Tarence Kinsey went to the South Carolina men's basketball locker room at halftime on Wednesday night, having been invited to give a mid-game speech to his former team. Instead he overheard coach Dave Odom gearing up for a rip-fest, so Kinsey knew it was better to just walk away.
Odom was on the verge of winning his 400th career college game. But he was also as animated as he has been all season, to his team and the media, angry about a sloppy performance in a 90-63 win over Radford.
"I heard a couple things I didn't hear in two years," guard Zam Fredrick said of Odom's halftime and postgame speeches.
The game was not the blowout the score made it appear. The Gamecocks (8-5) played sloppy, throwing passes away and fumbling rebounds, and led by just three early in the second half.
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But they were able to win going away because Radford (4-10) was even worse. At one point a Radford substitute entered the game with his jersey on backwards, a fitting summation to the night of less-than-crisp basketball.
"Surely, it was not the most pleasing to the eyes to watch," Odom said.
The 65-year-old Odom made his displeasure known throughout the night. He stomped his feet at turnovers, and waved his arms at misplays. He called two first-half timeouts when, unlike the previous two games, his team had the lead.
His main complaint was with his players' lack of passion, a point he made beforehand when he sat freshman starter Mike Holmes. Odom said it was a coach's decision based on two poor practices leading up to the game.
"If he practices better between now and then, I expect him to play Saturday," Odom said.
So far this season, Odom has been relatively patient with his team, which has only one senior and one junior. Apparently that approach has worn out.
In an entertaining postgame press conference -- which featured a couple good-natured wisecracks at reporters -- Odom called out his big men, and said he was bringing them in for extra work this morning.
"They are playing horrendous basketball right now," Odom said. "They're playing without passion, they're playing without pride, and I just told them that."
He also declined to use the absence of Holmes and injured guard Brandis Raley-Ross as an excuse for another slow start.
"In truth that's hogwash," Odom said. "They've got to be able to come out and play," Odom said. "And that's our (coaches) fault, we've got to take responsibility for that."
South Carolina initially trailed 10-5, then rallied to lead by as many as 11 in the first half. After Radford pulled close in the second half, guard Devan Downey powered a 12-1 run, and from there it turned into a runaway.
But that did little to allay Odom, whose team opens SEC play in six days at No. 15 Vanderbilt. And Odom's concerns were echoed by Downey.
"I just think our team's got to find our intensity. It's got to find, like coach says, our passion," Downey said. "Like I told the guys, we're going to be up at Vandy this time next week, and you go up there playing (like this) we're going to get beat by 20 or 30. So we've got to pick it up."
Furthermore, Downey said, it seems the Gamecocks are playing at less than full effort.
"At this point of the season we're supposed to be peaking, getting better," Downey said. ."
S. Carolina 90