Frank Martin at a ‘good place’ with his team ahead of USC’s opener
Who: USC Upstate (Last season: 7-25, 2-12 Atlantic Sun) at South Carolina (17-16, 7-11 SEC)
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Colonial Life Arena
KenPom prediction: South Carolina 86, USC Upstate 62
Radio: 107.5 The Game in Columbia area
Series: South Carolina leads, 3-1
Last meeting: Dec. 19, 2013 – Upstate won 74-68 in Columbia
Coach: Dave Dickerson (71-85 in four seasons overall; First season at Upstate – 0-0).
Projected starters: G Deion Holmes (15.5 ppg last season), G Jure Span (7.9), G Dalvin White (10.1 as a high school senior), F Malik Moore (13.5), F Bryson Mozone (16.0 as a high school senior)
Notes: This season marks Upstate’s first in the Big South Conference. The Spartans were picked to finish last in the Big South. … Dickerson, an Olar native, has a roster made up of eight freshmen, two sophomores and four seniors. ... Upstate, led by future NBA player Torrey Craig, beat both the Gamecocks and Virginia Tech in 2013-14. A season later, the Spartans knocked off Georgia Tech and Mississippi State. Upstate’s faced seven Power 5 opponents since and has lost all seven times, with an average score of 86-65.
Coach: Frank Martin (230-144 in 12 seasons overall; Seventh season at USC — 113-90). Martin is 0-1 against USC Upstate.
Projected starters: G Tre Campbell (3.5 ppg in 2016-17 with Georgetown), G Hassani Gravett (7.4 last season), G/F Justin Minaya (7.9), F Chris Silva (14.3), F Maik Kotsar (8.0)
Notes: The Gamecocks are 6-0 under Martin in season openers, beating opponents by an average score of 81-62. ... Over the last three-plus seasons, South Carolina is 37-0 when shooting 45 percent or better from the field. . … This could be Campbell’s first start as a Gamecock — and the first in his career since March 10, 2016. Here’s something the Gamecocks are hopeful Campbell can fix as the team’s lead point guard: USC ended last season by committing at least 12 turnovers in seven of the final eight games. ... Freshman point guard T.J. Moss and forward Alanzo Frink will miss the game with injuries.
1. Family affair
Game No. 375 in Frank Martin’s head coaching career will be among the most unique. He’s got to face his son. Brandon Martin is a 6-foot-5 freshman forward for USC Upstate.
A father-son matchup is obviously rare in college basketball. Among the few examples came on opening night of last season when Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was up against Cornell and Jimmy Boeheim. Dad’s team won, 77-45.
2. Rebound opportunity
Martin made it known that he wasn’t all that bothered by the fact the Gamecocks lost to a Division II opponent in their only public exhibition game of the season. What did perturb him, however, was lackluster play from his most veteran players.
Chris Silva and Maik Kotsar — a combined 142 starts between them — totaled just 11 points and 11 rebounds, while fouling seven times. The Gamecocks lacked leadership last season. They didn’t looked all that improved in that area against Augusta. The Upstate game provides a clean slate for the likes of Silva and Kotsar to show they got a good grip on this team moving forward.
3. Points, lineups and rotations
Upstate, under former coach Kyle Perry, finished last season 349th nationally in defensive field goal percentage (opponents shot 50.1 percent) and 346th in points allowed (85.1). Dickerson will likely improve those numbers, but Tuesday’s game should still allow Carolina to flex its offensive muscles.
With wide margins come different lineups. Eight Gamecocks logged at least 14 minutes in the exhibition game, including a game-high 34 for Felipe Haase. Three different freshmen logged at least 10 minutes, including a rookie-best 20 for A.J. Lawson.
How will it all look in a real game?