GREENVILLE, S.C. — As the Gamecocks ran to the corner of the court Sunday night, Frank Martin walked away from the celebration to shake Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s hand at halfcourt.
And there the legendary Duke coach had some positive words for the South Carolina coach, whose team had just upset the Blue Devils in an 88-81 win.
“He just said, ‘Best of luck, Frank, you’re building something special at South Carolina,’ ” Martin said.
The Duke coach was highly complimentary of the Gamecocks program in the day leading up to the Sunday night clash in Greenville. It didn’t stop afterward, as Krzyzewski lauded the South Carolina defense, the way Martin has coached the Gamecocks and the way his players play the game.
“I read what he said about our team,” Martin said. “For Coach K to say what he said, it’s still the little kid in me watching his teams play. Unbelievable compliment and that’s not because of who I am, but because of how those kids play. Coaches respect how kids play and for coach to say that to me is the ultimate compliment because I try to get our guys ready to play.”
On Sunday night, the Gamecocks rolled out their stifling defense, which was at the top of its game for the second consecutive outing. It was matched by unbelievable scoring in the second half, when South Carolina scored 65 points.
But one of the moments that mattered most to Martin was the handshake with one of the best college basketball coaches of all time.
“I’ve got unbelievable respect for Duke, for Coach K, for how they play, for what he’s done for the game,” Martin said. “I’ve told him this in private: He impacted a young high school coach who was the son of Cuban immigrants to want to do this for a career.
“It’s an unbelievable moment for me personally, but so proud of these guys.”