Winners always manufacture their own expectations, positive and high goals they can strive to reach.
As Frank Martin begins his fourth season as the head men's basketball coach at South Carolina, he listens to what others expect out of his program, but he has his own ambitions for himself and his team.
"The expectation of competing for an SEC championship...will never change," Martin told members of the media yesterday. "We create our own expectations."
While he knows the heights he wants to reach, Martin pays attention to what the public expects out of his team. "I might be one of the few coaches in the country who will actually read stuff and will listen to what's said on the radio," Martin said as his team prepares for their second week of preseason practice. "Not all the time, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't tune in some, and I'm not real good at lying."
The Gamecocks welcome seven newcomers to their roster, including McDonald's All-American P.J. Dozier. While the team will have plenty of new faces, you'll see several you remember. South Carolina returns eight letterwinners, including four starters. The foundation has been set for Martin's program as it boasts four seniors and three juniors. This year's senior class features Martin's first four-year group in Columbia.
The sights have been raised for this team as the squad's experience grows by another year and it returns four of its top five scorers from a year ago. The expectation is that the team should be in the top-half of the Southeastern conference this season. "Regardless of what any expert's opinion is, we create our own expectations," Martin said. "We don't want to play for seventh place because we were voted eight in one poll. That's what we spoke about that day and that's what we speak about every day."
CBS Sports unloaded its college basketball preview this week and labeled the Gamecocks as a "potential tourney team."
"Regardless of what anyone else thinks or what anyone has an opinion to what (our expectations) should be," Martin explained. "What matters is where we're at."
The bar has been raised in Columbia, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that Martin's foundation has finally been laid.
"I can tell you I'm as comfortable with our basketball team as I've been at any second since I've been here and it's because of the growth of those upperclassmen."