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Area University South Carolina Gamecock basketball fans are excited about the hiring of USC’s new men’s basketball coach.
Frank Martin, who led Big 12 member Kansas State University to the NCAA tournament four times in five seasons guiding the Wildcats, including the past three, is the new Gamecocks coach.
“I think that’s an excellent hire,” said Lewie Pitts, a Gamecock Club member and avid USC supporter. “I think we got a good one.
“He has that fiery way which kinda reminds me of Frank McGuire’s coaching style,” Pitts said. “He seems to have a way of inspiring his players and having them play their best.”
Martin, 46, compiled a 117-54 record at Kansas State, including a 22-11 mark this season and a 6-4 record in the NCAA tournament.
The Wildcats, the No. 8 seed in the NCAA East Regional, reached the third round of the tournament before falling to top seed Syracuse this season.
USC Board of Trustees member Hugh Mobley said he liked Martin’s reasons for joining the Gamecocks.
“He said there were three reasons he wanted to come to Columbia – Steve Spurrier, Ray Tanner and Dawn Staley,” Mobley said. “He said they are doing something special here and he wanted to be a part of that. Those three people drew him and he wants to be here.”
Mobley said Martin will need time to develop his program.
“It will take time, but he has the vision for our basketball program,” Mobley said. “I feel in time he’s going to be good and I think he can do well because he’s a proven winner.
“You have to like his initials and what it means to Gamecock basketball,” Mobley said. “That’s F.M., like in Frank McGuire.”
McGuire, who guided the Gamecocks from 1964-80, built USC into a national basketball power in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Mobley also said USC athletic director Eric Hyman deserved kudos for his effort in being able to lure Martin.
“The way he’s managed the athletic department the last few years enabled us to make this hire,” Mobley said. “Eric Hyman did an outstanding job in his search and hiring Frank Martin.”
Martin, in his first season at Kansas State, guided the Wildcats to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1996. He named Big 12 Coach of the Year following the 2009-10 season.
“Coach Martin is about as good as hire as the Gamecocks could have had,” said John Bundy, a member of the Lancaster County Gamecock Club’s board of directors. “He’s the type coach who will get the most of his players. He demands excellence.
“I think he will get the fan base excited because that’s the buzz about USC basketball now,” Bundy said. “I think he will do the job.”
The Wildcats won 95 games in the past four seasons, including 16 against teams ranked in the Top 25.
The 95 wins are the most by the school in a four-year span. Martin is the first Wildcats coach to post four consecutive 20-win seasons.
Bundy said Martin can give the Gamecocks exposure.
“He was part of the NCAA tournament desk on CBS over the weekend,” he said. “At the same time, he’s a former high school coach and he has connections on the high school and AAU level which are so important in the recruiting game.”