Just two years ago, the South Carolina men's basketball team made history. In 2017, the Gamecocks went to the Final Four — the highlight of the men's basketball program. However, the Gamecocks have not played a postseason basketball game since April 1, 2017 where they lost to Gonzaga, much to the frustration of the Gamecock fan base.
The Daily Gamecock, in the second part of a three-part Q&A series, interviewed University of South Carolina alumni Ted Hyman and Clarke Lindsay; University of South Carolina students Patrick DeMarre, fourth-year broadcast journalism student; Noah Diveley, fourth-year sport and entertainment management student; and Francis Marion University alumna and Gamecock fan Hope Nye about the past men's basketball season and what must change for the Gamecocks to return to the NCAA tournament.
Q: What was the most frustrating part of the 2018-19 men's basketball season?
ND: "Just the injuries ... We were picked towards the bottom of the SEC and we came out on fire. Our bench got so thin that it was really hard to compete, especially at Missouri whenever we had like five or six guys maybe who could actually play. And of course, a couple seasons ago we went to the Final Four and we haven't made it back, which is always disappointing."
CL: "Missing the tournament. I mean that really is what it comes down to in my opinion is missing the tournament."
Q: With the 2017 Final Four, expectations for men's basketball at South Carolina are at an all-time high. Going forward, what are realistic expectations for the program and for Frank Martin?
CL: "The University of South Carolina should be in the NCAA tournament. We've never really been a basketball school ... We're not Kentucky. We're not Kansas ... But with that being said, I don't think the tournament is something that we should not want. I think that's a very attainable goal every year. 68 teams are making it nowadays ... We better be one of the top 68 teams in the country."
TH: "I think next year we need to make the NCAA tournament. I think we have a good team. I think we play in a good conference. Maybe one of the best one or two conferences with the ACC. SEC basketball has gotten a lot more respect. We obviously handled the in-conference well last year. I think we gotta make the tournament. I mean if we don't, that's one tournament birth in ... [Frank Martin's] seventh season."
Q: What needs to happen to change the team's fortunes from the past season and to meet the expectations?
HN: "[The Final Four] was just two years ago. They lost the really, really good players they had during that run. And now [Frank Martin] is having to bring in more talent to replace that, and that's what he's doing. I really don't think there's really much to change because he's doing exactly what he did before."
PD: "Anything better than last year ... Looking at the team right now, I would say just be more competitive. At least make the NIT. Try to make a good push for the NCAA tournament. And the deeper we get in it, the better."
ND: "After losing Chris Silva, definitely need to find a big man to pick up his minutes because he was one of the best players to ever put on a Gamecock jersey. I think just staying injury-free. I think we have the talent this season, especially with Jair Bolden coming back. A.J. Lawson just pulled his name out of the draft. We got Micaiah Henry, the transfer from Tennessee Tech. So we have the pieces ... I think we have the talent, it's just if we can stay injury-free and stay locked in."