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Men's Basketball

Carolina's Odom previews Florida game

Feb. 19, 2008

Columbia, SC - South Carolina head coach Dave Odom met with media on Tuesday morning to preview the Florida game (Wed., Feb. 20 at 8 pm on Raycom). The following are a few of his comments, followed by questions from the media.

"Florida - they have lost four out of five games. I think it is more a product of their schedule than them not being a good team. Arkansas' speed got them in Fayetteville quickly. At Vanderbilt they were right there to win. Tennessee got them, too. I was so impressed with the LSU game. They have some talent - LSU. It's more a product of who they played, when they played them and that they aren't playing well, they are freshmen, they hit the wall and that kind of thing. I have no doubt the atmosphere there will be terrific Wednesday night. It's a must win for us and a must win for them.

"Yesterday's practice was as good as I have in memory. Mike Holmes played extremely well. Sam Muldrow played really. The bench is a good place to get someone back. They played like they had young, fresh legs. I hope we can repeat that practice again today. We cut off 15 minutes early yesterday because we practiced so well.

"You can't let the game with Florida get into a free flow game. They let their freedom work to their advantage. We have to get our defense to settle. I know they will press us and try to get the ball out of Devan Downey's hands. We have to do some things to make sure that Devan doesn't lose the ball and try to get it back.

"We have no injuries and we will use the same starting line-up. I am a little concerned about Evka. He didn't get a shot off in the Alabama game and he isn't exactly our defensive stopper. There is something good about having him out there because they have to guard him, but I would like him to be shot ready. I don't think he was ready. Dwayne was a bit sick on Saturday night, but he practiced really well yesterday. Zam did not have a good shooting day on Saturday and defensively he had some key steals. We have to get Zam helping us on the boards as well. We made the effort with Dwayne about a month ago and we need to get Zam to do the same things and it might help us.


Will Mike Holmes see more minutes?
Odom: "I think he will get more minutes. Dominique does well against low post players; you'd still like to have a young, fresh body against their bigger players. Sam was effective in that last game against Florida. The length of Sam seemed to bother them. If the game gets open floor, they aren't the kind of ball-handlers you want in that game because they aren't really good ball handlers."

Are you in a better place than you were a month ago when you played Florida?
Odom: "We were pretty confident the last time we played them. We had a great chance to beat them. We were up eight with four or five to go and we just couldn't hold on. Winning does that to you. Losing has the opposite effect."

If the season ended right now would Devan Downey be the SEC Player of the Year?
Odom: "He would certainly be in the mix and I am not trying to avoid that. Offensively, I don't think any coach could ask more about what he has done. I am completely shocked about the way he has scored. I said at the beginning of the year I didn't' think he would score like Tre' and I was wrong about the scoring. He has carved out this scoring role that has totally come out of nowhere and I couldn't be more pleased with it. I think we have helped with it by the way we have designed the offense. He has been as important to our team as a scorer and a leader as anybody else is to their league.

Should the team record come into play when voting for MVP?
Odom: "That's debatable. Ernie Banks was the MVP and his team was last. The players in the league that are equally valuable Jamont Gordon with MSU, Nick Calathes with Florida - he is very valuable. Gaines at Georgia. The Tennessee crowd - they are all so good. Foster from Vanderbilt. It is wide open right now and Devan has to be in the mix.

"I told him this last week. Two weeks ago he would have been first team All-SEC no question. Going into our Alabama game I didn't think he was because he had fallen off defensively. But he came back against Alabama with a strong effort on defense. He has to play like that. You don't play defense to make the All-SEC team, but I feel the obligation to tell him. I treat him like I treat one of my sons. I love Devan and Mike and Zam and Sam, all of my players. If I have something vested in them, I tell them. I was complimentary of him after Alabama and he deserves to be in that mix of the MVP talk. You think about him leading the league, but remember media are voting for one game. Coaches watch tape and they start looking at it. They say 'he scores 20 plus points, but he isn't guarding anyone.' I told him that. 'Why do you think they are coming after you, you aren't standing up'.

"Speed scares you if you are the opponent. Nobody in this league has more speed or quickness than Devan and he knows how to use it. Chris Warren at Ole Miss, but he is just a freshman."

What about Dominique Archie? Is he doing the things you want on offense?
Odom: "I want him doing certain things. Dominique wants to be a total player, but I want it to be incremental progression. He has a mental picture in his mind, like Kobe Bryant, where he looks and probes and shoots a fall away. Dominique is much better without the ball in his hands because he moves so fast and so quick. I would like him to be the finisher rather than the creator. The defense settles on him so long and he has trouble seeing that second defender coming at him. He had a critical turnover against Alabama because he was trying to the right thing and create, but I don't want him doing that. I want him to shooter. Holmes is technically the best shooter. He is terrific. I don't want him to create shots, but I want him to shoot.

Have you talked to the team about post-season?
Odom: "No. I have in the past some, but I haven't yet. I think I will leave it alone for right now. The league is what it is and let's move on right now."

How many do you think the league will get in the NCAA Tournament?
Odom: "I haven't thought a lot about it. I am always amused at someone that says they are definitely in. I bet there aren't 10 teams in with six games to go in the league. The only team that is in in our league is Tennessee. There isn't another team that is in now. In the ACC you have North Carolina and Duke in and there is not another team that is in. I wouldn't say Clemson is better than Maryland. That is a home team win. I still don't think Clemson is in. The Big Ten: Indiana, Michigan State and Purdue - Purdue is probably in if they keep winning because they have some bad losses. The Big 12: Kansas is in, Texas is probably in. The Big East - Georgetown and UCONN and Louisville are probably in. The Pac 10: UCLA is in and Washington State. That's 13. I was wrong. I would say Butler is in. That's 14, but there are too many games to play. You have to play it."

What about your post-South Carolina career? Have you thought about what you will do or talked to anyone?
Odom: "No. I have talked to no one about coaching. I haven't talked to anyone about television. I have told people I am not talking to anyone until I am done here when people call."


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