It’s gearing up as another interesting offseason for Tim Floyd at USC. For the second consecutive year, with the news that Demar DeRozan, Daniel Hackett and Taj Gibson are going pro, he’ll be losing a significant portion of his team to NBA early entry after another relatively disappointing campaign. (note: we’re sorry, but if you lose potentially five draft picks in two seasons and win only one NCAA Tournament game in that period, that’s really disappointing). And guess what, probable one-and-doner Renardo Sidney is set to arrive on campus in 2009-10, further contributing to the problem that Floyd annually faces: it’s great to have NBA-level talent every season, but he doesn’t have enough ‘program guys’ who stick around for 3-4 years and provide consistency within the USC program.
An interesting analogy is John Calipari at Memphis. When Calipari returned to college coaching at Memphis in 2000, there was a common presumption that he would do very well immediately. The truth, however, is that it took Calipari five years at Memphis before he really got rolling – his first half-decade with the Tigers resulted in 2 NCAA appearances and only one NCAA win. Remember the Dajuan Wagner, Antonio Burks and early Rodney Carney teams? Yeah, we don’t really either. It was only after he had built up enough depth of talent to sustain annual high draft pick losses and still win 30 games the next season did Memphis become a brand name again.
Floyd has struggled in his four seasons at USC to put together a team that looks largely like its predecessor, which is really the only way to consistently perform at an elite level. The last three champions (UNC, Kansas, Florida) were essentially the same teams as the year prior, and that’s basically true of many of the F4 teams as well (with a piece here or there added). Floyd’s problem is exacerbated by his tendency to utilize a short bench, as he typically plays only 7-8 guys throughout the season, so when he ends up losing a couple or three key players he’s left with depending on star freshmen to lead his team the next year (e.g., Sidney and star wing Noel Johnson in 2009-10).
Floyd would do well to continue recruiting elite players who are likely one-and-dones, but he should also try to get a few more of the three- and four-year players that will provide a backbone of consistency for his program. Otherwise, the annual postseason rollercoaster of incoming/outgoing talent that USC basketball currently finds itself on won’t end anytime soon. Of course, this all may be for naught if the NCAA continues snooping around…