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Nov. 28, 2003

Sophomore Tarence Kinsey was named the MVP of the Guardians Classic on Tuesday and is averaging 15.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.0 apg and 1.8 spg. Kinsey sat down with to talk about the team’s 5-0 start and why he’s playing so well this year.

The Gamecocks host Campbell University on Saturday, Nov. 29 at 8 pm at The Colonial Center. The women’s team will play prior to the men – with a 6:00 pm tip-off versus Florida A and M.

Q – Being named the MVP of the Guardians Classic must have been a bit boost to your game?

A – It’s given me a lot of confidence. It’s like a pat on the back for all the hard work I put in over the summer.

Q – Are you surprised at how well you are playing this season?

A – Not really. I know I put in a lot of time this summer in the weight room and on the court. A few us would go to the Practice Facility and shoot for hours. It helped me a lot.

Q – What did you feel like when you entered games last year?

A – When I got in the games, I felt like I didn’t belong. The guys were so much bigger and stronger. I would think ‘who can I stick and get around’? I wasn’t scared, but I was too anxious to do anything good.

Q – Well, you don’t seem anxious this year. What is the secret?

A – I don’t think about it. I just go out and play. I worked hard this summer – so I guess it’s like I am now playing on instinct.

Q – What about the team’s 5-0 start?

A – We’re proud we are 5-0, but we know the competition will keep getting tougher and tougher.

Q – Is there someone that helped you during the off-season?

A – Darby Rich, our strength coach helped a lot in the weight room and off the court. Coming in and shooting a lot gave me a lot of determination and confidence.

Q – What are some things the team needs to improve on in the coming games?

A – We need to win the rebound battle. We need to force more shots on the outside of the paint. We need to not give up any lay-ups. We need to get the line and shoot more free throws.

Q – With so many newcomers playing this year – have you had to play more of a leadership role?

A – The seniors are providing really good leadership. I tell the younger fellas to keep their spirits up, to play hard and have fun. It’s important to make them feel like they are a part of the team.

Q – Who should the fans come to watch – what newcomer?

A – Renaldo Balkman. I think the fans will like him this year. He plays with a lot of energy, excitement and passion. But all the new players are talented and bring a lot to the table.

Q – People say the Gamecock fans are some of the best in the country. Why should they come watch you and your teammates play? What should they look for this year?

A – We are more athletic than last year. We are playing with more speed. We are having a good time – it’s much more fun to watch us play because we are playing more of a run and gun offense. We have a lot of speed and some good shooters so we don’t have to set up every play because we are better athletes that can create some of our own shots. I think they will like what they see. We are young, but we are hungry!