Tuesday, January 20, 2009
USC Basketball Coming Together??
Expectations remained high at USC this season, despite the early departures of last year's talented freshmen duo of O.J. Mayo and Davon Jefferson. Not only were the Trojans coming off back to back NCAA Tournament appearances, but they returned 3 veteran starters in Daniel Hackett, Dwight Lewis, and Taj Gibson, and added another highly touted freshman in Demar Derozan. However, there have been some disappointing moments for the Trojans during the first couple months of the college basketball season.
The refusal of UNC transfer Alex Stephenson's waiver to play this season, coupled with injuries to players such as Kasey Cunningham (out for season) and freshman Leonard Washington (missed first 4 conference games) have really tested USC's meddle so far this season. This has hurt the bench's depth, and as a result, the offense has been inconsistent. Coach Floyd's team has shown that it can compete with the best in the country, but they seem to lose focus at times. The Trojans have looked great in tough losses to highly ranked Oklahoma on the road, and at home against fucla. But only a week ago, the Trojans were in a mid-season crisis after back to back losses to lowly Oregon State and fucla. Tim Floyd and some of his veteran players had become the brunt of criticism and doubt from fans and media.
The team might have done some soul-searching since then because they appear to be re-energized as we head into the crucial month of February. USC swept the Pac-10's Arizona schools this past week, improving to (12-5) overall and (3-2) in the Pac-10. They showed heart and toughness in picking up those two gritty wins. Gibson and Hackett have emerged as team leaders, but they need to continue to keep this team together and make them believe in one another. Derozan is getting better with each game and is beginning to believe that he can take over games. Lewis was benched for the ASU game last Thursday, but responded with two clutch performances against the Sun Devils and Arizona. Role players Keith Wilkinson, Marcus Johnson, and the now healthy Leonard Washington are finding their groove as well.
USC's record currently stands at 12-5 overall and (3-2) in the Pac-10. They have played themselves back into the Pac-10 race and now must build on these two big wins so that they can finish strong. Up next is another tough Pac-10 road trip against the Washington schools. USC plays at Washington on FSN Thurday at 8pm PST.
Fight On! Beat the Huskies!!