‘What happened to number four’ Frank Martin on NCAA Tournament hopes
After failing to record a single rebound in a loss at Missouri, South Carolina’s Chris Silva responded by scoring 46 points and grabbing 27 boards over the Gamecocks next two games — both wins.
Such a bounce-back allowed Silva to be named SEC co-Player of the Week. The league announced the honor Monday morning.
This marks the first time a Gamecock has landed this award since Sindarius Thornwell in February 2017.
Silva had 24 points and 10 rebounds — good for his 11th double-double of the season, seventh in SEC play and 26th time of his career — in the 66-46 win over Georgia on Saturday. Afterward, Bulldogs coach Tom Crean referenced the Missouri performance to help best frame Silva’s resiliency.
“He plays the game, gets zero rebounds, he comes back the next one and gets 17,” Crean said, nodding to Silva’s 22 points and a career-high 17 boards against Texas A&M on Tuesday. “I’m sure Frank (Martin) challenged him, but he responded to the challenge. And they didn’t win the Missouri game, but they beat A&M.
“That’s hard to do. That’s really hard to do. And I know you can’t control where the ball goes and things like that, but when you have a player like that that had that type of response to failure and success and can keep going like that, that’s a special guy. That’s a very special guy.
“And they bring out the best of him on this coaching staff.”
Individual awards and All-SEC teams are released Tuesday. Silva, who averaged 16.3 points and 7.9 rebounds in SEC play, is a Player of the Year candidate.
The fourth-seeded Gamecocks (16-15, 11-7) begin their SEC Tournament with a Friday quarterfinal game against either Auburn, Missouri or Georgia.
Silva shared the award with Arkansas’ Daniel Gafford.
There’s a good chance A.J. Lawson joins Silva on Tuesday with some kind of All-SEC recognition.
The freshman guard still leads the Gamecocks in steals and assists and is second to Silva in scoring. He’s also missed the last three games with a sprained ankle.
How soon until Lawson returns?
“If it was up to him, he would have played on Saturday,” Martin said Monday, referring to the Georgia game. “When you have a young man that’s battling some form of any injury and he’s so determined to get on the court, it makes you optimistic as a coach. There’s other guys, they have a hang nail and they’re out for six weeks.
“He’s extremely, extremely excited about getting on the court. We had to back him off Saturday, so he understands this coming week ... it’s better to get him at 100 percent than get him at 75-80 percent. Is he gonna be at 100 percent this weekend? I don’t know. The decision whether or not he’ll play will be made later in the week.”