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Oct. 17, 2005

NOTE: Practice will be open the first hour on Monday, Oct. 24. Coach Odom and two requested players will be available for interviews prior to practice. The exact time for interviews and practice will be sent out later this week.

Carolina’s Odom comments on preseason practice

Columbia, SC – With a few pre-season practices under their belt and Hardwood Hoopla a pleasant, but distant memory, South Carolina head basketball coach Dave Odom talked about the Gamecocks pre-season practice and a few surprises already.

Q: You are practicing twice a day the first week. How is practice going and are you happy with what you are seeing?

Odom: Our players have played with extraordinary energy and enthusiasm. I think they are much more confident than even I thought they would be coming into the season. The experience factor is certainly working in our favor. At each position we have good experience and as I mix the teams up I can hardly tell the difference from one day to another and one practice to another. The players are in good shape and they are getting better as time goes by.

We have only worked on our offense so far in practice. I have encouraged the defense to play well, but we won’t start teaching our defense until later next week.

Q: What are a couple things you are emphasizing with the offense right now?

Odom: We are emphasizing everyone learning the offense, putting the segments together and not breaking it down piece by piece. We are working on learning it as a whole – how one leads to another. We have put in three basic sets and I like each one because one compliments the other and they are totally different. They give you something different when you run them correctly. One gives you a jump shot, one gives you a power move, and one gets you across the court vertically, the other horizontally. It gives the defense a lot to look at.

Right now there is really good balance between the outside and the inside. Our perimeter players are a bit ahead, but our post guys aren’t that far behind.

Q: Will we see a number of new wrinkles in the defense?

Odom: Defensively, I want to see us rebound better. I want us to be a much-improved rebounding team. I think we will be, but defense is different than offense. Defense is energy. Defense is enthusiasm. Defense is all about getting your guys to play really, really hard, while your offense is about getting your team to play well. To play hard, with intensity, but there is a balance in there where you want them to relax and not be in a rush on offense. Defensively you want to try to hurry the other team up and make them play faster than they are capable of playing.

Q: Is your team further ahead right now than in past years because of the experience you have returning (four starters) or because of the new rule that has allowed you to practice with unlimited numbers on the court prior to Oct. 15?

Odom: I think it’s both. The experience factor makes the teaching easier and we were able to begin sooner with unlimited numbers and that helps us in terms of getting further along at an earlier stage in our practice.

(New rule) In the past prior to Oct. 15 you were allowed two hours a week of instruction. But with the new rule, you can have instruction with unlimited numbers. Before you were limited to four on the court for instruction, but now you have as many on the court as you would like. The only thing that you must do, you must keep up with the hours each player is allowed on the court. No player is allowed to be out there more than two hours a week in the preseason.

I love this rule. It’s just perfect. It’s one of the best things the NCAA has done.

Q: Any surprises so far in practice? Something you weren’t expecting?

Odom: No big surprises, but our big guys, Keving Palacios and Ousmane Konate, both are perhaps more skilled than I thought. Dominique Archie is more athletic than I thought. Bryce Sheldon is more versatile than I thought.