Frank Martin: 'They had teammates who didn't want to deal with discipline'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday March 20, 2017


South Carolina basketball had just 23 points in the first half against Duke and trailed by seven, but they scored 65 points in the second half and won by seven. It was the most points ever allowed by a Coach K team in a single half. What changed?

Gamecocks coach Frank Martin isn’t afraid to blow up on players, but he stayed positive.

“Our guys were very, very nervous. This is a new platform,” he said of the start. “It's the first time in the history of our university that we're going to the Sweet 16. Our guys were nervous to start the game. They were a little too — I was nervous for our guys to start the game.

“Once the half started to settle down, I was happy with how we were defending. I thought we shot some quick 3s that we didn't need to shoot. At halftime, we're very positive. You can't have these kids that have been through what they've been through for four years to build this program, and go in at halftime and doubt in who they are. We were very positive at halftime, like we are 99 percent of the time. And they responded.”

Martin is in his fifth season at the school. He began with two losing seasons, followed by a 17-16 season and then an NIT berth. This year, the team got over the hump and won their first NCAA Tournament game since 1973.

It wasn’t an overnight fix, because he didn’t have players who bought into what he wanted, and he admitted that. That’s why this senior class has meant so much for him. It's the leadership from players that made the difference.

“Those three guys are phenomenal,” he said. “When they were freshmen … no one was there to help those guys. And they had teammates that didn't want to deal with the difficult practices and they didn't want to deal with structure and discipline. Didn't believe in what we were trying to convince them that we can become. Those three guys stood tall every single day.

“And that's why I'm not surprised that we played the way we did in the second half.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.