• 64°

Gamecocks: What’s it like on receiving end of Frank Martin’s glare?

By RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Sports Writer
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Often it starts with just a look. Frank Martin’s glare alone is worth a thousand words. Many of those words would be rated R.
And if that death stare is not enough for South Carolina’s coach to get a point across, he has louder ways to get the attention of his players.
Rodney McGruder played three seasons for Martin at Kansas State and was on the receiving end of so many of the coach’s tirades that he laughs when asked to recall one that stands out.
“My entire freshman season, man,” McGruder said. “I never knew what I was going to do to get one of those crazy stares and him stomping his foot at me and him yelling at me. I remember turning the ball over and looking over at the bench and that look that he has in his eyes, I see that now.”
Martin might be the most intense coach in college basketball but showing a softer side has made him the breakout star of this Final Four, leading his seventh-seeded Gamecocks to the first NCAA Tournament semifinals appearance in school history. South Carolina (26-10) plays top-seeded Gonzaga (36-1) on Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Barrel-chested and built like the night-club bouncer he once was, Martin cuts an imposing figure on the sideline in a garnet suit. He believes in being brutally honesty with his players, but do not call it tough love.
“If people love you, they tell you the truth. They don’t lie to you. So I hear tough love, and I’ve been hearing it for a long time. I don’t know what that is,” Martin said during a news conference Friday with three of his players. “People use that term all the time. Because if you’re not being honest with your players and you’re not giving them passion, then there is no love. That’s phoniness. And, I don’t know, it’s my experience in 32, 33 years coaching guys like the ones to my left that if you’re phony with them, they got no time for anything I say regardless of how nice I am.”
Martin’s players say they appreciate his bluntness, but it can take some getting used to.
“All of our guys that come in, when you first get that first Frank holler-at, it’s tough but you know it’s coming,” guard PJ Dozier said.
Chris Silva is a soft-spoken sophomore who grew up in Gabon in central Africa and played high school basketball in New Jersey for a coach that, he said, usually did not raise his voice.
“It’s completely different from Coach Frank,” Silva said. “He’s going to let you know loudly.” Silva credits Martin with helping him become more assertive as a player and more vocal on and off the court.
Senior Duane Notice was the target of an intense, obscenity-laced scolding from Martin that was caught by television cameras and microphones during a blowout loss against Florida in 2014. South Carolina suspended Martin for a game and he talked at that time about needing to mature.
“Have I gone home days and said, ‘You know what, I might have been too hard on a player?’ Absolutely,” Martin said Friday. “There’s days I think I’m too hard on my own children. That’s what an honest relationship is about. I’ll come back and tell them, I’ll say, man, what do you think? You understand? You realize what we’re doing here?”
Three years later, Notice has been one of South Carolina’s best players during this NCAA Tournament. He smiled when asked about Martin going off on him .
“You have to adjust to it, but once you see where it comes from you understand it and you kind of like it,” Notice said. “He’s very intense and passionate and it’s to the point where you feel like he wants to play. That’s how much he cares about the game. He wants us to win so bad not for himself, but for us.”
Notice said Martin can be intimidating to new players, but he now sees the coach as a father figure.
“You can’t listen to the tone, you have to listen to the message,” Notice said.
Sometimes that message can be kind of funny, Dozier said.
“His sarcasm is really good though,” he said.
Notice said the younger guys really have not seen the worst of it from Martin.
“We’re winning games right now. We’re in the Final Four. He’s not the same Frank he was five or four years ago,” Notice said. “He’s calmed down a lot.”
McGruder said Martin taught him to be accountable and prepared him for life in the NBA, but acknowledged that there were some former teammates who might not speak so highly of their old coach.
“Frank’s not for everybody,” McGruder said. “If you can deal with Frank you can deal with life.”
___
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP
___
For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org/ and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Comments

Local

‘Meet the need’: Rowan County Health Department looks to add to vaccination options

Local

Seaford is first woman in county hired for town manager position since the ’90s

Local

Colonial Spring Frolic makes a comeback to kick off museum’s year

Local

Concord City Council wants to name bridge for fallen officer, Rowan native

Education

RSS administration will recommend selling Faith Elementary property to charter school

Business

Inspired by advice from father-in-law, Angela Mills launches her own business in memory of him

Local

Rowan County Democrats re-elect leaders, pass resolutions

Local

Baseball: Memories come alive in Ferebee book

Local

During Child Abuse Prevention Month, professionals reflect on detecting abuse in a virtual world

Business

Biz Roundup: Small Business Center announces spring slate of workshop for business owners

Clubs

Kiwanis Pancake Festival starts Friday

Local

Rowan fire marshal seeks to clear up confusion, worry caused by solicitation letter

Education

Fun every day: Fifth anniversary for Yadkin Path Montessori School

Nation/World

Charles: Royal family ‘deeply grateful’ for support for Philip

News

North Carolina sites to resume J&J vaccines after CDC review

News

Cooper OKs bill offering K-12 students summer school option

High School

High school football: Playoff time means get ready for ‘big-boy football’

High School

High school football: Hornets overpower South to secure playoff spot

Crime

Jeffrey MacDonald won’t be released despite deteriorating health

Business

Amazon warehouse workers reject union in Alabama

Nation/World

Ex-NFL player’s brain to be probed for trauma-related harm after Rock Hill shootings

Education

Duke University to require COVID vaccinations for fall term

Education

Cooper OKs bill offering K-12 students summer school option

High School

High school football: Record night for Pinckney as East cruises; Carson wins thriller in OT