Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Big 12 battlers now SEC foes
Anderson respectful of Martin
South Carolina coach Frank Martin calls out during his team's NCAA college basketball game against Missouri on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, in Columbia, Mo. Missouri won 71-65. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Chris Lee)
FAYETTEVILLE Saturday will mark the first SEC match up between Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson and South Carolina Coach Frank Martin, but they know each other well from the Big 12 Conference.
Anderson’s Missouri teams were 4-4 against Martin’s Kansas State teams from the 2008-2011 - the home team won all eight games - before Anderson left Missouri for Arkansas.
Now they are together again in the SEC with Martin’s hiring at South Carolina after last season.
“I told him he followed me from the Big 12 to here,” Anderson said. “He’s done a great job at Kansas State and he’s doing a very good job at South Carolina. He’s having to work with the players he inherited, and it won’t be long before that program will be reckoned with.”
Mike Anderson was 4-4 against Frank Martin while at Missouri
Martin coached Kansas State for five seasons before being hired at South Carolina last year
The Gamecocks are 11-7 overall and 1-4 in the SEC
The Razorbacks (12-6, 3-2) play the Gamecocks (11-7, 1-4) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C.
“Playing against Mike’s team is not fun, I’m just telling you, because it is relentless,” Martin said. “When you’re done after 40 minutes, whether you’re coaching or watching or playing, you’re exhausted because of the energy and the toughness and just the relentless approach that they play with.
“I have an unbelievable amount of respect for Mike. He’s the consummate winner. You tell me what program he’s touched that has not won? As an assistant, as a player, and as a head coach. Wherever he goes, they win, and that’s not changing where he’s at now.”
Martin led Kansas State to 117-54 record and four NCAA Tournament appearances in five seasons. He was promoted to head coach after Bob Huggins left Kansas State after one season to take the West Virginia job.
Martin is known for his toughness and demanding style.
“He gets into it, he really does,” Anderson sad. “I think his team feeds off of him.”
Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy and Martin were assistants together at Cincinnati under Huggins.
“Frank sometimes has a larger-than-life personality,” Kennedy said before this season. “I’ve often heard him referred to as the guy with the stare. I think in this day and age, as it relates to South Carolina, they need a personality such as Frank’s.”
The Gamecocks went 10-21 last season, including 2-14 in the SEC, resulting in Darrin Horn’s firing as coach. South Carolina then lured Martin with a six-year contract worth$2 million per year
“They’re going to challenge you, they’re going to challenge your manhood,” Anderson said. “They’re going to test you. They’re going to do a lot of pushing and shoving, and it’s going to be a physical ballgame, so our guys better get ready to really go to war, so to speak.”
The Gamecocks lost senior guard LaShay Page, who averaged 11.7 points, when he was declared academically ineligible in early January, but they added junior guard Bruce Ellington - who also plays receiver on the football team - after South Carolina’s Outback Bowl victory against Michigan.
Ellington, who caught 5 passes for 104 yards and 1 touchdown when South Carolina beat Arkansas 38-20 in November, is starting and averaging 9.9 points. The Gamecocks also are led by junior guard Brenton Williams (12.2 points), senior forward Lakeem Jackson (9.6 points, 7.3 rebounds), freshman forward Michael Carrera (9.7 points, 7.0 rebounds) and junior guard Eric Smith (6.1 points, 3.6 assists).
“The players have been great,” Martin said. “I can’t ask any more than what they’ve been giving. They’ve been laying it on the line for us. They’re committed to what we’re trying to do.”
Missouri had to rally from a 13-point deficit Tuesday night to beat South Carolina 71-65 at Mizzou Arena. It was Missouri Coach Frank Haith’s first victory against a Martin coached team after Kansas State beat Missouri twice last season.
“One of the things he’s been really good at is recruiting, and he infused that [Kansas State] program with really good talent,” Haithe said before this season. “But I think the one thing that stands out with Frank - and I think that should not be overlooked - is his ability to coach his guys up and get them to play at a certain level with intensity and passion.”
Kennedy said Martin “imposes his will from Day 1” on his teams.
“I’m sure he’s in the process of doing that with the South Carolina program,” Kennedy said. “I don’t have any doubts that he’ll have that program winning - and winning big - soon.”
Sports, Pages 17 on 01/25/2013