NORTH AUGUSTA — South Carolina men’s basketball coach Frank Martin has seen all the success around him, and he wants his new program to have the same fun.
The surrounding accomplishments include the football team going 11-2 this past season, the women’s basketball team advancing to the Sweet 16 this year and the baseball team reaching the College World Series finals for the third consecutive season.
“I’m ecstatic that I’m a part of that. There’s a winning culture on the campus,” Martin said while in the area to check out talent at the Peach Jam.
“Our players see that culture and they see the attention those teams have had and that it’s been earned. It should make us hungrier to work that much harder to be a part of that party. Everyone else has been competing for a championship; it’s time for us to join that party.”
Martin, who went 117-54 in his five seasons at Kansas State, takes over a program that hasn’t reached the NCAA Tournament since the 2003-04 season. Undaunted, he points to a different Frank – Frank McGuire – to bring up an example of past consistent success at the school. Under McGuire, the Gamecocks reached the NCAA Tournament four times, including four in a row starting with the 1970-71 campaign.
Former South Carolina player and assistant Bobby Cremins, who also won 354 games as Georgia Tech’s head coach, thinks Martin’s emotional ways – the coach is known for his expressive personality on the sideline – are what the program needs.
“I think he’ll stir the pot,” said Cremins, who played and coached under McGuire. “He’s aggressive and he has a high intensity. It’ll be good for the Gamecocks.”
But there is a challenge: Martin will try to win big at a program that hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since McGuire took the Gamecocks to the regional semifinals in the 1973 tournament.
“You want to compete for a league championship, play in the postseason, and, No. 3, which is the most important one, get better today from where you were yesterday,” Martin said. “That’s it. If we can do those three things, we’ll be fine.”