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Nov. 4, 2004

USC Head Coach Dave Odom talked to the media Thursday afternoon prior to playing USC-Update in an exhibition on Monday, Nov. 8 at the Colonial Center. General admission tickets for the exhibition are $5 and available now.

Odom first talked a bit about the team in general.

“Everyone is healthy,” said Odom. “We are beginning to regain some of our focus upon returning from Canada. The earlier start helped us in numerous ways but it was temporarily harmful because when we got back from Canada, while it was a good trip and we played like a good team, we needed to hold onto until the season starts.

“It’s been a little hard, but yesterday I was impressed because they gave us a good effort and showed me we are much more ready to play on Monday night. I am not downplaying who we are playing on Monday but right now it’s not about who we are playing but we need to be ready ourselves. We will approach Monday night’s scrimmage like we did the games in Canada. But this game is even more important to us because it’s our first public appearance here.

Coach Odom was then asked about the line-up on Monday night.

“It’s hard to say the line-up right now. I haven’t made one up in my mind but whatever line-up we use on Monday, there’s a good chance we will use it against Western Carolina as well. I am more concerned right now about finding five finishers than five starters. I can quickly change the starters if I don’t like them. But at the end is what you have to go with right now. Later in the season we will be more concerned with both.

“I am learning more about this team right now. I know more about them physically and athletically right now than I do mentally. Offensively and defensively we are not where we need to be in the low-pose. Defensively we are not playing cohesively as a union yet. Our half court offense is not where it needs to be yet. I am concerned about our mental approach right now. Some of that hunger might have been lost when we came back from Canada and we need to work on that. They are not tired, but when you go well over a month without outside games, you lose focus and hunger but I was encouraged about the way they practiced yesterday.”

What will fans see that is different this year?

“There’s less half court and more full court play. There is more full court defense from the outset of the game for the entire game.”

Have any players wowed you yet?

“Brandon Wallace. He is probably one of our more improved players this year. But you have to keep the firing burning with him everyday. He really has a chance.

“Renaldo Balkman is better and he was very good last year. I’m amazed that people don’t talk more about him. (media).

“Tre’ Kelley is also developing into a good player and a leader. He is much stronger and his defense is much better. He is developing into a leader as well.

“Tarence Kinsey is also doing a very good job. He is being a good solider, saying things the right way, doing things the right way.”