Cloninger Soundoff: Searching for a win to mark progress

Posted by David Cloninger on January 19, 2014 

USC head coach Frank Martin pleads his case to a referee in the second half of Saturday afternoon's game against Ole Miss. After leading by as many as 12 points and trailing by as many as 8, USC lost 74-75 when a last second shot fell short of the basket.

C MICHAEL BERGEN — mbergen@thestate.com

The idea was that last year, South Carolina consistently got to the final five minutes of games before letting those last five get the best of it. That team had guts, but not a lot of talent, to finish. With Frank Martin’s influx of talent, the Gamecocks had the players to go with the heart to win those final five minutes.

They’re still waiting, and learning. It continues to not happen.

USC let a two-point lead with 3:13 to play, and a tie game with 2:53, get away due to another turnover and more defensive indifference. Duane Notice drove the lane, figured out too late that he was going to be met with resistance, and threw an outlet pass to Jarvis Summers. That turned into an Anthony Perez 3-pointer, and bye-bye ballgame.

USC has lost its last three games by a combined 13 points. While the Gamecocks can take some solace in that they’re not getting blown out, that only holds so much weight.

Frank Martin says he’s not worried about the team getting discouraged, because he doesn’t coach that way. Yet he has also said that it’s so much harder to really know what kids are thinking these days due to social media and 10,000 Twitter followers telling them something.

I see a situation like last year shaping. The Gamecocks were 2-4 in the SEC and their four losses were by a combined 18 points. Then came the blowout at Florida, and USC’s season was gone.

This season isn’t gone by a long shot. But it’s really hard to know that without a win.

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