Yes, SC should have won last night. Yes, there should have been no question about the outcome and yes it was nice to see some new faces on the court.
First and foremost it was to see that OJ Mayo's tweaking of his Achilles tendon was just that, a tweak. That can be a tough injury to come back from and had it been a tear it would have difficult for Mayo to jump to the NBA as it would have taken a while to heal. Thankfully it was not serious.
Another great thing about last nights win was that SC was able to win another game without Daniel Hackett. SC did win without Hackett on Thursday against Oregon but this game could have been a classic let down game so it was great to SC keep the momentum going.
Coach Floyd's getting some of the reserves in the game also was a big deal as it helped take some of the pressure off of the starters but it was also important in the fact that the reserves play an important role on the team and that they are able to pick up some of slack as we deal with injuries.
Five USC reserves combined for a whopping 65 minutes and posted several memorable moments, including a three-point basket by walk-on guard Terence Green in the final minute that prompted the Trojans starters to celebrate wildly on the bench.
"You want to sing 'Kumbaya' after the game after he makes a shot," Floyd said of Green, whose field goal was the first of his career.
That helps a team come together and with SC needing a few more wins in order to make the tournament comfortably its all hands on deck so the reserves playing such a big roll will go a long way securing another birth in the big dance.
Hackett could be back this week and that has a huge impact on this team, but depending on how effective he can be it will still be important for the bench to be ready to step up and help out as needed.
SC needs to win at least 3 of its next 4 games to get to the tournament so they can't let up now.
But if the Trojans finished the regular season 1-3 and then lost in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament, their overall record would stand at 18-13 on Selection Sunday.
"We're just going to try to win them all. That's the best formula," Coach Tim Floyd said Saturday after USC's 81-53 victory over Oregon State. "A lot of people feel like 8-10 [in the Pac-10] will get you in. I've heard that. But we're not going to treat it that way. I've heard others say 9-9 for sure given the strength of the RPI of the league."
Sophomore forward Taj Gibson said going 2-2 over the next four games might not even be enough.
"People say if we get two more wins we'll be in the NCAA [tournament], but we're not thinking about it like that," Gibson said. "We think every game is crucial. We're trying to win every game because we never know how many teams the selection [committee] is going to pick."
Early losses to Mercer and Cal as well as the loss to ucla could prove crucial in how the committee looks at us when selection time comes around.
I think we can make it but we need to leave nothing to chance. SC has two tough games on the road in Arizona this week so we need to keep focused and not get ahead of ourselves.