Tim Floyd and his Trojans were feeling pretty good about their NCAA Tournament prospects. USC was in 3rd place in the Pac-10 at (6-3, 15-6 overall) and just one game behind conference leading Washington and fucla. Then came a brutal 3-game road trip against fucla (lost 60-76), Arizona (lost 76-83), and Arizona State (lost 53-65). The Trojans have fallen to sixth place in the conference and are in danger of being left out of the NCAA Tournament. Prior to that aforementioned road trip, the Trojans learned that forward Marcus Johnson had injured his rotator cuff in the victory of Cal and would be out indefinitely. Guard Daniel Hackett and the other starters have logged heavy minutes due to the myriad of injuries this team has faced. Nonetheless, this is just another hurdle for a team that has faced adversity all season. But now is time for the guys to regroup and make their final push for the Big Dance. USC has a big home stand this week against the Washington schools. Considering the circumstances, this home stand could not have come at a better time.
More after the jump!
Though many teams in the country would have been swept by those same 3 teams, many fans are getting restless or have given up on this season completely. Don't forget that Marcus Johnson, who was starting to emerge as a big-time player, did not play in all 3 of those losses. Also, the Pac-10 now appears to be much deeper and more talented than it was earlier in the season. This could be a blessing in disguise for the Trojans, as the increased strength of the conference will help USC build its NCAA Tournament profile. USC has a chance to earn quality wins at home (Saturday vs. UW) and on the road (next week at Cal), as well as in the Pac-10 Tournament. Furthermore, the Trojans are hitting the softest part of their conference schedule with 4 of their remaining 6 games at home. However, every game is crucial as teams make their final push for the Tournament. USC's Road to the Final Four continues this Thursday against Washington State, a hard-nosed team that will be very tough to beat. There are only 4 home games left, so let's get behind our team and see them close this thing out.
Fight On! Beat the Cougars!