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March 12, 2008

Dominique Archie

Dwayne Day

Devan Downey

Dave Odom


THE MODERATOR: Let's go ahead and if you have any questions for the players, raise your hand and we'll get a microphone to you.

Q. This question is for Devan. I don't know if you've noticed, but there's a lot of good transfers in the league, yourself obviously amongst them. Could you just talk about what guys like you and Tyler Smith and some of the other transfers are doing, just what it's like to sit out and how you feel about that, and why you transferred from Cincinnati to South Carolina?
DEVAN DOWNEY: Just talk about it. I think guys like myself and Tyler, we just brought more depth to a power basketball conference. SEC was always one of the top conferences, but the additions that we had, additions that we added, just made it more deep.

Q. Do you notice the other guys like at Tennessee and Curtis and them, do you notice those guys, pay attention to what they're doing?
DEVAN DOWNEY: What's going on in the league, so I do notice them.

Q. Could you talk about why you transferred and how that's worked out for you?
DEVAN DOWNEY: I'm happy with my decision, and I love South Carolina.

Q. Dwayne, give us a sense of what it's going to be like with Coach Odom? The next game could be his last game working with you guys. Is it something the players talk about? Is it emotional for you guys? How does it impact you?
DWAYNE DAY: We really haven't talked about it much as a team. When he talked to us that day, when he told us what was going on, we talked amongst each other then, but since then we've just basically tried to stay positive and focus on our season.
Probably once the season is over it'll probably hit us. It's my last go-around, as well, too, but basically we're just focused on this game and trying to win games.

Q. If I ask you, going into the year, how many games did you think you all were capable of winning? Did you have a number in mind at all?
DWAYNE DAY: Top of the SEC East, maybe 20. I can't really give you a number where I thought they would be. I thought we'd be in way better shape than where we are now.

Q. Does it kind of stun you to be where you are now for whatever reasons?
DWAYNE DAY: Very surprising that we are where we are today.

Q. Dominique, I know you said Sunday you guys just hadn't put it together. Is there one reason maybe why that hasn't happened?
DOMINIQUE ARCHIE: I can't really put my finger on no one reason. There's a lot of factors that probably led to some of our losses, but you've got to work all season and get it right.

Q. Devan, given all the close games you've had in the league, does that give you guys some hope that you can do something because you haven't been blown out or nobody has been blown out?
DEVAN DOWNEY: We counted maybe seven, eight games that was decided in the last minute and a half. It just gives us hope that there's a whole lot of young talent on this team, and this year everybody has got experience. Hopefully starting this tournament we can close out games.

Q. Dwayne, just take us back to the LSU game before, another close game that you guys -- didn't go your way. What could be different in this game? What do you need to be different in this game for a different outcome? What led to that loss?
DWAYNE DAY: We've just got to get in the business and finish games. That's been a major factor throughout the season. Like Devan said, we had seven or eight close games, but we lost two by five points. We've just got to finish games, come together as a team and tough down and grit out and play defense. That's what we're trying to work on right now or have worked on coming into practice, just battling it out with our perimeter game and our post defense.

Q. Are you concerned with what happened at Tennessee at other games in the last six or so games with longer guys kind of taking you out of your rhythm trying to get to the basket, and I think you had eight assists in the first half at Tennessee. Is that just kind of your response to other things?
DWAYNE DAY: You know if a team is going to try to stop my from scoring, I'm not a selfish person so I'm going to get my teammates involved. It's not a big thing if they want to put so-called longer guys to try to do what they're going to do. I'm going to counter. If I can't score I'm going to find an open man, so it's not big deal.

Q. Everybody says you give up. What do you say to that, Dominique?
DOMINIQUE ARCHIE: As a team i don't think anyone's giving up. All us love the game of basketball, and if you love the game, there's no giving up.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, players. Let's take questions for Coach Odom.

Q. Any sentimental value to the fact this could be the last game, next game could be the last game and thinking this is it after a long and great career?
COACH ODOM: Well, obviously everything I do this time of year there's some significance to it, whether you're checking into a hotel, checking out or getting on a bus or walking into the Atlanta Dome. I think the great thing about what we're doing in terms of the tournament itself is that you don't know.
I mean, there's not as much sentimental value to it because you don't know when it's going to be the last time walking in the back door of the Atlanta Dome. I mean, you don't know that. So you don't have a tendency to focus on that quite as hard or quite as much as you would your last regular season game at home in the Colonial Center, the drive to the center, that kind of thing. So it's not quite the same.
But I'd be less than honest if I didn't tell you I've tried to busy my mind with things that have a real bearing on my team so that I don't think about myself or the circumstances surrounding my situation.

Q. You mentioned a couple times in jest and even right there, what makes you think that people assume this team is giving up?
COACH ODOM: Does it aggravate me? No, it doesn't aggravate because I understand the media has got to ask some questions. They've got to ask something. That is a logical question. I know the pulse beat of our team. As I said, following the Tennessee game, we gave in, we did not give up. We gave in to a great Tennessee team. Their will was stronger than ours in the second half. But giving up was not part of the equation. That was not part of what happened.
You know, there's a difference. I mean, I know we're talking phrases by definition here, but in my mind, I know what we did preparation-wise, I know what we've done for this game, I know that our team -- you cannot go to Thompson-Boling the last game of the year, play a team that's ranked in the top five in the United States, play the second best schedule in the country, got three of the finest seniors in this league bowing out that day before a packed arena and play the way we did in the first half and have anybody say you've given up. We didn't give up, we gave in. We didn't make shots at the beginning of the second half, we didn't make free throws, we made turnovers and a couple of bad shot selections and it's never a good time for that but it's particularly bad when they're on they're -- when Chris Lofton making every one of these threes and JaJuan Smith is not far behind and their defense picked up and the temperature in the building heated up, and it's just one of those situations and we couldn't stop it. I couldn't. We tried the time-out deal and change defense and players, and we can't stop.
To answer your question, does it aggravate me, no. I wish that were not a question, but when I made the announcement in January that -- what my plans were come the last game this year, you know, I didn't make that in a thoughtless manner. I tried to think about all the possible circumstances that would come out, and one of them was the lame duck issue. I don't think I've been a lame duck. I haven't told a player to do a single thing he hasn't done. It's been business as usual for us. So I think we've overcome that.
And then of course when you're not winning as much as you'd like to win, you get the question of has the team given up. In truth, my gosh, I don't know that there's a team in the country that had a tougher close than did we. I mean, particularly the last three or four games were brutal games. I mean, they really were.
The scheduling gods didn't smile favorably on us there. You take my situation and you take -- you've got Kentucky -- any time Kentucky comes to your place, it's a different environment. We had them next to the last game, last home game, and that was difficult, Dwayne Day's last day, and then of course you go to, as I mentioned, a Knoxville situation, and you look beyond that, I think we played LSU prior to that, and LSU, that's our problem tomorrow. They're, I think, one of the up-and-coming teams in our league, and that was a tough close. We had a difficult close. Everybody is on Dwayne Day. Dwayne Day has been a great defensive player for us, and all of a sudden he's giving up all these points. He's really not giving them up, our team is giving them up. You look at it, three games ago you had Marcus Thornton scoring points in droves right now, and he had to guard him, took a lot of energy there. He come back, he's got Joe Crawford who's a McDonald's All-America four-year starter, a great player at Kentucky, and he runs off 35 on us, and you go right to Thompson-Boling and you've got Chris Lofton staring you in the eye or JaJuan Smith. It's a tough close for us, and now we go right back to Thornton again tomorrow and to others. So it's been a hard close for us.
I know I rambled a lot there, but I think I've spoken to the issue, and no, we have not given up, and no, I don't mind the question, and it is logical and we don't have any more time for questions and that was my objective (laughter). Just kidding.

Q. Nine or ten pretty good transfers from other schools in the league. Obviously Devan is one of those guys. Can you talk about the impact transfers have made in the league and talk about Devan's impact?
COACH ODOM: Well, this league has been -- I think through the years has been, I think, very cordial to transfers. Junior college players are recently less than in years prior to because of the junior college rule. I don't know if you're familiar with that or not. But our league has a junior college rule unlike any other league in the country, which makes it very difficult to get junior college players in. In all sports now, not just basketball. We have a very, very difficult junior college rule, transfer rule. So that tells you a guy like Marcus Thornton does pretty well or Sonny Williams in your case does pretty well.
But when you just look at pure transfers, a Devan or a Zam Frederick for us or some of the others that are transfers four-year school to four-year school, I think there's a huge advantage to getting those guys on the rebound because most of the time they've been through the recruiting process and their minds are probably more at ease with who they are and where they're going. You know, they've made presumably a first-time mistake, and they probably don't want to make another one, so they choose more carefully the second time.
You know, I think most cases, guys with reputations the second time around generally do very, very well, and this league, I think, is a great league for those kind of players because it's a high-level league and they can come back and compete at the highest level on a national scale. They've done very, very well. I mean, they really have. You take Ole Miss, for instance, they've got Dwayne Curtis and they've got Huertas both transferred out of this league, which by the way, I'd go on record today as saying I do not like. I think that's a bad rule, and it's one I wish the SEC coaches would discuss. I don't think transferring within the league is a good item, I really don't. I think you end up recruiting against yourself a second time, hard feelings, bad feelings. I heard Billy say he didn't mind that the other day, Billy Donovan, but I do. I think that's a bad deal.

Q. The match-up with LSU tomorrow, just talk about that. They got you at home, and what you have to do differently.
COACH ODOM: Yeah, they did get us. It was a very, very close game until about two and a half minutes. They went zone for two possessions. We got two really good looks at it, Zam Fredrick actually took them both, we missed them, and then we were forced to foul, they made free throws and that gave them the working margin to win the game. They won by seven I believe it was. It was a really close basketball game. It was really closer than that.
The problem we had in that game was their length. That's one of those teams that you see them on film, you see them on TV, and you don't have a real appreciation for their length at every position until you get them in the flesh, so to speak. Their big guys, Johnson and Randolph, Green and others, Thornton, Quintin Thornton, all bothered us with their length. But just as much as that, Garrett Temple bothered us with his length at the point.
So what we've done in the last couple, two, three days is try to work against that kind of length. Obviously we don't have that except in the person of Sam Muldrow. But we got in situations, if you get in this situation this is what you do. We've practiced that to try and alleviate the pressures there. One of the things I think we need to do is to get into the open court more. If the game settles into solely a half-court game I think that's bad for South Carolina. I think it would be good for LSU, although I think LSU is running more now than they have. But we don't want the game to settle at the half court level on a continuing basis. I think that's bad for us.
On the plus side, Mike Holmes I think will be more comfortable playing against the length than he was the first time. They bothered him more than any other team has in the last three weeks, Johnson and Randolph did.

Q. Do you think the situation is similar for your players and the LSU players? This is kind of a speculative question, but in terms of them maybe --
COACH ODOM: The coaching situation? Yes and no.

Q. In their situation they're maybe hoping he gets the job?
COACH ODOM: Yeah, I think it's the same, yet different. It's diametrically opposite. They're playing to help their coach retain his job, and our team is playing hopefully to extend my job, put it that way, I guess is the best way. Their coaching motives involved, motivations involved, they're different.
While we're at it, I think -- I just talked to Butch Pierre out there a minute ago, he's done a marvelous job, he really has. The advantage he has is he was with John and has been on the staff for, what is it, 11 years? He knows LSU and he knows the administration, he knows the fans, but more important, he knew the team coming into the year. I mean, he had worked with them through the 1st of February, and he knew what was going on and he knew them personally. You know, if you're going to have a coaching change at mid-year that's the kind you want. You've got a guy who you trust and knows what he's doing, and he stepped in and he's done a marvelous job, he really has, and I told him that a minute ago. He's done a really good job with that.
I hope and trust that the LSU administration will give him serious consideration. It's none of my business, other than I know he's a good person, I know he's a good coach, and I'm sure he'll be a popular choice with the players, but I don't know what LSU's needs are so I'm not trying to orchestrate that other than I'd say from one coach to another he's done a great job. He's taken what I thought was a good product heading in the right direction and made it better. He's improved the team. The team I truly believe is one of the up-and-coming teams in our league. They've got everybody back another year, plus the recruits that they've signed. They've got everything it takes to be a real force in the SEC next year. And they are now. But I mean over the course of on entire season, they won't be talking about LSU at the bottom of the SEC West next year, I can promise you that.

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