2009-2010 USC Trojans Basketball Preview
It’s never good when any team has to deal with scandal and controversy. The USC Trojans (22- 13 overall, 9- 9 Pac-10) are basically one hot mess. The program, which is under investigation by the NCAA, saw three premium players depart for the NBA, lost major recruits and has had head coach Tim Floyd resign amidst controversy. Whew! Coach Kevin O’Neill has a whole lot of rebuilding to do.
With all that has happened to change the complexion of this club, it almost seems useless to talk about last year’s performance and stats. Although the Trojans were no offensive juggernaut, being ranked seventh in offense, they did put up fine defensive numbers. They were fourth in scoring defense, allowing 63.5 PPG and second in rebound margin, at plus-5.2.
In the frontcourt, sophomore forward Leonard Washington (6.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 0.6 APG), a tough wide body, could be dominant. Transfer Alex Stephenson, who comes over from North Carolina, could be a major upfront player. Senior Marcus Johnson (3.1 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.6 APG) and sophomore Nikola Vucevic (2.6 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 0.3 APG) will compete for the other starting role. There’s also some scoring depth coming off the bench. The frontcourt, which is an exceptionally short group, will have a tough time rebounding and blocking shots.
Junior guard Donte Smith (2.3 PPG, 0.6 RPG, 0.9 APG) is the closest thing that this team has to a point guard and yet he is far from one. Guard Dwight Lewis (14.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.1 APG) will get the nod at the other spot. He led the team last season with 14.4 PPG. Other backups are tough to determine at this point in the season. Look for sophomore Percy Miller (0.5 PPG, 0.3 RPG, 0.2 APG) to be the first one off the bench. He’s a dependable backup.
Don’t expect the Trojans, who have been to the Big Dance the past three years, to see any post season action this season. The team finished fifth last season and went two deep in the tournament. This team, under O’Neill, should play extra tough defense. But they will find it difficult scoring points. Rebuilding will be the key this year and next. This team will finish near the bottom of the Pac-10 and start their climb back up the ladder next season.