Now we find out if the Gamecock Nation is serious about basketball. Carolina fans had made it crystal clear that they were done with Darrin Horn, and that the Colonial Center would remain an empty garnet tomb until he was gone. Give Eric Hyman credit for responding to that call in a positive way. Not only did he remove Horn, but he hit a complete home run in hiring his replacement. Hyman also made it clear that USC is in a much better place financially now and that consistent resources would be pumped into the program. In other words, Carolina fans your bluff is being called.
There are some SEC schools that have decided that basketball is not a priority and it won’t ever be. That path wasn’t a true option in Columbia after the Colonial Center was built. So although I am no “company line” defender of Hyman, he was right to double-down and spend the cash and get a coach that is going to put an exciting product on the floor.
Frank Martin appears to be exactly what is needed. An energetic and outspoken personality, this is a guy that will dive into the Gamecock Club meetings head first and generate interest. He also has real national panache and is on every large media outlet due to his colorful commentary and strong AAU ties. Plus he comes across to me as having just a touch of crazy in his eyes, like he might just walk around with dynamite strapped to his chest. I like it that we have a coach with that kind of “edge” about him. And I don’t mean “off to the clocktower” angry crazy like Jack Leggett, or “Tigger at Disneyworld” lunatic crazy like Dabo.
Regardless, this is definitely a coach the fans can unify behind if they choose to and bring relevance back to Gamecock basketball. And relevance doesn’t mean “being Kentucky.” It just means being competitive, winning games and finally becoming a factor in the conference and postseason. Here are a few reasonable and specific targets for Martin to hit during his first five seasons:
- At least 2 appearances in the NCAA Tournament
- 2 other appearances in the NIT
- 2 visits to the SEC tournament semifinals
- Win 1 meaningful NCAA Tournament game (which would be our first since the early 70s)
Based on where the program is today I would take that list.
Assuming that happens, Gamecock fans need to double the average attendance at least for basketball games at the Colonial. At the very least, SEC game attendance should double. So welcome Coach Martin. Carolina basketball needed you badly and let’s hope we’re still discussing you in six or seven years.