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Dec. 19, 2006

Columbia, SC – USC head coach Dave Odom met with the media on Tuesday to discuss the Princeton game (Wed., Dec. 20 at 7 pm in the Colonial Center). He was also joined by the newest Gamecock, Chad Gray.

Odom’s opening statement:

“Someone asked me the other day: ‘does Princeton still run the Princeton offense?’ I said ‘ I think the Princeton offense is part of the Princeton by-laws.’ The coach, Joe Scott, went to Princeton, he’s back now and their offense is thriving again. It’s very sharing, giving equal opportunity for pass, handle and catch to participate. They are running it very very well right now. Their game is on the rise and they will be quite a challenge tomorrow night for our guys. When you look at Princeton’s team and the way they run their offense and defense, but the key is for us to execute our game as much they do theirs.

“We have to be disciplined, alert and totally together. We can’t get into a situation where we are trying to speed up the tempo and we make a bunch of defensive mistakes doing that and they get a bunch of easy baskets. The challenge is clear. We have to be as on top of our game as they are on top of theirs.

“It’s our last game before Christmas. Three or four times in the last week I can tell the team is getting a bit antsy because they are getting ready to play and get ready for Christmas. I’ve told our team ‘Christmas will come when it gets here and we can’t rush that’. I’ve asked them to try and stay patient as it equates to time management. They are a bit edgy and anxious to get home and we aren’t going home until this game is over and we can’t rush things.

Media: How do you defend Princeton?

Odom: The best way to defend is to make sure that everything they do is in front of you. If they go back door they have to go through your body. Playing them on the side is to their advantage. They play very well inside six feet in spite of the fact they aren’t very big. They don’t work as much on their mid-range game as much as they should, but of equal concern is attacking their defense. They run zone, zone, zone, zone. The shot clock doesn’t have any effect on what they do on the defensive end. They don’t change.

Media: Any way to force them into an up-tempo game where they don’t run their offense? Playing the style you want them to play?

Odom: You can do that, but there is a risk. You potentially make their shots easier by doing that. They will give up a shot and not worry about it. I can double-team them in the back court a lot and it will speed the game up but it will potentially open some shots up on the half-court level that they might not get if they set up five guys. I won’t do that early to give up a bunch of shots early to get the game going.

Odom on Chad Gray

“For our fans and the university at large, this day has been long in waiting and long time in coming. If we don’t learn anything else, we learn anything worth waiting for is worth working for. He worked hard to put himself in this position. He’s had a lot of support form our team, our staff and the university gave him a clear opportunity to achieve admission. I could not be prouder of him. He’s done everything we asked him to do with no exceptions.

“His presence on our team now is a welcome addition. We need another player, someone that has the skills that Chad has. In time, he will make a mark on this team.

“We began this morning when we had about half of our team in the gym this morning. We went over some things we felt like he needed to get his basketball education started. He has a very good learning curve and executed well. The second thing is and it’s not a surprise, he is out of shape. We didn’t go up and down one time and after 10-15 minutes he was totally exhausted. He is not in good basketball shape but the good side of that is that is the easiest thing to correct. He will get his physical conditioning up to standard and we can do a pretty good job of that by January 1st to build that stamina up.

“We’ve asked for this opportunity. We have been given an opportunity and now the work begins. For him to help our basketball team win and help our team be the best it can be. He has the ability to help us where we need it most, under the boards, rebounding, defense. He’s easy to be around and the players enjoy being around him. He doesn’t come in with big expectations and says ‘let me do what I can do to help you.'”

Chad Gray Quick Comments

Media: Did you wonder if this day would come?

CG: It crossed my mind, but I had faith it would come. It was tough. I wanted to be out there, especially watching the team struggle when I knew I could help him.

Media: How is your conditioning?

CG: I am limited until I get my wind up. I can’t tell you how many minutes a game. Limited.

Media: Why did you end up here?

CG: I just feel like it’s a family here. Close to home. I like the coaches and the team. I feel like I can fit in. Run and play defense.

Media: Did family and friends ask you why there?

CG: There were more were telling me to stay (at USC) then go.

Media: Have you thought about Redshiritng?

CG: I haven’t given too much through to that. That is something I would not like to do.

Media: How many game shave you seen?

CG: I have seen most of the games except UC Irvine. I feel like I fit in well with them.

Media: What are your expectations for tomorrow night?

CG: I just want to fit in with the team and do what I can to help them.

Media: How was practice this morning?

CG: I was excited and ready to play. I was tired after a few minutes, but it was a good tired. I was a little surprised. I worked out a lot up to this point. I am really looking forward to practice this afternoon and tomorrow night. I can’t wait to run out wearing No. 10.