The culture of South Carolina basketball has transformed over the past years after claiming a Final Four run and a National Championship title, but both teams' are being tested this season.
Gamecock basketball has had a tough time so far living up to their recently claimed titles. The women's team currently has a 3-3 overall record, while the men's team has a 3-2 overall record.
Despite these records, head coaches Dawn Staley and Frank Martin have shaped the framework for both the men's and women's teams to be dominating on the court.
However, this image is something that did not come over night and is continuing to be built.
Martin has a 113-90 record with the Gamecocks. When he joined the South Carolina coaching staff in 2012, Martin brought with him coaching experience from the college level that he used to build up the Gamecocks as a team.
Under Martin’s coaching, the South Carolina men’s basketball team has more SEC wins and winning records than at any other point in school history. Martin has taught his team to remain focused on the game at hand and nothing else.
This mindset seems to be just what the Gamecocks needed to improve their record and play to continue to develop their program.
“I’m not one of those guys that believes in pressure when you’re playing a game ... We’ve got to worry about ourselves,” Martin said.
Staley came back to her home state of South Carolina after coaching for seven years at Temple University. She believed that there would be better opportunities at South Carolina, and her choice is paying off.
“I just thought the platform at South Carolina, if you stayed disciplined to your art and your craft, allowed you to get people in that believed in your vision to make it work," Staley said in an interview with Minority Opportunities Athletic Association.
In Staley’s ten seasons with the South Carolina women’s basketball team, she has acquired a 250-87 record as the head coach. Nine of those seasons have consisted of at least 25 wins.
Staley has also led her team to four SEC regular-season championships, four SEC Tournament titles and a National Championship in 2017. Under Staley’s leadership, All-America selections have been handed out to four Gamecocks and 11 Gamecocks have earned All-SEC honors multiple times.
Through changes in techniques and playing styles, Staley has pushed her team to get exactly where they need to be. This season, the women’s basketball team will be trying out a new style of play to create a more dominating offense, filling the void of former star A’ja Wilson.
From the 60's to the 90's, there were numerous players from South Carolina drafted to the NBA and WNBA. Among them were standout players, such as Tom Riker, Kevin Joyce, Alex English and Shannon Johnson.
In the early years of the 2000s, there were only a few, including Jocelyn Penn, Shaunzinski Gortman and Renaldo Balkman. This changed when Martin and Staley became the head coaches for the South Carolina men’s and women’s basketball teams.
In 2017 alone, five South Carolina basketball players joined the pros. Sindarius Thornwell and PJ Dozier were chosen from the Gamecock men's basketball team to star in the NBA. Kaela Davis, Alaina Coates and Allisha Gray, all members of the National Champion South Carolina women's basketball team, were drafted into the WNBA.
These players helped to redefine South Carolina basketball and take its game to another level with recruits and rankings. With Martin and Staley's involvement and leadership in the community, they hold a high level of influence at South Carolina that goes beyond the basketball court.
South Carolina will look to continue to build its program through the coaching of both Frank and Staley even with the lull that the Gamecocks have found themselves in.