I had really high expectations for last night. I thought that USC had a legit shot at knocking off ucla at home and that the players would come out motivated to get some revenge for the only home loss of the entire season. I was feeling the good vibrations from the recent wins, and I was sending out the positive SC victory vibes to the ancestral cosmic god-mother (or something like that) knowing full well that a tough road win would restore karmic balance to the season. But apparently it was just not meant to be.
So let's give Ben Howland and his bruins all of the credit in the world. They came out with the will to win and simply dominated the Trojans in the first half. Jrue Holiday was playing very strong and seemed to get to the basket at will, and Dragovich temporarily achieved some sort of lower level hoops nirvana as he effortlessly poured in 4 three pointers in what seemed like a matter of minutes. Conversely, the SC players seemed to come out completely flat, and the team as a whole seemed kind of devoid of life. Hackett just wasn't his fiery self, and although Dwight Lewis was trying his best it just did not seem like anyone was up for the game last night. I honestly hope that this is just perception though, as how in the heck could it possibly be that the players weren't up for a game against their biggest rival?
More after the jump... if you dare!
I could talk about how USC seemed to be on the wrong end of every loose ball, and I could also talk about my gripes with the officiating, but the fact of the matter is that it doesn't really matter. What does matter is how the players will respond to this loss. Already, even as we speak at this moment, there are those in the darkest corners of the internet whining about how the current team is going nowhere and complaining about how horrible this team. Can we please face facts for a second? This team is a good team. They still have a 15-7 record and are 12-1 at home. Regardless, this team still has a lot of issues but the Trojans can still be successful as long as they continue to play to their strengths.
If I were Tim Floyd I would probably burn the game tape and just move on. He now has a full week of practice to prep for the Arizona schools, and this time needs to be used in a forward looking fashion rather then dwelling on the listless performance turned in on Wednesday night. The window for a Pac 10 championship is likely closed for this year, but that does not change the fact that USC still has a lot to play for. There is still an NCAA berth and seeding on the line, and it would be nice to finish strong coming down the home stretch.
So let's role with the positives. USC is still in good position and a few players got some valuable playing time out of the loss. The mercurial Donte Smith showed off some impressive handles and quickness against Collison, and our Nikola got some invaluable lessons in the school of low post hard knocks from Alfred Aboya. This will likely prove invaluable in the many tough upcoming road games and having Marcus Johnson back should give the team some much needed depth. Its time for the Trojans to pick themselves up and move on, so...
FIGHT ON and BEAT THE WILDCATS!!