Pac-12 Season Preview: USC Trojans

Posted by AMurawa on October 23rd, 2014

The Pac-12 microsite will preview each of its league teams over the next few weeks, continuing today with USC.

USC Trojans

Strengths. Let’s get this out of the way immediately: This USC roster is not one that is going to win the Pac-12 or likely to find its way into the NCAA Tournament. And really, that’s no surprise given that this is a squad that won two conference games last season and lost the team’s top four scorers to boot. But this is a program in the middle of a complete rebuild and change of identity. The strength of this version of the Trojans is the fact that said change in identity is well underway. The last time the Trojans were even remotely relevant on a national scale, they were trudging their way through 63 possessions of terrible offense a night. And last year in his first season at Southern California, head coach Andy Enfield was stuck with a mishmash of players who either weren’t good fits for his style of play or weren’t fit to act as veteran leaders on a team in transition. This year, however, there is some reason for excitement. Enfield’s got his point guard in freshman Jordan McLaughlin, an explosive, attacking player most comfortable in the open floor. He’s got UNLV transfer Katin Reinhardt ready to serve as a secondary ball-handler and a floor stretcher who will likely lead the team in scoring. He’s got a couple of Serbian big guys (Nikola Jovanovic and Strahinja Gavrilovic) with pick-and-pop skills. And he’s got intriguing athletic depth. There’s still a ways to go here, but Enfield is starting to round his roster into shape.

Andy Enfield's Roster At USC is Starting To Take Shape

Andy Enfield’s Roster At USC is Starting To Take Shape

Weaknesses. Of course, coupled with that rebuild is the fact that right now there is an awful lot of inexperience on this team. There are only four players — Reinhardt, Jovanovic, sophomore Julian Jacobs and Charlotte-transfer Darion Clark –who have averaged as much as 15 minutes per game at the Division I level – and each of those players has only done it once. This team is going to have to learn on the fly; but then again, “on the fly” says a lot about how Enfield will want his team to play.

Non-conference Tests. After a couple home warm-up games against Portland State and Tennessee Tech, we’ll get a good glimpse of USC against legitimate competition in the second week of the season, where they’ll open with Akron in the Charleston Classic, then face either Miami or Drexel on day two, and then a beatable opponent in their final game. Honestly, USC has as much of a chance to win that tournament as anybody else invited. Their biggest test during the rest of non-conference play will likely come when the Trojans travel to New Mexico on the final day of November, but even that is a winnable game against a team that lost most of last year’s top contributors. Later on, there’s a trip to Boston College just before Christmas. But, really, USC plays 12 very winnable games prior to conference play. Anything less than a 9-3 record will be disappointing, even for a young team.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Pac-12 Post-Mortems: USC

Posted by Andrew Murawa on May 6th, 2014

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll go through each Pac-12 team one by one and recount the season that has just completed and begin to turn the page to what we might see next season. Today, USC.

What Went Wrong

The problems of USC basketball in 2013-14 can largely – but not entirely – be attributed to previous administrations and the changing of the guard. New head coach Andy Enfield was, for the most part, left with a roster of ne’er-do-wells and misfits thrown together into a system in which few of them fit. Almost nobody on the roster would have been a guy that Enfield would have thought would fit perfectly into his system, and among the handful of guys who did, there wasn’t a ton of buy-in. Let’s put it this way: The team’s two captains were senior J.T. Terrell and junior Byron Wesley, who between the two of them were suspended for a total of 10 games and couldn’t get out of the program fast enough once the season ended.

J.T. Terrell Wearing A "C" On His Right Shoulder: Never A Good Sign

J.T. Terrell Wearing A “C” On His Right Shoulder: Never A Good Sign

What Went Right

Well, on Wednesday March 12, the Trojans took a three-point loss against Colorado in the Pac-12 Tournament, a game which served as a mercy killing of the USC season. Better days likely await the program under Enfield, but man, this season needs to be put in the past right quick. Beyond that snarky answer, Enfield really did begin to implement the type of basketball he would like this Trojans team to play in the future. They got up and down the court, found transition offense on 30 percent of all possessions, and averaged offensive possessions of just 16 seconds, good for 26th in the nation. Once Enfield can begin to fill roster spots with players who will better fit into his scheme, we’ll get a better idea of how the Enfield era will work at USC.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 06.28.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 28th, 2013

morning5

  1. One of the worries that NBA teams have when one of their players participates in an international tournament is that the player will get injured. As a result many NBA teams have insurance policies taken out (often financed by the national team’s federation). While NCAA teams are unable to take out similar policies since their players are not paid (not getting into that debate here), many schools have similar worries. It has been a while since we have seen a significant injury to a college player in international play, but we may have that as Rodney Hood reportedly suffered an unspecified Achilles injury during Wednesday night’s practice. Without further information (we aren’t even sure if Hood knows the extent of the damage) it is hard to say how long Hood will be out as recovery could range from a few days to the entire season. If Hood is out for a prolonged period it would be a big blow for a Duke team looking for him to provide an additional scoring punch to pair with Jabari Parker.
  2. Conference realignment has had more than its fair share of entries in the Morning Five, but one area of realignment that we have not talked about as much is the ongoing sports network battle between ESPN (the old guard) and Fox Sports 1 (the new kid on the block). Most of the moves have not registered with us mainly because they have been for day-time TV talent and we are never home during the middle of the day to watch any of these personalities. However, Fox Sports 1 stealing Bill Raftery away from ESPN certainly caught our attention. Many college basketball fans will miss the three-man booth of Raftery, Sean McDonough, and Jay Bilas we figure they will get over it with the new team of Raftery and Gus Johnson although we have our reservations about a booth with that much energy. We will always maintain that there is not a single announcer that can get us to turn on or turn off a game that we otherwise would not or would be watching, but at the very least Fox Sports 1 is making the competition with ESPN more compelling.
  3. With Andy Enfield’s arrival at USC you would expect many players who were interested in transferring become more excited about the possibility of playing for Dunk City West. It appears that all was enough (or maybe it was a move to LA) to get Darion Clark to transfer from Charleston to USC. Clark, who averaged 18 games and averaging 6.2 points on 54.2% from the field and 4.6 rebounds in 17.6 minutes per game, as a freshman will have to sit out next year and will have three more years of eligibility left. Given his production and efficiency as a freshman we would expect that Trojan fans can get used to seeing him on the court quite a bit.
  4. It appears that Billy Donovan is building quite a collection of point guards at Florida. While he may have issues getting them to play in the short term given Scottie Wilbekin’s ongoing behavioral issues and Kasey Hill’s academic issues, he should have a surplus for the 2014-15 season as he added Brandone Francis, a top-25 or -35 player in the class of 2014 depending on which service you follow, to a class that already includes Chris Chiozza, another top-100 player. Francis projects as more of a shooting guard especially with Chiozza in the same class, but he can play both positions so the Gators should have a dynamic backcourt for years to come.
  5. Over the years many of Rick Pitino‘s books have become the subject of numerous jokes including “Success is a Choice” that became the subject of countless jokes by Bill Simmons. On the heels of winning a national title at Louisville Pitino is ready to venture back into the book business with his latest book titled “The One-Day Contract: How to Add Value to Every Minute of Your Life.” The book will reportedly focus on Louisville’s championship experiences and Pitino’s life experience. As the Kentucky fans out there would note every minute of your life could include four 15 second events.
Share this story