Every coach since has faced his legacy.
As long ago as it was that Frank McGuire turned South Carolina into a short-lived basketball powerhouse, Gamecock fans believe that that stretch represents the entire program’s history.
Yes, it was that good.
The Irishman, tie cinched just so and cufflinks sparkling on the sideline, did what he said he’d do, and what he’d already done at St. John’s and North Carolina – build a championship program. He went 283-142 in 16 seasons at USC, claiming the school’s only ACC championship, and advanced to four straight NCAA tournaments, which is still half of the program’s entire tournament history.
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As he did with the Tar Heels, McGuire established a pipeline from New York to the South. Believing that New York players were tougher, he brought them to the genteel ACC – and watched with delight as his plan again worked.
They won a lot, lost a few and were as hated outside Columbia for their hardscrabble play as they were adored within the city limits. The names are still fondly recalled, with a few hanging in the rafters of Colonial Life arena – Roche, Joyce, Harlicka, Owens, Cremins, Dunleavy, Riker, Ribock, Winters, English.
It took about three minutes for the casual attendee to mention it when current coach Frank Martin was introduced four years ago, in the Frank McGuire Club at CLA.
“Another Frank M.’s in town. The last one worked out OK.”
About this series: The inaugural edition of The State newspaper was published Feb. 18, 1891. In anticipation of the 125th anniversary, the Palmetto section and this section at thestate.com are recounting each day how The State covered newsmakers and events vital to South Carolina’s history.