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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina coach Frank Martin believes he's the same straight-forward, open book he has always been, though perceptions of him have changed with the Gamecocks' run to the Final Four.

"How the stories have changed that I'm a yeller and a screamer to that I'm a passionate man," Martin said Tuesday, "I find that very comical."

It has been at times a difficult, at times an amusing and at times a frustrating ride during Martin's five seasons with the Gamecocks, who are two wins away from a national title after not winning an NCAA Tournament game in 44 years before this March. They play Gonzaga Saturday night in Phoenix.

"I'm having the time of my life, because of the kids in that locker room," Martin said.

Martin has had a very fluid locker room since he arrived from Kansas State with a successful NCAA pedigree — four tournaments in five years with the Wildcats — in March 2012. He lost four players off his roster after the first season, and two or more every year after that including this past offseason with the departures of forwards Eric Cobb and Raymond Doby, and guards Marcus Stroman and Jamall Gregory. The four were expected to add depth to this season's roster.