April 1, 2008
South Carolina Men's Basketball Coach Darrin Horn
"Let me say that I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the Gamecock family; not only the athletic family, but the university at large. I am honored as a coach to be along the likes of Steve Spurrier and Coach Tanner in baseball. I feel really privileged to be part of the athletic family and the Gamecock family.
"The key to being a great coach is first being a great recruiter. You folks may not know this but you have an unbelievable recruiter in Eric Hyman. This guy knows how to get it done when it comes to recruiting. Not only when it comes to this athletic program, but this athletic program as it relates to this university as a whole is what specifically sold me on wanting to be here and to being the head coach at South Carolina. He did an unbelievable job in a whirlwind situation; it's very clear we share the same goals.
"Our goals are simple: we want to compete nationally, and we want to compete for championships, and we want to do it the right way. The right way means that you are going to have a team that performs well on the court and off the court and performs academically. We are here for the students; that's what we do. If not, it would be professional sports.
"Very important to me is that I want to be here. I think this is a great job, not a good job, a great job. I am unbelievably excited to be your head coach. Too many times people look at negatives, and we're going to look at the positives. The first one is that you've got great leadership - from the president down to specifically Eric Hyman and his staff. You've got outstanding leadership because it's committed to growth and excellence. When you have those two things, you have the chance for sustained success. We want sustained success on the court and on the field and most importantly for these young people in the classroom. You only get that by being committed to growth and excellence. There is no doubt in my mind that Eric [Hyman] and his staff are committed to that. This is really a special place in that way.
"You've got great basketball tradition. There is basketball tradition at South Carolina. This is coming from a guy who grew up in Kentucky. I'm coming from a school that is top 20 all-time in several different categories and n body knows because there are two other schools that are higher than that in the state. Its basketball and church and depending on what home you grew up in, that is a juggling act where I come from. I know basketball tradition when I see it, and we have basketball tradition here. There's no question.
"Along with that comes a passionate fan base, a passionate fan base that is excited about our program and that is excited about basketball at South Carolina. But our passionate fan base has got to grow. We have to sell out that arena. We have got to sell out that arena every single night that we play. Every single night that we play we have to have the rafters full, and it starts with the students. Our students are going to be our most important fans. To me and to those guys sitting right there [the players], our students will be our most important fan base. We need our students to drive the energy and to have the Colonial Center rocking every single night.
"Another thing that makes this place great and a great job-- we have an academic facility that is going to be finished in fall of '09 that is going to be second to none. You want to talk about giving your guys the best so that they can perform the most important area, which are academics. We're going to be giving it to our current student-athletes and we are going to be showing to our recruited student-athletes that academics are important to us. You're going to have the best of the best to reach your primary goal here at South Carolina and that is to leave here with a degree.
"The other thing that is great is that we play in a first class facility. We play in a first class facility in one of the best leagues in the country, the SEC. Another great thing is that we have talent in this state. Let me tell you about my recruiting philosophy. We are going to start on the inside and work our way out. We've done that everywhere I've ever been, and it's led to great success. There is talent in this state. We are going to put a fence up around the state of South Carolina, and the best players in the state are going to be recruited to play at the University of South Carolina. That's going to be our goal with recruiting and we are going to get started tomorrow and let our presence be known in this state.
"Rest assured we are not going to focus on things we cannot control. We are not going to focus on negatives. We are not going to focus on where we've been. We are going to focus on the now and moving forward, and we are going to do it without making excuses. The only way I know how to do it is to out work people and to work extremely hard and to do it at a high level of energy and to make sure these guys are growing everyday as people first and students second and players third. I think that we will accomplish that.
"In terms of how we're going to play you're going to see a team that is fast paced, that plays extremely hard, that gets out there and plays on both sides of the floor. A lot of people like to say they like to play 94 feet. I'd like to double that because we are going to do it both ways. Some people only like to run if they're going to score. They don't like to play defense that way. We're going to play defense full court as well as offense, and we are going to do that both ways. We are going to play with outstanding togetherness and character.
"My goal is that when you leave the Colonial Center every night, I don't want you to talk about me, or how smart I am and what we did. I want you to look at those guys right there and say `I've never seen a group of young men play as hard as that team played. I've never seen a group of young men that shows the kind of care and concern on the court for each other as that group right there.' I think if you do that, then special things can happen for you in the win-loss column with recruiting the right kind of players.
"I'm committed. I'm excited to be here. I want to be here. I think this is a phenomenal job. I think it's a great place to be, and I'm going to ask you all to do the same. We need that place full every night; we need you as excited as we are about the future of South Carolina basketball as we move forward. Again, I can't thank you enough for the opportunity and tell you how excited I am and how much I look forward to being your coach."
South Carolina Athletics Director Eric Hyman
"I just want to extend a warm welcome to everybody. There are a couple of people I'd like to acknowledge that were very involved and instrumental on the success that we're going to have here with our men's basketball program, and that's Charles Waddell and Al Daniel. Those two gentlemen were tremendously important to me. I also want to recognize Dr. Sorenson, our president at the University of South Carolina, Herbert Adams, the Chair of our Board at the University of South Carolina, Vice-Chair Miles Loadholt and Sam Foster.
"Let me talk a little bit on what has transpired. Ten weeks ago Dave Odom retired at the University of South Carolina. Right after the retirement, Al and I sat down with the basketball team and asked them to help develop a profile, what did they want at the University of South Carolina, because it's about the student-athletes. We told them they're not going to hire the coach, nor are they're parents going to choose the coach, but they're feelings are very important to us. So, we talked to them for about 45 minutes to an hour, and they gave me the profile they wanted in the next coach at the University of South Carolina. I'm going to read to you some of the things they said. We want someone who has high energy, the ability to recruit, good character, and a disciplinarian. When I told Darrin about the disciplinarian he laughed and said "Yeah wait till they start to get disciplined and then it's a whole different story." They wanted someone that hopefully played at a high level, understands players, cares about them and what they think, asks what their thought process is, someone who'd be honest with them, a coach who would push them, communicate, and make it so that hard work becomes a habit and not something they are made to do.
"I talked to a generation of former players for about two hours and asked them the same questions. This is what they said. They want someone who wants to be here, not that has to be here. They want someone who has passion about being here, not someone on his way out. They want to stay away from a quick fix and get a recruiter and a coach that sees this as a challenge, an energetic coach who's enthusiastic and will hire a good staff and still reach out to the old players.
"We did the same thing with the university. We sat down with them and asked what they wanted and this is what they said. Win, young, energetic, exciting style, understand academics, proven recruiter, knowledge of history of University of South Carolina, teammates, this is where they want to be, honest, work ethic, intelligence, head coach before, relates to players, and a recruiter and sales person.
"So we took all those things 10 weeks ago and began a national search to try and determine where is the match. Now the media has asked me if I hired a search firm. No, I did not, and there have been a lot of comments about it. I hired a former coach who understands basketball and its components as a consultant. I know you like this expression, he has a war chest of credibility, and in the business he can get into doors that most people can't get into. He's highly respected in the business; he flew under the radar screen. I tried to do that. If it becomes public knowledge when you're trying to recruit a coach, it shuts down your pool a lot. So we had someone working behind the scenes, someone no one knew about gathering information. I understand why the media has such a high level of interest because the people like to know. However, that is intrusive to a certain extent to what I'm trying to do, and that's get the best possible person here at the university of South Carolina. So, contrary to a lot of people out there, we did have someone helping us with the search with Al and Charles and myself, and we put in a tremendous amount of time and effort. Darrin's name was there from the beginning, and as time progressed obviously his stock began to rise. We did our research and the name continued to rise and rise. And obviously the success he had in the NCAA tournament speaks volumes for him and the kind of style he likes to play. So, if you've watched Western Kentucky play, you'd see he fits what we're looking for here at South Carolina.
"I got a call last night from one of my peers, an athletic director in the Big East. These are some of the comments he made.
"Darrin is exactly what the players and the fans at the university of South Carolina deserve. I have followed Darrin's career for some time and know how rough the hiring process can be. In my opinion, he is an upcoming young star in the coaching profession, a solid person and a great hire. If USC basketball is listed on the stock market now its time to buy. Being among the top in the SEC will not satisfy Darrin Horn, taking a team to the first and second round of the NCAA Tournament will not satisfy Darrin Horn, so get ready. I have been able to watch Coach Horn for many years. What I've seen is a coach who puts his players first. Some coaches have their players play the way they can coach, great coaches coach the way their players can play. It was clear to me Coach Horn coached his players to their strength. He put them in the position to be successful individually and as a team. I have enjoyed watching how Darrin handles his team in practices, games, and even the quiet times backstage. He was always gracious and put his team and university first. He will have an even better chance to do this in the SEC. I believe you and your fans are welcoming a member to their family that will demand success but won't take shortcuts in accomplishing the high expectations that Darrin Horn and the University of South Carolina deserve.
"This is the feedback we constantly got back about Darrin Horn. That's why I'm very excited about him being here and having Carla and Darrin to be the leaders of our basketball program.
"If you took the graduation ration of all the teams in the NCAA Tournament last six years, Western Kentucky would be the national champion. They've graduated every single one of their players, and that resonates with me. I know it resonates with the next gentleman coming up here to welcome Darrin to the South Carolina Family Dr. Sorenson.
"I was talking to Darrin last night going over the itinerary for today, and I was telling him what's going on. He asked me when he was going to have time to work out the team. I said Darrin, work out the team? I got to introduce you to people, we've got to go to a press conference, we've got to meet Dr. Sorenson, all those kind of things. How about working out the team tomorrow? He said, I've already got three recruiting appointments lined up. So that's the kind of coach you're going to be getting here at the University of South Carolina. Darrin welcome aboard. We're glad to have you."
South Carolina Players
"I've watched Western Kentucky a few times. He (Coach Horn) talked about the UCLA game (Sweet 16) and they were down by twenty-something, but if they would have hit another three - they would have beaten UCLA. His style is good. We are not the biggest or strongest team, but it's a good style for us. We have a lot of options. We are going to run up and down the court and we do well when we are doing that."
"We are really athletic team and we like to go up and down. We play our best basketball in transition. We had flashes this year where we got a turnover and made transition threes. We are at our best when we are running. We had our troubles in the half-court set, but I think he wants to play and we will get better."
On the last second shot his team made in the NCAA Tournament - does it make you excited after losing games like you did last year?:
"Bringing in Coach Horn in, it's turning over a new leaf. Even if we didn't have a coaching change this year, it's time for a change. We need to step up and win. We need to finish games. We were in about every game this year, many games, and we just need to step up and finish games."
Did you see Western Kentucky play?:
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