Everyone knows how the old saying goes: “Kids say the darndest things.”
South Carolina head coach Frank Martin would especially agree with that after Friday night.
Following the Gamecocks’ 70-50 win over Baylor in the Sweet 16 at Madison Square Garden, Martin was going through the usual media dog-and-pony show when a young reporter caught his attention.
“Your team clearly won the defensive battle tonight. When you coach and teach your team defense, what’s more important, technique or attitude?” the reporter, Max, for Sports Illustrated for Kids asked the South Carolina coach.
And with that, one of the best off-the-court stories of the NCAA tournament was born.
“First of all, a lot of respect to you,” Martin replied. “That’s a heck of a question. I’ve been doing this a long time and that’s the first time anyone’s ever asked me that.
“That’s a heck of a question. Attitude comes first. We got to have guys that are going to believe in our mission, that are going to believe in what we want to do. Once they believe, then we can teach them the technique. It all starts with our mindset. We have got guys that are completely bought into what we do.”
— GoGamecocks.com (@gogamecocks) March 25, 2017
Martin was so impressed with Max that he was looking for him during South Carolina’s pre-Elite Eight media session on Saturday.
“Where’s my guy from last night?” Martin asked before learning that Max – who is a kid after all – would be back Sunday afternoon.
“He’ll be back? I got to tell you now, when that young man asked the question he asked yesterday, I’m not trying to get any national attention on this, my SID told me that it’s become like a story,” Martin continued. “I wish I could express myself like that when I was his age. That was, I’m telling you, that is as articulate and good a question as I’ve been asked all year. That was powerful stuff.”
Turns out Max’s poignant inquiry resonated with not only Martin, but with other members of the media as well.
— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) March 25, 2017
Ignore the haters, @maxhoopssports! Keep up the great work. ????????
— David Haugh (@DavidHaugh) March 25, 2017
Of course, not everyone loved Max taking up time in the press room.
SI for KIds reporter is cute and all, but not a fan of an off-topic question at 1 am when beat writers are trying to pull gamers together.
— David Caraviello (@dcaraviello) March 25, 2017
Caraviello was referring to Max’s question for Florida star KeVaughn Allen about his mother and her influence on him as a player and person.
Thankfully, the majority of the feedback has been positive and you can be sure Max will get a chance to ask a few more questions this weekend and hopefully many more over a long career should he choose to pursue it.
More March Madness coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• The perfect shot that saved Florida’s season
• Gonzaga coach Few doesn’t feel he needs Final Four to validate his legacy
• Dayton’s Archie Miller accepts 7-year deal to become Indiana’s head coach
• Xavier’s J.P Macura hits amazing 80-foot shot that doesn’t count