July 18, 2002
South Carolina Head Coach Dave Odom participated in a summer teleconference call for Southeastern Conference coaches Thursday.
Below is a transcript of his question and answer session with members of Southeastern and national media.
Q: Please give us a few comments about your returning players.
A: “We feel really good about our returning three starters. However, we are balanced by the fact that we lost two really good starters in Aaron Lucas and Jamel Bradley. Jamel was the leading three point shooter in our school’s history and Aaron developed into one of the best defensive players in the league if not the country.
“We have Chuck Eidson back after a really good junior season. Chuck is stronger, has more confidence and his knee is just fine and actually is stronger. He is going to assume the role of leadership that Aaron had last year.
“Tony Kitchings came on at the end of last season and has worked hard to stay in shape this summer. He’s been working hard academically and wants to put himself in place for graduation. Plus, he’s getting married Aug. 3, so it’s a big summer for Tony.
“Rolando Howell came on strong at the end of last year and is committed to having a strong season. Night in and night out, he has the tools to compete against the best in college basketball.
“We do feel we have good depth at the post position overall, but we do have some untested players in the backcourt.”
Q: How do you carry over the momentum from last year’s strong finish and berth in the NIT finals?
A: “Our team expected me to kick their butts in the offseason, and we did with strength and conditioning. The difference this year is the players’ attitudes – we didn’t have to search them out and encourage them this season and our run to the NIT finals helped. They tasted it and wanted more and made themselves available to the strength coach and have played a lot of pickup ball. Plus, our players have worked really hard on their skills as well. Last year at this time, it was more difficult for the players to see why those types of things are necessary. This year, they’re seeking it out on their own and that’s a sign of maturity on this team – a maturity I hope this will carry on throughout our season.”
Q: Give us an update on who you signed this season.
A: “I was in North Carolina recently and one coach told me ‘Dave, you’ve got one of your classic recruiting classes full of people we haven’t heard of.’ I hope that’s a good thing because we’ve had solid success in recruiting in my tenure as a head coach.
“We got Jarod Gerald from prep school. He is a good solid player and we needed help at the point guard. We signed two players out of the state of Florida and we were forutnate to get both of them. Marcus Morrison is a very good athlete and has a chance to be a good defender while Terance Kinsey is more of a scorer but can do other things as well and did very well in the high school ranks in Florida. Kerbrell Brown is a junior college transfer who we did not plan to sign so late, but we needed a seasoned players. Kerbrell is more of an inside-outside player.
“I think our staff should be commended on the job they did with recruiting. I feel good about our class and I think in time, all of those individuals will help us.”
Q: Do you plan playing Chuck Eidson at point guard?
A: “Playing Chuck Eidson at the point is the fail-safe option, but putting him there right off the bat will close out Michael Boynton or Jerod Jerald, or someone else who could play there. I’m not convinced putting him at the point will help this team by putting a ceiling on everyone else.
“I’d prefer thinking of Chuck as a wing at first but if we need a safety net, we certainly can play him there.
“Chuck is one the better ball-handlers, passers and decision makers on our team. I’ve been around a lot of players with good intuition, but I’ve never been around a player with a better mind of the game than Chuck. He really understands the game and knows what to do on the court. Chuck has that kind of ability and was one of the better players in the league as a non-scorer, but I think he’ll move up in the ranks because he will be more of a scorer this season.”
Q: Who will be the shooters or go-to men outside with the loss of Jamel Bradley?
A: “Losing Jamel Bradley is a problem from the shooting end. We do have some capable post players but one of the keys for their play is a good perimeter game. Jamel provided that for us, and even when he didn’t hit shots or went into a slump he kept the attention of opposing team and stretched the defenses. Not having a guy like that this season is concerning for me.
“We now need to develop our outside game because it’s the least proven of the two. We still need to work inside, but as opposed to last year, we need to work on the outside to compliment inside.”
Q: Give me your impressions of the SEC after one season in the league.
A: “For years, the SEC has been known as one of great “run and jump” athletes, but nobody ever told me how highly skilled the players were and I saw that last season. I did know and I confirmed that there are great coaches in this league. The SEC coaches are nothing short of exceptional.
“The thing most different for me was the impact on the geography of this league has on South Carolina, for instance. Right now, I couldn’t tell you who some of the teams in the west have signed … the familiarity is not there for me. I might be able to tell you the starting lineups, but I can’t tell you the recruits, etc. In the ACC, they’d recite recruiting classes and report when a coach sneezed, and that was a product of the proximity of the schools. In a weird way, I kind of like it the way it is now because I don’t worry about other teams.”