FINAL SEASON RECORD:
2-16 in the Pac-12 Conference, finishing in 12th (last) place
Byron Wesley, 17.8 points per game
Wesley, 6.4 rebounds per game
What can you say about a team that…
1. Finished dead last in Pac-12,
2. Lost ten conference games in a row and 15 out of 16 from January 5 to March 6, beating only California in that two month span, and…
3. Was put further than ever into the shadow of their crosstown rivals in Westwood, UCLA sweeping both games, including a 107-73 win in Pauley Pavilion.
At least their women counterparts gave the Trojan Family some “Fight On!” pride as they beat 4th-ranked Stanford on the way to winning the Pac-12 Tournament; they will be facing St. John’s in the first round of their NCAA Tourney as a 9th seed in the Louisville Regional on Saturday, March 22 in Knoxville TN.
But let’s get back to the guys, where there are actually a few things that can be said about their less-than-successful season.
First, it wasn’t as if every one of USC’s losses were complete blowouts as there were games that went into overtime (notably Stanford on January 26 and Oregon State on January 30) and others where they fought hard only to come up a bit short.
The prime example of that was the Trojans’ last game against Colorado in the Pac-12 Tournament, where they led at one point before losing 59-56.
Which shows that this was a team that knew how to play hard and compete, but not how to win.
Second, the fact that Byron Wesley was indisputably the Trojans’ most valuable player, leading ‘SC in scoring and rebounding.
As he was only a junior this year, Wesley is the kind of guy that a team can be built around; huge things will be expected of the guard next season.
Pe’Shon Howard was the only other Trojan to average in double figures with his 10.8 points a contest.
Third, it should be widely agreed upon that Andy Enfield needs to be given a pass in his first year as USC’s head coach, the key reason being that it was his first year.
Which meant that he was working with former coach Kevin O’ Neill’s players rather than his own recruits.
Which meant that Enfield, who was hired away from Florida Gulf Coast after their incredible run in last year’s NCAA tournament, was not working with the kind of players needed for his fast-break running style.
That may well start to change next year as Jordan McLaughlin, a point guard from Etiwanda (CA) High who is ranked #6 in the nation at his position, was one of three top recruits signed by ‘SC; McLaughlin is the type of player than can contribute right away, and the Trojans will need him to.
Any new coach has to be given time to bring in his own players and implement his own system, and Enfield will undoubtedly be given that time.
I don’t expect USC to make the Final Four next season, or even be in contention for a spot in the Big Dance, but it would be surprising if they didn’t improve on their 11 wins.
After all, the Trojans were a respectable 9-4 in non-conference play before the other Pac-12 schools buried them.
They just need to be taught how to win.