,” Martin said, “I’ll say funny stuff with people that are personal friends, I’ll put my thoughts on there and every x-number of months I might check somebody that I think is being disrespectful.”

His players respect the strategy.

“He’s passionate,” Beatty said. “He loves the game, he loves his players, he loves the city, loves the school. That’s all you can get out of a head coach.”