2008 USC Trojans Basketball Preview
During the past two seasons, the USC Trojans (21-12 overall, 11-7 Pac-10) have seen their basketball program resurrected. After winning just 22 conference games from 2004 through 2006, they’ve won the same number in the past two years. In those last two seasons the club has gone to the Big Dance twice, making it to the Sweet 16 in 2007. The Trojans, who finished in fourth place last year, look to do the same in 2008-2009. They may even end up in third place.
Junior forward Taj Gibson (32.1 MPG, 10.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.3 APG, 58.0 FG%, 59.4 FT%) can and must step up. He possesses the skills and talent to push his numbers up considerably. Gibson is also a fine defensive presence. Senior power forward Keith Wilkinson (13.5 MPG, 2.5 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 0.5 APG, 46.7 FG%, 56.3 FT%) is a smart player who contributes consistently. Freshman forward DeMar DeRozan, who is six-foot-seven and 200 pounds, can score and soar to the basket. There’s some fine depth on the bench too.
Despite losing guards Angelo Johnson 22.5 MPG, 4.5 PPG) and O.J. Mayo (20.7 PPG), the backcourt looks solid and deep. Point guard Daniel Hackett (30.8 MPG, 8.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.2 APG, 42.7 FG%, 82.3 FT%) is a superb slasher and the best passer on the club. He can make things happen. Dwight Lewis (32.7 MPG, 10.8 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.4 APG, 45.4 FG%, 66.7 FT%) shows athleticism and a penchant for scoring. Other talented guards include junior transfer Donte Smith and athletic sophomore Marcus Simmons (6.7 MPG, 0.5 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.3 APG, 23.1 FG%, 33.3 FT%). Simmons, however, needs to work on his accuracy.
Head coach Cliff Floyd knows how to put together a talented team
and how to get them to win. He’s a fine judge of talent, good
strategist and excellent motivator. Even with a team that has lost
a truckload of talent and welcomes another truckload of inexperienced
players, Floyd has the skill and smarts to get them to the Big Dance.
Two wins in the NCAA tourney are possible. Anything more will be