Brian Richardson spent the offseason improving his shooting, strength and work ethic.
The 6-foot-4, 175-pound junior from Wilson, N.C., struggled from the field in USC's exhibition win Tuesday, shooting 2-for-10 (0-for-4 from three-point range). He finished with six points and five rebounds in 31 minutes.
Last season he played in 25 games, averaging 3.2 points, and 1.0 rebounds in 12.3 minutes per game.
In the 2010-11 season, he started 24 of 30 games, averaging 5.9 points, averaging 1.6 rebounds, 0.5 assists and 0.7 steals in 19.4 minutes per game. He made 41 three-pointers as a freshman, followed by 14 last season.
South Carolina's season-opener is 3 p.m. Nov. 11 at home against Milwaukee.
What has coach Frank Martin told you he expects from the team?
He thinks that we can be pretty good, as long as we keep working and listening to him and open our ears and our minds. He thinks we can do pretty good and have a successful season.
Did coaches challenge you to work on anything this offseason?
There's a lot they wanted me to work on. My work ethic, keeping a good work ethic, stay in the gym, get multiple shots, get a lot of shots and reps up.
What have you improved on since last season?
Individually I got a lot better on my work ethic. They instilled a lot in my work ethic. A real big improvement in my weight and my strength. Our strength coach has helped me out a whole lot. As a team it's a team concept. It's not just one individual. Everybody has to work collectively to reach a a common goal.
What are these practices like?
Intense. I can say one thing: Our practices are intense. It's three hours long. You have to stay focused. There's a reason they're three hours, so you can stay focused in a gamelike situations. It's been real intense.
When did coaches stress the importance of defense?
Right away. We worked on defense the first day in practice. That's something we know we have to do to win games and win championships. It's good because when you play defense, that opens up your offense. When you get to this level, you've got the same type of players as good as you. You have to play defense to win the game.
Folks outside the program aren't expecting a lot from this team. Does that provide extra motivation?
That's always motivation. It's a new change and we're trying to instill a new culture around here and hopefully win games and be the best we can do.
What are some of coach Martin's main philosophies?
Being competitive each and every night. Defensive pressure, try to play fast. There is going to be a lot of change here.
What was it like to call USC season ticket-holders recently?
We did that not too long ago and got on the phone calling season ticket-holders to come back. We appreciate them and want to try and fill up the arena and get some excitement here. I talked to a couple people and told them who I was. One of the people actually played here a long time ago. He said he'll be back to watch our games.
Can you tell that there's a buzz about basketball around campus this year?
It's a lot of buzz because of a new coach and a new change. It's a lot of buzz for our basketball program. People are excited about basketball season coming up this year.