Emptying the notebook just prior to tonights Big East/SEC Challenge game between the Gamecocks and St. Johns.
According to head coach Frank Martin, the fact Bruce Ellington plays wide receiver as opposed to offensive lineman or quarterback, for example makes him even more capable of stepping off the field and onto the court.
From a conditioning standpoint, thats the biggest thing because (the two sports) are so different, Martin said. In football, you take 30 seconds off between plays, or whatever. Basketball, you just keep playing. There are no stops.
Being a receiver, I think, helps him because those receivers are running those patterns every single play and theyve got to sprint back to the huddle and do it again, Martin continued. As a receiver, I think that part of it will be easier.
But I dont know. Well see, Martin added. Well figure it out. Bruce is one of those guys though (who) can run until the cows come home and I dont think hell ever get tired.
Ellington made the trip to Queens with the team, but Martin remains mum on how much, if any, playing time he will get.
Martin said Ellington has shown he has picked up a little bit of his teams offensive and defensive philosophies.
Watching him go through some of the stuff in practice (Tuesday), its obvious that it was important enough for him to have learned it, because he understood it a little bit better than some of the guys who have been out there every single day for two months, Martin said.
Read into that what you will about Martins satisfaction with the rest of the team.
He obviously cares, Martin said. When people care, then Im willing to trust. And when I trust, then I can play you. So thats kind of the way I function, just to give you an idea how my brain works sometimes.
CHATTING ABOUT LC: Tonight, Laimonas Chatkevicius will make his regular season debut. I unsuccessfully spent a couple minutes with him on Wednesday trying to pronounce his last name. The verdict: I think Ill just call him LC from now on.
What Martin would like to call the 6-foot-11 Chatkevicius is a rebounding fiend. So far, not so good.
Hes obviously tall, Martin said. So I hope that becomes productive in some way. Our fight I dont want to call it a fight because its a one-way conversation he needs to understand that we dont need him chucking up 3s. We need him to grab a rebound. Maybe not every minutes, but maybe every four or five minutes, rather than one every two weeks.
If he can do that, hell really, really help our team.
With that mathematical formula in mind, keep your eye on LCs stat line tonight and youll know by games end if Martin is happy with the teams tallest player.
TURN, TURN, TURN: Turnovers have been a serious problem for the Gamecocks, so much so that during his radio show on Tuesday night, Martin said hed rather see his players throw the ball into the seventh row rather than make some of the turnovers they have been making.
His reasoning is simple.
The problem Ive got with our turnovers is that they have cost us directly between 8 and 12 points a game where we cant defend the shots that the other team takes, Martin said. Because theyre breakaway layups and theyre coming directly because of our turnovers.
The Missouri State game in Mexico on Saturday might have been the tipping point. The Gamecocks committed 20 turnovers in the first half. But after the break? Just five.
Though the Gamecocks coughed it up 21 more times in the Arkansas-Little Rock game on Sunday, USC never was in any danger.
Why? Possessions were up and the kind of turnovers the team made were of a different breed.
Not having those silly turnovers when you dribble the ball off your shoe or just handing it to the other team, junior point guard Eric Smith said. Make turnovers attacking, trying to make plays.
Martins offensive philosophy is to have as many offensive possessions as possible. In so doing, he is asking the Gamecocks to attack relentlessly. In so doing, turnovers are going to happen, he said.
Were asking guys to change how they play offensively, Martin said. Theyre trying to understand how were asking them to play. I like the game to be played fast. I like high-possession games. I dont like low-possession games.
To play high-possession games, you have to trust your players. That means youve got to trust that more than one person has the ball in their hands, Martin continued. There are some negatives that come with that, and thats the learning process. Turnovers are going to be a little high, especially early in the year.
SCOUTING ST. JOHNS: In the Red Storm, the Gamecocks will receive their staunchest test to date. Martin called tonights meeting the kind of game you want to expose your team to prior to a grueling conference season.
Their skill level is real good, Martin said. Their guards are real good. Theyre young, so they make some mistakes, but they can really, really score. Defensively, theyve had their moments where theyve been lights-out.
Martin said forward Chris Obekpa, a 6-9 freshman, plays defense with a style reminiscent of Alonzo Mourning.
He chases balls to block shots, Martin said. Im not saying hes Alonzo Mourning, but when you watched Alonzo play, anyone who shot the ball eight feet and in, he was coming to get it. This kid does that. Anyone shoots the ball eight feet and in, hes chasing that ball.
QUICKLY: St. Johns boasts a member of the preseason All-Names squad Godsgift Achiuwa. Alas, you wont see him tonight. According to the St. Johns game notes, Godsgift is a cerebral big man in consideration for a redshirt season. Carnesecca Arena is an intimate venue with just 5,602 seats. Former Purdue coach Gene Keady is a special assistant to Red Storm coach Steve Lavin. In a six degrees of Frank Martin, Keady is a graduate of Kansas State, Martins previous employer.