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March 8, 2007

Tre' Kelley

Dave Odom

Brandon Wallace


THE MODERATOR: We're ready to begin with South Carolina. Coach, would you begin.
DAVE ODOM: Well, I certainly want to congratulate Arkansas. They played extremely well today. Clearly the better team won today, no question. And give Stan Heath and his coaching staff, and particularly his players an awful lot of credit.
I thought in the first half we had several opportunities that we didn't avail ourselves of. Open shots, of course we can say open shots, throughout the game, we did not shoot the ball well. I know Arkansas' defense was outstanding, but I do think we got an awful lot of open jumpers that did not go, that typically on good nights for us we've been able to make. So it was a combination of missed opportunities by us, in terms of the form of shots.
And I think as the game wore on, Arkansas gained more confidence from the fact that we were not shooting the ball well. And they understood -- they recognized very well that our inside post men's strength was depleted. Dominique Archie went out with the knee. He probably should not have come back. He was okay medically, he strained his knee, sprained his knee. Don't think there's anything beyond that. But probably was not able to play even as well as he did in the second half.
Chad Gray got three fouls early in the first half. He was unavailable. So we were down to Brandon inside and they knew that. They just kept going at us with their size and rotating them. That was a smart thing to do. It was very difficult for us to offset that.
Still I'm proud of our team. They continued to play hard right until the end. Certainly was not Tre's best day. Certainly they ganged up on him pretty good and made it difficult for him. But by the same token, he fought hard throughout. And I know we're going to let them go in just a moment.
Let me just say, I've been coaching a number of years, and I don't know that I've ever coached two guys, two players, two gentlemen who have committed more to a program, who have been better to work with, who have given more and asked less than Brandon Wallace and Tre' Kelley. They played their last game today in a Gamecock uniform. And I told them and I told the team, their contribution to Gamecock basketball will go on forever. They're tied to our program forever, and they will forever be remembered as very, very important members of basketball history at South Carolina. They're great players in their own right. I feel badly for them that they didn't have more help this year. They couldn't help that. Things that happened beginning at the end of tournament time last year as you kind of chronologically inch forward, very little of it went in their favor. Yet not one whimper, not one day did I ever hear a complaint, "why us?" anything like that. They just kept on keeping on. And it's a great study, it's a great lesson in growing up and what college is all about, and what college sport is all about, I'm just so ever prideful of both of these guys. Bryce Sheldon as well. Only two years in our program, but he fits right in with these two guys. So I'll turn them over to you with the greatest of pride. I love each one of these guys and they'll forever be very much a part of me and my family and the Gamecocks.

Q. Tre', I don't remember in Columbia when y'all played them that Sonny Weems really covered you much, if at all. Can you talk about the effect that may have had today on influencing the game.
TRE' KELLEY: They're just trying to go with size on me to make shots and plays that I can normally make, difficult for me to make today. And I can see the help kind of warming up. They used size on me, I got to the basket a lot, and tried to create for my teammates. And they made some shots, but we didn't make enough tonight, and it cost us.

Q. Brandon, end of the half, did you tip that ball in or can you replay how that play unfolded?
BRANDON WALLACE: No, I didn't tip that one, and I don't remember who it was. He came over and he just got the tip-in. I thought I had the board, and he just tipped it out of my hands.

Q. Brandon, can you just talk about their inside play. They had 40 points in the paint.
BRANDON WALLACE: Excellent. (Laughter) Speaks for itself. 40 points in the paint, that's outstanding.
THE MODERATOR: Fellas, we'll excuse you. Thank you very much?

Q. Dave, did you feel like there was any kind of a turning point there early in the second half? Can you point to anything particular that happened?
DAVE ODOM: We tried to be as positive with our team at halftime as we possibly could, encouraging them to continue to take the jumpshots that were open. We said that will change for us. We'll get to the foul line eventually. It was 14-0 at half; we hadn't shot a free throw, they had taken 14. Those kind of things will change eventually, you've got to keep shooting.
We got our guys out early and tried to get them some extra shots at halftime. Clearly it was not our night from a shooting standpoint. You know the things that happened in the first half, we just couldn't get a break there that would spur us. We needed a spark. We needed Tre' to get loose. We needed to get to the free-throw line, we needed to make a three. We needed not to give up a whatever on the last play of the half. We just needed something. We just couldn't find it.
You know, when you've got a team of two or three veterans and then the rest of guys who have never been here before, it's hard. They probably had a hard time finding it. But the turning point, I think knowing that Dominique was probably not going to come back a whole person, really took something out of them. He's had a good, he's All Freshmen, so he's had a very, very good year, and knowing that we weren't going to have him in the second half probably took a little steam out of them. I don't think they'd admit that. But my guess is it probably did.
It's just an accumulation of things that happened. Again, I think it all goes back to you've got to give Arkansas a lot of credit. They smelled blood, so to speak, and they went right at us, and we just weren't able to overcome it. I mean, the comment about the 40 points in the paint and rebounds and all that. Brandon Wallace stood up with 16 points and 15 rebounds, but that's one guy against a stable of big guys that they, again, smartly rotated. We had nowhere to go there.

Q. Dave, can you just talk about, they had four turnovers, none in the second half. I know you've played a lot of zone, is that a function --
DAVE ODOM: Well, we went into the game thinking that we would press them a little bit early and see where it led. We had a couple of bad reads on that press, and they ended up dunking the ball on them. That's not good. I mean, obviously, you don't want to give up dunks without your defense setting some sort of tone. I decided we didn't want to do that.
We did work on the press quite a bit this week going in, hoping that we could get them to turn the ball over a little bit, but they did handle it very well.
I don't know whether the Dome had anything to do with it or not. I watched our team yesterday as we practiced here, and it seemed like the first -- we scrimmaged quite a bit. I don't know what the other teams did, but we scrimmaged quite a bit. During the 40 minutes that we were out there it just seemed that the first three or four trips that we made, it seemed like we were going from Lexington to Augusta. I mean, that's how far it was down from one end to the other. And jeepers, you know, I don't know if that had anything to do with it or not. But we didn't shoot the ball well. It seemed like a lot of court to cover from a press standpoint.

Q. What do you think is the major difference between the way Arkansas is playing now, as to when y'all played them back in January?
DAVE ODOM: Well, teams either get better or get worse. They've clearly gotten better. And you know, as important as their post guys were today, and they were very important, I think the biggest improvement in their team, the advent of them being a power in this league, once again, is their perimeter play. Gary Ervin had come into this tournament with career highs in the last two games. Patrick Beverley rightfully was chosen Freshman of the Year, leading scorer on the Arkansas team. And Sonny Weems was playing now like he was in December. And all of that, because you now have to concentrate on the perimeter, which you did not have to do quite as much in January, opens up Darian Townes, Steven Hill, Charles Thomas, and now Michael Washington, who is on the radar who can shoot the ball. He's big in his own right.
So I think the biggest thing is their perimeter play now is just so much better. And that goes on both ends of the court. They're a good team now because they've got a team. They're not just being pulled at it from one position or the other.
I think they've got a chance to do good things in this tournament. They've already done one good thing, I think they have a chance to do some others. They've got enough -- they're playing Vanderbilt, and you can make what you want of that. Vanderbilt's got an excellent basketball team, Arkansas's got an excellent basketball team. But should Arkansas be able to get past Vanderbilt, I think they have the depth to play four days. I do. That doesn't speak about that other bracket. I don't even know. I just heard a while ago that Kentucky had won. Doesn't say anything about that. I'm saying Arkansas playing at their best has the ability to get to the finals, I think.
THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you.

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