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Oct. 13, 2005

Columbia, S.C. – The South Carolina men’s and women’s basketball teams held media day on Thurdsday afternoon. Here is what Dave Odom and Susan Walvius had to say as the 2005-06 season approaches.

Dave Odom Head Men’s Basketball Coach

“As you look at the prospects for our 2005-06 season, you know it is easy to focus on the past. We are one of two Carolinas in this country to win the last game. North Carolina obviously won the national championship, make no mistake about that. We won a national championship, too. I’m pleased with that. Nobody wants their legacy to be, `Oh he was a great NIT coach.’ That’s a beginning, it’s not an end. You take what you can get when you can get it and we won the NIT last year. I certainly don’t apologize for that. I’ve said so many times, when you are playing basketball at Madison Square Garden, arguably the world’s most famous arena, the last week of March, first weekend of April, you win a championships, you are pretty good.”

“Our team ended up pretty good. I know we beat some pretty good teams on our way to that championship. The thing that happens is that you tend to focus on the past. We won the NIT Championship. What are we going to do with it? That’s the key. It’s time to move on now. We have already built on the success of last year’s team. We already have done that. Now will that kind of springboard into another real good season – I don’t know that. What I’m trying to focus in on is what is possible now.”

” I will tell you now, the most difficult job as a coach in these times, the most difficult challenge we have is getting from the end of one season to the beginning of the next season with your roster intact. It’s absolutely next to impossible. We’ve done that. We have everybody academically eligible and we have not injured anyone in our preseason work.”

“I think the word of the year is courage. I think that’s the key word, the optimum word. I think when you look at our team, we have more experience coming back than any team I have had at South Carolina. We are two deep at each position and at a couple positions, more than that. There is not a single player on our team, at this point in our development, that I would mind putting in game, any game, in any situation. I can’t remember the last time I was able to say that. We have great experience coming back. We are deep. Our athleticism, as good as it was last year, I think has improved. We are more physical in the middle.”

“Yes we lost Carlos Powell and no we have no one to fill his spot. We don’t have anyone to assume the sole role of leadership that he had. But, collectively I think we do. I think we have enough on the board to make up that difference.”

“Leadership is always a factor. I think Tarence Kinsey, Brandon Wallace, Tre’ Kelley, Renaldo Balkman and Rocky Trice, those guys in concert will provide us the leadership. My question to those guys every day is `Do you have the courage?’ It takes a great deal of courage to play at the top of the heap. You have to leg it out there every single day at practice and you have to be accountable every single night. You lay it out there and you are either good enough or not. Experience doesn’t do it for you. The ability to run, jump, block shots, dunk, make shots unguarded, doesn’t do it for you. You have got to do it in the clutch. You have to do it when it counts. The challenge I think for this team is, do you have the courage. I think they do. I have a lot of faith in them, I have a lot of confidence in them. They have done what we have asked them to do in the summer. They have done it willingly, anxiously, they are excited about the opportunity to build on what they feel like, was a good off-season.”

“Tre Kelley. By the end of the year, I think you will be saying `boy he was right.’ He will be one of the best point guards in this league this year. Any given night, I think he will rise and play amongst the best. He’s good. I think you will see him as a better leader.

“Tarence Kinsey is bigger and stronger and more experienced. I think he’s more confident. He clearly was our best defender on the perimeter last year. I expect nothing less than that this season.

“Renaldo Balkman, as we know, had a subpar year last year. He knows that, nobody knows it better than him. He was not injured this summer, he worked diligently and he is bigger and better.

“Our best player maybe going into this season might be Rocky Trice. As you know he was absolutely terrific down the stretch last year. He’s extraordinary, he really is. Being able to describe how he plays, is kinda hard. He plays better without the basketball in his hand yet he’s very good in finishing. He knocks a lot of balls loose defensively, gets out in the open. He’s a great kid.

Tre’ Kelley, Guard,

“I have a lot to work on, but I’ve learned in the last couple years I have been here. I’ve been working on my shooting and I feel I’m a lot better shooter then I’ve showed you guys in the last couple years.”

Susan Walvius
Head women’s basketball coach

“When we had our press conference last year, I told you at that time, I didn’t know how we were going to be. We did not have a group of leaders and we did not have a senior or junior class. I wasn’t sure how we were going to be. This year I feel very different about our team. I think we have a pretty legitimate chance. We have a chance because we had an opportunity to take our team to Europe. We took our team to Europe the year before we went to the Elite Eight and we were in a similar situation as we are in now.”

“We have a team with two years of foundation of teaching and a team that has been through the experience of playing in the SEC for two years. It’s nice to have a junior class that has been on the floor. There are a lot of juniors in this conference that now, for the first time, have the first chance to play.”

“Our team has been on the floor for two years in this conference and made great strides winning two of our last three games.”

“I think you will see women’s basketball an improved product this year, in general. The NCAA changed the rules and we are now able to practice four hours a week with our entire team.”

“Young players have a very individual mentality. They are worried about how much playing time they are going to get, about not making mistakes, most the young kids don’t think from a team perspective. Our team right now understands what they are getting ready to face. They understand what it takes to be successful. They are sprinting the floor, not just running. Our team understands the value of holding onto the basketball and working for a good shot.”

“I couldn’t pick a lineup if I had to today. I will tell you that when we were in Europe I was very impressed with Angela Hunter. She is a player who is shooting the ball well for us right now and is passing the ball well right now. She’s helping Melanie Johnson look good.”

“They are competing every day for playing time. That competition is very healthy. We have not had that depth and experience here at Carolina in three years. I see an entire team that is committed to excellence. You have to be a competitor and you have to be pretty tough mentally to weatherthe storm throughout the games we are going to play.”

Melanie Johnson

“Turnovers were mistakes by a young team. I think this year we have a great point guard with Lea Fabbri, she played great when we were in Europe. She seemed like a different player. We understand the value of each possession so hopefully turnovers won’t be a big problem this year.”

“The style of play in Europe was a little different. They were very physical and I think they were more physical than a lot of teams we play here.”

“We looked real good running our plays and now as juniors we realize that the small things do matter. I’m just thinking if we would have done those small things, how much better we can be.”

Lauren Simms

“I think the experience will definitely help us. That will help us this year. We have grown together, played together and gained some maturity.”

“I feel much better. My knee is getting stronger every day. I put in a lot of hard work this summer to get back and play this season. I think it’s paying off right now and I’m taking it one day at a time.”