COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Frank Martin met with the media virtually Monday morning with a heavy heart.
On Sunday, he lost two dear friends, including nationally renowned sports reporter Pedro Gomez of ESPN.
“Unbelievable spirit, all he ever wanted to do was to help others,” Martin said. “A real big gut-punch last night. The bad thing is it’s the good guys that we’re losing.”
Martin mentioned he lost a lot of people he grew up with this past year. He added it’s been a difficult time for so many besides himself.
“People [are] losing jobs, losing lives, [and] people [are] sick,” said Martin.
He’s even seen a carryover effect on his program. He talked to Michigan State’s head coach Tom Izzo the other day. The conversation revealed similar team struggles regarding the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic.
“I think it’s created a mindset when things get really hard you throw in the towel,” added Martin. “As a coach, I’m not saying I’m fighting that, but you’re trying to manage that.”
You’ll never catch Martin throwing in the towel when it comes to hoops or the game of life.
“You can’t sit around and make excuses and blame COVID-19,” said Martin. “Nobody wants to hear that nonsense.”
Strictly in a basketball sense, Martin tries to manage his team amid real struggles on the court. At times, it takes a toll on one’s soul.
“We’re trying to play a normal basketball season under abnormal conditions in the world,” said Martin. “A lot of times, you go home and wonder why you’re doing this.”
Keeping tremendous faith that they’re doing this for the right reasons helps. Despite coming off a brutal home loss over the weekend, Martin maintains his confidence.
“I see the flashes,” added Martin. “I see all the good that can be there. At the end of the day, how we manage the difficult moments determines how tall we can stand.”
Martin has faith. It’s his profound belief the connection between his mind and heart creates a sense of peace that he will guide his team to reach its potential.
South Carolina takes on Alabama at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.