1-13 and in last place in the Pac-12 Conference
LEADING SCORER: Byron Wesley, 17.6 points per game
LEADING REBOUNDER: Wesley, 6.9 rebounds per game
It must be excruciatingly tough to be at a school where the sport you play has historically been an afterthought in the hearts of your fellow students, alumni, and fans.
That has been the perfect description of the basketball program at the University of Southern California, where no matter what kind of success they may have had in the past has – and probably always will be – been consigned to be in the very deep shadow of their football counterparts.
Such is the case even when these cardinal-and-gold hoopsters have done well, let alone when they do poorly.
Which has been the case this year as Andy Enfield’s team has won only one Pac-12 game to date, with four conference match-ups to go.
It gets even sadder when you consider that the team has seemingly gotten little respect or support from the students as the only time that the Galen Center has come close to filling its capacity of 10, 258 was when UCLA and Arizona have been the opponents.
That has pretty much always been that way since that sparkling on campus facility opened in 2006.
Take away those Bruin and Wildcat games – which ended in Trojan losses – and that leaves but two out of the remaining 12 contests where USC has drawn 5,000 fans.
Considering their record and the fact that the “Trojan Family” has a long history of being intolerant of teams on their campus who don’t win, it shouldn’t be surprising that the crowds have been scarce.
To add salt water to these wounds, on their recent road trip to Stanford and California the Trojans were forced to play without the only one of their players who is considered a legitimate threat: Byron Wesley.
The Trojans’ leading scorer and rebounder was suspended by Enfield and left at home due to the junior guard breaking unspecified team rules.
He is scheduled to return to the lineup against the Oregon schools this weekend but, like everyone else on the team, the losing “…is really hard for me and disappointing,” according to him.
“We haven’t folded, we’ve fought hard every game. We just have to figure out how to win,” Wesley added.
It’s uncertain, with the way things are going now, that ‘SC will figure out how to win this year as Enfield needs time to recruit players that fit his fast-paced style.
However, their best chance at avoiding the conference cellar will come on March 6, when they head to the Palouse to face a Washington State team that sports a 2-13 record in the Pac-12 and, with an overall mark of 9-18, is seen by at least some as worse than the Trojans.
Even though they certainly have a chance against Oregon State and Oregon this week as those two teams have been up-and-down, the Washington State game is seen by many as a showdown of a negative kind, with the loser being handed the lease to the Pac-12 cellar for 2014.
The question remains…
Do the Trojans have a shot at climbing out of that cellar these next two weeks?
I will say sure, because as I’ve said once before, I’d be surprised if USC finishes their conference season at 1-17.
We’ll definitely find out if they can find something within them and emerge from that Pac-12 pit.
Tonight (February 27), vs Oregon State, Galen Center, 8:00 p.m. TV: Fox Sports 1
Saturday, March 1, vs Oregon, Galen Center, 1:00 p.m. TV: Pac-12 Network