Cloninger Soundoff: In search of a win

Posted on January 11, 2014 

USC fans after a disappointing 71-68 loss to LSU.

C MICHAEL BERGEN — mbergen@thestate.com

Another close loss. South Carolina could get a complex.

The effort and talent to win is there. The Gamecocks are playing some talented teams, and they’re being out-talented — not out-hustled. There are bad stretches, but the opponents also are having bad stretches.

It’s tough for Frank Martin to stay patient, considering the immediate success he had when he took over at Kansas State. But there is no Michael Beasley to rely on here. He knew how rough it would be at USC, knowing that the first year would basically be an asterisk, and the second year would be a blank slate. With so many new formulas being thrown on the board at once, there was no predicting how this team would grow up and develop during the season.

There are positives. Sindarius Thornwell again showed signs that he can be one of the league’s stars in the future. The Gamecocks, like they did at Florida, fought back when the game appeared to be over. There isn’t any giving up.

Yet, one of those close games needs to go USC’s way soon, to show that it will pay off. Like last year, the finish continues to elude the Gamecocks.

Nobody wants to think what close losses snowballed into last season.

“We fought Florida, and we fought LSU,” Martin said. “We can’t lose sight of who we are and where we’re at. Growing a program doesn’t happen overnight. Freshmen don’t become seniors in three months.”

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