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09.03.05: ECU's "Total Access" expected to launch today ... Uprooted Green Wave to "carry the torch" ... Storm-trapped sister of UCF player found safe ... Sun Belt evacuates New Orleans headquarters
09.02.05: Green Wave football team in limbo about future ... Southern Miss sets up ad hoc camp in Memphis ... Thursday night's college football scoreboard
09.01.05: Pirate QB's second shoulder surgery a success ... East Carolina fans on the verge of Total Access
08.31.05: Katrina blows Tulane-USM game into November ... Frosh guards round out ECU hoops roster
08.30.05: Pirates set for reunions with Deacons, Seahawks
08.29.05: New home offers lavish new perks for Louisville
08.28.05: Wooden pulls out of Wooden Award ceremony
08.27.05: NCAA issues 'heads up' on new spearing rule ... Huggins ouster speeds up Cincy AD's departure
08.26.05: ECU's Moore sole Carolinas player on Butkus list ... New BCS voters panel already in for shakeup
08.25.05: Mayo's destination has well-worn path to ECU ... NCAA adds extra year to Gamecocks' probation
08.24.05: Transgression nets suspension for ECU's Flournoy ... Cincinnati will enter Big East without Huggins ... VPI poised to pony up to keep Beamer, staff
08.23.05: West Virginia announces halt to ECU ticket sales ... Polling company unveils official BCS voters list
08.22.05: Mountain West angling for clearer path to BCS
08.21.05: Associated Press preseason college football poll
08.20.05: Groh signs $1.7 million per year deal with UVa
08.19.05: Mountain West tidying up postseason deals
08.18.05: Talk 1070 touts Pirates, Panthers, new shows ... Fort Worth Bowl embraces Mountain West, TCU... NYC schools reap windfall from NCAA-NIT deal

News Nuggets, 09.04.05
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Compiled from staff reports and electronic dispatches

Dave Odom brings back lessons from Kuwait

COLUMBIA — Dave Odom's proudest moments as a coach might have come a half-world away from South Carolina's campus.

Odom joined several other coaches in ``Operation Hardwood,'' a basketball tournament in Kuwait for U.S. military members fighting in Iraq. The Gamecocks' coach and the others were told by commanders at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait there would be a moment during their stay that would thrill them and remain with them forever.

For Odom it happened early as he prepped his Camp Navistar team for the tournament's opening game. The call came for the national anthem, and Odom looked behind to get his players lined up as he typically does with the Gamecocks.

Instead, Odom found his team at attention, eyes on the American flag as Whitney Houston's version of the ``Star Spangled Banner'' was played.

``You could have heard a mouse crawl across the floor'' it was so reverent at the court, Odom recalled Friday. ``This was the moment.''

The only thing that topped it, Odom said, came in the tournament final, when he served as an assistant to Michigan State coach Tom Izzo's tournament winning Camp Arifjan team. All the coaches, dressed in military uniforms, marched to the center of the floor before the game. This time when the national anthem started, Odom could see the 1,500 troops there to watch look as respectful as his team did only days earlier.

``It's like I told them, for me there wasn't one moment, there was two,'' he said.

Odom, who turns 63 next month, called the weeklong visit a life changing experience.

He mixed with U.S. personnel from all over, but sought out those from South Carolina. Most knew how Odom's team won the NIT title last March and that Steve Spurrier was preparing for his Gamecocks debut — a 24-15 win over Central Florida on Thursday.

What Odom found was a group that believed deeply in their mission and is prepared to do what it takes in Iraq. Odom says he didn't make the trip for political reasons, but he was pleased to see the high morale and purpose in America's troops.

``I did not meet one soldier who questioned whether the war was right or wrong,'' Odom said. ``You can tell whether people are genuine and they are committed to following through. I am so proud of those people. America's in great shape.''

Other college basketball personalities on the trip were former South Carolina player and Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins, Alabama coach Mark Gottfried, Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson, ex-St. John's coach Mike Jarvis, Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz and ESPN analyst Jay Bilas.

Odom says he got to ride one of the base's camels and drive a tank. He also gave out duffel bags full of South Carolina hats, shirts and posters to eager Palmetto Staters dreaming of home.

Some of Odom's most revealing and memorable moments were talking with soldiers about their roles in Iraq. Odom talked about meeting two women who transport tanks and heavy vehicles into Iraq, one driving, the other as a gunner.

``How often do you get shot at?'' the coach asked.

``Oh, every time we go,'' came the response.

``How often you shoot back?'' Odom continued.

``Every time they shoot at us,'' they told him.

``I thought, 'Oh my goodness, this is real,' `` Odom said.

Odom spent much of the 22-hour flight back from Kuwait sketching how best to bring the lessons he learned to his team.

``How do I make them understand how fortunate they are,'' he said.

Odom says his Gamecocks are great people, but concerned with things most college players are — like per diem money and playing time — not about sacrifices people in the military make to keep them safe and free.

``I don't know that I can do it,'' he says, ``but I'm going to try.''

Scoreboard [C-USA teams & ECU opponents]

[Games involving Conference USA teams in bold;
games involving East Carolina opponents in red.]


Oregon 38, Houston 24
Marshall 36, William & Mary 24
South Carolina 24, UCF 15
Minnesota 41, Tulsa 10
Vanderbilt 24, Wake Forest 20


Tennessee 17, UAB 10
East Carolina 24, Duke 21
Baylor 28, SMU 23
UTEP 31, New Mexico State 0


Tulane at Southern Miss (postponed)


Mississippi at Memphis 4:30 PM

News Nuggets are compiled periodically based on material supplied by staff members; data published by ECU, Conference USA and its member schools; and reports from Associated Press and other sources. Copyright 2005 and other publishers. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Page Updated: 02/23/2007 12:27 PM


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