South Carolina, which began the NCAA Tournament as the No. 7 seed in the East Region, had its improbable Final Four run ended on Saturday night at the hands of Gonzaga, falling to the Bulldogs, 77-73, in the first of two national semifinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
South Carolina head coach Frank Martin has been a big storyline leading up to the Final Four. One of three coaches making their Final Four debut, Martin was once a longtime high school basketball coach, as well as a Miami nightclub bouncer.
He’s been an easy person to root for, his unlikely journey has been a combination of belief and passion. The latter of those two traits was on full display in a teary-eyed press conference following the heartbreaking loss to Gonzaga.
“There’s something powerful when you impact others,” Martin told reporters. “And what these kids have done is pretty special. When you get people to travel across the country by the masses because they believe in what you do, it’s powerful stuff. And they’ve impacted our community in an unbelievable way, which is worth so much more than the score of a game.
“It’s what it’s all about. These kids are great role models. There’s a lot of young kids that want to be the next Sindarius Thornwell, Justin McKie, and I don’t get to coach them anymore, but they’re part of my life forever.”
South Carolina ended the season with a 26-11 record.