To say this weekend was dissappointing would be an understatement. All I can say is thank whatever higher power ordained that these games not be televised as experiencing these games in real time was just short of excruciating. SC had an excellent chance in both games, but managed to blow both in completely different ways. So without further ado, let's begin this little tour of pain.
On Thursday night's game the Trojans were down by 10 or more midway through the 2nd half when Floyd drew a technical from the refs. Although the Bears would hit the free throws it really energized the team and they played great ball down the stretch. It took six or seven minutes to erase the double digit deficit, but when all was said and done the Trojans had a chance to take the lead and leave only 10-15 seconds left on the shot clock for the bears to score. Unfortunately the possesion ended in a blocked Marcus Simmons jump shot and Cal got an opportunity to set up their offense and take a quick shot. They missed, but in overtime an awful goal tending call by one of the refs on Derozan made it so that SC had to play from behind and foul for much of the end of over time. Hackett made a clutch three pointer to bring the game within a basket, but after Cal converted the free throws on the other end he just couldn't hit another one as SC had almost no time to dribble up court and shoot.
On Saturday SC held a 44-33 lead over Stanford with around 12 minutes to go to only be outscored with a flurry of three pointers 21-6 over the next four minutes to give Stanford a 54-50 lead. Although it was the farm's first lead of the game, they never relinquished it and the gap only widened as the game played out. Despite a relatively dominant performance in the first and beginning of the second, with the announcers remarking at half time that SC really should have been up 8 or 10 points at the half, SC really sunk themselves with poor shooting and defense down the stretch. Really, "Collapse" with a capital C is the only reasonable word that describes what happened saturday night.
More after the jump...
And especially for the Stanford loss, the numbers really tell the story. 9 for 21 from the free throw line, 11 offensive rebounds for Furd, and 2 for 6 from three point land. Not only was SC unable to rack up the freebie points, but they simply could not prevent the second chance points despite a big size advantage and the team could not respond with volume scoring as the Trojans are simply scared and hesitant to shoot from beyond the arc. Most teams win with an 11 point lead in the middle of the second half, but SC simply had no killer instinct and they basically laid down and died when Stanford fought back.
SC had a chance to tie Arizona and possibly finish in 5th place, but now they must win this last home stand to even get to .500 in conference. I think its obvious that the talent is there, but something is off psychologically. There is simply no way that the team as a whole is this bad at shooting three pointers and free throws, and the players need to start playing out of their heads. This goes doubly for Dwight Lewis, who only had 19 points on 7 of 21 shooting on the trip, as he is a de facto leader as one of the team's upperclassmen. The NIT is still within reach, and this grouop of players has more than the requisite talent to make a run in the conference tournament. It all depends on whether the players have given up on the season yet.
Next up is a home stand against the relatively woeful Oregon schools. In all honestly a home loss to either team at this point is basically indicative of a complete implosion, but I think USC will take both games and bring some momentum into the conference tourney. It might be easy to start thinking about next year with all of the talent that is incoming, but this season isn't over yet and there is still plenty to play for.
FIGHT ON and BEAT THE DUCKS!!
**Also, my apologies with getting this out so late. In addition to being very busy this weekend, I was also feeling a bit too frustrated to write about these games right away and I wanted to cool off a bit.