Nov 12, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; USC Trojans guard Byron Wesley (22) and Cal State Northridge Matadors guard Ben Vozzola (11) go for the ball in the first half of the game at The Galen Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
2013-2014 RECORD: 14-18, 9-9 in the Pac-12 Conference
CURRENT 2013-2014 RECORD: 6-3
Much like their UCLA football counterparts – and a bit more so, because while the Bruins have at least won one national championship on the gridiron, this team has only reached one NCAA Final Four and came away empty – this USC basketball program has been in the shadow of Westwood and Pauley Pavilion since the John Wooden days in the 1960s.
To add to that, not only is this USC Trojans hoops squad in the shadow of UCLA hoops in Los Angeles, they are in a huge shadow on their own campus courtesy of the football team, which I’m afraid will never change.
With a new coach fresh of a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, Andy Enfield from Florida Gulf Coast, these Trojans are optimistic that better days lie ahead at Galen Center.
Which according to the pundits will not happen this year as they are picked to finish either last or next-to-last in the Pac-12 by pretty much everyone.
A reason for the Trojan Family to cheer up a bit is the fact that ‘SC is 5-0 at home and, due to the fact that their next four opponents are (with all due respect) are of the cupcake persuasion with the possible exception of Dayton on December 22, are poised to perhaps be 10-3 when they open conference play against UCLA on January 4.
Even though senior guard J.T. Terrell, a veteran who the Trojans were counting on, is out due to academic issues, Enfield does have some talent on his roster.
Wesley also leads USC in rebounding at 7.7 boards a contest, which being that he doesn’t play in the frontcourt is not good as Omar Oraby, their 7’2″ center, is second at 6.7 rebounds per game.
At over seven feet tall, the senior center should be averaging at least nine or ten boards, and certainly more than 9.6 points a game.
Hopefully for Trojan fans these next few games against teams like Cal State Bakersfield (Dec.15), Long Beach State (Dec. 19), and Howard (Dec. 29) will serve to raise Oraby’s numbers, as if ‘SC is to have ANY chance whatsoever at challenging UCLA and Arizona for Pac-12 contention, the center needs to assert himself and own the court.
Forward Nikola Jovanovic and guard Julian Jacobs are the other Trojans getting the most playing time so far.
Nov 30, 2013; Paradise Island, BAHAMAS; USC Trojans guard Pe’Son Howard
Looking at this team, I have the feeling that they may pull off a few surprises and win some games that they shouldn’t this year, particularly since Enfield has a run-and-gun style which players like.
And which will likely attract very good recruits down the road, if not top blue-chippers.
In the meantime, time will tell whether these ‘SC hoopsters will shock people and be factors in the Pac-12 race, or whether the storm in a rebuilding mode.