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Oct. 14, 2003

USC head men’s basketball coach Dave Odom held his preseason press conference this afternoon in the Frank McGuire Room. Here are a few comments from Coach Odom, followed by three players: Carlos Powell, Mike Boynton and Tarence Kinsey.

Overview of the team:
We are extremely excited about this season. We have worked very hard in the off-season. Now we are going to practice, this is when you can control things. We are at the doorstep of the season and we are being given the opportunity to control things ourselves – how we shoot free throws, how we defend, how we play offense, how we work together. Those things are exciting to me.

The youth of our team is exciting to me. To see our older players get ready for the season. We gave them one week off after last season and they started back to work. They have improved themselves ? that’s exciting to me. We now have a chance to build a better basketball team than we ended with last season ? that’s exciting to me. I am very proud of them and that’s justified. They have worked as hard as any team I’ve had in the off-season.

You are looking at a head basketball coach, a staff and a team that is excited for this season, practice to begin. And to that end, we wanted to something different and that’s why we are having Midnight Madness tomorrow night. Our team is really looking for it. It’s a springboard into the season and it’s way to introduce our new team to our fans and our students.

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about our individual work-outs and preseason. I have spent more time with the team in the past and that doesn’t mean we will be better, but that means I know our players better. We have a number of new players and I wanted to spend time getting to know what they can do. I am very pleased with the four new players. Those four are skilled, they are big, they are strong, they are athletes and they are great kids that work hard. I can promise you that.

But, they have yet to have a practice, let alone a game. There is a huge learning curve that some people can shutter at. That doesn’t bother me one bit. Youth is not always bad. If our best players ended up being first-year players, they will play. I am not one to say they are too young to win, they are too young to win if you tell them they are too young to win. Now, they maybe too young, but I am not going to give them that crutch yet. I think all of them will play, I just don’t know what their roles will all be.

The newcomers will also play in concert with a guy like Carlos Powell. They will also play with Mike Boynton, a very strong leader. He might not be an All-SEC player, but he might be an All-SEC leader. He has worked very hard in the off-season. Tarence Kinsey is another player who has improved so much this off-season. He has worked hard in the weight room, on his shot and in the classroom.

I do know that early on we are going to need to depend upon each other. We are going to need each other to do that. I think the greatest need on our team is that we understand that we control our attitude. We control our own attitude. Nobody else controls that. I am not going to let my team decide how they feel. Anybody that writes we are short-handed, etc. – I don’t care. We have the same opportunity as everybody else and we need to open our season committed to each other first. Then we have a chance. The first thing is the attitude of the team.

Then you look at what we need from last year: greater toughness, you need decidedly better rebounding (figures don’t lie), our defensive effort and field goal percentage against needs to be improved. That effort was not acceptable last year. This year we must also find a way to get easy baskets. Those things need to be addressed early and often and well, and we will do that. Our schedule is appropriate and we will worry about that a little later. I am not concerned about that right now.

What about the improvement of Carlos Powell?
I would expect that Carlos, along with Mike Boynton, will be one of our very best leaders. I think I know more about him now. We asked him to do things last year that may be we not in his best interest. We might have used him wrong, so we have greatly tweaked our offense to put him in the right place. Still he has enormous skills and I think his play-making will be better because he has improved through his off-season work. I hope his defense and rebounding skills improve, I know his leadership has improved.

The four newcomers ? can you talk about where they are likely to end up?
By trade Tre Kelley is a point guard, but can play off. By trade Josh Gonner is a shooter who can possibly play at the point. By trade Brandon Wallace I’d like to see on the perimeter but we’ll will likely be short-handed at first so he will play the post, a la, Carlos Powell ? in relief of Carlos. But I think when it’s all said and done he will be a perimeter player who will be able to play inside. Paulius is a low post player that can shoot high post jump shots. He is very skilled. He weighs close to 250, at 6’10. We don’t battle physical conditioning with him, he is a very hard worker, like Marius was. We hope he is tough as well.

This year’s class has better perimeter players. Tre Kelley is a guard. Tarence Kinsey is a guard. Josh Gonner is a guy who can make open jump shots and he loves to score. But again, we have to go through that learning curver.

What about Mike Boynton?
He is a guard who can play the off spot.

What about John Chappell?
He is one of the hardest workers I have ever been around. He wants a chance to play and he is going to get it. He understands his role. He is very smart. He has greatly improved and there still are some limitations there. We are going to play around those.

Last year you had a number of challenges. Is this year more difficult?
This year is different in that we don’t have a full deck of cards early on. There are different challenges every year. Each year is unique. Each year has its own set-up. It’s up to the coaches and my staff to recognize this and design a plan to meet the needs of the team.

I am not one that likes to be picked last, but I am not worried about it.

Player Quotes

Tarence Kinsey, sophomore
We worked hard this off-season. We worked hard to improve every day. Each day we are striving to improve. Everyone is working hard and we’ll come together regardless of what happens.

In the off-season I worked hard on my strength, my ball handling, my shooting and of course my school work. We want to play well this year.

Mike Boynton, Jr., senior
We don’t want to look too far ahead but we have to have goals. We are very excited to start practice. We are excited to start. I want to be able to compete with SEC caliber players. We are gonna work hard and take it for what it’s worth.

This team is young. We will have to establish leadership ? what we will accept and not accept of the team. We need to show the younger players early on the way. We need to show them the right way to do things. We will work to establish short term and long term goals. We also want to work to establish a relationship with the fans. We need their support.

Carlos Powell, junior
I will lead by example. You can’t always lead by just talking. The young guys are very important to our team. We have a lot of guys who can score, people haven’t seen them yet. I have worked hard in the off-season to step up my game.

This year we have to stay focused, have fun and go out and play basketball. That’s so important for this team. The young guys take a lot of pressure off the returnees because they are very good. They will make it a lot of fun for us.

Nobody believes in South Carolina. USC is already marked on a lot of schedules as a win for a lot of teams. We have to work hard to show them we can play basketball with them. It’s gonna be a lot of fun and we are excited to start the season.