COLUMBIA, S.C. — Frank Martin’s phone is blowing up and the South Carolina basketball coach is having to squeeze in workouts before press conference, but that’s all no problem.
Martin still is coaching basketball, set for another week of work that only three other coaches are working. On Tuesday, a day before the Gamecocks head to Phoenix for the Final Four, Martin said he is having the time of his life. It’s not because of the winning or the fact that the Gamecocks are in the Final Four for the first time in program history.
“All this is dreams when you’re a young kid and a young coach and you picture yourself, maybe I can do this one day,” Martin said. “I’m having the time of my life because of the kids in the locker room. They’re phenomenal. I’ve been telling you guys this since the first time we met back in October. They’re just great to be around. They care. They learn. They support each other. They accept coaching. That’s why I’m having the time of my life.
“All this winning, that’s a reward for them. They’re taking me on a ride. That’s a reward for them. They are being rewarded for their sacrifices and the way that they do things at such a young age. They’re being rewarded for it.”
South Carolina has put together an incredible run through March, becoming the third No. 7 seed to reach the Final Four in the past four years — all of which came from the East Regional. The Gamecocks have won four games in the NCAA Tournament, doubling the school’s all-time win total in the tournament in the process.
But now they are on the biggest stage: The Final Four, facing off against No. 1 Gonzaga for a spot in the national championship game.
Surely the pressure would increase now, but freshman forward Maik Kotsar said that’s not the case.
“I think that we are still going to the game thinking about it as one game at a time,” Kotsar said. “Just not worrying about it, giving it our all and giving maximum defensive effort and going at it.”
The Gamecocks fly to Phoenix on Wednesday and play Gonzaga at 6:09 p.m. ET Saturday.
“They are enjoying every single minute of this ride,” Martin said. “They don’t want it to end. They are fearless in their approach every day. It’s going to be awesome. It’s going to be a great experience. These kids can one day sit around and tell their grandchildren what they accomplished and what they were part of and that’s powerful stuff.”