ST. LOUIS, April 3 -- Virginia Athletic Director Craig Littlepage has offered the school's head coaching vacancy to South Carolina Coach Dave Odom, whom two sources said Sunday night was poised to accept the job.
Odom, 62, led Wake Forest to 11 consecutive postseason appearances during his 12 seasons at the ACC school. Odom, who has a 335-219 record in his college coaching career, has had mediocre success at South Carolina, guiding the Gamecocks to two appearances in the National Invitation Tournament.
The Gamecocks finished 20-13 this past season and won the postseason NIT by beating Saint Joseph's, 60-57, last week in New York's Madison Square Garden.
Odom, a native of Columbus, Ga., would replace former Virginia coach Pete Gillen, who resigned after guiding the Cavaliers to one NCAA tournament in his six seasons at the school.
The Cavaliers lose two of their best players, senior center Elton Brown and senior forward Devin Smith.
Littlepage, who is serving on the NCAA men's basketball committee, was in St. Louis on Sunday night and was unavailable for comment. Odom did not return calls to his hotel room in St. Louis.
Odom would fill Virginia's need for a basketball coach with a recognizable name. The school is scheduled to open John Paul Jones Arena for the 2006-07 season, and the facility will have a capacity of more than 16,000 seats. Virginia also contacted Notre Dame Coach Mike Brey, Texas Coach Rick Barnes and Kentucky Coach Tubby Smith, but they all indicated that they weren't interested in the position.
Removing the Rims
North Carolina's strong defensive performance in the second half Saturday likely was the result of a back-to-basics approach that Coach Roy Williams enforced in practice this past week.
During one practice session, Williams took the rims off the baskets, sending a message to his team that the Tar Heels needed to play better defense than they did in the Syracuse Region, where they allowed Wisconsin to score 82 points in the final.
Williams did the same thing after North Carolina returned from a four-game road trip early in the season that included a loss to Santa Clara and three victories in the Maui Invitational.
"Coach took the rims down when we got back from Maui," senior Jackie Manuel said. "At first, we were wondering what's going on. Are we about to run? Then we knew it was going to be a really tough practice. It was the same [last week] -- all defense. There wasn't even any point in looking at the basket."
The Tar Heels, who have struggled to varying degrees defensively all season, held Michigan State to 29.4 percent shooting in the second half of Saturday's 87-71 victory in their national semifinal.