South Carolina fell to Mississippi St. in Starkville this afternoon, falling short 60-58 in a comeback bid. Instead of a conventional recap, this post will be a list of complaints against the display our coach and players put on today. Here goes:
1. Sam Muldrow played 24 minutes, sitting out large portions of the game. Muldrow was never in serious foul trouble. Perhaps we're missing something that happened behind the scenes here, but I can see no rational reason for Horn sitting his best player and senior team leader in the last regular-season game of year, particularly when we're playing against a team with a massive front line that was beating us on the offensive boards.
2. Where was Eric Smith? The kid has played his butt off all year and has done everything you can do to earn some playing time by playing efficiently and clearly outplaying the guy who starts in front of him. He only got into the game for a handful of minutes today, at one point coming in, quickly draining and three, and then being pulled again. I can only shake my head and feel sorry for this kid, who deserves better.
3. Last but not least, let's look at Bruce Ellington's role in this game. Ellington had one good stretch towards the end of the game where he scored a few baskets while we closed the gap. He also went 6/20 from the field and 3/10 overall. Is this the guy you want taking multiple potential game winners, particularly when this utterly average performance is the best one he's had in weeks? Most people would say no, but Darrin Horn says yes. Ellington took our two final shots, both threes, the first while we were down one and the second while we were down two. In either of those situations, I would have preferred to see us attack the basket. Why not give Muldrow the final shot? He's the only guy who's done anything for us all year. In sum, Horn's inexplicable commitment to Ellington cost us this game. One can only conclude that either Horn is incompetent at personnel evaluation, or he promised Ellington that he would never seriously consider sitting him. Either way, it's a coaching failure.
Frankly, I wouldn't be heartbroken if Horn were fired after this performance. This game, which was virtually on a platter for us to take, was the low point of a completely forgettable season, and that's really saying something.