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March 9, 2006

Wesley Morgan

Charles Rhodes

Rick Stansbury


THE MODERATOR: Okay. We're ready to begin with Mississippi State. Remember, cell phones off, please, and please retrain from flash photography during the session. We'll ask Coach Stansbury for some opening remarks on the game, and then we'll go to questions for the student athletes. Coach.
COACH RICK STANSBURY: Well, number one, give South Carolina a lot of credit. I thought they came in, and I thought they were aggressive for most of the night. I thought they took care of the basketball. I thought they got better shots.
I thought all those 50/50 balls, offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding, I thought South Carolina got them. Give Coach Odom a lot of credit. It's a lot with our basketball team in particular when we go on the road. It's about playing with that poise that you have to play with and the difference in the basketball was turnovers. We have 17 turnovers, they had four turnovers.
And to go on the road with our team is not good enough to overcome that. We have such a small line of small margin for error in particular some guys with a Dietric Slater is not with us, but even with all that said, I'm proud of what our kids have done. I'm proud how they've come together. I'm proud how the team has competed and gotten better all year long.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. We'll take questions just for the two student atheletes. If you have a question for either, raise your hand and we'll get a microphone to you. We'll start on the end there, Greg.
Q. Charles, just like there wasn't much energy from you guys out on the floor. Could you describe what happened out there?
CHARLES RHODES: I think, you know, we all gave in. You just got to give South Carolina credit. They was aggressive the whole night.
THE MODERATOR: We have another hand. Go ahead.
Q. To both players, how frustrating was it at the end to not be able to mount like a final run at them?
THE MODERATOR: Wesley, take that first.
WESLEY MORGAN: Very frustrating. Just that every push we made, it just seemed like they kept -- like earlier getting to the balls, making the recound and just making those hustle plays. They kept making those plays, and we weren't able to mount a big enough comeback.
THE MODERATOR: Same for Charles.
CHARLES RHODES: Yes, same thing.
THE MODERATOR: Other questions for either, raise your hands. Last call. Anybody? Okay. Go ahead.
Q. Just for Charles, I know you give South Carolina credit, but I guess you with two rebounds is uncharacteristic. Were they paying special attention or just boxing out really well?
CHARLES RHODES: I guess it wasn't my night on rebound, you know. I can't make excuses for it. I guess the guys they had on me, you know, did a good job. That's all I can say. They did a great job on me.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions for either of the student athletes? Hands up. Okay. We'll excuse you fellas back to the locker room. Thank you. We'll continue on with questions for Coach Stansbury if you'll raise your hand. Hands up.
Q. Coach, what kind of things can a coach do particularly in the off-season to emphasize and to teach hold -- taking care of the basketball better?
COACH RICK STANSBURY: Well, number one, there's no substitution for experience. I mean it's very obvious we had three and four freshmen out there all night long, and Jamont Gordon didn't have one of his better nights. That's kind of been with Jamont, you just hope there's been more good than bad, but for the most part he's gotten a lot better. In the first half, though, he had 6 turnovers and just try to make too many things happen when it wasn't there.
There's no substitute for that except some experience. Experience he's gained playing at point guard spot. Again, he's -- he was a half a half assist from lead, for example, the SEC in assists. I think he was the leading scorer as a freshman. Second leading rebounder as a freshman. He'll get better taking care of that basketball.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. I think we had another question in the middle.
Q. Rick, do you think that your team is deserving of another NIT bid, and do you want to play in the NIT if you're asked?
COACH RICK STANSBURY: We haven't even thought about it a whole lot a this point. Now I think we need to think about it some. Very obvious in the past, anytime you've got a record of 15-15, you're automatically going to be in the NIT.
The new criteria, I don't know if anybody knows what it is. We'll have to wait and see. Our team over last ten fails were four and six. Got four top 50 RPI wins.
I think it's very obvious you guys have been watching our team been playing a lot better, even though we've had in the last three games again play without one of our better players down that stretch. You know, if you're going to talk 65 teams going to the NCAA and 40 more, I think there's no question our team would have been one of the hundred best teams in the country.
THE MODERATOR: Hands up. Go ahead. Jim.
Q. Rick, what did you think of your team's energy level today?
COACH RICK STANSBURY: I just didn't think -- first of all, let's give South Carolina credit, number one. Let's don't take anything away from South Carolina.
I think the thing that really showed the difference today was South Carolina's experience, and we all know when South Carolina plays well, they're a very good basketball team. They've been a team that's gone on the road and won in Florida and done a lot of things.
I think probably Dave is probably not very happy where his team is at at this point, but he knows his team is very, very capable. I said from the get-go, South Carolina is a team that I think in this tournament, and they've proved it during the year, has a chance to beat anybody. It just depends on what South Carolina team shows up. It's very obvious tonight, I thought they played exceptionally well. They took care of the basketball. When you play 40 minutes and have only four turnovers, that's a pretty good stat. I didn't think we were as sharp as we had been. Whatever reason, who knows.
I don't have the answer to that. Atypical Charles Rhodes, two rebounds. I think you'd have to go back a long way to see where he got two rebounds. He's basically been a double-double most of the time in SEC play. So it's such a small margin for error of our basketball team. Our best post-player doesn't perform at his best, and we have 17 turnovers, boy, it's very difficult for this team to win on the road in particular.
THE MODERATOR: Have another one in front. Go ahead.
Q. Coach, your team got off to a pretty quick start. I think you had a 9 to 2 lead when Coach Odom called the time out and the game totally changed after that. What happened after that?
COACH RICK STANSBURY: Number one, Wallace knocks down a three. That's one thing. They made some plays. I think we had to go our bench about that time, too. We had to sub. And, you know, I think it's very obvious we don't have a lot of depth right now coming off our bench, and I think that hurt us a little bit in that stretch, too.
You look at the bench points, they have 20 bench points to our zero. That's a huge stat, and the next stat, I think, was turnover off of turnovers, it was 20 -- I think it was like 22 to 3.
Points off turnovers, 22 to 34. Three. Bench points 20 to zero. That's too hard, too difficult stats to overcome right there.
THE MODERATOR: Other questions. Alright. Back to the middle.
Q. Jamont and Charles spent a lot of time toward the middle of the second half sitting on the bench. Was that to send a message of some sort?
COACH RICK STANSBURY: No, we're not sending no message this time of year. This is our last game. We're just trying to rest some people. I mean you look at the stats. We're playing to exhaustion out there. Jamont's turnovers lots of time comes from fatigue. We had to rest them. It's a little bit more difficult to rest him. Charles, you know for whatever reason, I just didn't think he was at his best out there today.
Wesley Morgan came in and give us a little spark in that little stretch right there. I played Wesley Morgan. Wesley playing with a lot of energy than Charles not playing.
THE MODERATOR: Have another one. Go ahead.
Q. Rick, you had the same players today you had against Alabama, but your team looked completely different. Why was that?
COACH RICK STANSBURY: Hey, we don't have -- we're not at home in the hunt, number one. You guys have watched us over the last month. We haven't lost a game at home and had double figure wins against Alabama and Georgia in particular and Auburn, Ole Miss on the road. We just hadn't quite been the same team.
I thought we played well at Arkansas well enough to win. Was the it the emotion of the Alabama game? Who knows. You know, Saturday night we were about as perfect as we could be. We had guys that came off the bench. That was very productive for us. Wesley and Peter and Michael Bolder Saturday night was very productive for us. We didn't have quite that same productivity out of them besides the guys who started the game.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions? Got time for one or two more. Go ahead.
Q. Coach, I know it was awhile ago you played Tennessee. What are some of the keys you think maybe tomorrow's game between Tennessee and South Carolina?
COACH RICK STANSBURY: I don't know. We didn't play them very well. I'm not the right guy to ask for that. I think this time of year it just depends on which team, you know, which team is showing up. It's about emotion so much. We've gone through 16 games SEC play. How does the team respond, it's the NCAA tournament already.
I do think Tennessee is a team that emotion -- they depend on so much emotion because of the way they play with the energy. It's a fine margin. The emotion is not right, didn't have the energy not quite the same. I think it's been very obvious. They've lost three out last four, wasn't it, four out of the last five?
So South Carolina again let me say this: Going into the season, everybody anticipated South Carolina being one of those teams up towards the top. They're defending NIT champs. I think everybody because they're not up there thinks that South Carolina is not that quality of a team.
Remember, they're the same team going into the season and the same team they were picked and the same team that won the NIT, which tells you they're the team that's capable of getting in this tournament and making a run.
They've got great experience and they've got great guard play, and those are a couple things you have to have. You got to have that against Tennessee in particular, and they have a lot of guards that can play.
They're not an easy team to press because their 4s and 5s are really 3s and 4s. They have a lot of skill. Probably from a match-up standpoint, South Carolina probably matches up as well as anybody in this tournament against a Tennessee from a skill level standpoint.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you.

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