COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Tuesday is going to be a whirlwind of emotions for South Carolina head men’s basketball coach Frank Martin. It is the start of the 2018-19 season for the Gamecocks, but the opponent, USC Upstate, has a player on its roster he is all too familiar with on and off the court.
Martin’s oldest son, Brandon, is a freshman forward for the Spartans who is set to play his first real collegiate basketball game against his dad’s team. Emotions are running high on Monday as family is in town for what will be a memorable night despite the uncomfortable circumstances around it.
“I’ve tried as hard as I can to omit that from my thoughts because that is going to be hard; proud, but hard,” Martin said on Monday. “I’ve tried real hard to not think about it because emotionally it would tear me up. But I’m real proud of him and how hard he has worked to put himself in that situation.”
The lead up to the game has been exciting, yet difficult, but was has been uncomfortable is game planning for his son and coaching his players how to be successful if and when Brandon Martin enters the game.
“What was real uncomfortable was scouting report,” Martin said. “Seeing his name on there and what he does well and what he doesn't’ do well and kind of trying to explain to our players when this guy gets in he can’t do this, we have to force him into this. That was uncomfortable.”
Brandon Martin has grown up around the Gamecocks program since his dad took the job in 2012. He played his high school basketball at Cardinal Newman in Columbia. He is listed at 6-5, 213 pounds on Upstate’s online roster.
Emotions are also running high for family members that will not be on the court.
“(My wife, Anya,) is a train wreck. She is emotionally beat up right now. There is so much family in town. It’s going to be hard. The kids, Amalia and Christian, they are excited. Everyone in the family is very excited, but very nervous,” Martin said. “I know as a parent I couldn’t be happier that he’s around Dave Dickerson and his staff as men so they can help him continue to grow. Like I tell my players every day and their parents when I go in their homes, my job is to take that baton and help them on that last leg of a race because when they’re done with college it’s manhood and as a parent I couldn’t be prouder that he’s being prepared in that last leg by that staff.”
One Martin is going to win. One Martin is going to lose. Regardless, it will be as unique a memory Frank Martin will have in his career as a basketball coach and his life as a father.
“If we don’t play well and get beat, I’m going to be real proud as a dad, but I’m a miserable human being after losses. If we play well and win then obviously his team lost and his spirits are going to be down. Does he play? Does he not play? There is a lot of unknown going into this game that it’s going to be hard to manage during the game,” Martin said. “For example, what do you think it’s going to feel like if my son gets into the game and he’s guarding Chris (Silva) and I’m running plays to get Chris the ball because I don’t think he can guard Chris. When I get home, what do you think he’s going to say to me? ‘Did you really have to run plays for Chris?’ You know what I mean? It’s a little complicated. But it’s one of these moments I’m happy it’s finally here and ten years from now if I’m still allowed to be on this planet it’s going to be one of those things when I’m sitting down serving rum and cokes in that bar down in the Caribbean somewhere I’m just going to smile by myself every once in a while that I was able to be a part of something like that.”
Tipoff from Colonial Life Arena between the Gamecocks and Spartans is at 7 p.m. and will be streamed on SEC Network+.