Sept. 27, 2004
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Opening practice almost three weeks early due to the planned in-season foreign trip, USC Head Men’s Basketball Coach Dave Odom visited with the media today discussing the Gamecock men’s basketball program.
USC practiced this morning at 6 am and will practice again this evening at 5 pm. Everyone practiced this morning, with the exception of Tarence Kinsey who is nursing a sore ankle.
“The first work-out this morning went very very well. We have added a few wrinkles to what our offense will turn out to be and I am happy,’ said Odom. “Defensively I see us as being at least as good as we were last year, hopefully better. Offensively, I know we will be better. We still need to establish a leader to replace Mike Boynton or we will have to replace him by committee. Either way is fine with me as long as it gets done.
“One of the coaches said this morning they thought we were much quicker than we have been in the previous three years,” added Odom. “We have a long ways to go, but we have plenty of time to get there. The Canadian trip will be a nice springboard to the season. It should be an exciting regular season.
“Our schedule is more difficult than it was last year, but it should be. But if we want to get where we want to be we have to play teams like Kansas and Pittsburgh on the road and adding Clemson and Temple here – we have really improved our schedule. Last year’s schedule was right for last year and this year’s schedule is right for this year. I made this schedule based on what I feel our team needs, but this isn’t my schedule or our team’s schedule. It’s our universities schedule. We have to push our team to practice as hard as they can. Our fans have to support us and be in the stands when we play at home. They need to also support us when we are on the road. It is the right schedule for this team. We need to play games like that (Kansas, etc.) and feel like we belong.”
The men’s team will be allowed to practice for 10 days prior to departing for Ottawa and Montreal, Canada on a foreign tour Oct. 13-17. USC will open its season with an exhibition against USC Upstate on Monday, Nov. 8. The regular season will open up on Sunday, Nov. 21 when the Gamecocks host Western Carolina at 2 pm.
Here are a few of Coach Odom’s comments:
Why are you going to Canada this time of year?
We are off to a very early start thanks to our administration giving us the nod for the Canadian trip. I always thought the in-season foreign trips were better than the out-of-season trips. The in-season trip is much better because you can bring you entire team – everyone. You really get your first look at what your team is going to be like and I can’t think of a better year than our team to go on a trip like this. I also felt that if you can stay in the same time zone you are much better served to do so as well.
I wanted to go to a place where we could play some “real teams.” We are playing some stiff competition. They have been practicing since Sept. 1. I feel the timing is good and we will see our new guys under real fire against some proven teams.
Winning is always important, but I won’t say that winning is the most important part of this trip. If you look at our basketball team you can see we have a lot to prove right now. The things I worried most about is our level of toughness. The mental toughness Boynton showed game in and game out last year. We haven’t shown that. They have shown it in their own way with the 6 am work-outs, but right now if things go poorly and they will, how does the team respond?
How was the summer?
We are at point now where we can turn our sights on getting a team together. We need to fill the voids of losing two guys in the post in Rolando Howell and Kerbrell Brown. That is rather daunting there because that is quite a void, but we did bring in a transfer, Antoine Tisby, and once he becomes comfortable in our system he will be an outstanding player for us. We need him this year. He’s big and he’s strong and hopefully he will be able to stand up to that kind of competition.
Our most improved player at this point is Tre’ Kelley. I was hoping he would be improved and I think he is. He has a different look in his eye, a different way he walks, he’s much more comfortable and hopefully he will be great at the point guard spot.
Each one in their own way has improved. Nobody in any sport here has spent more time at USC than Carlos Powell. He has gone to every summer school session not because he has to but because he wants to and felt that was the best way he could improve. He’s done a nice job.
How can you replace Mike Boynton and Rolando Howell?
We can score more. We can score better at more positions. I don’t think we will put anyone out there that doesn’t have the ability to make his shots. We really have some quickness on the wings and can get the ball down the floor quicker.
Naming any starters right now, besides maybe Carlos Powell, is a bit premature. I don’t know anybody that couldn’t play appreciable minutes during this season right now. I feel like everyone on this team could play. If we went down to LSU to play right now, I know I could put Dwayne Day in there without worrying and I can’t always same I’ve been able to do that with an entire team. I feel really good about them.