Jan. 25, 2008
Columbia, SC - Carolina head coach Dave Odom met with the media on Fri., Jan. 25 to preview the Kentucky game in Lexington Sat., Jan. 26 at 1 pm on Raycom TV. The following are a few of his comments and media questions.
"Every team we play is on the rise. Kentucky is playing their best basketball of the year. Let's not forget a lot of the problems fans and media were indicating were Wildcat problems earlier - i.e.: not the talent they have had in years gone by - they still have four or five McDonald's All-Americans on that team. Billy Gillispie has - as all new coaches do - has gone through the process of mixing and matching and he has come up with the right formula right now. He has downsized for a good portion of the game. Downsize does not mean downsize for us. Everybody else is bigger than 6'3.
"Kentucky is playing really good basketball. Are there things we can do to give them trouble? I think so. My main concern is to simplify our defense without softening it. We are giving our team too many decisions to make defensivley and we aren't ready for that right now. We will make it more standard for us in hopes that we will stop giving up unmolested lay-ups and unguarded trees. How we guard Pat Patterson in the post is going to be a trick - he is a real load. He is listed at 230, but I know he is a lot bigger than that. They have a good high-low post game. They stretch you by shooting threes so somewhere in there we have to keep them off-stride. We have to find a way to attack with all our five players.
"We have to make sure that we don't' make unforced turnovers. Devan and Zam have been talked to about that. But Evka and Dominique and the other guys can't either. Kentucky is very in-depth at doing that - they are sneaky.
"Another thing they are good at - they take a fair number of threes and they are really good at getting long rebounds. Second chance possessions could be critical in a game like this. We have the speed to it, now we have to do it.
"And finally playing in Rupp itself is always a challenge and our team has always responded to it. We have to respond early and make sure we getting the game early. We have to answer their spurts with spurts of our own and make shots early. We have to keep them from getting easy shots.
"Brandis Raley-Ross is a concern right now. He is not fully recovered. He isn't injured, but he looks more than a step slow to me. Maybe he has gained a few pounds. We need him back. We need him back to playing like he was before his injury. If we can't get him back, then we have to move Evka to the perimeter and move around our post players."
Q - What about coaching your last game at Rupp?
Q - Is it intimidating?
Odom - When you look at similar arenas of that size, the thing that sets it apart is the crowd at Kentucky is on their game, their crowd is more alive, more into the game, they create the atmosphere. Some of the other buildings of that size, they lay back. This crowd there - they are back, but they lean forward. It's different. You have to be willing to meet the challenge of the noise and the fact that it is has the big guys name on the building doesn't hurt (Rupp). I not a historian, but I appreciate history. I told them yesterday this is a great opportunity and we need this challenge and I am please it's coming now.
Q - Is there a common trend in your loses - you have many close ones?
Odom - You have to look deeper than they didn't make baskets or they tend to stand around. You have to ask why they didn't score. Against Florida, there were about 4-5 minutes of bad basketball and why does that happen? You can search that out from 3-4 points of view. Confidence level of the team in a game like that - you have to make plays down the stretch. The kind of player that says 'give me the ball, I want the challenge'. When you really take the game on and expect the challenge, you have to accept the consequences. In reality, it's tougher. Every kid lives the dream. Ramon Bradley seizes the moment and he's not afraid. I don't know that that is that easy. You have to work your way to that. Do we have a basketball assassin on our team? I think we have guys that want to be, but decision-making in the trenches is where we are most liable. We need to be more cerebral. You have to not only play the game; you have to think the game. It's the action, but you have to think the game in the trenches and the clutches. I think that is where we can improve most right now. There have been a series of those in our season and if we would have thought the game more at the end of the first half vs. Florida the outcome might have been different - whose fault is it? All of us. Fatigue sometimes sets in as well. You play so hard for so long and then you end up taking a play off unknowingly and that is the play that decides the game.
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