Vanderbilt's Rod Odom finds his comfort zone

Friday, February 22, 2013 at 8:45am

Rod Odom experienced an identity crisis.

At 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds, the Vanderbilt junior has the physical makeup of a big man. But he also possesses a shooter’s touch, which was obvious when he developed a niche as a 3-point specialist during his first two years.

This year, on a team constantly struggling in the post, Odom wanted to expand his game and get inside more. After failing to score on a consistent basis halfway through the Southeastern Conference season, Odom was pulled aside and told to live on the edge.

“I had a good talk with one of our coaches. He told me if you’re thinking between drive and shoot just shoot,” Odom said. “That made things really clear for me and gave me a lot of confidence as to what I was supposed to be doing on the floor.”

Heeding his coaches’ advice, Odom has eased back into his comfort zone heading into Saturday’s game at Mississippi State (12:47 p.m., SEC Network).

In the last five games for the Commodores (10-15, 4-9), he is averaging 15.2 points and has made 13 3-pointers. On Wednesday against Kentucky he sank a career-tying four treys – all in the first half – for the second straight game.

“He is just starting to settle down and settle in,” coach Kevin Stallings said. “Maybe he has a little more confidence. Why? I’m not sure. He just has more confidence right now as a player and feels like those are shots that not only is he supposed to take them but he is very capable of making them and he believes he is going to make them.”

After a loss to Alabama three weeks ago, Odom decided enough was enough. In six of his last seven games, he had failed to score in double figures. 
So he spent more time in the gym, firing off jumps shots. He focused on improving his form, which he admits continues to change. At the moment, Odom almost appears to catapult the ball out of his right hand, bringing it high above his head.

“There is a little bit of a windup to it,” Stallings said. “It is a little mechanical. He gets it in the right place and gets his elbow underneath and he gets good spin on it and most of the time he gets good arc on it. The only negative is it takes him a little longer to get it off than we wish it did.”

Call it funky. Call it unusual. But also call it effective. 

In the last five games, he has shot 46.4 percent from 3-point range (13 of 28). The accuracy from the perimeter has boosted him back into second on the team in scoring with 10.4 points per game.

“I don’t think it matters how I shoot it,” Odom said. “However I shoot it I’m going to make sure I work on it to a point where I feel confident in it. I don’t really think about it too much. I just shoot it. It feels good to me.”

And natural.