In the middle of his weekly press conference on Tuesday, South Carolina head coach Frank Martin received a phone call.
"Here comes another one," he said. "Any of y'all want to answer it?"
It's been that kind of week for Martin and the Gamecocks. Just two days ago, South Carolina was celebrating its first ever Final Four berth at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Gamecocks have become the talk of college basketball – scratch that – the talk of the sports world over the past few days.
"I'm having the time of my life," Martin said. "It's not because of the winning. All of that is your dream when you're a kid and a young coach and you picture yourself. But I'm having the time of my life because of the kids in that locker room. They're phenomenal. They care, they learn, they support each other, they accept coaching. That's why I'm having the time of my life, and all this winning, that's a reward for them."
South Carolina won't have long to celebrate, however, as the Gamecocks will make the flight over to Phoenix, Arizona tomorrow. The Gamecocks will take on Gonzaga in the Final Four on Saturday.
The Final Four is being played at University of Phoenix Stadium, which is a football venue, but Martin joked that it's fitting because the Gamecocks are in the SEC, which is known as a football conference.
In all seriousness, however, Martin is confident that his guys will continue to play with the mindset they've been playing with.
"Our guys haven't been scared to step up to every stage that's been put in front of them before, and I don't expect them to be intimidated by it," Martin said. "On the contrary, they're enjoying every single minute of this ride."
This weekend will also be a new journey for Martin. He took his previous school, Kansas State, to the Elite Eight, but that was as far as he went. The fifth-year Gamecock coach has reached out to friends Billy Donovan and Bob Huggins for advice on what it's like at the biggest event in college basketball.
When it comes down to it, though, Martin and his team are well aware of what's gotten them this far.
The Gamecocks don't plan on changing anything anytime soon.
**Story and photo by Kyle Heck**