ATLANTA — It's not all cutthroat competition in the survive-and-advance NCAA Tournament. Former South Carolina coach Darrin Horn's presence at the South Regional this weekend shows that there's a place for sentiment.
Horn attended the Kentucky-Indiana game Friday night as a guest of IU Coach Tom Crean. Horn worked on Crean's staff at Marquette earlier in his coaching career.
When asked if he was touched by Crean's invitation, Horn said, "It's huge."
Horn suggested that any coach's autocratic persona can mask emotion.
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"So many times people see the public perception," Horn said. "They don't see any of that (emotional) stuff. Coach Crean's greatest trait is his loyalty. It really says a lot about Coach Crean that he reached out to me."
South Carolina fired Horn after the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
"Coach (Crean) is very loyal, and I'm one of his guys," said Horn, the former star at Tates Creek High and then a player and coach at Western Kentucky. "He said 'C'mon up, so here we are.'"
Horn spent four seasons at South Carolina. His fourth and final team had a 10-21 record and finished last in the SEC (2-14). Horn's four-year record in Columbia was 60-63 (23-41 in the conference). Highlights included sharing the SEC East title in his first season and an upset of No. 1-ranked UK in 2010.
According to published reports, he is due a $2.4 million buyout from South Carolina.
As for his next step, Horn said he was "wide open" in terms of taking another head coaching job or possibly an assistant's position in a major program.
"Fortunately, I'm in a situation where I don't have to do anything right now," he said. "Whatever I do, wherever I go, I can tell you my top priority will be picking a program where you can win."
Horn did win in his five years as head man at Western Kentucky (2003-08), going 111-48 and leading the Hilltoppers to the 2008 NCAA Tournament round of 16. Horn said he does not second-guess his decision to leave Western.
"Nah, I think I made a good decision," he said. "There's not anything I would do differently, there really isn't. We just needed to win more games."
Although UK players dismissed the importance of revenge in the rematch against Indiana, former All-American Kevin Grevey noted how payback can contribute to improved effort.
"It's just being more competitive," he said. "More focused and trying a little harder and giving it a little more effort.
"If you apply it in a positive way, it's a good thing."
'60 Minutes rule'
The NCAA Tournament observes what spokesman David Worlock termed the "60 Minutes rule."
That means the Sunday regional finals games will be played in the afternoon, so CBS can air 60 Minutes at its customary 7-8 p.m. EDT time slot.
Indiana freshman Remy Abell, a graduate of Louisville's Eastern High, has played more since senior Verdell Jones torn an anterior cruciate ligament in the Big Ten Tournament.
"Verdell's done a great job teaching me the ins and outs," Abell said. "Like to keep my head up and doing the little things to be a point guard."
Abell said he tries to contribute intensity.
"Defensive intensity and offensive intensity," he said. "I want to bring passion."
Duke in dome
Duke has a presence in the official program of the South Regional.
On Page 10, a review of the 2011-12 season includes a picture of Bob Knight congratulating Mike Krzyzewski for becoming the winningest coach in Division I men's basketball.
A four-page revisiting of Duke's 104-103 overtime victory over Kentucky in the 1992 East Region finals begins on Page 16. A picture of Christian Laettner launching the game-winning shot covers Pages 16 and 17 to begin a story titled "A Perfect Game."
Baylor's glowing green uniforms and socks led to an impulse to look up the word "phosphorescent."
When asked for help in spelling the word, Mike Lopresti of Gannett said, "B-R-I-G-H-T."