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Auburn at South Carolina Post-Game: Open Letter to Darrin Horn

Dear Coach Horn,

I want to preface this by saying that I appreciate the many positives you've contributed to our program. You've produced a hard-nosed team that at times plays above its ability. You've energized the fanbase with an exciting style and innovative ideas like the "Garnet Army" concept. You've managed to lure some talented basketball players to a school that has often proved unattractive to prep stars.

That said, losing to what is almost certainly the worst team in the SEC at home is inexcusable, particularly when it's by 15 points. While an uninspired shooting performance  and an unexpected injury to one of your top players contributed to the loss, what hurts most about this loss is that it could have been avoided if our team played with any semblance of sound strategy. We scored only 20 points in the paint, a pitiful tally against one of the SEC's least physically imposing teams. Why can't you get our team to attack the basket more? Why do we settle for long, contested threes after not even attempting to get our big guys a look on the block? Granted, our inability to break Auburn's zone by making open shots undoubtedly made it more difficult to get closer looks, but an approach with more dedication to playing smart basketball would have found ways to get to the hoop. It is possible for quick guards to split a zone, yet we rarely even tried. One thing is for certain: The difference between Auburn's ability to execute a sound approach and our inability to do so was evident, and that doesn't speak well for your coaching ability.  Despite playing with a contrasting lack of talent, Auburn patiently executed their halfcourt offense, almost every possession choosing high-percentage shots on the block over lower percentage outside shots. Auburn shot 5 3FGA to our 33, shot for an overall FG% of 6% higher than us, and got to the line twice as many times. There's a correlation between those numbers, and it goes back to the difference between the style of basketball the two teams played. Tony Barbee schooled you this afternoon, Coach Horn. I don't know whether the problem here is the players' obstinacy or your own, but whatever it is, it needs to be addressed.

Moreover, while a good bit of the blame for this loss can be laid at the feet of a lackadaisical defensive and unfocused shooting performance on the part of our players, I don't think you escape blame there, either. Why does this team seem to play with such huge highs and lows? And no, youth isn't the only answer. It's part of the issue, for sure, but this has been a problem with your teams since day one. They come to play their best against good teams, but they often play down to lesser opponents, and losses to teams like Auburn in seasons when we've notched impressive victories elsewhere are the result. It's a coach's job to maintain a team's focus and energy over the course of the season, and you're not succeeding in that.

You've done some good things here, Coach Horn, but after this loss, the honeymoon is over. This was a must-win game; we're the more talented team, it was at home, and a win would have put us in good shape to finish with a winning record over the second half of the season. It's time for you to begin taking accountability for such losses and pushing this team forward so it doesn't happen again. If you can't do that, I fear that we're going to be looking for a new basketball coach sooner rather than later.


Gamecock Man