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Let The Defense Of USC’s Horn Begin

There’s a hot debate in the state of Arkansas as to whether or not John Pelphrey deserves a fifth season in his rebuilding project.  LSU AD Joe Alleva spoke out in defense of third-year coach Trent Johnson last week.

In the state of Mississippi, some fans in red and blue aren’t happy that fifth-year coach Andy Kennedy will (most likely) once gain fail to earn his Rebels an NCAA bid.

Missing anyone from the warming seat list?  Ah, yes.  South Carolina’s Darrin Horn.

The third-year basketball coach is beginning to hear some cat calls in Columbia.  How do we know?  Well, one way to tell is the column written by Ron Morris of The State today — “Don’t Count Him Out: Horn and his USC team are struggling, but the program’s future is bright.”

You don’t read headlines like that unless the messageboards and talk radio shows are filled with grumblin’ Gamecock fans.  And the Cocks are crowing because the USC has dropped five-straight games and now sit in the basement of the SEC East with a 4-8 league mark.  Worse, they’re only 13-12 and could be in danger of missing out even on the NIT.

Carolina AD Eric Hyman came to the defense of his coach last week.  “I don’t know if I’ve been screaming for patience, but you have to manage expectations and be realistic.  It’s just like Jadeveon Clowney coming in here.  Everybody thinks Clowney is going to be a first-team All-American next year.  It just doesn’t happen that way.  It’s going to take him some time to develop and grow.  It’s going to take time with the basketball team with the freshman they have.”

His coach agrees.

“The progress that we’re making right now is the progress we’re making when you build a program, learning how to go through adversity and how to handle some things,” Horn said.  “The reality is we’ve got a couple of guys we thought we would be getting a little more from at this time that we’re not getting those things from.  That’s made some basketball things very challenging for us, especially on the offensive end.”

Horn’s job has not been made easier by Anthony Grant’s success at Alabama.  Ditto Pelphrey, Johnson and Kennedy.  “If Grant can do it in less than two years, what’s taking our guy so long?”  The problem with that line of thinking is that it’s a today observation that’s being used as an ever-after statement.

Pelphrey and Johnson both had success in their first years.  That changed soon after.  Who’s to say Grant’s 2011 success won’t be a blip on the radar?  We at don’t believe that will be the case, but there are no guarantees.

This time next year, Horn, Johnson and Pelphrey might all be thriving while Grant stumbles.  Point is, in all of these new coaches’ situations, we don’t have enough evidence to make any definitive declarations yet.

Now, at Ole Miss, the siutation’s a little different.  Kennedy has had five years at the helm.  He’s also been coaching in a watered down division.  No NCAA bids in five seasons?  That’s a bit tougher to ignore.

But when it comes to Pelphrey, Johnson and, yes, Horn, too… the local fans need to show a hair more patience.  Building a program isn’t easy.  Even if Grant is making it look like it is right now.



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