Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Sports

USF shooting guard Martino Brock might be the funniest player in college basketball

TAMPA — Martino Brock has picked up many roles in his first season playing for USF basketball: defensive stopper, starting shooting guard, backup point guard when necessary.

Less obviously, coach Stan Heath takes a certain pride in claiming he's the funniest player in college basketball.

"It's a special talent. He keeps you loose," Heath said of the 6-5 junior from Memphis who transferred to USF last year from South Alabama. "He controls the room. The locker room, the restaurant, it's a show. But he'll say things to players to make them think: 'Why would you take that shot?' It's frank, but it's in a funny way."

From teammate impersonations to random comments, Brock can bring humor to the most tense of situations. Last week, point guard Anthony Collins lay in a hospital bed, unsure of his future after leaving a game on a stretcher with a neck injury. Tests showed that his injuries weren't severe, but he was already feeling better just from laughing with one of his closest friends in the room.

"Other people get mad. He never gets mad. He's always joking," Collins said. "If I'm ever mad, I just go around him, and I can't even be mad anymore."

A sense of humor isn't often seen as a basketball skill, but Brock watched from the bench while sitting out last season during USF's NCAA Tournament run, and he said the key to that success was the team's chemistry and camaraderie. "Last year, they came together and understood each other's roles," he said. "Around this time of year, we just have to stick together."

Brock had a solid two seasons at South Alabama, averaging 12.8 points, and when he sought a fresh start, a mutual friend called Heath, who sought out film, wondering how his talents would translate at the Big East level. He saw him against Louisville as a sophomore, going for 24 points in a Jaguars loss, and brought him in for a visit.

"That piqued my interest quite a bit. That's what sold me," Heath said. "And when he came up here, he really connected well with our team, and I noticed how hard he played."

That charisma has helped the Bulls beyond the court. Brock was instrumental in his own way in Heath landing a six-member recruiting class for next season that ranks as his best since coming to Tampa.

"He's phenomenal on recruiting visits," Heath said. "You're out at a meal, and he keeps things so lively. Kids leave, and they say, 'Man, I want to hang with him. I want to be his friend.' He's fun to be around. He's the go-to host. He's the best we've got."

Brock is also the guard Heath turns to when he needs an opponent's top scorer held in check, taking over the role that senior Hugh Robertson thrived in last year. Defense is the easiest currency to stay on the floor under Heath, and it has worked for Brock.

"I pride myself a lot on defense, especially when Coach Heath tells me he wants me to stop somebody or give somebody a hard time on defense," said Brock, who said Cincinnati's Sean Kilpatrick is the Big East player he's most looking forward to guarding this season.

And even when handling the ball, he limits his turnovers: He has committed only nine, which works out to one every 34.7 minutes of court time, best among the Bulls regulars. In a triple-overtime win against Bowling Green, he played 52 minutes without a turnover, scoring 18, and he played 35 in last week's win at Central Florida without a turnover.

Collins sums up Brock by saying, "It's hard to find people nowadays that will play hard all the time," and Heath said that's most evident in the energy he spends staying on a player defensively.

"The one thing you know about Tino is you're going to have to work," Heath said. "He's going to chase you off screens, he's going to make it hard for you to get shots. He's going to give a 100 percent effort defending those kinds of guys. Martino does a great job against some really top-notch scorers."

Comments

Thursday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballMurray State at Belmont7 p.m.ESPNUJacksonville State at Morehead State7 p.m.CBSSNWomen: Florida at Arkansas7 p.m.SECWomen: Tennessee at Notre Dame7 p.m.ESPNMinnesota at Maryland8:30 p.m.FS1UNC Asheville at Winthrop9 p.m.ESPNUSt...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Australian Open

Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia —Maria Sharapova ticked off more items on her "to do" list at the Australian Open, returning to center court and accounting for the only person who has beaten her at a Grand Slam since her comeback from a doping ban. The unseeded...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Sports in brief

BaseballFormer Umpire Harvey, known as ‘god,’ dies at 87Doug Harvey, a Major League Baseball umpire for 31 years whose calls of balls and strikes, fair and foul, safe and out were delivered with such gusto and authority that he was known as "God" to ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bruins’ points run reaches 14 games

Bruins’ points run reaches 14 games

BOSTON — David Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner each scored an early goal, Tuukka Rask stopped 21 shots and the Bruins beat the Canadiens 4-1 on Wednesday in Montreal coach Claude Julien’s return to Boston. The surging Bruins have earned at least a point in...
Updated: 1 hour ago

High school scoreboard for Jan. 17

Wednesday’s scoreboardBoys basketballBoca Ciega 62, Clearwater 52Boys soccerPalm Harbor U. 3, Dunedin 0Girls soccerPalm Harbor U. 5, Dunedin 0
Updated: 1 hour ago
Spurs return Leonard to sideline with leg injury

Spurs return Leonard to sideline with leg injury

Kawhi Leonard is headed back to the sidelines, and he’ll stay there until his leg is ready. The Spurs decided Wednesday to shut down their All-Star forward, saying Leonard would be out indefinitely as he continues his recovery from injury. "We didn’t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
QB’s death spurs calls for help

QB’s death spurs calls for help

When Dr. Brian Hainline learned about the apparent suicide of another college athlete, it hit hard. Again. No, he didn’t know Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski. But he has heard such stories far too often. The NCAA’s first chief medical off...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Reports: Brady hurts hand

Reports: Brady hurts hand

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Patriots quarterback Tom Brady jammed his right (throwing) hand at practice Wednesday after accidentally being run into by a teammate, reports said.X-rays revealed no structural damage and Brady should be okay for Sunday’s AFC tit...
Updated: 1 hour ago
HomeTeam 25: Boys basketball rankings for Tampa Bay

HomeTeam 25: Boys basketball rankings for Tampa Bay

1. St. Petersburg (11-1)This week: Friday at Osceola; Saturday vs. Oak Hill (Va.) @Berkeley Prep's National HoopfestThe buzz: The Green Devils returned to action last week, beating Palm Harbor University by 33 and Sickles by 10. Guards Serrel Smith a...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rays spring tickets go on sale Friday

Rays spring tickets go on sale Friday

The Rays will put single game tickets for spring training home games on sale Friday at 10 a.m. via raysbaseball.com.The Rays are playing 14 home games in Port Charlotte, starting with the Feb. 23 opener vs. Pittsburgh. Tickets will be available at th...
Updated: 5 hours ago