USC Men's Basketball

South Carolina’s ‘soft’ basketball team welcomes back football player to roster

‘We’re not there yet.’ Frank Martin updates USC’s progress after Coastal win

South Carolina coach Frank Martin greets the media after USC’s 85-79 win over Coastal Carolina on Nov. 30, 2018.
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South Carolina coach Frank Martin greets the media after USC’s 85-79 win over Coastal Carolina on Nov. 30, 2018.

Through seven games, South Carolina has lost the rebounding battle four times. That’s more than enough to get Frank Martin fired up.

“We’re a soft basketball team,” the USC coach said Friday after Coastal Carolina beat the Gamecocks by six on the glass. “We don’t rebound and we don’t make competitive plays when the ball’s in the balance.”

Martin announced Monday that Evan Hinson, a tight end on Will Muschamp’s team, is to begin practicing basketball again and will travel this week for USC’s games at Wyoming and Michigan.

Some toughness returns?

“I’m pretty sure he can push away the big guys under the basket because of how strong he is,” said junior forward Maik Kotsar. “And he’s really agile as well. He can pretty much do everything. He adds a lot to the team.

“Plus, the physicality he brings, I think it’s going to give an edge to our team.”

Hinson, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound guard, will be with Martin’s squad for the next couple weeks until the football Gamecocks begin prep for the Belk Bowl. After Dec. 29, he’s all Martin’s for SEC season and beyond. It was that part of the schedule last season when Martin began placing Hinson in the starting lineup. Why? “He brings a certain level of toughness,” Martin said at the time.

South Carolina (4-3) is lacking in that area this year.

“I use this analogy with our team,” Martin said. “Sometimes you take a guy in the gym and you say, ‘Hey, I’m going to teach you how to box.’ And they go in the gym and they hit the bag, hit the speed bag, they do all kinds of stuff, and they’re real good at it. And then they go in the ring and get punched in the face and they don’t like it, so they don’t punch anymore.

“You can’t force guys that don’t like physicality to become physical.”

Guys who embrace it? Freshman Alanzo Frink and senior Chris Silva, Martin said.

“Some of these other guys, it doesn’t come natural to,” Martin you. “You gotta constantly rep it, you gotta force it on them so they understand that it really doesn’t hurt.”

The Gamecocks are 12th in the SEC in rebound margin (plus-2.1).

Couisnard still sits

South Carolina’s fall semester is nearing its end, but that won’t impact Jermaine Couisnard’s eligibility status. The freshman guard remains sidelined with an academic issue.

“His whole deal is off-campus and we’re in that holding pattern,” Martin said.

What have the Gamecocks missed with Couisnard’s absence? The 6-4, 202-pounder averaged nearly 30 points per game as a senior at East Chicago High School in Indiana.

“He can really score,” Martin said. “In practice, I’m making him play without the ball in his hands. He’s comfortable with the ball in his hands. You put the ball in his hands and give him space and a ball-screen or something, he’s really good at that stuff.

“But we’re trying to force him without the ball in his hands. So he spends a lot of time in practice like what you’re seeing with Hassani (Gravett) now — just run and attack in the open court.”

Minaya update

Martin said Justin Minaya’s knee surgery went well last week. The sophomore swingman is expected to miss around four to six weeks. He won’t travel to Wyoming or Michigan.

“The most important part of rehabbing is immediately post-surgery,” Martin said. “It makes no sense for him to travel. There’s things that he can do from a rehab standpoint with (trainer) Mark (Rodger) on the road, but he’s got everything where we can be a lot more aggressive with it. So he won’t travel with us this week.”

Next game

Who: South Carolina (4-3) at Wyoming (2-6)

When: 9 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Arena-Auditorium in Laramie, Wyoming

TV: Stadium

Andrew Ramspacher has been covering college athletics since 2010, serving as The State’s USC men’s basketball beat writer since October 2017. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors, Virginia Press Association and West Virginia Press Association. At a program-listed 5-foot-10, he’s always been destined to write about the game. Not play it.

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