On Selection Sunday, the staff of an athletic department has to be ready to spring into action. To a degree, some plans are already in place, but they're about to be tasked with moving a team, administrators, some fans and a band perhaps clear across the country for an NCAA Tournament basketball run.
South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner was ready to commence with that whole hectic process, but when he learned early in the selection show the Gamecocks wouldn't need a cross-country flight but only a short bus ride to Greenville, the more complex aspects of those plans could be filed away for another year.
"We were ready to spring into action tonight to do things we needed to do logistically," Tanner said. "Well, a lot of those things now are taken care of."
Bracketology projections were sending the Gamecocks far afield to Salt Lake City, Utah, Sacramento, Calif., or Buffalo, New York. Instead, No. 7 seed South Carolina won't have to leave the confines of the state when it takes on No. 10 seed Marquette.
Never miss a local story.
Gamecocks head coach Frank Martin has overseen the process four times as a head coach and been part of it many more times as an assistant at Cincinnati and Kansas State. He said, yes, for him there is a clear difference in getting to play that much closer to Columbia.
"I'd much rather get on a bus and go an hour and a half than get on a plane to travel six hours," Martin said. "Anytime you've got to change time zones, it's an adjustment. We've played in that building, we've won in that building.
"The less you travel, the less distress on the team."
His squad is familiar with Bon Secours Wellness Arena, as it knocked off Clemson there 65-59 last season, a game that included Sindarius Thornwell's ferocious highlight-reel dunk.
Thornwell said he was pleased to stay so close, especially with the factor of having family nearby. He said he hoped it felt like a home game.
One thing Martin also remembered from USC's trip to Bon Secours last season was a crowd that showed plenty of garnet despite being a Clemson home game. Repeating that will be difficult.
Tanner pointed out one of the first challenges upon learning of the Greenville placement is distributing tickets, for which the local demand will almost surely outweigh the supply. The school itself gets 450, for boosters, students and family of players and staff.
But Martin looked to another element of that. Duke and North Carolina will also be playing in Greenville, with fan bases both ravenous for tickets and with a head start in planning compared to the homestate Gamecocks.
"Here's the problem for us right now," Martin said. "Our fans are all rookies to this right now,” Martin said. “When you've been in this tournament four times in 43 years, there's a lot of fans that don't really know how to handle this right now. Unfortunately for us, two of the schools that are in this bracket have huge followings and they're in it every single year. So I've got to thinkg that they're fans for the last 2-3 weeks have been buying every ticket they can get"
But even with that in mind, he was hopeful.
"Our fans that can get their hands on tickets are going to be there," Martin said. "They're going to figure out a way to get into this."
NCAA Men’s Tournament
Who: No. 7 USC (22-10) vs. No. 10 Marquette (19-12)
When: Friday, 9:50 p.m.
Where: Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville