To play Frank Martin's style of basketball, especially on defense, players must be willing to buy into not only the philosophy, but the demanding regimen that it takes to play at that high level.
It's a regimen that begins once a player starts classes at USC and continues until the last game of his career.
The man behind that intense strength and conditioning workout is Scott Greenawalt who came to Columbia with Martin from Kansas State. His job is to make sure the players can handle a three-hour practice under Martin.
"I get them in the summertime before anyone else gets them," he said.
"I have to get them ready for his practices. Football mentality is correct. You want the guys to be physical. That's how Coach wants it done. That's how I have to train them."
Senior Justin McKie has been through the process for four years.
"Coach Scott, he's the best in my eyes," McKie said.
"He pushes us everyday to get stronger in the weight room, to get in better shape, better condition, because he knows how hard we are going to have to play to win."
McKie and the upperclassmen try to explain to the newcomers what's in store but ultimately, there really is no way to prepare for that initial workout.
"Freshmen come in, they think they've lifted weights, they think they've trained hard, it's a whole different thing when you get to this level," Greenawalt said.
"It's funny to watch these upperclassmen tell these freshmen when they get here and then after a couple of workouts, they go into the lockerroom and they are lying in the fetal position."
McKie has been there before and remembers that first workout with Greenawalt.
"You know I came in pretty weak so I could barely lift the bar off the bench," McKie said.
"Waking up the next day and I thought I was injured because the workout was so intense. I went to the trainer, Mark Rodger, and was like "There's no way it's supposed to be feel like that. I have to be hurt'.
Justin eventually adapted as have the rest of his teammates and all the long hours with Greenawalt have paid off as the team is one of four teams still playing.
"We want our guys to be strong and in shape this time of year," Greenawalt said.
Greenawalt says his philosophy is for the team to keep training even during the season, so that when the post-season rolls around, they are physically still capable of playing as fresh and intense as they did in November.