It comes as no surprise the USC mens basketball team was voted to finish 13th out of 14 teams in the preseason media poll.
It also is not a shock to see the Gamecocks failed to place anyone on the first- or second-team all-SEC squads. Such is life when you finish 10-21 and your returning leading scorer is a receiver for the football team.
But heres the truth: This is exactly how new mens coach Frank Martin likes it. His best teams at Kansas State flew entirely under the radar, not only nationally but in their own conference.
As Martin faces the music Thursday at SEC Media Day in Birmingham, Ala., here are five questions he likely will be asked:
WHY SOUTH CAROLINA?
We know what Martin has said about this. Former USC AD Eric Hyman had him in his thrall and he was excited about joining the schools elite coaching fraternity. Martin also enjoys a challenge and he wanted to get closer to his South Florida roots.
However, there are a great many people who will want to know if his departure had anything to do with a perceived rift between him and Kansas State AD John Currie. And if it wasnt a rift that led him to leave, then what possibly could have happened to make him leave a team with legitimate Big 12 conference title aspirations, capable of a deep NCAA run?
WHO WILL SCORE FOR THIS TEAM?
USC struggled mightily to put points on the board in 2011-12. The Gamecocks failed to break 60 points in 13 of 31 games and topped 70 points three times against lower-tier opponents (Western Carolina, USC Upstate, S.C. State).
As one Florida scribe joked last week in Gainesville during the USC-Florida football game, Martins top returning player might be across the street at Florida OConnell Center (Damontre Harris). Bruce Ellington and his 11 points per game will return once the football season ends and incoming senior LaShay Page should be able to offer a double-digit option. Beyond that? Anybodys guess.
WHO ARE THE NEWBIES?
A lot has been made of the conspicuous absence of Thaddeus Hall, Martins top recruit in a hastily pulled together class, but that doesnt mean he wont find a contributor among the ones who did qualify.
Michael Carrera is a 6-5 swingman with huge rebounding potential and, if Martin can find the switch that flips 6-10 center Laimonas Chatkevicius into beast mode, a team lean on post presence could suddenly have a go-to guy.
WILL THE LEFT-BEHIND ADJUST?
What of the leftovers from the Darrin Horn era? Do these guys fit the mold of a model Frank Martin player? Short answer: Yes. Horn and Martin shared one vital attribute in common defense.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?
Forget the three-year plan or five-year plan. Martin does not believe in plans. Its difficult to say he has any form of long-term plan in mind. Martin just wants to get better every day. In every way on the court, in the classroom and on the recruiting trail.
Martin and his staff want to win yesterday.
Though this team doesnt appear to have great odds for success, that does not mean it wont win a few games it has no business winning. On the flip side, Martins K-State teams have lost their share of winnable games and have stumbled out of the gate in Big 12 play. In the end, if his players are better in March than they were in November, mission accomplished.