USC Week: What To ExpectPosted by AMurawa on July 6th, 2012
We’re most of the way through our week-long look at the Trojans and have at least enough information to make some educated guesses about what the 2012-13 season has in store. With three players back from season-ending injuries and a whole host of new faces, we can expect to see a vastly different team compared to the walking wounded who wrapped up last season, but who exactly will lead this team and what will the final results be? Here are our guesses.
USC’s Leading Scorer – Jio Fontan. In Fontan’s three years of play, he’s proven that he is capable of not only creating his own looks, but of also getting good looks for his teammates. In his one half-season with the Trojans, he played second fiddle to USC’s all-conference big man Nikola Vucevic, but he may be called on to once again be the primary offensive option for his team. He does have plenty of other guys capable of scoring around him (J.T. Terrell, Eric Wise, Maurice Jones, Ari Stewart, Byron Wesley, Aaron Fuller), so we can expect fairly balanced scoring on this Trojan team, but when push comes to shove, we expect Fontan to have the ball in his hands with an eye toward lighting up the scoreboard.
USC’s MVP – Aaron Fuller. The Trojans may well live and die with Fontan’s game, but Fuller will not only likely be the team’s most efficient offensive player again, but despite being an undersized four, he is perhaps their best front-line defender and an excellent rebounder. Assuming he returns from his shoulder injury no worse for the wear, Fuller could be the team’s most effective player.
USC’s Most Improved Returnee – Dewayne Dedmon. For the most part, Dedmon was awful last year in his first action with the Trojans, seeming out of place and out of sorts at times. But for a seven-footer with extremely limited experience in the game of basketball, he also showed some jaw-dropping athletic ability. And, as bad as he looked at times, a closer look at the numbers sows that he was somehow the team’s second-most efficient offensive player and its best rebounder. It is only a matter of time for Dedmon; the more experience he gets, the better he’ll be. And, after an offseason where he’s been trying to patch some of the holes in his game that were exposed last season, he should be light years beyond last season. A scary thought.
USC’s Most Impactful Newcomer – Eric Wise. There are a lot of choices here, but we’ll go with the senior transfer from UC Irvine. Wise showed a versatile and complete game with the Anteaters, capable of putting the ball in the bucket in a variety of different ways, able to rebound extremely well for his undersized frame and showing a great understanding of the game of basketball. While he’s definitely extremely undersized for the Pac-12, he’s still a very talented player who will play bigger than his 6’5” stature.
USC’s Conference Record/ Finish – 9-9, 6th Place. While there is absolutely no reason to think that the Trojans are going to be anywhere near as bad as they were last season, there is likewise little chance that they wind up competing for a conference title. They’re going to defend like crazy and likely be one of the better defensive teams in the conference, but despite all the guys capable of putting the ball in the basket on the offensive end, there aren’t a whole lot of highly efficient offensive basketball players on this team. This USC squad is still going to play a relatively ugly brand of basketball, but they’ll be capable of winning their share of those ugly games. And, come March, they’ll at least be in the conversation for one of the final spots in the NCAA Tournament. Our guess, however, is that they come up a bit shy, instead gaining one of the top seeds in the NIT.