South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn met with the media on Wednesday afternoon to give an update on his team’s practice thus far. The Gamecocks have had team drills for five days now in preparation for their first exhibition game on Nov. 3 against Kentucky Wesleyan.
Head basketball coach Darrin Horn
We’re five days in, basically. As I said before, I think this is a team that’s going to be fun to coach and we’re having fun coaching them right now. Our attitude is terrific and our work ethic is really good. We’re having fun watching them play and see what we can do. I feel like we’ve gotten better every day, which is going to be our theme to look for throughout the year. We have a lot to do and a long way to go. With Damontre out right now, we’re literally at nine scholarship players and have to mix and match some things. But I’m really pleased with the progress we’ve made to this point. It’s incremental, but as coaches, we see it every day. And that’s what we want to see, not only today but through March. So far, that’s happened.
With some of the new guys, are you starting to see some team chemistry?
When I say they’re fun to coach, I mean all of those things. You got guys like Anthony Gill, Damien Leonard, and Brenton Williams, who are obviously new but they’re all character kids. They want to play the game the right way, learn, and get better. They’ve been as involved as anybody in terms of playing unselfishly and learning how that is. I’ve been really pleased with those guys. I think the guys who are returning have done a good job in incorporating them. Malik Cooke and Lakeem Jackson have really stepped up their leadership in helping those guys get acclimated and in building team chemistry. When you have guys like Malik Cooke and Lakeem Jackson making the extra pass and passing up shots to get the ball to guys who are even more open, it’s really hard for everyone else not to do that. We really see that from those guys thus far.
Do you start now in putting in game plan or do you just get out there and get everyone into the flow?
It’s a little bit of both. It’s a little bit of what do we have and what can we be best at. We have a good idea of some things we need to try to do. For example, a strength we think we could have is shooting the basketball in terms of individual shooters. So what do we do to make that a strength offensively? We’re full go in terms of our preparation. With a young team, or a team we have new pieces that we have versatility, where is everyone going to play and how does that look – I think you take more time to look and see. I know as we move forward, one of the big questions is who’s starting? I think this is the kind of team that it could be a seven-starter type of team. Seven guys are capable of it and maybe all seven do. Who knows? The important thing is they’re an important part of what we’re doing and we are going to need everyone to be our best.
Have you ever had a team this wide open as far as who would play what type of offensive roles?
In terms of specifics, I think that is a little bit unique. I think that’s one of the things that’s really exciting. We know that Malik Cooke can shoot the basketball and will do a good job on the offensive glass and find a way to get points that way. You look at guys like Lakeem and Malik, they find a way to get to nine or ten every night. How do we get that up a little bit with utilizing them and how do we fit everybody else in? I think that’s one of the things that’s exciting and will be kind of fun to look at. We’ve had some pleasant surprises with scoring in terms of making shots offensively as well.
How have the freshmen now sophomore guys who have returned handled the first few days?
I think you see a big difference. The best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores and I think you see that the most with Brian Richardson and R.J. Slawson, probably more so than anybody. They’ve really bought into what they need to do to be successful and they’re doing that every day. That has been a positive from our sophomores.
How is Damontre’s foot?
Damontre’s foot is progressing.
Is it still a four-week timetable?
Yes, as far as I know. The word I get is he’s getting better every day. We don’t play timetables. He is getting better every day.
What are some things that has surprised you? What are some things you need to work on the next few days?
Nothing in terms of what we need to work on has jumped out. We need to work on everything. We knew that going in. We’re moving the ball better than I anticipated. I thought that could be a strength for us because of the kind of players we have and the chemistry we have. We’re really playing with no ego offensively right now, which is exciting. Brenton Williams has shown he has some athleticism and the ability to do some things, maybe more so than we knew before we got out there. Brian Richardson has been terrific in terms of consistency and making shots and doing those things. Anthony Gill has done what we thought he would – being versatile and finishing at the basket like a guy who is not a freshman. We’ve seen some really positive things like that. In terms of what has popped up, nothing has popped up. We know we have to get better at everything at this point in time.
As far as the point guard position goes, how is that shaking out?
Again, that’s a thing we’re looking at a lot of different things, whether it’s Lakeem, Eric, or Brenton and how we play. I don’t think it’s going to be a one-person position. We’re going to have to put someone in there to start, of course. At the same time, it’s going to be a deal where we’re going to need everyone who plays that position to play some. How we utilize that – one of the things outside of Lakeem, Brenton and Eric, Brenton can create and Eric is terrific in transition. Eric is shooting the ball well right now. They’re guys who can maybe play off the ball. Maybe they’re in the same time as Lakeem when he’s at the point. I think that’s something that will not only be an ongoing process this fall but even when we get into the season and see what happens in games.
How are the walkons adjusting?
Not really all that concerned how they’re adjusting to be honest with you. But they’re doing fine.