Martin eager to take on South Carolina challenge

By Pete Iacobelli

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, March 27 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Martin is the son of Cuban immigrants who coached high school basketball in Miami for 15 years and was an assistant at Northeastern for four seasons before Bob Huggins brought him on to his staff at Cincinnati. Martin credits Huggins with jump starting his career, saying the current coach at West Virginia helped him get into college coaching.

Martin knew about South Carolina's program from following former Gamecocks star Devan Downey, who spent his freshman year at Cincinnati when Martin was assistant to then Bearcats coach Huggins. Martin remembered watching highlights of Downey and his teammates celebrating their stunning 68-62 victory over then No. 1 Kentucky in 2010.

Things slumped for South Carolina under Horn since that high point. The Gamecocks lost 24 of their last 27 SEC games. Horn finished his career at South Carolina 23-45 in league games and 60-63 overall with thee losing seasons in a row. Attendance fell drastically this season with opponents like Ohio State and Kentucky outdrawing the Gamecocks in games played here this winter.

Martin praised Horn for running a clean program and improving the team's once poor academic showing. Horn did a lot of good for this basketball team, except for winning.

"It's my duty to try and complete that part," he said.

Martin promised his team's tough-nosed style and relentless work ethic would fill the arena.

"We will put 18-thousand in this place every game," he said.

Football coach Steve Spurrier won a record 11 games last fall, baseball coach Ray Tanner has won the past two College World Series and women's basketball coach Dawn Staley earned the team's first trip to the NCAA tournament in nine years.

Spurrier said he met with Martin for a few moments before the press conference.

"I think we've hired a winner," Spurrier said. "I think he's got a pretty good track record."

Martin said he's worked on softening the hard-bitten image he's been tagged with during his time at Kansas State. He said the only time you might hear him raise his voice is during games.

"What you see on six seconds on ESPN is nothing like I am," Martin said.

Except for maybe that stare, which Martin admits he'll can't help but break out during games.

"Probably after the first turnover," he joked.

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