Posted: 12:12 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013
Frank Martin expressed enthusiasm over what he say in the first day of practice. "I went home and I was extremely excited about our possibilities, the emotion, and the enthusiasm," said the coach. He noted particularly that the freshmen on the team gave him room for hope despite "mental mistakes, effort mistakes, and understanding mistakes," because those errors were all fixable and they are each "willing to take chance and go make a play."
Martin also discussed each of the five returning players. Mindaugus Kacinas "is a lot stronger than he was at any time last year," and is ready "to have a better season than he did a year ago." As for the other Lithuanian member of the frontcourt, Laimonas Chatkevicius "is better than he was last year" and showed up to camp in better shape.
Martin also singled out Tyrone Johnson for helping the young guards come along, which will be critical in the early going when both Johnson and Bruce Ellington will not be available.
Elsewhere in the backcourt, Brenton Williams appears to be "a better player." Williams indicated that he is "excited about finishing his career" at Carolina, and hopes to "have a better year than last year."
Williams indicated a big part of succeeding this year would come from the time the team spent together over the summer, where the upperclassmen and the freshmen played together in the Pro Am. "It made it much easier for us to feel them out playing on the same teams with them this summer. We got to see what they're good at and when it comes to the real practices, we'll be able to tell them waht we saw that they need to work on."
Finally, returning sophomore Michael Carrera appears to be "healthy," according to Martin, who reiterated the fans will once again not have to worry about the Venezuelan's effort on the court. Carrera noted that his passion comes from the fact that, for him, basketball "is about winning, and that's what we want to do."
As one of the few upperclassmen on the squad, and an expected starter, Carrera will be a leader of the 2013-14 Gamecocks. "It is hard, I've never been in this situation before," Carrera said when asked about taking on that role. Unsurprisingly, the second-year man looks set to lead by example. "I just do what I can to help everybody. I'm doing my job and [the younger guys] see what I'm doing and they do the same thing."