Tag Archives: Darrin Horn

McDonald’s thoughts on key games of 2009-10

Coach Ken McDonald spent a few minutes talking to the Herald about the 2009-10 men’s basketball schedule, which was released on Saturday. Here are the highlights:
— McDonald said he made the team’s “real aggressive” out-of-conference schedule with fans in mind, mentioning home match-ups against Southeastern Conference member Mississippi State and Conference USA opponents Tulane and Houston as games he thought fans would be excited to attend.
— McDonald said he’s especially looking forward to the game against Mississippi State, who won the 2009 SEC tournament, on Jan. 4.
“We feel like Mississippi State will be an electric game,” McDonald said. “For them to be willing to come to our place, that says a lot about their program, and we’re pretty excited for that one.”
— The Toppers will face South Carolina and former coach Darrin Horn on Dec. 2, the first time the teams have met since Horn left Western in 2008. McDonald said that he and Horn have spoken when they’ve seen each other at tournaments or other events on the road.
“I have a lot of respect for coach,” he said. “He left me some good players, and he’s done some special things down there, but there won’t be a whole lot of talking on the sidelines. It’s just another game.”
— Western will host Florida International on Jan. 16, and McDonald said he looks forward to facing coach Isiah Thomas for the first time.
“I’m just glad we don’t have to play one on one,” he said. “But he’s done a good job of recruiting, and I’m sure he’ll be organized and ready to go once the season rolls around.”

Coach Ken McDonald spent a few minutes talking to the Herald about the 2009-10 men’s basketball schedule, which was released on Saturday. Here are the highlights:

  • McDonald said he made the team’s “real aggressive” out-of-conference schedule with fans in mind, mentioning home match-ups against Southeastern Conference member Mississippi State and Conference USA opponents Tulane and Houston as games he thought fans would be excited to attend.
  • McDonald said he’s especially looking forward to the game against Mississippi State, who won the 2009 SEC tournament, on Jan. 4. “We feel like Mississippi State will be an electric game,” McDonald said. “For them to be willing to come to our place, that says a lot about their program, and we’re pretty excited for that one.”
  • The Toppers will face South Carolina and former coach Darrin Horn on Dec. 2, the first time the teams have met since Horn left Western in 2008. McDonald said that he and Horn have spoken when they’ve seen each other at tournaments or other events on the road. “I have a lot of respect for coach,” he said. “He left me some good players, and he’s done some special things down there, but there won’t be a whole lot of talking on the sidelines. It’s just another game.”
  • Western will host Florida International on Jan. 16, and McDonald said he looks forward to facing coach Isiah Thomas for the first time. “I’m just glad we don’t have to play one on one,” he said. “But he’s done a good job of recruiting, and I’m sure he’ll be organized and ready to go once the season rolls around.”
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Two potential coaches of the year with common ties

I’m sitting at the Herald right now, watching former Western coach and Western alum Darrin Horn lead South Carolina in an absolute whooping on Kentucky.

Which brings up a couple interesting points: what are the odds that Horn is named SEC Coach of the Year and current Western coach Ken McDonald is named Sun Belt Coach of the Year?

Horn seems like the obvious front-runner, while McDonald may see a little competition in Troy coach Don Maestri. Considering that the Trojans were picked dead last in the conference, you’d almost have to give the nod to Maestri. But nonetheless, the success McDonald has had in his first season has exceeded expectations.

It’s a tough call, because it’s certainly impressive that McDonald and Western are looking like they’ll win the regular season Sun Belt Title for the first time since 2005-06.

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What a difference a year makes

Remember when South Alabama paid a visit to Western a year ago? Then-coach Darrin Horn claimed it was the biggest game at Diddle Arena in the last 15 years.

NBA scouts turned out in droves, as did fans, despite the ice storm that had hit Bowling Green earlier in the day.

It turned out to be a great game. Western lost by five, but who can forget when Ty Rogers went diving over press row, pumping up the crowd?

There was so much anticipation in the weeks building up to that game. Both those teams last year were NCAA tournament at-large bid-caliber teams, with Western needing a win over a top-50 team in the Ratings Percentage Index.

This year’s game doesn’t come with quite as much hype, but still has plenty of excitement. According to Western officials, earlier this week fewer than 1,000 tickets remained for the game that is set to be televised on ESPN2, with Eric Collins and Bucky Waters on the call.

South Alabama is down a little bit, but you can bet that whenever these two teams get together, it’s going to be a good game.

Western comes in after winning two straight games on the road, and having won their last 11 games at home. In fact, the last time Western lost at home was when they lost to South Alabama last season.

We haven’t gotten word on whether or not coach Ken McDonald will be available to talk about the game on Friday, but if he is, we’ll bring you the news and notes from the press conference.

– Andrew Robinson

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Horn vs Felton

Horn returns to Lexington, and Felton leaves Athens without a job. Both took Western to at least one NCAA Tournament appearance, but only one would be welcomed back in Bowling Green with open arms.

Felton.

All this activity with Felton being fired and Horn returning has gotten quite a bit of action on the Western message boards. Most are saying they could care less whether or not Horn is back in Kentucky this weekend and were glad to see him go.

On the flip side, folks are feeling for Felton. How can you not? No one wants to lose their job right now. However, Felton should rebound from the firing well next season.

Whether people admit or not, Western fans will be watching tomorrow when South Carolina plays Kentucky in Rupp. And they can either cheer for a coach who left Western’s program in great shape, graduated 100 percent and took the team to the Sweet 16, or for Kentucky, who has always looked at Western as the school that played second fiddle in the state.

Felton and Horn had a non-existent public relationship. And to add onto that, Western fans and Horn never had the greatest relationship. They looked at him as ignorant and cocky, not to mention unapproachable in public.

In December, when Felton returned to play Western, he got a warm reception, something Horn should receive if he were to return to Bowling Green. Knowing Western fans, he probably won’t, because they don’t seem to be getting over a grudge they had against him that I never understood.

As a working member of the media, Horn was nothing but cordial to us on every occasion we spoke with him, but Western fans didn’t mind seeing him go, and could care less that he is back this weekend.

– Andrew Robinson

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MONDAY MORNING MEMO: What a weekend, and comparing WKU to Drake

So Western is officially atop the standings in the Sun Belt Conference for now, after Middle Tennessee State lost at Arkansas-Little Rock on Saturday night. Western, despite an apparent hangover from the win over MTSU on Thursday, was able to hold off New Orleans.

A little bit on an interesting swing for the Toppers this week. They’ll play host to Louisiana-Lafayette on Thursday night before heading to play Denver on the road on Saturday. It will be interesting to see how Western responds with the quick turnaround when travel is inserted into the equation.

*****

Saturday morning Drake was on television. They got beat by MVC-rival Northern Iowa at home. Of course, who can forget Western’s buzzer-beater win over Drake in the first round of last year’s NCAA tournament? Since then, the parallels between the two programs have been plenty, and since I don’t have class today, I thought it would be interesting to look at two very similar programs who went through very similar off-seasons. Former Drake coach Keno Davis headed to Providence, while former WKU coach Darrin Horn is at South Carolina.

Also like WKU, Drake was left with a prominent backcourt player in Josh Young and prominent forward Jonathon Cox, while first year coach Mark Phelps filled in the rest with younger players. Drake’s roster also includes two transfers.

First-year WKU head coach Ken McDonald was left with a fairly talented core with the likes of A.J. Slaughter, Orlando Mendez-Valdez and Jeremy Evans.

Drake is currently 13-6 and 4-3 in the Valley, while Western is 12-6 and 6-1 in the Sun Belt.

Both schedules have had their fair share of challenges. Drake has lost to Butler and Vanderbilt, but has beaten in-state foes Iowa and Iowa State. Their worst loss so far appears to be at home to Stephen F. Austin.

Western, on the other hand, has a marquee win over Louisville, plus decent wins over Southern Illinois and Georgia, but the Toppers are held back by poor losses to Florida International and Murray State.

So who has survived the coaching change and post-NCAA Tourney win better? It’s a tough call, since both lost a fair amount of production. Drake lost Emmenecker, Houston and Korver, while WKU lost Lee, Brazelton and Rogers.

Western seems much more poised to head back to the NCAA Tournament and has shown enough potential that there would be no excuse for them not to be a part of the field of 65. Drake, on the other hand, sits in the middle of the pack in the Valley.

Obviously there are discrepancies in the level of competition between the Valley and the Sun Belt, but you could start another blog on how the Sun Belt needs to turn it up.

So who has the advantage in the next five years, Western or Drake?

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