COLUMBIA, S.C. – Frank Martin understands he'll need to act like a resolute father and basketball coach in his second season at South Carolina.
Martin had four veterans transfer after last season and he brought in seven freshmen, who make up about half his roster and also mandate that he broaden the skillset he'll need to bring to practice.
Martin said at times it can be like handling his 6-year-old son Christian.
"When I get mad at my little son, he goes and sits in the corner and doesn't speak to anybody. He kind of puts his head down, makes frown, rolls his lower lip," Martin said. "We've got some of that going on. We've got to grow up from that age right now."
Martin said there's definitely been progress since practice started a month ago, yet their youth — 12 of the 15 people who'll play this year are underclassmen — shows up too often for the second-year coach's liking.
"They mean well," Martin said. "We have a personality on our team and that's important."
Martin was hired in late March 2012 and was unable to make a quick recruiting impact. That led to a 14-18 season and a 4-14 mark in the Southeastern Conference.
The Gamecocks parted ways with guards Eric Smith, Brian Richardson and Damien Leonard, and forward RJ Slawson — all brought in by former coach Darrin Horn.
Martin went about getting bigger underneath with 6-foot-9 forwards Demetrius Henry and Desmond Ringer and taller in the backcourt with 6-5 Sindarius Thornwell and 6-4 Justin McKie, the son of South Carolina's alltime scoring leader BJ McKie.
The group is sure to get plenty of playing time. Martin's projected backcourt of senior Bruce Ellington and junior Tyrone Johnson might not play together until mid-December or early January.
Ellington, South Carolina's two-sport standout, is finishing up his third football season as the Gamecocks leading receiver (31 catches for 468 yards and five TDs) while Johnson won't be eligible to play until after the first semester after transferring from Villanova.
The Gamecocks open the season Nov. 9 at home against Longwood before hitting the road the next week for games at Baylor and rival Clemson.
Here are five things to watch for in South Carolina's basketball season:
GET TO THE POINT: Don't be surprised to see up to a half-dozen players on the roster running the point this season. Along with Bruce Ellington and Tyrone Johnson, Martin likes what freshmen Sindarius Thornwell, Duane Notice and Jaylen Shaw have done at the spot. Martin says he'll try and play two point guards in the backcourt as much as possible, since he's partial to players with that skill set.
JOHNSON TO THE RESCUE: One of South Carolina's most important first-year players is Tyrone Johnson, who picked the Gamecocks over Illinois after leaving Villanova. He had hoped to get quick playing time with the Wildcats, but an injury slowed his progress as a freshman. Johnson's worked out with the Gamecocks since last winter and brings a polished leadership to the team.
MORE MIKE: Forward Michael Carrera was a crowd favorite in his first season a year ago, a hard-driving player who was unafraid to show his emotions. At just 6-5, he was the team's top rebounder last season. But Carrera was bothered much of the year because of hip injury and had to go against much taller, thicker players because South Carolina wasn't that big. Now with 6-9 Demetrius Henry and Desmond Ringer, Frank Martin believes Carrera can slide back to his more natural small forward spot.
LITHUANIAN DUO: South Carolina will count on its sophomore pair of tall, lanky Lithuanians to up their defense and rebounding this year. 6-11 Laimonas Chatkevicius and 6-7 Mindaugas Kacinas struggled at times during their freshman seasons to the physical college game. Both have improved underneath, Martin joking that he nearly called off a recent practice after Chatkevicius got two straight defensive boards.
MARTIN'S GLARE: While the Gamecocks should be better, count on seeing coach Frank Martin's death stare with such a young roster. It was the most entertaining aspect of Martin's first season and figures to flash prominently in year two as his new players make mistakes while learning the game.