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Oct. 17, 2006

Columbia, SC – Having practiced six times already since HARDWOOD HOOPLA 2006, USC Head Coach Dave Odom talked today about what he expects in the next couple weeks before the Gamecocks season opener on Fri., Nov. 10 at 7:30 pm vs. South Carolina State.

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USC: The men have practiced twice Saturday, Sunday and Monday. How have the guys been holding up?

DO: We’ve had six practices in three days. They are predictably fatigued and tired, but you would expect that when you practice as often as we have in a span of three days.

USC: How does so much practice help you?

DO: You have to get everything in. We have a shorter pre-season this year because we start November 10 and last year we stared November 19, so you 10 days less to prepare. We need to take advantage of every opportunity we have to practice.

USC: This weekend is fall break (Thursday – Sunday). How will use those four days to further enhance learning with so many new people on the team?

DO: We will practice once this afternoon and then take Wednesday off. With fall break this weekend we will get in 2-3 more days of double sessions. We will take advantage of no classes on Thursday and Friday. We will practice twice Thursday, once Friday, twice Saturday and once Sunday. We will probably go every other day twice due to USC’s fall break.

The young guys need the opportunity to work and they also need repetition. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. We have three new starters and they need time together. This is a valuable time for us.

USC: You said last week you really like this team. What is it about this team you really like?

DO: They are a team whose personalities mesh well together. They are up-lifting in the lockerroom and they are positive with each other on the court. They respond well to the senior leadership and their attempt to lead. So far they’ve been willing workers.

USC: It’s still early in practice, but any surprises in practice thus far?

DO: No, not really. Bryce Sheldon, Dwayne Day and Dominique Archie are three key players for us and I continue to watch them and look for improvement. I am pleased with their progress.

USC: What are you working on right now as opposed to 2-3 weeks from now?

DO: This is fundamental time. We have enough patterns in our play. We could play a game now in terms of how much offense and defense we have in, but we have to master what we have in now. The offense is ahead of the defense in terms of amount of plays we have in. We have to pick it up defensively in the next couple weeks and concentrate more on that. We have the biggest decisions to make in that area — what kind of defense we are going to rely upon and so forth.

USC: Ousmane Konate has lost 25 lbs. in the off-season. Can you see the difference in his play?

DO: Osumane was out a practice or two over the weekend for rest during so much practice, but he was back yesterday. The weight loss has given him the ability to stay on the court longer. He doesn’t tire as easily or often and he is more tough-minded.

USC: You also said last week that outside magazine writers didn’t know your team. What are some things you would like them to know about your team after these first few practices?

DO: I continue to amazed that media and/or experts around, locally and around the country, haven’t gained a real appreciation for Tre’ Kelley as a national caliber guard. What he has done in the post-season in the last couple years and even the regular season shows great growth. He has played against some of the very best guards in the country and only on an occasion has he been outplayed. He has a real understanding now of how we want the game played and he’s terrific at running the team. I am really proud of his development as a player and a person.

Brandon will cause teams difficulty in trying to guard him because of his ability to play inside and outside.

Dominique is playing as well as I hoped he would play. It’s amazing the confidence he plays with for someone that doesn’t have much game experience.

We have the ability to get it done offensively and defensively. I hope the two will mesh together well. We have a long way to go. We have a lot of questions to answers and holes to fill, but they are things we can answer. The big thing is who will give us some inside scoring and will be able to guard effectively on the wings. Those are the two things right now.