COLUMBIA – South Carolina’s men’s basketball team plays at Vanderbilt tonight, where fourth-year coach Darrin Horn has lost by 18 and 13 points, and won by four, during his first three years with the Gamecocks.
Vanderbilt’s 14,316-seat Memorial Gymnasium is probably the most interesting basketball venue in Southeastern Conference. The building, which opened in 1952, has an elevated court and benches on the baselines rather than on the sideline. One bench is situated on each baseline.
Having benches on the baselines was not unusual in the 1950s, but now makes Memorial Gym rare among college basketball settings – and presents challenges for coaches who are used to shouting plays to their players from the sideline.
At Vanderbilt, a coach simply can’t communicate with his point guard when he is at the other end of the court, because the point guard won’t hear the coach. And a point guard turning around while at the other end, in order to look at his bench, puts him in position to get the ball stripped.
"We don’t mimic it (in practice) in terms of putting the benches on that end," Horn said. "But one of the things we’ll work on is: You can’t turn around and look for direction (to get the play from the coach when you’re at the end of the court). You’ve got to play, which is what we want our guys to do anyway. That is something that you talk about when you go into Vanderbilt’s gym, is, 'Guys, we’ve got to go play. Here are the handful of things that we want to run and we’re comfortable with and you guys have got to go out and play basketball and execute that.' "
Because Horn can’t instruct as much during the course of play, he said he will implement most of his strategy during timeouts and dead-ball situations.
"Which essentially is how we do it anyway (in all games), but it’s a little bit more challenging because of where you’re located (at Vanderbilt)," he said.