home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 17, 2017

PJ Dozier

Frank Martin

Sindarius Thornwell

Greenville, South Carolina

South Carolina - 93, Marquette - 73

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by South Carolina.

COACH MARTIN: Just for these guys to have never been on this stage, our school never had won since '73. I'm just so proud of our guys -- these two guys right next to me, they've carried the load for us all year.

You saw Justin McKie today step up and give us tremendous minutes as a senior. Duane was phenomenal defensively. Had a chance to make some 3s but he was engaged. He was engaging in what we were doing.

So I'm just really proud of these guys. And we've got a lot of work tonight, a lot of work tomorrow. But you know what, these kids have taken me on an unbelievable ride and I couldn't be prouder.

Q. What was the concentration at halftime, because it seemed you were much more aggressive offensively driving the ball in the second half?
SINDARIUS THORNWELL: Just to stay consistent on defense. Just keep grinding, keep staying on them, make them take tough shots and on offense keep attacking. And we stayed with it, stayed with the game plan, and that's really it.

PJ DOZIER: Just as he said, to stay aggressive defensively, make our offense out of our defense, just like we've been doing it all year.

Q. Sindarius, the environment today was bananas. Can you talk about that, and did that fuel you guys on the court?
SINDARIUS THORNWELL: It was great. Thank you to all the Gamecock fans that was here supporting us and watching us on TV, too. It was great. It helped the momentum when PJ got those couple fastbreak dunks. And the atmosphere went crazy. It just gave us the confidence we needed to get over the edge and push through the final minutes of the game.

Q. Sindarius, when you were serving your suspension, did you think about this possibly happening? And what did you kind of say to your teammates during that time, because since you've come back you've obviously played the best basketball of your career?
SINDARIUS THORNWELL: Yeah, I thought about it a little bit when we took a couple of losses. I kind of faulted myself for that, those losses because some of those losses wouldn't have happened if I played.

I tried to stay as positive as I could, tried to coach from the sideline and stick with them. And hopefully by the time it was time for me to come back, we could pick up where we was at when I was playing. And that's what we did. Throughout the season, we just kept working and kept grinding and made it here.

Q. You're both from South Carolina. How does it feel to get to play NCAA game in your home state and get a win in your home state?
PJ DOZIER: It's amazing. The first dream is just to make it to the NCAA Tournament. And then playing in your backyard is even more greater.

It's just a blessing to be able to play in front of our fans. Like Sin said, we just thank them for coming in and fuelling us to come out and play hard, just what we've been doing.

SINDARIUS THORNWELL: That's what we signed up for. We signed up to put this program in a situation where when it's time to leave we're competing with the best teams in the country. And making it here and playing here in South Carolina just makes it even better. And that's really it.

Q. Do you think Duane doesn't get enough credit for his on-the-ball defense? Looked like he was locked in all game but a lot of times people talk about the shot blockers and the stealers. How good is he defensively?
SINDARIUS THORNWELL: I thought he should have made all-defensive team. He heats them up. Everybody talks about our defense, and talk about me stunting the ball and stuff like that, but Duane doesn't get enough credit for what he does, how he heats point guards up, how he routed them.

He get them playing at half court and it's easier for us to get in line and do stuff like that. But I feel like Duane, one of the best, if not the best on-ball defenders in the conference.

Q. What do you expect Sunday to be like, probably the biggest game in program history in decades, and you have it in your backyard against one of the national title contenders?
SINDARIUS THORNWELL: Duke's great. They're a good team. They have good players. We're going to do what we do. We're going to come in and play hard, going to prepare tonight when we get back, prepare tomorrow. And the game's still gotta be played. We're going to, when the game is tipped, we'll try to do what we do and that's really it.

Q. Sindarius, can you appreciate what this means to so many people in South Carolina, given that it's been so long since the program's done this?
SINDARIUS THORNWELL: Yeah, man, this is great. That's what we play for. We play for those fans that's been supporting the basketball program for so long and haven't seen that much success, but still supported them, still came to the games.

Even when I first got to school here, the gym was empty. It was cold some games. We still had fans that was there supporting us loud and proud. And those are the fans that we really get up for. Those are the fans that we really appreciate. Not saying we don't appreciate everybody. But those fans means a lot to us.

Q. PJ, you seemed really intent on driving the basketball and had a lot of finishes at the rim. Was using your height advantage something you were focusing on doing?
PJ DOZIER: Yeah, just the coaching staff continues to tell me to stay aggressive, attack the rim. Being 6'6", 6'7" that's what you have to do. You have to put pressure on the rim, and I feel like that's when I play my best basketball.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. In the first ten minutes with the 3-pointers, were you happy with the shot selection, or would you have preferred to be a little more aggressive, like you guys ended up being in the second half?
COACH MARTIN: Are you talking about us? They're good shots. You gotta make them. You can't pass up -- you can't tell good players to pass up open shots. I had no problem with what we were doing offensively, just missed.

Q. Sindarius mentioned when you first got here the place was empty, a lot of home games. And you see tonight it's been 44 years. What you see tonight how hungry Carolina fans were. Anytime there was a basket they were jumping to their feet. From where you started to tonight's atmosphere could you just talk about the difference between the two and the journey along the way when it comes to fan support like you saw tonight?
COACH MARTIN: Our school's got unbelievable fans, they're just incredible. They're rabid about our school. And that's why coaches, whether it's Coach Spurrier or Coach Tanner, Dawn, that's why they come and love it. It's the support.

You go to a soccer game, it's sold out. You go to a volleyball game, it's sold out. Two years in a row we lead the country in attendance when you combine men and women's basketball together.

We had more fans at our open yesterday. I'm not talking about total fans, I'm talking about Gamecock fans than we had in the first game I coached at the Colonial Life Arena. It's fun right now. You're 13th in country in total attendance.

I knew if we could build it -- and it was a big if -- but if we could build it and we play the kind of basketball that I like my team to play, that our fans would absolutely love it. And it's starting to happen. We're not there yet. We're not there yet, but it's starting to happen.

Q. The first half, Marquette shot 50 percent from 3 and second they shot 25 percent. What led to that change?
COACH MARTIN: We made some -- our guys were nervous. You know how hard they've worked to get to this moment? We lost some hard games at the end of the year. Again, the public opinion is that we stunk and we didn't play well. We played hard. We just missed shots coming down the stretch and we played postseason teams on their court and they beat us.

So we were a little gun shy coming out of the regular season. Once our name went up on the board and I saw our guys' demeanor in practice, the looseness, the confidence, the aggressiveness, I knew we were going to play well.

But I also knew we had to get past the initial hit of being nervous. I don't care how many times you coach or play in the NCAA Tournament, that first game, when the ball goes up, you're nervous. I don't care what anyone says.

And I think we as the half went on, that first half, we settled down. We started guarding the ball better. Our ball-screen defense got better. We made some mistakes off the ball, but you know what? Marquette is good. They're not here by mistake. Offensively they're very, very good.

And they made us -- every time we made a mistake they made us pay. But as the game went on, I think, we kind of settled down. And when you play a jump-shooting team, our defense is predicated to try and slow people down as the game wears on. And I think, I don't want to speak for Marquette or for Wojo, but I think that they weren't as clean shooting the ball coming down the stretch as they were early in the game.

Q. Obviously Sindarius has had a fantastic year and he's carried this team on his back sometimes. How did he get some help tonight and how was that key to the win?
COACH MARTIN: That kind of bothers me when I continue to read media saying we're a one-man team. You don't get to the NCAA Tournament riding one guy. We're a team. We've got guys that play together.

We've had some great wins this year. And that's because we played the game together. Too much attention has been paid to the game against Alabama where his numbers were astronomical. You know what? He carried us that day because I called every single play for him. That came from me.

But as a team, we've got PJ, Duane, they've been tremendous. But one thing that goes without being said sometimes is that outside of those three seniors we are very, very young.

And those young kids have ups and downs. Not too many people, freshmen have success in the year or get to this tournament. Those kids have been great. Rah Felder today just fearless. They made a run, he came down, he shot a 3 like, this is what I do. And I'm sitting there thinking, wow, look at this young buck, fearless of the moment.

Then he came down and he drove it and scored over their big guy. But they're young. They made mistake early and as the game went on we settled down. But Sin's a stud. Sindarius is a stud. He's a winner.

Q. Some of the things you did defensively in the second half, wondered how did you decide to make some of the moves? For example, the trap to set up the dunk to make it 55-49. Was it something you planned the whole time, something you saw, just what led you to do that?
COACH MARTIN: I didn't want to zone them in the close game, when they had certain lineups in the game because they have too many -- they can really pass and too many shooters. But once certain players weren't in the game, I knew I wanted to zone because they're that good offensively. You can't give them the same look over and over and over.

And when I saw certain subs in the game, we went to our half-court trap deal and it worked out. Sometimes you do things and it doesn't work out. It worked out today and I'm real proud of those guys.

Q. I know you get in that SEC bubble when the season starts. How much do you know about Duke? Have you seen them a bunch this year just flipping channels and watching them play?
COACH MARTIN: I haven't watched Duke play since they've had their team healthy. I watched -- I love watching Coach K's teams. I've watched them a lot in non-conference play. Once we get to SEC basketball, I kind of just zero in our team and our opponents in the league. So I really haven't watched them.

I've got a reporter night tonight. I kind of joke with you guys sleeping til 10:00 in the morning. Well, I've got to live your life today. I'll be up writing my story til about 4 o'clock in the morning.

But I don't get to sleep until 10 tomorrow. I've got to wake up early and get these guys ready to go. I'm a huge, huge fan of Coach K's. I've said this story before. I think you've heard me.

Back as a high school senior, we lost to Tommy Amaker at the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach. And I loved how he played. So I said I need to watch that guy play in college. And I started watching Duke. And you had him on the ball, Johnny Dawkins in the passing lanes, all that. Between my high school coach and watching Duke defend is how I've kind of developed my philosophies defensively.

And I'm a big fan of Coach K, what he does for this game, across the board, not just Duke basketball, across the board is phenomenal.

We coached against each other once before and they beat us up pretty good. Kyrie Irving were unguardable that night but they were good. We need to be real good to be able to compete with a team like Duke in a couple of days.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297