Darrin Horn was able to fully appreciate his new school only after attending his first USC baseball game, and it made him realize what could be in store for his own team.
The new men’s basketball coach attended the South Carolina-Clemson game last week at Sarge Frye Field, where he saw fans “hanging all over the place, sitting on walls and standing up behind bleachers.” His mind ventured to this winter at the Colonial Center.
“And that encourages me that we’re going to fill that building,” Horn said.
First, Horn has a number of other issues to address, which he touched on with reporters Thursday.
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Horn confirmed he will not fill the final spot on his coaching staff with any of former coach Dave Odom’s assistants. He gave the most consideration to Ken Potosnak.
“I visited with all of them and talked a little bit more to Ken because he seemed to have a little bit more recruiting (knowledge) instate,” Horn said. “But we’ll definitely do something from the outside.”
Potosnak, who joined Odom’s staff three years ago, declined to comment.
Horn said the Gamecocks will be the opponent when College of Charleston opens its new arena next season. Horn wasn’t crazy about it, calling it “a nightmare game,” but felt he should live up to the commitment made by Odom and Cougars coach Bobby Cremins, a former USC player.
The rest of the schedule remains a work in progress. It will not include Horn’s former school, Western Kentucky, at least not for the upcoming season. Horn’s contract at WKU required the school that hired him to schedule a four-game, home-and-home series with the Hilltoppers, but the clause did not stipulate it had to happen right away.
No players have approached Horn about seeking a transfer, according to Horn.
The spring signing period began Wednesday without South Carolina signing anybody, and it probably will stay that way. The Gamecocks have one open scholarship for next season, though that could change depending on transfers or what happens next month when the NCAA releases the Academic Progress Rate.
Horn did not rule out signing a player who could add a new dimension to the team.
Horn did say he spoke Wednesday night with the mother of a “top-100 player,” without specifying what year in school he was.
Echoing Odom and the previous staff, Horn said star point guard Devan Downey needs to improve his defense. Downey led the SEC in steals last year and was among the national leaders, but Horn agrees with Odom that Downey takes too many chances, putting the team in bad situations.
Horn said Downey and fellow sophomore Dominique Archie have adjusted the best to Horn’s system. The players and their coach have been conducting nearly daily workouts, which the NCAA recently began allowing.
Archie has been the most pleasant surprise to Horn. He said the 6-foot-7 Archie is perfectly suited to his up-tempo system and will create mismatches at both forward positions.
“I think he would be exactly the kind of guy we would recruit here,” Horn said. “He’s extremely versatile. He seems to have a good deal of toughness about him, which we really like.”
Post players Mike Holmes and Sam Muldrow also drew praise from the new staff. Horn likes Muldrow’s length and shot-blocking ability and said a bulky but athletic player like Holmes is well-suited to his system. Horn and assistant coach Cypheus Bunton also mentioned 6-10 center Mitchell Carter, who has played little during his two seasons.
Bunton, who ranks among the career shot-block leaders at Western Kentucky, will coach the big men for the Gamecocks.
“We have the players who have the ability to be competitive in this league right now,” Bunton said of USC’s post players. “It’s just working with them.”
Reach Emerson at (803) 771-8676.