I admit it...after watching USC's terrible loss to Oregon St. last week it has been hard for me to get interested in tonight's game against ucla. After last weeks performance it is not hard at times to see this "rivalry" as being in name only.
It would seem that with O.J. Mayo and Kevin Love moving to the NBA after last season that some of the excitement that we witnessed last season is went with them.
UCLA and USC will go another round in their ongoing spat tonight in the Galen Center. Still, this installment seems to have been downgraded from the national stage from a year ago.
The Bruins (12-2 overall, 2-0 in Pacific 10 Conference play) come in ranked, as they were a year ago, though at No. 10 instead of No. 4. The Trojans (10-4, 1-1) are still a threat, as they were when they knocked off UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.
Yet, something seems missing . . . oh yeah, freshmen standouts Kevin Love and O.J. Mayo.
"With Mayo and Love, we created some national interest," USC Coach Tim Floyd said. "Both were on the cover of national magazines in the preseason. Both games were on [national television]. They both had been publicized in such a big way since they were in the ninth grade."
I would agree that there isn't as much buzz as there was last season. That probably has a lot to do with not having the type of impact players like we saw with Mayo and Love. DeMar DeRozan and Jrue Holiday are special players in their own right but they don't bring the buzz of a Mayo or Love. Both are fun to watch when they're on but both also need some seasoning on their respective games.
USC on the one hand is still trying to find an identity. They have struggled in games they shouldn't have and played lights out when we didn't they would so right now its hard to really know what direction they are going. Last weeks loss to OSU made a lot of people take a second look at the progress of this team. I'm sure that a lot of the outrage was because it was a loss to Oregon St. but as I said last week to me it was more about how this team lost. There just doesn't to be a lot of growth. I could point to a lot of different reasons but to me its pointless. Its like they're an endless enigma...they commit costly turnovers and don't finish off opponents when they've got them on the ropes.
On the other hand ucla has brought in a number of solid players in this past years recruiting class and they will probably do it again this year. But, while it is conceivable that ucla could make another Final Four even with all this new talent they are not the same team that we saw last season and the Final Four is no guarantee.
The rivalry between the programs really is name only. USC isn't near establishing itself as a contender year in and year out while ucla over all doesn't respect us as a real threat. We get a win against them here and there but in the grand scheme of things the cross town rivalry just doesn't translate to basketball like we see in football (most SC fans could care less about basketball). The players that we recruit at times really make me scratch my head and the number of transfers out the program that we have seen is also concerning. Until Tim Floyd recrutis players that will be building blocks that will stay around for 3-4 years it will always be hard for this program to be consistent...chemistry matters!
Of course I want USC to win but I am also a realist... this team just hasn't shown me the consistency or the drive to finish like we have seen the last couple of seasons.
It has also been difficult to watch the games here in NYC becuase most of the time the games aren't even televised and when they are the games don't start until 10:00 or 11:00pm EST and I'm not staying up that late to watch them so its tough to get fired up without seeing it for yourself.
We'll see how the team responds tonight after a week of reflecting on last weeks poor performance.
We'll have the game thread up later.