A few weeks ago, the word was that Eric Hyman's budget is tied and that we wouldn't be in the position to pay Darrin Horn's buyout and bring in a new coach with good qualifications. At that point, I would have told you that I thought Horn would get one more year regardless of how bad the season end up. Now, it seems I may have underestimated just how bad the season could get. The 'Cocks now sit at 9-15 overall and 1-9 in the conference. The season has quickly become the worst in recent memory for Carolina, and that's saying something considering our lack of success on the hardwood. There are some good opportunities for wins down the stretch, but it's also very possible that we may only win one or two more games--or worse. To make matters worse, attendance has hit an all-time low. The Kentucky game in Columbia was a disaster, but really, the disaster wasn't so much what happened on the court, although that was certainly bad. What was worst was that the Big Blue Nation turned the Colonial Life Arena into Mini-Rupp. When you can't get the fans to come see a game against the best team in the nation, you've got major problems. And that's likely what's most on Hyman's mind right now: the bottom line. Sure, Horn's buyout and the money tied up in facilities upgrades are financially daunting. Are they as daunting, though, as the prospect of another year with the CLA at minimum capacity? My guess is probably not.
Still, though, there are reasons why it would be in Hyman's best interest to keep Horn. The thing is that Horn is going to have to do his part and figure out a way to get his team to win some games down the stretch and thus to inject some life into this moribund program. The Gamecocks have six regular-season games left: a home-away with UGA, a home with LSU, an away with Vandy, and homes with Tennessee and Mississippi St. Then, of course, they have the SEC Tournament. As said, considering how we've played lately, none of these games are gimmes. Even UGA is playing well lately. However, at the same time, I do think the possibility is there for the Gamecocks to string together a few wins.Truth be told, the first half of our season was much tougher than what we have coming up: two games apiece against UF and UK, road games against some other tough teams, no UGA, etc. The next few games provide some of our most ample opportunities for wins. At Vandy is probably a no-go, but other than that, I don't see any games that we'll be completely overmatched in, at least not until we play (if we do) a really tough team in the SECT. If Carolina wins some of these games, that should help Horn's prospects. And needless to say, a deep run in the SECT would help quite a bit, although I somewhat doubt our ability to get out of the second round or so, considering the unlikelihood of us beating a good team on a neutral court.
The question, though, is whether a winning streak would revitalize a fan base that might already have completely lost faith in Horn. Without some indication that ticket sales will improve next year, Hyman may not have much of a choice with Horn. Therefore, it seems a propos to put the question to you, dear reader: What do you need to see to get back into Carolina men's basketball? Why?