March 3, 2008
USC head coach Dave Odom met with the media Monday to preview the Kentucky game. The Kentucky game is Wed., March 5 at 7 pm on Raycom. It will be senior day for Dwayne Day and also be the final home game for Coach Odom in the Colonial Center. Get there early Gamecock fans!
Odom made the following opening comments:
"We were pleased with the Auburn win. Due to their lack of depth, we knew it would take its toll on them around the ten-minute mark in the second half. Our guys kind of picked up steam from that. I can't say we finished it out in great style; the missed free throws hurt us. The bright spot was that Sam Muldrow hit his two free throws, Dwayne Day hit his two and Brandis Raley-Ross hit his two in the last minute. The win put us in good shape for this week and we'll see what it leads to.
"As far as Kentucky you are in a quandary as to what to do. I looked at yesterday's Tennessee game twice. Their style is totally different without Patrick Patterson. You don't know if they did that for one game, as it was Tennessee-specific. We really have to prepare for two styles. Their defense was also different against Tennessee, more like the defense LSU played against us. It will be a big night and obviously Dwayne Day finishing up his four years here at the Colonial Center. I want his best effort so they will go out with a good effort."
Besides Senior Night for Dwayne Day, it will also be your last night in the Colonial Center. Have you thought about it? Will it be an emotional night for you?
Odom: "I am sure it will be. It has not been thus far. When I leave my house on Wednesday night, when I take that ride for the last time, being human, I am sure I will think about it. I am not sure what I will think and everything I do in that building - it will be the last time I do it. I remember the first time we played there and I walked in the back door and the security guy asked me if I had a ticket. I told him I was the new coach. Certain things stick in my mind. It will be special night. The game will be special. I don't know how it will go. I have been "friendly critical" of the SEC schedule the last few years: Kentucky at home and Tennessee on the road to finish - I don't know if anyone in the country has a more tough end. A win would give us something to cling to at the end of the year as we move forward."
You said when you retired you told the media you would go two-three weeks and it wouldn't hit and then it would come back. Has it hit you?
Odom: "This week it has. I am trying to think - my wife and I coming back from Auburn the other day and she said `this is your last plane ride' (unless we get to post-season). You then begin to do certain things for the last time, but I have always said I don't ever want to do anything for the last time. After the LSU game it started to really hit. Tomorrow we will go the Colonial Center for our last time for practice."
Are there things you are disappointed about?
Odom: "I am disappointed we hadn't made a dent in the SEC and along with that, if we had made gains in the SEC regular season that would have taken care of the post-season. That would dovetail. I cared about going to the NCAA more, but it starts with a better SEC record, which would pole vault you into the tournament."
Why didn't you have more success?
Odom: "I don't know if this is the time to do all that with a new coach coming in. Some recruiting decisions I made slowed that down and kept it from happening. I think that is the biggest thing. I was not in tune with what we actually needed and as much as we needed what I needed to be successful. The kind of student, kind of player - I let my guard down a little bit. For two - three years I was not in touch with it because I listened to others too much, but I don't blame anyone. I take responsibility. When I first got here people told me you need athletes who can run, jump, etc. My first run through the league I was shocked by the athletes. I should have been true to myself and what I know. I think we would have been better for it, but I don't want to dwell on the negative. In spite of myself we have done a number of things that haven't been done - a number of positive things. The group we have now I am in love with. They are great kids, they don't keep me up late at night worrying. It's not to say something can't happen anyway, but they bring their games and attitudes every day in a positive way. They are improving every day and I feel better about it now that we have improved that. That doesn't change what was done in years three, four and five."
Have you gotten a fair shake from the fans?
Odom: "That's not for me to judge. The fans have been very good to me by and large. Those that are dissatisfied are more vocal and the ones you hear the most. For those who have been vocal with their dissent, the number of people who have called, written and spoken to me and said nice things - it's double the negative contacts I get. After the Mississippi State game I was walking off the court and I start down the tunnel and I hear some guy yell `good riddons Odom' and before I could pop my head up, I heard another guy blow that guy out (for saying it). I didn't look up - I thought there might be a fight. It was uncalled for, but that's people. You hear this and that. Have I gotten a fair shake? I would say so. Those who aren't satisfied, I am not mad at them - that's the life I have chosen and I am ok for that. I feel bad for them because they aren't fully informed. I don't think this is just South Carolina fans - this is fans in general, but they need to have more tunnel vision in terms of getting through rocky times. They need to be more steadfast and loyal to the school. Change isn't always a given. It's interesting the way coaching has developed as a phenomenon. The first year you are ok, it's the other guys players. The second year you have to get your guys in there. The third year you start holding your breath. The fourth year you better be getting something done or you will get calls. The fifth year you really hear about it if you aren't winning enough. The sixth year if you aren't getting it done, you will for sure hear about it. The fourth and fifth years we did get something done, whether people like it or not - the NIT runs. I think we should have and could have done better in the SEC. I don't think it's as easy as everyone things.
"I will give you one example. The NABC, which I am a member of the board, sponsors the All-District and All-Americans. We vote in the second week of February. You have to be All-District to be considered for the All-American team. We are in District 5 with Comcast Center (Maryland) and everything down to South Carolina with the exception of Virginia Tech (in the western part of Virginia). You are not allowed to vote for your own player. Last year I had to count on everyone else to vote for Tre' Kelley and Devan Downey this year. They have a first and second team and it's impossible to get someone on there for USC. The ACC teams vote for ACC players and the Big South votes for Big South players only. There are a few Southern Conference players and their coaches vote for them. We can't get a guy on there in a bet. Tre' gets shut out and so does Devan. I wrote a scathing letter to the NABC saying we need to get redistricted after last year. Georgia Tech and Florida State don't get anyone in their district - the SEC schools block them out. That's a problem. It goes into recruiting and everything else. A guy with Tre' Kelley's career and he isn't on there? They promised me they would do something about it, but that hasn't happened yet. It needs to be done by conferences and not by Districts."
What would you say about Dwayne Day's career? He said he hasn't been totally satisfied?
Odom: "Dwayne Day has under-achieved for his four years. It's fair to say and he would agree. When we first signed him, I was as excited about him than anyone else - a whole lot more excited about him than Tarence Kinsey. But, rather than focus on the last three years, I will go about thinking about Dwayne Day from January 1, 2008 to the end of his career - he could not have been better in the SEC season for us. He has been terrific. He has been a good leader, our best defensive player and improved his rebounding. He has been terrific really. You wanna see a player go out with their best play. I am happy for him, I really am."
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