In the waning moments of his team’s 88-81 win over Duke in the Round of 32 on Sunday, Frank Martin felt many things.
“It’s a mixed bag of emotions,” the South Carolina head coach said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “The adrenaline is going because you’re playing to go to a Sweet 16. You’re playing to do something your school has never done before. You’re playing because your players are unbelievable and sacrifice every day and have given me the opportunity to coach in that game. And then you look down the bench and you have the winningest coach in the history of this whole thing, and it’s Duke basketball. When I saw coach motion to his players to not foul, I looked up and I saw that clock getting to 10 seconds and that’s when it hit me. I said, ‘Wow. Wow. I can’t believe this is getting ready to happen.’ It’s just a powerful moment.”
No. 7 South Carolina (24-10) beat No. 2 Duke (28-9) to advance to the first Sweet Sixteen in program history.
When Martin arrived in 2012, the Gamecocks were coming off three straight losing seasons, including their worst season (10-21) since 1998-99 (8-21). But Martin was willing to take a chance.
“Five years ago, I believed in my bosses here,” he said. “They convinced me that I was the guy that they wanted to trust and give the reins to to build this program. My family never once, my wife never once (questioned it). She said, ‘Let’s go. If that’s what you think, let’s go.’ My staff, every one of them and their families, they said, ‘If that’s what you think, let’s go.’ That’s a responsibility. People forget: head coaches are responsible not just for their players, but they’re also responsible for their staff members, their wives, their children. For all of that to come together in that moment was pretty special.”
South Carolina (27-7) plays No. 3 Baylor at Madison Square Garden on Friday at 7:29 p.m. ET.
“They’re big, (and) they’re athletic,” Martin said of the Bears. “They’ve got 7-foot and 6-10, long shot-blockers at the rim. They play that zone, which is different than most zones. So if you don’t attack it the right way, it’s hard to rebound it and it’s hard to score against it at the rim because of their size. Their point guard is a fourth-year player, their two-guard is a fifth-year player, their small forward is a fifth-year player, their power forward is a fourth-year player, and their center is a fourth-year player. They’re old. They don’t get rattled. Whether they’re up 10 or down 10, their demeanor, their discipline stays the same. Scott Drew has done an unbelievable job. He and his staff should be commended. Remember: I used to be in the Big 12. What those guys have done to be consistent winners over the last 10, 12 years is phenomenal.”
If victorious, the Gamecocks will play the winner of No. 8 Wisconsin (27-9) versus No. 4 Florida (26-8) in the Elite Eight on Saturday.