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Nov. 6, 2005

Entering his senior year, South Carolina’s 6′ 8, 238lb. power forward Antoine Tisby is hoping this season includes a trip to the NCAA Tournament after winning the NIT title last year. As the season draws closer, with the free exhibition against USC-Aiken on Thursday, Nov. 10, Mr. Tisby, in his Barry White-like voice, talked about his senior year, what he thinks the post will do this year and why he likes this team so much.

You like people to call you Mr. Tisby. How did you get that nickname?

AT: In junior college I was a year or so older than most of my peers. A number of them looked up to me and asked me things about life and so I kind of felt like the elder of the team. I jokingly asked them to call me `Mr. Tisby’ and it stuck. A few people call me that here as well. My grandma even calls me Mr. Tisby now – she leaves me voicemails saying `Mr. Tisby’.

The team has been practicing since Oct. 15 – how has it been going?

AT: Practice has been going pretty good. I have been working with Keving Palacios and Ousmane Konate. I am helping them learn the system. We want to improve the post play all the way around. I think the post will be strong – we have some big boys. We have a few kinks to work out, a few things on defense, but we should be pretty good in the post.

What did you work on in the off-season?

AT: I have been working on trying to develop my skills. I worked on being a better passer and having better ball handling skills. I also worked on free throws. I try to clear my mind when I am shooting free throws because most of the time when I am thinking about whether I will make it or miss it, I miss it. I just tell myself not to worry about, to don’t think about it and that I have been practicing and that if the practice pays off, it will go in. I don’t have a particular percentage I would like to shoot from the free throw line, I would just like to improve.

Ousmane Konate has talked about how you have helped him in practice. What are some things you are working on with him?

AT: Ousmane knows basketball and how to play, but the system here is new to him. He just doesn’t know the plays as well as someone who has been here for a couple of years. I try to help him from the bench and let him know where to be on the court. He is a quick learner and a good addition to the team

What about the newcomers – who has been playing well?

AT: I would say Keving Palacios. He and I play in the post and he has a lot of experience as a junior college player so he knows how to play in tandem. We know how to find each other and help each other out on defense.

Has anyone done anything at practice that surprised you?

AT: Yes. Dwyane Day. The other day he caught a rebound off the rim and dunked on Renaldo Balkman. It surprised because he is mostly known as a shooter, but when he makes athletic plays like that and comes outside of himself, it comes as a shock. I think it is something he will continue to do and I think he worked on it over the summer. Good for him.

What is the best part of this team?

AT: The team chemistry. It’s hard to play on some teams, but everyone on this team likes each other. We hang out a lot and hopefully that will help us play better.

What are the team goals this season?

AT: I would say making it to the NCAA Tournament. I think the NIT Championship that we won last year was a stepping-stone. We hope that we can build on that momentum this year.

What are some things you enjoy doing off the court?

AT: Right now I don’t have a lot of time to just do much because we are practicing a lot. I go to the whirlpool a lot to help relax my muscles. I also hang out in my room and watch TV. I like to watch CNN to stay up on current events. I watch a lot of basketball during basketball season. My favorite NBA teams are Miami and Houston. My favorite college team is obvious – the Gamecocks! I can’t like any team better than the team I am playing on. I was a big Shaq fan growing up and Michael Jordan.

What game are you looking most forward to this year?

AT: All of them. No one game especially. It’s hard to narrow it down because all of them are important.

What game do you wish you could replay from last year? What game do you wish you had back?

AT: The game against Ole Miss at the SEC Tournament. Maybe if we beat them we might have continued winning and gone to the NCAA Tournament.

You play an exhibition against USC-Aiken on Thursday, Nov. 10. What should the fans look for in that game?

AT: I guess the leadership of the three seniors – Tarence, Rocky and myself. How well the team has bonded and the talent the newcomers bring to the table.

After an up and down season last year – your first as a Gamecock – what should fans look for from you as a senior?

AT: Obviously more consistent play. I hope to play a bigger role because I have matured in the last year. I have learned more about the system and I am excited for this season to start.

Go Gamecocks!