Monday, February 23, 2009

Missed Opportunity: USC loses to UW 60-51

(photo: Yahoo! Sports)

The Trojans appeared to be on their way to a big time victory over Pac-10 leading Washington after jumping out to an early 22-11 lead. Coach Tim Floyd did an excellent job of getting his team ready for this game. USC was the aggressor early on--looking dominant, focused, and well-prepared--but twice failed to put the Huskies away. Washington is a very good basketball team, but they should not have been able to walk out of the Galen Center with a victory. USC gave this game away during two critical stretches. The first came in the final 12 minutes of the first half, when the Huskies outscored the Trojans 20-6 and went into the lockerroom with a 31-28 lead. Nevertheless, the Trojans recovered and regained the lead in the second half. With 5:30 remaining in the game, USC led 50-46. Unfortunately, they only managed to score one point the rest of the way, compared to 14 for Washington. As a result, the Trojans fell to (16-10 overall, 7-7 Pac-10) and are now in serious jeopardy of missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006. Is the season over? Well, I'd say no, but that is entirely up to the players.

More after the jump!

(photo: Yahoo! Sports)
To say that USC's hopes for an at-large bid to the NCAA's are slim would be an understatement, but this season is far from over. Guard Daniel Hackett has been criticized for his struggles at the point guard position, but you can't question his effort and toughness that he brings to the court every game. A win against the Huskies would have quieted some of those critics, but more importantly, it would have been enough to save the Trojans' season. Perhaps sensing that, Hackett and other players vented their frustrations following the loss to Washington. Many would say that the team is falling apart, and that may be the case, but I think it shows that the players care enough about the game and simply hate losing. If the Trojans are going to make a final push for the NCAA Tournament, Hackett's leadership will be the catalyst. As is stands right now, USC remains in sixth place with four games left to play. The team hits the road this week for the final time this season to play Cal (Thu) and Stanford (Sat) before returning home to close out the regular season against the Oregon schools. Those all are very winnable games. Tim Floyd's teams have not quit on him before, so I expect them to come out with the same kind of heart and desire as they have all season. Plus, getting Marcus Johnson back from injury would not hurt either. Let's not worry about winning out and all these scenarios, let's just take them one at a time.

Fight On! Beat the Bears!

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