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March 10, 2011

Malik Cooke

Darrin Horn



THE MODERATOR: We are joined by South Carolina. We'll start with an opening statement from Coach Horn.
COACH HORN: I think the difference in the game early was Nelson's threes. Without question. We were a little stagnant offensively against their zone, but did a much better job of getting it inside and attacking and cutting it to four and righting the game. And then did the same thing to get it to five.
And Chris Warren made some huge plays, that's what all-conference players do. He stepped up and hit a huge three in transition and got a couple buckets for them late as well.
I thought our press was really good to us. Helped us get back in the game, seemed to get us going a little bit offensively as well.
At the end of the day, didn't get enough stops when we needed to, especially when we cut it to five there late in the half. I think Eric had the three on the wing and it just didn't go in. They made that shot when they needed it and we didn't. And that's part of life in tournament action.
THE MODERATOR: Take your questions for either of the two student-athletes.

Q. Talk a little bit about just how the team reacts when the ball's just not going in, when it rattles around and just doesn't fall for you.
MALIK COOKE: Of course it's hard to really get a rhythm when the shots aren't falling. But we just got to keep playing through it and just try to find a way.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. We'll take questions for Coach Horn.

Q. What can you learn, what can the team learn from this game?
COACH HORN: I think the importance of what we have challenged with really all year, consistency throughout the game. We had some stretches where we were terrific offensively, and whether the shot went in or not, moving the basketball. We had a couple offensive rebounds Sam missed a put-back dunk. Cooke missed several off the rim. I would think that other than going back to an exhibition game for Malik, that's probably the lowest percentage he's shot all year, especially with most of it being around the basket.
But just consistency. Cut it to five, missed a shot and then come down and give you up an easy long because Damontre gets driven by. A lot of those things are going to get better with guys gaining experience in years.

Q. Can you just describe maybe your feeling or frustration with no matter what you guys have done, it just seems like you fall behind and put yourself in that hole.
COACH HORN: Yeah, as a coach it's frustrating because you've got a group that has worked extremely hard, and really we had terrific practices this week, great focus heading into the game. But when you're as young as we are, it's just something that just seems like we never could get over the hump.
And Sam was not himself early, I didn't think. And that affected us. He's the one guy that has on occasion brought us some presence out there with how he's played as our one true senior upper classman. And he didn't seem to be himself early. He picked it up and then was much better.
But we were just kind of looking around for who was the guy that's going to help with that, especially on the offensive end. And again that's something that will get better with maturity and time, but frustrating right now. For me, just disappointed for Sam, a young man, was tremendous to coach, obviously had a good career, and showed up every day and worked hard and had a great attitude. And you would like to see it go a little bit better for him.

Q. For fans who are going to be frustrated about the scoring, where do you think the scoring's going to come from next season?
COACH HORN: I'm not really worried about that right now. We'll evaluate that moving forward. I'm just concerned about the kids in the locker room.

Q. Can you talk about your plan for Chris Warren today? It looked like he got off to a slow start. What did ya'll want to do with him offensively?
COACH HORN: We knew we needed to mix defenses a little bit and wanted to start zone like we had been, so we could be aware of where he is. He's very creative individually, and obviously they run a lot of stuff for him in the man.
And I think we did a good job of knowing where he is when we were zone early. And then when we went to our pressure to changed the tempo really get ourselves going a little bit more than anything, just trying to get it out of his hands as much as possible.
And down the stretch we did a pretty good job of that in terms of getting out of his hands. But we gave up a couple put-backs and a couple easy drives, which is a risk when you're pressing.
But again, what makes players like him good and why he's an all SEC player is the one he got in transition, which was not an easy shot. It looked to me like he was about 25 feet out. He catches it, rises up, knocks that down like it's no big deal. And that's what makes him a special player.

Q. When do you start planning ahead for next year, making some potential moves or just looking at the general plan? Do you take a couple days first? Does it start tomorrow once you get back home?
COACH HORN: That will be something, first of next week. We're on spring break right now and get back in our routine next week. Take a look and evaluate things like we always would. We're going to do that every year. If we were number one seed playing in the national championship. We're going to evaluate every year, how do we continue to build our program. And that's what we want to do is how do we continue to make progress in growing our program in every area that we have. So we'll evaluate that stuff for sure.

Q. Can you describe the ride that was the season maybe compared to what you expected when it started, and especially with the way the 3-1 start in the SEC play, just kind of the ups and downs for a young team?
COACH HORN: Yeah, we knew coming into the year it was going to be a hard year. As I said so many times, it's really like year one with basically a brand new roster and so many young guys. Only the one guy in Sam that's got any real experience. And so we knew it was going to be a challenge coaching this group because of that.
I thought that all in all, they responded very well. And as you mentioned, they had some key wins and beat in-state rival and get off to a good start in league play.
And really the difference was Lakeem Jackson getting hurt. When he got hurt, it just changed everything with our team. He played a couple games and wasn't himself and it hurt us. Then we had to play without him. And now we're out of our rhythm a little bit.
And then Bruce got hurt, and we never could get over the hump once those things started happening. And a lot that have is a sign of a mature team and a team that's been there and been through those things. We had such little margin for error coming in that once those things started to happen it just made it really tough for our guys.

Q. Outside of Lakeem's injury, I know it threw a wrench into the works, but do you think this team regressed, especially as the season went on?
COACH HORN: I think during that stretch it was hard for to us get better. We couldn't practice well without Lakeem out there. We were limited on the perimeter, and Bruce got hurt and was playing on one leg for two weeks. That part, during that time frame, no, I didn't feel like we got better.
I do think the last couple weeks that we had after we got back to being ourselves a little bit, and again, it's hard with a team this young and knowing what we were going to have to deal with going into the game, the season, to judge everything just on how it finished.
With this group, I think part of what happened this week is we did so much better early on than anybody anticipated and expectation got bumped up that maybe with us having adversity was probably a little bit beyond what we were ready for.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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