Frank Freaking Martin

There’s no bigger party than the one thrown on the Internet whenever Duke loses in the NCAA Tournament. And everyone reached for a red solo cup the minute the Blue Devils fell to South Carolina in the second round last night.

The easy route here would be to jump on that dogpile and clown Duke with the same tired jokes as everyone else:

— The best way to unite a divided country is to come together with a Duke loss.

— At least Duke fans have Cleveland Cavaliers basketball and New England Patriots to look forward to

—Grayson Allen thought he was going to win a national title, but he’s tripping’.

Heh… heh… HEY OH!

Look, slap as many Crying Jordan’s on the Blue Devils as you want, that’s the easy take. But last night wasn’t a Duke choke job. Duke didn’t give that one away; South Carolina ripped it from them.

Sure, the Blue Devils didn’t do nearly a good enough job of handling the ball. And for all the talent Coach K has with this group, he still doesn’t have a legitimate point guard; and you’re not beating anyone who matters come tournament time without one. We all know that.

But this isn’t about what Duke did or didn’t do. This is about what South Carolina did to them. This is about South Carolina being more physical and showing up with more defensive pressure and intensity than anyone Duke has seen all season. This is about a team that couldn’t make a shot in the first half, but couldn’t miss in the second half. But most of all, although he’d never say it, this is about Frank Freaking Martin.

South Carolina hadn’t won an NCAA tourney game in 44 years. And now they’re headed to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history. And that’s about the boss that is one Francisco Jose Martin. And the fact that he has done exactly what they brought him in to do: change the culture, get guys to grind and win, and shock people in March.

SC was 14-18 just four years ago when Frank Martin arrived. Now they’re one of 16 teams left standing.

So dance on Duke’s grave if that’s your thing. But just remember who put them there. Frank FREAKING Martin and the South Carolina Gamecocks. That is not what Duke didn’t do, but what Martin and South Carolina did to them. Tip your hat, because the better team won. And don’t be so busy hating on Duke that you don’t show some respect to Martin and his squad. They earned it.

Not sure what Frank Martin said to his team at halftime, but it worked, because they couldn’t make a shot in the first half and they couldn’t miss in the second half. After the game, Frank said he told his guys at halftime that someone was going to have to have some courage and make some shots. Well, they all had courage and they all made shots.

Dropped 65 on Duke in 20 minutes. That’s the most ever given up by a Coach K team in one half. And they didn’t panic when Duke tried to get back late. They played like a team that had been there before, when in fact, they’ve never been anywhere in a long time.

South Carolina was supposed to be in a place where you couldn’t win, but now the school that hadn’t won a tournament game in nearly 50 years, won two in three days, including one over Duke, a popular pick to win it all.

Hell of a job by Frank Freaking Martin.

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