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Jan. 6, 2006

USC hosts Tennessee on the hard courts on Sunday, Jan. 8 at 1:30 pm in the both school’s SEC openers. The game will be shown live on Jefferson Pilot television (see local listing).

On Friday, USC Head Coach Dave Odom met with the media to discuss the match-up with Tennessee, Bruce Pearl and the students return to campus among other things.

Coach Odom Comments:

“No one has done a better job of interjecting energy and enthusiasm, positive emotion and a new style that his team and fans have bought into than (UT head coach) Bruce Pearl. Bruce Pearl has done a magnificent job. They have really embraced his style and we haven’t seen that style on the court this year so it will be a hard assignment. Yet, it’s one I am looking forward to, our players are looking forward to and hopefully our fans look forward to on Sunday at 1:30. I think we’ve done all we can do up to this moment and we have another day of practice tomorrow.

“We were turning the ball over at a rate higher than I am accustomed to, about when we played Clemson. Just too many turnovers. We have more than halved that number since then (12.8 topg). That’s a key stat both ways on Sunday. You have the leading scoring team in Tennessee with about 85 points a game. We are giving up the least amount of points in the conference at about 59 points a game. Both of those are probably skewed on the high end and low end. We aren’t going to hold opponents in the league to 59 and I don’t know if they are going to be able to score 85 points on a regular basis in the league either. Somewhere in the middle there it’s going to come to play. You really do have a battle of contrasting styles and truly the one that ends up dominating the other is going to have the edge.

“More than likely we will go with a smaller line-up mainly because of the style I expect Tennessee to play. I think you need more ball handling, more decision-making, and more skill in the line-up early. Antoine (Tisby) will certainly play early as will Keving Palacios. I think Bryce Sheldon would be the first perimeter guy off the bench. Dwayne Day has played better of late so he would expect to see some time as well. More than likely we would use our smaller line-up. Only because I think that fits the early needs of our team vs. Tennessee, which presses, runs and plays a full court run.

“We have quickness to match them. We aren’t so big that we are going to be lumbering up and down the court. I think we can match them speed wise. They can match us speed wise as well. Yet, I am not going to give into a jailbreak on both ends of the court. I want there to be some law and order out there and I want some semblance of a basketball game. I don’t want a track meet. I would like to coach. I don’t want to be a team sponsor. I would like to have a chance to coach some. I think it’s going to be incumbent on us to keep some poise, composure and play at a pace we are comfortable playing at as well. They are comfortable playing the speed limit as well.

On how practice has been going

“In practice there has been more of a sense of urgency and more focused concentration so hopefully that is a good sign. All of those things are true. We are fortunate. We have no major injuries and nothing that seems to be a distraction. We have good things going for us: we are playing at home, the students come back this weekend and hopefully we will get the word out to the students. The game is at 1:30 pm so hopefully they will get up early enough on Sunday. There are some good things to look forward to.”

On the home team winning the last seven meetings

“I don’t put a lot of credence in that kind of thing. Whatever has happened, happened. This is a different game and we will see.”

On how good this team can be

“I think the SEC has new respect with those that have seen the conference teams play. At the beginning of the year I said we were going to have a good team and I stick by that now. Eventually. Now, if we end up as one of the best team’s in the Eastern division then I will be very very happy. If we don’t end up as one of the best teams in the Eastern division, I know the SEC has returned to the SEC days of old. I don’t think we are a bad basketball team, but I also don’t think we are as close to being as good as I would like for us to be. But, I do think we have the ability to be very good.



Opening its SEC schedule this weekend, the USC men’s basketball team will host Tennessee in a Jefferson-Pilot televised game on Sunday, Jan. 8 at 1:30 pm at the Colonial Center.

The game was originally scheduled to be played at 4 pm, but the game time switch was announced Monday by Jefferson-Pilot. JP announced the time change on Monday after the NFL released its Jan. 8 play-off schedule for its affiliates and checking further with its own affiliates who will broadcast the UT-USC game.

Tennessee leads the all-time series 23-21 with the home team winning the last seven games.