COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina men's head basketball coach, Frank Martin, moves past the frustration that consumed him last Saturday following a home loss to LSU.
“I was a miserable human being Saturday night,” Martin added. “It had nothing to do with the bubble. It had nothing to do with the NCAA Tournament. It had to do with the fact we lost at home.”
The loss dropped the Gamecocks’ overall record to 16-11. A win would certainly have enhanced South Carolina’s NCAA Tournament resume. One, to this point, Martin believes features substantial wins and chances to add to it with five guaranteed games left.
“If you don’t have quality wins this time of year, yes, that loss would have been a detriment to our possibilities,” Martin said.
South Carolina has four Quadrant 1 wins to date. They have six road wins on the season. It ties them for the most road victories in the SEC with Kentucky. Unlike the eighth-ranked Wildcats, the Gamecocks current tournament hopes rest outside the bubble.
“We can’t afford a losing streak right now,” said Martin. “It’s hard to overcome that. We need to pile up more wins here coming down the stretch.”
Martin’s misery fades with another opportunity to compete on the horizon.
“When I deal with our players, everything is about today,” Martin stated. “Not tying yesterday’s feelings or emotions into today. And, not worrying about tomorrow until we have to deal with tomorrow. My message to them from day one. It never changes.”
It sounds cliche, but, for Martin, it illustrates a mindset he’s come to develop throughout all his years as a player and coach.
“Heck, I used to not talk to people for two weeks when my block would lose a tackle football game on asphalt playing the block down the street from our house,” Martin said. “We’d lose, I’d spend two weeks and would not speak to a soul.”
“1990s coaching high school basketball, I’d told you guys, I don’t know how those poor kids dealt with me,” Martin continued. “Because I still had that mindset. We’d lose a game. We’d come in the next day, I was single and had no children, I was a miserable SOB. I had not slept. I had to go teach my math class at 7:30 in the morning on two hours of sleep. So, by three o’clock in the afternoon, I was a miserable human being. And, I’d take out all that negativity on the poor guys in practice. And what’s that fixing?”
Martin reflects on those moments, as he guides South Carolina past a pair of painful losses in a row to NCAA Tournament level teams.
“I don’t get wrapped up with anything past today,” Martin said.
He pairs the mental approach with the belief his team will positively respond.
“Got to believe in the people you’re around,” Martin said. “If I doubt, do you honestly think our players are going to be any good? The score of Saturday’s game... I don’t want to speak for anyone on our team, but I was in the locker room. I don’t think there was anybody in a joyful mood. That’s alright. That’s the way you should feel when you lose. That’s how I felt 40 years ago when I’d lose that football game on the asphalt.”
“It’s about believing in one another,” Martin continued. “It’s not about saying my block stinks. I’m going to play with the guys on the other block. No. It’s about we got to get this right. I’m walking through that block with my head up high. I’m not going to walk down that block trying to hide from people.”
Since day one, Martin witnessed tremendous improvement from the Gamecocks. It’s a resilient group that earned notable victories over Kentucky at home. And, won on the road at Virginia and Arkansas.
“We’re in a good place,” Martin said. “We’ve won games. I think this team has shown unbelievable growth, again, I might add, from who we were in November to who we are now. We lost a hard game against a really good team. You are never going to feel good about losing a game. But, we got four more to play. We have to win a game, that’s it. We don’t have to win four. When you win one, you do it the next day. That’s where we’re at.”
South Carolina looks to snap its recent skid on Wednesday night against Georgia at home.