1-6 and in 11th place in the Pac-12 Conference
Sure, these Trojans are a .500 team with a third of the regular season to go.
With only Washington State sporting a worse record in the conference.
And sure, their overall performance their has done nothing to free them from the decades-long shadow of their football counterparts that this basketball team has been under.
Or from the deep shadow of the basketball program across town, especially in light of the 107-73 thrashing that UCLA put on ‘SC on January 5.
Despite them playing their home games in one of the better college arenas in the nation, the Galen Center – which incidentally only draws large crowds for Arizona and the Bruins.
However, anyone who says that Andy Enfield’s team hasn’t been playing better of late is either completely dishonest or disillusioned, particularly in light of the Trojans’ performance during their last two outings.
California may be in a three-game losing skid after starting the Pac-12 slate 5-0 and tied with top-ranked – and undefeated at 21-0 – Arizona, but ‘SC’s 77-69 win over the Bears at Galen on January 22 was still no slouch; and it started the Bears’ slump.
And even though no one, least of all Enfield or any of his players, believes in moral victories, those Trojans should get a pat on the back for taking Stanford to overtime on January 26 before losing, 79-71.
When one looks at the stats of this team, who everyone had picked to finish between tenth and last in the conference before the season began and so far has been proven right, one player stands out…
Byron Wesley, a 6′ 5″ senior guard, has quite frankly been the man for USC, leading the team in both scoring (16.5 points per game) and rebounding (7.1 boards per contest). He has emerged as the Trojans’ undisputed leader through his play, and it would be criminal for the Pac-12 to not award him with all-conference honors.
At 7′ 2″ and 270 pounds, it’s a bit of a surprise that Wesley has a higher rebounding average than Omar Oraby, who like the others mentioned is also a senior.
His 6.5 boards per contest is perfectly OK, but I can’t help thinking that if he averaged eight to ten rebounds, ‘SC would be that much better off.
As these key Trojans are seniors, that gives Enfield a perfect opportunity to rebuild the team in his run-and gun image for the coming seasons.
Everyone should give the first-year coach a pass for this season, no matter what, in order to see what kind of recruits he will get, and I’m positive that USC athletic director Pat Haden will give Enfield that pass.
The Trojans will have another opportunity to show that they have improved when they face the Oregon schools in what are winnable games, starting with Oregon State on Thursday and following up with the Oregon Ducks – who were recently ranked in the top ten but have fallen on hard times – on Saturday.
Another date with UCLA, in which they and the Trojan Family – students, alumni and fans – will undoubtedly looking to avenge the beat down that the Bruins put on them, looms after that.
No, USC hoops doesn’t have the historical pedigree of their crosstown rivals as no John Wooden Center graces that University Park campus next to that Tommy Trojan statue (or anywhere else), but it will be interesting to see how these Trojans play in the upcoming weeks.