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March 9, 2006

Renaldo Balkman

Tarence Kinsey

Dave Odom


THE MODERATOR: Okay. We're ready to continue on South Carolina. Remember, again please turn your cell phones off. We'll ask Coach for some other opening remarks, thoughts on the game, and then we'll take questions from the two student athletes.
COACH DAVE ODOM: Obviously, I think the story of the game today was we played very, very well defensively, and we did not turn the ball over. That's a departure from our most recent games, particularly this last game against Auburn last weekend. We turned the ball over an enormous amount of times down the stretch against Auburn, almost as if it was the thing to do, and we went back home, and, believe it or not, we worked more on not turning the ball over the game down the stretch than we did actually on getting ready for Mississippip State.
I thought it was that important. And we had a season low number of turnovers today, four, which is almost unheard of at this time of the year.
I give our players a lot of lot of credit for that, Tre' and Tarence both called them culprits, culprits in the locker room, affectionately culprits in that they were the ones making a lot of turnovers.
Both of them improved immeasurably. They deserve a lot of the credit. The guy to my right Renaldo had an excellent basketball game, caused a lot of problems. I think defensively we played very well and, of course, not turning the ball over was important as well.
I was very upset with the way we started. We got down 9 to 2 and one of my coaches said, "We can't score." I said, "We can't score because we're not playing good defense." We took the quick timeout, corrected a couple things, drew attention to a couple of details that we had somehow or another forgotten and got that corrected, then hit a couple of shots and things begin to relax and we played well the rest of the half. So I'm very pleased. I know we'll talk more about our next match-up later but I'll give these guys a chance to visit with you a little bit as well.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Questions just for the two student athletes if you'll raise your hand and get a microphone to you. Hands up. Let's go to the middle right over here.
Q. For Renaldo, just wondering, you guys have looked so good at different times this year and not quite as good at other times. Do you in anyway feel like this team is underachieved to be in the position that you are right now.
COACH DAVE ODOM: Don't know tell him that. Say I don't know. If you do know, tell him that.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Same for Tarence? Okay?
TARENCE KINSEY: Well, coming to the season I thought we was going to do a lot better. We had a lot of heartbreakers. We compete every night.
That's what we try to do and if you call underachieving losing I would say that we underachieved because I would have swear we were going to have a lot better season than we were having but I guess every time had their goods and their bads.
Most part we got over it like we kind of get over the losses and we continue to strive for eight and try to get better everyday in practice and I think that's been the strongest part about this team, the coaches and the team, we still stay together and we believe every night that we can win and any night a team come against us, we think we can walk away with a win.
COACH DAVE ODOM: You didn't ask me but I'm going to interject here, okay? Because I feel strongly about this. Nobody in our program is pleased with our record, nobody. I mean we all wanted to win more games. We all wanted to compete for the conference championship in the regular season.
We all want to win the tournament championship and we all felt we were capable of doing those things. But in all honesty, I think we were the only ones that felt that and the reason I say that everybody -- I heard Coach Stansbury say it's the same team that won the NIT Championship.
No, we're not. We lost our two centers from that team. Carlos Powell was the MVP on our basketball team and NIT champ on that NIT championship he was MVP in the NIT at Madison Square Garden.
Now, the guy that hits the shot that won the tournament is sitting to the far right down here. We lot of Carlos Powell and great deal of toughness with John Chapell. We lot of a shot maker, one of the best in our league in Josh Conner.
We're not the same team but we all did expect that we would have a better team than we were last year and I'll tell you something else that I know for a fact. We believed in ourselves more than the media believed in us early on.
Everybody keeps throwing that NIT thing at us. When the preseason rank goes came out we got no votes. So don't give me that stuff about you got everybody back, you should have, would have, could have. That's after the fact. Media didn't vote for us early so they didn't believe in us early.
THE MODERATOR: Let's go back over here. Question for the two student athletes. Go ahead, Rick.
Q. Guys, if you will for both players, talk about how you feel like you march up against Tennessee and you lot of the first two times, talk about how difficult it is to beat a team three times in one season. Renaldo, go first.
RENALDO BALKMAN: Well, we match up with them perfectly. We've got bigs and smalls. That's the next game. We go and practice and work on what we need to work on. It's going to be a game.
THE MODERATOR: Same for Tarence.
TARENCE KINSEY: We match-up like he said. They have guards, we have big men. The same, the size is pretty much the same but we got speed and quickness, also but I think right now they won to games over us. That don't mean anything tournaments.
We got a lot of aggression built up. I think the coaches like basically just put in our minds we have a chance and you only get one shot in the attorneys because you lose, you go home. I think that's what we got going into the next game is a little bit more momentum. I'm going the leave it like that.
THE MODERATOR: Time for maybe one more for the student athletes. Let's go over there. There you go.
Q. For either coach or the players, playing against Tennessee in both games, they were close games. They came down to the final few minutes both times. Could you talk about those games and how they turned in the final minutes and what do you expect anything and what you will do to change that tomorrow?
THE MODERATOR: Was that for both players? I want to try to get the players done first.
COACH DAVE ODOM: You guys answer that. Go ahead.
TARENCE KINSEY: In both games, I think we was up at half, leading at half. Second half we kind of fractured. We didn't execute like we needed to and that was the basic -- that was the turnaround of the game. Down the stretch like last 40 minutes, two minutes, whatnot, we weren't making crisp passes.
We weren't getting to shooters. We started playing Washington in both of those games. At home C.J. Washington, he started hitting 3s. I think that was the turnaround in the game. We didn't get out to the shooters with no urgency. We didn't make good decisions.
THE MODERATOR: Renaldo, anything to add? We'll excuse the two players. You can return to the locker room. We'll continue on with Coach Odom and did you have that same question for Coach Odom, we'll start there in if you like.
COACH DAVE ODOM: Thanks you fellas.
THE MODERATOR: You want me to repeat the question?
COACH DAVE ODOM: I'm okay with it. You asked me about the two games we played with Tennessee. They were close and they got away from us.
You know, I would think more than any team in our league, Tennessee is a team that you got to play from beginning to end without taking any time off, i.e., making mistakes.
They're a team that preys on your mistakes more readily than any team in our league. Great example, we were up at halftime in Columbia up, 40-25.
We made two, three turnovers, missed a couple of free throws, front ends of the 1 and 1s. Next thing you know you've got Lofton and company launching 3s from Knoxville and making them and it makes you very nervous when you're playing against that kind of thing. They're never out of it because they take a great deal of pride in their pressure. Their ability to turn the game with the pressure. They take a great deal of pride if there ability to shoot deep shots under pressure both guarded and unguarded.
And they came back and they got us in the first game of the conference season in Columbia. That was a devastating blow to our confidence level there.
The Knoxville game, I was very pleased with the way we played through the first half. I thought we played extremely well. They had a really good crowd there, they were playing well with their crowd, they connected with their crowd by then and with two minutes and 47 seconds on the clock there was a media timeout.
I think we were down four points, maybe five with the ball and a chance I thought to do some good things there if we get a shot there, you know, you put a little bit of pressure on them and maybe get them to turn the ball over, miss a shot.
You got a chance to win away from home. Showing what a great team they are, they turned that moment into a 16 point lead in less than a minute and a half. There was a sequence of events there that blew my mind.
I couldn't believe what happened. They all happened right there in front of my bench, and again it just shows you what a great team they have, a team that plays from beginning to end so I think, you know, we're not going to really practice before tomorrow but, you know, the slant that I'm going to give our team, no possession is off. You got to protect the ball, you've got to attack. You've got to protect defensively five guys with one all the time.
They're going to hit shots. You got play past that and through that. You can't give them steals or second shots. You can't give them unforced turnovers. You got to make them earn everything they got. They will earn, they work hard enough to earn. They believe but you got to make them do that.
Perhaps it will be that special day when things are just right and we have the ball at the end and we can make the shot and we can win the game.
THE MODERATOR: Other questions for coach. Alright. Go ahead. Start right here.
Q. Coach, they hit their first four shots against you guys. You go to the timeout. Switch from zone to man, really turn the tied then. Then went a little bit back to zone later with some trapping. Talk about what were you trying to accomplish and how pleased you were with what you did?
COACH DAVE ODOM: That shows you how bad our defense was. We were not in a zone. It may look like it. We were way off. I'm not trying to correct you as I am just trying to explain that that tells you how bad our defense was early on.
We made three blatant errors defensively in the first four possessions. They did score the first four baskets. We took the quick timeout, did try to correct one guy in particular but a couple other things that went on. One of my coaches said, "You know we can't score the ball." I said, "You're not going to score the ball until you play defense. You've got to play defense first."
We went back out, promptly made some really good plays defensively again to knock the ball loose. Made them miss some shots and then our shots began to come easier. We made some shots and that began to relax us a little bit.
You never look good when you don't score the ball. No team looks good if you don't score and we looked nervous early on and that's one of the things that I hope works in our favor tomorrow. I know that Tennessee is going to prey on the fact that, you know, we play that, they're fresh, we're vulnerable to fatigue, they're not. I'm going to prey on the fact that we've got the first game jitters in the tournament out of the way and maybe they'll be nervous and maybe they won't. I don't know.
But, you know, one hopefully offsets the other and maybe it does in our favor. I don't know.
I will go back to the Mississippi State game and just say that I think one of the effective this is things that we did in our game was change defenses. It kept them off stride. Charles Rhodes scoring 11 points, Jamont Gordon scoring 11 points but they were well hard, hard earned points.
I don't know how many dunks they got. Probably most of them. That's partly because we front so much. It gives them free access to the basket when the shot goes up. What it also does it keeps the ball out of roads's hands because when he gets it in his hands he's a tough day at the beach.
THE MODERATOR: Couple questions down here. Let's get one this side over here. Go ahead.
Q. Dave, can you just talk about what you did in the last week about turnovers at practice? I mean was that like 30 minutes of practice or how much?
COACH DAVE ODOM: What we did first of all dash this was painful now. I told them that was the way I introduced it. "Guys, sit down, this is going to be a painful study." We broke down our turnovers in the burn game and of course when you got one guy, Tre', everybody knows, made 8 turnovers. That's incomprehensible and almost unforgivable for a point guard at this level. You can't do that.
Tarence, who I think had four or six, correct me. I think he had six in that game. And we broke those down individually and by a team and we made our team watch that and then we had individual tape for those two guys with a coach, and we just said -- they didn't receive it that well. I will tell you. It was like we were criticizing them. Yeah, it's constructive criticism.
You got to look at yourself and say these are things that we did and in all honesty those guys made mistakes trying to do the right thing the wrong way.
We showed them a better way. They accepted it, we worked on it. The last basket we scored in that game was a result of that. We went to a little different spacing offense. We got allay up there. Tarence and Tre' both accepted that and because they except it, they're two of our leaders. Everybody else did as well. We spent the last five or eight minutes of every practice working on you've got a six point lead. These guys are double teaming. You've got to play out of it and not turn it over.
THE MODERATOR: Go ahead. Right there in and then we'll get both of you.
Q. Coach, you mentioned preseason media picks, and then you went on to give Coach Pearl a lot of praise. That said, a little surprised he didn't win coach of the year. Is there pretty much a standard the coach who wins the SEC award?
COACH DAVE ODOM: I don't know about standards but John Brady certainly had an extraordinary year as a coach in this league. He really did. He did and he's richly deserving of the award but I would be saying the same this about Bruce Pearl had he been named that -- the coach of the year.
He came in without -- he came in with some fanfare but without any expectations as it relates to what his team has accomplished.
So he richly deserved coach of the year support as well, and I don't know how the balance actually went. I do know that John Brady won it, and as I said, I think he richly deserved it.
Let's not forget, John Brady, as I said when we played them last week, he coaches -- presently coaches one of the four best young teams in this country. You throw North Carolina in there, you throw Memphis in there, throw Kansas in there and LSU in there, that's a great season ending tournament if you put those four teams out there together.
John Brady coached five freshmen in his top eight. That's pretty darn good. You coach them to a conference championship in this game, that's pretty darn good. All that said, Bruce Pearl richly deserved a lot of backing and support as well. I would not argue with anybody that said he deserved special recognition. Maybe one was 1 and the maybe one was 1A.
THE MODERATOR: Two more questions. One in the middle.
Q. Coach, you kind of talked about the dunks and how you fronted people a little bit. Is that just something that's going to happen, the defense you played? I think they had 7, 8 dunks. Not anything to be --
COACH DAVE ODOM: I don't like giving up dunk now.
Q. I know.
COACH DAVE ODOM: You don't stick your chest out and say we got 7 dunks. Go ahead.
Q. Is that something that's going to happen with the way you --
COACH DAVE ODOM: It's one of the things. Two things. You pick your poison. You want Charles Rhodes to touch it every time down the court. Then you play behind him and you take what comes. What comes with that are potential fouls on your people and turnaround jumpshots.
He's going to break double teams because he's a relentless attacker, or you put a guy in front of him and you limit his touches and you open up the offensive rebound to him and you open up the potential lobs with nobody coming to help on it.
So, I prefer to take the ball out of his -- I don't want the ball in his hands. The ball is not going to always bounce to him off shots.
I take my chances there. I don't want the ball in the low post. If there's a ball in the low post, we made a mistake somewhere. We got to correct it.
THE MODERATOR: Last question right here.
Q. Coach, talk about Tre' Kelley. Of course, you mentioned no turnovers in 37 minutes today. How important is it for him the play well in order to give USC a chance to win?
COACH DAVE ODOM: It was important today. It may be more important tomorrow. Goes to face more pressure tomorrow than he did today. We've got to find some help. I think I heard Coach Stansbury's comments about our team and he's right. We do handle the ball well at five positions and that does lend itself potentially well against the pressure of a team like Tennessee.
Whether that means that we don't turn the ball over tomorrow, not necessarily. We still got to play the game and we can't turn the ball over.
I like our chances if we handle the ball effectively and attack without turning the ball over on a regular basis. We can't have -- what kills you against a team like Tennessee are live ball turnovers, not turnovers. You don't want to make turnovers but if you're going to throw the turn the ball over throw it in the second deck so that your team can set the defense.
When you make turnovers in live ball fashion you don't have a chance to get all five guys back. Tre' not turning it over, Tarence not turning it over, Brandon, Rocky, all those guys, very important.

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