Columbia, SC - South head coach Dave Odom met with the media Friday and previewed the Mississippi State game (Sat., Feb. 23 at 4 pm on Raycom). This weekend will be the 100 years of Basketball Celebration for the Gamecock basketball program - around 1000 tickets remain.
Odom previewed the game prior to taking questions:
"With the reunion this weekend, one of the challenges will be for us to stay focused. I think our team is young enough and separated enough from the weekend events that I don't believe that will be a distraction. If anything it will serve as motivation for them to play better. I don't think it will be a problem for us. Friday afternoon the lettermen have been invited to come to the later part of our practice (last 30 minutes). That is the only thing our team will be involved with.
"A bigger challenge is Mississippi State. I want the weekend to go well, I know there has been a lot of planning that has gone into the reunion. The culminating star would be a win over Mississippi State. They are a good basketball team, a veteran team - the best team from the SEC Western Division. Jamont Gordon is a Player of the Year candidate. Figuring out how to handle Jamont Gordon and Charles Rhodes will be a problem. Jamont is involved in about 60% of their points. He handles it, he creates it. He is just so strong. So mobile and fast. It's hard to get enough people in the league that can do that and handle him."
"Hopefully we can cause some problems for them as well. We played the Florida game for the most part well offensively, but the defensive transition was not good early. When you play a team like Florida on the road, you can't take bad shots. We did catch up, but then had three more minutes of shoddy play and we were down 12 points at the half. We played well offensively and defensively in the second half. We just ran out of time. I would like to have another minute because I thought we had Florida on their heals."
"This is a very big game for us. I don't expect any line-up changes. Mike Holmes has caught everyone's eye, but let's not rush to crown him anytime soon. Let's let him play another few games. But at the same time we have to give him a lot of credit for being a stand-up guy at Florida and against Alabama."
Do you limit Mike Holmes shooting from the outside? Odom: "I want him to shoot open shots he can make. We don't need another three-point shooter. When a big guy goes out and shoots 3s, then it's hard to get them back in the lane. I have no problem with him shooting the ball when he is open and he knows that. Mechanically he maybe is our best shooter. His offensive rebounds and his tip-ins are good. The problem with Mike is when he isn't open, what does he do with the ball. Nobody knows how to get the ball out of his hands. Dominique is like Mike was last year. He still has some work to do. I look for Mike to give us inside offense and defense; rebounding and open offensive shots from 17-18 feet."
What is going on with Zam Fredrick right now? He hasn't been playing well. Odom: "He is trying. He hasn't played well in games for 7-10 days and he hasn't really played well in practice either. Maybe less is better for him. For him to not to try to create shots, manufacture points. Let the game come to him a little. That might be the best medicine for him right now."
Do you let Zam play through this? Odom: "He will start tomorrow night and I expect him to play well. I want him to play well in practice. I've always thought you play well in practice and then you play well in games. He was 4-9 in the Florida game. His line was good, but his shot selection was not good. He missed a few assignments, but he wasn't the only one. He watched tape yesterday and hope that is the best teacher."
How busy will you be with the reunion this weekend? Odom: "We have the social tonight and then we have a team meeting at 9 pm tonight. We have a team meeting at 10 am tomorrow. It's really early for me to get over there at 1:30 for the alumni game, but maybe I will try to get over there at 2 pm and then get with the team. Then we have a banquet Saturday night and I will go to that. It's a lot going on and it's all worth it. I saw the list of those who will play in the alumni game and I can't believe they are going to try. Some of them I would pay to see. Bobby Carver and Dennis Powell. Wow - I would pay to see them play."
Tom Owens said that last night he found the University trying to retire his jersey now after 37 years insulting (on WIS-TV). Odom: "I didn't know that you interviewed him. If we caused him any pain or grief, I would be the first to step forward and apologize. I really think that kind of thing could be worked out if the two parties, the University and he were to meet face to face rather than do it through an intermediary. That's kind of how I feel. We can try to correct what was done 37 years ago."