Bumped...Thanks LS! - P
Bumped...Thanks LS! - P
I was debating about whether to go to this game tonight. Really, it seemed just as likely that USC would lose as they would win, but I am pleased to report that it was well worth the trip and that it seems that Kevin O'Neill may have a very competent team on his hands. Certainly I would be hesitant to describe any of the players as "spectacular" or even "explosive" but if very competent gets a comfortable win over a potentially dangerous opponent then I'll take that any day.
[Dwight Lewis splits his defenders and shoots out of the triple team]
All the pieces just came together so nicely. Dwight Lewis scored 22 points on 50% shooting and made 3/5 three pointers. Nikola Vucevic looked like he bulked up over the summer and picked up where he left off from a strong NCAA tournament with 18 points and 8 rebounds while showing off a nice mid range jumper. Kid Euro's skill set will really make him a tough match up, and when all is said and done don't be too surprised if he ends up second team all Pac-10. But the nicest surprise of all was seeing Marcus Simmons not only play tough defense (forcing a couple of turnovers) with occasional hustle plays around the basket, but also creating some offense, getting to the line, and hitting on a couple of jumpers including a tre.
To add to those standout performances Donte Smith hit most of his open shots and seemed much less reckless than last year. O'Neill also made very nice use of his bench and regularly rotated in Davis Rozitis and Evan Smith (who saw 33 minute of playing time) to keep players fresh. E. Smith even hit a couple of shots and I really think that he'll become a Michael Roll style role player who can come off the bench to hit some deep jumpers. I also have to say that it was great to see Kasey Cunningham back on the court, but man he looks like he was living on the streets for the past year or something. I think I might start calling him "the old man".
SC won the game through tough defense and by hitting their open shots. It was really as simple as that. Now is this sustainable? USC has been notoriously poor at outside shooting in recent years so I guess we'll have to wait and see on that. It will also remain to be seen how the Trojans will consistently generate offense and how they respond to teams that use more on the ball pressure. For now though the positives of having an athletic defense along with the prospect of continually adding talent as the season progresses to a team that already appears to be competent far outweighs any concerns for now.
Yeah, believe it or not there is legitimate reason for hope, and the Trojans have at least a chance to suceed in the wide open Pac-10. Its going to be one hell of a season!
EDIT: Just noticed this. Thanks to the Husky Men's BBall Blog (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/huskymensbasketballblog/2010292059_pac-10_mens_bas_1.html)
The Trojans and UCLA each played a Big West team this week. That's where the similarities end. USC beat UC Riverside, which is expected to finish fourth in the conference while the Bruins lost to Cal State Fullerton, which was picked fifth.