In his pre-NCAA Tournament press conference, Frank Martin brought up an interesting parallel. At his previous stop at Kansas State and now at South Carolina, he was able to lead his teams to the Big Dance after long absences. South Carolina went thirteen years between trips and Kansas State’s previous trip before his first year in 2008 came in 1996.
The 2008 Michael Beasley-led 11-seed Wildcats defeated sixth-seeded Southern Cal 80-67 before being dumped by Wisconsin in the second round. Martin’s never lost in the first round of the tournament - including an Elite Eight appearance in 2010. Can he carry on that trend this year as the Gamecocks take on Marquette?
Martin did express his gratitude to the university and towards past players toward the start of his presser. While it was unfortunate to see players like Michael Carrera and the Lithuanian duo of Kacinas/Chatkevicius never get to the tournament during his tenure, they had a hand in building the program that exists today.
Frank Martin: "Unbelievably exciting week for us. So happy for our players, our alums, our administration that had faith in me."— David Caraviello (@dcaraviello) March 16, 2017
Frank Martin: "We've earned the right to be here. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the ride."— David Cloninger (@DCTheState) March 16, 2017
Martin did stress the importance of the team’s perimeter defense stepping up tomorrow. Marquette is the country’s top three-point shooting team at 43.0%, but the Gamecocks allow 29.3% of their opponents’ long-distance shots to go down, good for fifth in Division 1. If the Golden Eagles can take a page from the book of teams like Mississippi State, they will make it a long night for the Gamecocks.
Frank says South Carolina's 3-point defense "has to be the best it's been all year tomorrow."— David Caraviello (@dcaraviello) March 16, 2017
South Carolina enters the tournament having not won a contest in the regular bracket for a while. Their 90-76 loss in 1973 to Memphis State (now Memphis) was their last main bracket win - they won the Midwest region third place game against Southwest Louisiana (known as Louisiana-Lafayette today). Since then, they’ve lost five straight in the NCAAs, including as a two seed against fifteen-seed Coppin State and an upset loss to 14th seeded Richmond the next year. Does the streak affect their preparation at all?
Frank on NCAA win drought: "Don't know that impacts us one way or other. 1st couple of yrs at SC, no one spoke about it, b/c nobody cared."— David Caraviello (@dcaraviello) March 16, 2017
Frank: "I'd love (win an NCAA game) for all our former guys and coaches and administrators. That would make a lot of people smile."— David Caraviello (@dcaraviello) March 16, 2017
What are your keys to victory against Marquette tomorrow? Are you optimistic that the Gamecocks will be able to advance to the second round against Duke or Troy?