Nov. 4, 2005
With the season less than a week away, junior Renaldo Balkman returned this fall with a new excitement for basketball. Spending time in Germany this past summer with teammate Stephen McDowell on an all-star team, Renaldo realized it was time to take that next step on the ladder of maturity. The 6′ 8, 208lb. forward from Tampa sat down and talked about last season, this season and what game he is most looking forward to this.
USC: How has practice been going the last couple weeks?
RB: Practice has been going great so far this year. We already look like a better team than last year. We are quicker and stronger and hoping to have a good year.
USC: Tre’ Kelley said the other day your team had hit a rough patch earlier this week. How do you feel things are going now?
RB: We had a little rough patch, but we shook if off. Coach talked to us. Everyone has a rough time once in awhile, but I hope we are past that and going to take the next step.
USC: Is it hard for you to continue to play your teammates day in and day out?
RB: No, not really. The hard part is they know the plays and they get there when you do so you have to over-think that person. But it’s not that hard.
USC: Who has been impressive in practice so far?
RB: I would say Brandon Wallace and Tarence Kinsey by knocking down shots at clutch times. They are also a lot stronger than they were last year.
USC: Coach Odom has talked some in the preseason that you had a disappointing season last year. You have also acknowledged that. What have you done in the off-season to make sure you come back this year and have your best year?
RB: I went to Germany and played on the SCORE International team this past summer and that helped a lot (he led the team in rebounds and was second in scoring). I grew up a little bit over there. I realized what I had to do and that I had to buckle down a little bit to play basketball. Last year I was a little immature and now I am getting older so it’s time to grow up. This year is my time to shine and I am going to do it.
USC: What parts of your game have you worked on to make sure that this is your best year?
RB: I have worked a lot on my shooting. I play a lot harder and not give up on plays. I know the plays a lot better this year. Last year they said I didn’t know the plays. It wasn’t that I didn’t know them, you know how it is, sometimes you get confused and I think sometimes it was more that on the court. I know them now.
USC: Are you looking forward to the season? Which newcomer have you been most impressed with?
RB: I am very excited for the season to begin. I have been most impressed with Dominique Archie. Dominique is very athletic. I didn’t think he would be that athletic. He has my vote right now for the most athletic newcomer.
USC: What game are you most looking forward to this year?
RB: Florida. Florida. We haven’t beaten them since I got here and I want to get those boys this year.
USC: Anything you would like to say to the fans?
RB: Come out and support us!
The men’s team will open the season at the Colonial Center with an exhibition with USC-Aiken. The 7:30 pm exhibition on Thursday, Nov. 10 will be free of charge and open to all the public. All seating will be general admission and doors at the Colonial Center will open at 6:30 pm.
The South Carolina student-athletes are participating in a food drive competition against the Clemson student-athletes. The Gamecock student-athletes will be on hand at the door that night (Nov. 10) to collect canned food items. The canned food drive, a competition between the two school’s student-athletes, will culminate on Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Carolina-Clemson football game when the winner will be announced at half-time. All canned food items collected from both schools will be donated to Harvest Hope Food Bank. Basketball fans are encouraged to bring multiple cans of food to the Colonial Center.
The men’s basketball regular season opens at home with a 1:30 pm game against Toledo on Sunday, Nov. 20.