A Look at the 2009-2010 USC Basketball Schedule


With the Trojans’ season opening exhibition matchup against Cal State Dominguez Hills just a week away, I felt it was more than appropriate to begin taking a closer look at the upcoming USC basketball season. So for our first installment in our preview series, we take a close examination at the team’s schedule both out of conference and in Pac-10 play.


1st – Cal State Dominguez Hills (exhibition) – I find it a little odd that this game takes place more than two weeks before the Trojans’ first regular season game, but even with that said, it should be an excellent opportunity for O’Neill’s bunch to face a solid team. While the Toros are a Division II team, they did finish with a 22-8 record a year ago so this won’t be a total walk in the park.

17th – UC Riverside – While the Highlanders are not a Big West Conference power by any stretch – they went just 17-13 last season – this could be a challenging game for the Trojans, as they have historically not played well in their home openers. In the past three home openers at the Galen Center, the Trojans have lost twice. In 2006, they fell to South Carolina 80-74 in overtime, and in 2007, they were upset by to Mercer, a relatively unknown team from the Atlantic Sun Conference, 96-81. On a side note, former Trojan Kyle Austin now plays for UCR, so he could have a bit of revenge on his mind. This will be interesting to say the least.

21st – Loyola Marymount – Another local “rivalry” could make for an enjoyable game, as the Lions were still competitive last year despite a dismal 3-28 record overall. They did manage to play nationally ranked Notre Dame tough, but still this was a sub-par team. Simply from a PR perspective, it’s essential for the Trojans to get a victory against another Los Angeles area school.

27th – Coppin State – Coppin State is generally one of those teams that nationally ranked schools schedule in November as a tune up game, as the Eagles faced Purdue (66-46 loss), Kansas (85-53 loss), and Syracuse (82-71 loss) last season. If USC is going to take itself seriously as a legitimate Pac-10 program, a win over the Eagles is quite important.

29th – Nebraska – The Trojans will face Nebraska in the first of their two games of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. This will be an interesting test, as Nebraska is comparable to USC in terms of skill and past success, as they are coming off an 18-win season with an upset victory over Texas to their credit. A win over the Huskers would go along way, as the schedule gets far more challenging from here on out.


3rd – at Texas – This will be a tough test for the Trojans, as their first road game of the season and their second game of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series takes them to the Lone Star State, for a matchup against ESPN’s Andy Katz’s third ranked Texas Longhorns. Judging from the difference in talent between the two rosters, this could be an embarrasing defeat for ‘SC much like their 97-63 road loss to North Carolina back in 2004. In this instance, moral victories are acceptable.

5th – at Georgia Tech – The Trojans’ December road trip doesn’t get much easier, as they will travel to Atlanta to face ACC powerhouse Georgia Tech. After their tough game against Texas, the game against the Yellow Jackets happens just two days later so there isn’t a whole lot of time to recover. It’s unlikely that Troy wins either of these two incredibly challenging road games so with that said, O’Neill will simply be looking for his team to be competitive.

8th – Sacramento State – There is no reason why the Trojans shouldn’t be able to coast to an easy victory here. A year ago, Sacramento State finished with just two victories and are far less talented than the Trojans. With that said, the Trojans, who don’t have a ton of depth, could be experiencing some injury issues after an arduous road trip so this matchup could be a little more competitive than it should be.

11th – Idaho State – The Trojans will face another team from the Big Sky conference in Idaho State, but unlike Sac State, the Bengals are a far more competitive bunch. Last season, ISU finished with a 21-8 record and ended up in the semi-finals of the Big Sky postseason tournament. If USC starts looking ahead to their upcoming matchup with Tennessee and forgets about the Bengals, than this could easily result in a loss.

19th – Tennessee – This is clearly the most highly-anticipated game on the non-conference home slate, as the Trojans will face a Tennessee team that finished with a 21-13 record and an NCAA tournament birth last season. The Vols are well coached under the leadership of Bruce Pearl so this will quite the test for the Trojans before they head to Hawaii for a three-game Christmas-time tournament. At the very least, it will allow ‘SC to see how it measure up against a tournament bound foe.

22nd – 25th – Diamond Head Classic – The Trojans will take part in the inaugural Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, just before Christmas. The tournament features an eight-team field that includes UNLV, Saint Mary’s, College of Charleston, Northeastern, Hawaii, SMU and Western Michigan. This should be an excellant opportunity for the Trojans to increase their exposure to recruits, as the games will be televised nationally on the ESPN family of networks.

31st – Arizona – This will most certainly be a sparsely attended game for two reasons. One, the students will still be on Winter Break, and two, the game will be competing with all the New Year’s Eve parties in LA. So fans have a choice to either watch the Trojans get embarrassed by the Wildcats on their home floor or have a grand time on the final day of 2009.


2nd – Arizona State – This is a winnable game from the standpoint, that ASU’s zone defense keeps the game relatively close. Because of that, expect this one to be low scoring, yet a very competitive matchup, especially with the departure of James Harden.

6th – at Stanford – USC hasn’t beaten Stanford in Palo Alto since the 2002 season, when Sam Clancy once starred at center for the Trojans. With the way, the Cardinal has been playing over the past few seasons, it will be a challenge for the Trojans to break their losing streak up north this year. But because Stanford does lose several starters, this could be very a competitive matchup as well.

9th – at California – Last year, the Trojans and Bears split the season series with each winning on their home floor. Now, Cal returns most of its starters, while the Trojans lose most of theirs. Provided Mike Montgomery and the Bears keep improving, I find it tough to imagine that USC takes this one in Berkley, especially considering most pundits are calling for Cal to win the Pac-10 title this year.

16th – at UCLA – While most people are not so optimistic regarding the Trojans, I honestly believe that they are capable of defeating the Bruins this year – even in Westwood. The Bruins, much like USC, lose many of the starters, Darren Collison, Jrue Holliday, and Josh Shipp, and will be counting upon unproven players to step up. ESPN’s Jay Bilas has called this a major rebuilding project for Ben Howland, and because of that alone, you have to figure the Trojans have a puncher’s chance this year.

21st – Washington State – The Cougars break in new head coach Ken Bone, who replaces Tony Bennett after he took the opening at the University of Virginia. Bone, who runs a much different offensive scheme than his predecessor, could pose an interesting challenge for the Trojans as evident by his recent success – he was the 2008 Big Sky Coach of the Year and led Portland State to consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. If he is able to further the development of star guard Klay Thompson, the Cougars could have a formidable team on hand yet again. But USC, who has bettered the Cougars in recruiting as of late, should be up to the challenge with a more talented starting group.

23rd – Washington- Washington, as with Cal, will likely pose the greatest threat to the Trojans’ quest to enter the postseason for the fourth consecutive year. The key in this matchup will be the Donte Smith’s ability to slow down the Huskies’ cat-quick point guard Isaiah Thomas, who had much success against Daniel Hacket a year ago.

28th – at Oregon State – The Beavers are expected by many to be one of the Pac-10 ‘s better teams under the leadership of second year headman Craig Robinson. Last season, OSU was extremely well coached and featured a disciplined unit as well. Considering the trend continues, the Beavers may become like the Washington State teams of the past few years that had solid assist-to-turnover ratios.

30th – at Oregon – With just two conference wins a year ago, not many are expecting the Ducks to seriously challenge for the Pac-10 title this year, unless Tajuan Porter becomes a more of a pass-oriented point guard. The primary problem with Ducks is the fact that Porter has a tendency to dominate the ball on offense despite a low shooting percentage. If Porter fails to get hot against the Trojans, this could be a relatively easy “W” for O’Neill’s bunch with UO lacking an efficient offense.


4th – California – Cal’s star guard and LA native Patrick Christopher always plays well in his return trips to Los Angeles so the Trojans will certainly have their hands full with one of the Pac-10’s top backcourt duos in Christopher and Jerome Randle. This will be a tough challenge for ‘SC, as the Bears are arguably the conference’s top team, but provided they can play solid defense and force turnovers, this could be a competitive matchup.

6th – Stanford – There really isn’t a reason to be overly optimistic about Stanford this year, as they will be without their three top players from a season ago in Mitch Johnson, Lawrence Hill and Anthony Goods. I fully expect the Trojans’ young players to be much improved by this of the year, and they should also have a talent advantage over Stanford that has not assembled top of the line recruiting classes these past few offseasons.

14th – UCLA – Since its grand opening in 2005, the Galen Center has not played host to a USC victory over UCLA. While the Trojans did defeat the Bruins on the road during the O.J. Mayo season of 2008, they have not had an abundance of success against the Bruins. It doesn’t appear likely that ‘SC has the dominant program this season, but they certainly appear capable of earning the “W,” as UCLA loses several of its starters from a year ago in Alfred Aboya, Josh Shipp, and Darren Collison. Both teams expect to utilize inexperience players, so at this point in the season, it will come down to which coach can develop his players most effectively.

18th – at Washington – Playing their home games at the rowdy Bank of America Arena, the Huskies not only have a superior team but a home court advantage as well. Under the lead of head coach Lorenzo Romar, UW generally receives excellent point guard play, and with Isaiah Thomas at the helm, that shouldn’t change a whole lot this season. Combining Thomas’s talents at the point alongside talented forward Quincy Pondexter and a solid group of recruits, expect the Huskies to give USC a rough experience in Seattle.

20th – at Washington State – The past few games the Trojans have played in eastern Washington have not been particularly easy, but with the departures of Tony Bennett and several key starters, the Trojans should certainly have a talent advantage over Washington State. I fully expect the team to improve under O’Neill as the season progresses so there isn’t a big need for USC to be terribly worried about this one.

25th – Oregon – There is absolutely no reason that the Trojans should lose to a sub-par Oregon team at home this late in the season. But nevertheless, it’s so late in the year, that it’s hard to predict how some of Oregon’s younger players development. Still, I see no reason why if the Trojans play to their potential that they should stumble to the Ducks.

27th – Oregon State – The Trojans closed last season with a sweep over the Oregon schools at home, and with the Beavers in town for senior night, the Trojans will be looking to do the same thing once again.


4th – at Arizona State – The cupboard is pretty much bare for Herb Sendeck’s Sun Devils, as their only big-time returning starter is Derek Glasser, who has never been known for creating his own shot or carrying a team. Simply based on talent alone, as ASU has very few top of the ine starters, there is no reason why the Trojans should stumble on the road here.

6th – at Arizona – This could prove to be one of the Trojans’ tougher contests, as Arizona’s Sean Miller remains one of the country’s best coaches, and with a talented roster, it is very possible that the Wildcats could become one of the Pac-10’s better teams by the end of the year. Combine that with the factor of the McKale Center, and it could be a frustrating season finale for the Trojans.