NEW YORK — In the moments after South Carolina basketball clinched its first Final Four berth in school history, university president Dr. Harris Pastides stood on the court at Madison Square Garden and looked back to a decision five years ago.
The school hired Frank Martin then, who Pastides described Sunday afternoon amid hysteria as “a little of an unknown quantity with a good track record.” And he reflected on the message Martin gave then.
“He said, ‘It’s not going to be quick. I’ve got a lot of work to do,’” Pastides said. “People are restless and fans are restless. He put it together this year, doing things the right way.”
The Gamecocks are headed to the Final Four, another historic achievement this season. USC has rolled to four straight NCAA Tournament wins after not having a single win in 44 years. They won all four games in front of raucous crowds, filled with South Carolina fans both in Greenville, S.C., and New York.
“We filled this arena,” Pastides said. “I had people driving up from South Carolina overnight. They got here overnight. There were no flights available. They were in this arena today. It’s not for me. I have a lot of fun in my days. It’s for the fans. I could not be happier.”
The Gamecocks will face Gonzaga in the Final Four on Saturday in Phoenix (6:09 p.m., CBS).
“First ever Sweet 16. First ever Elite Eight. First ever Final Four,” Pastides said. “The players were telling me afterward, ‘Why not go all the way?’”