Plain and simply, USC didn't end the season the way it intended to. Postseason tournament ban aside, the Trojans started off the month of February on a 4-game winning streak topped off by a Valentine's Day win over UCLA and a February 18th road victory at Washington. But after the Trojans bested the Huskies in mid-February, the team slowly but steadily took a nose-dive straight into the ground primarily due to their inability to be the least bit efficient on the offensive end. As a result, the Trojans ended a once promising season in which they were once considered a potential NCAA tournament on a 5-game losing streak.
Saturday morning/afternoon's double overtime loss to Arizona perfectly summed up the 2009-2010 USC basketball - heart-wrenching. Yes, at times it was exciting or even frustrating, but in the end, this year was just an unfortunate episode in the history of USC hoops. At the end of December, it looked as if they guys were bound for a trip to the Big Dance, but instead, the USC administration decided to make this current group of players pay for the mistakes of previous teams. Thanks O.J. In mid-February, the Trojans appeared in position to best Cal for the Pac-10 regular season title, but a couple of mishaps later, 'SC was out of the running for that elusive 1st place finish. You just feel for these guys.
Today, the Trojans looked like they were prepared to end the year on a positive note against Arizona and earn their 17th win of the season, but the "basketball Gods" had other plans. Despite leading for most of the game, USC, which appeared poised to leave Tucson with another "W" in the wins column, watched those infamous Pac-10 referees make yet another game changing play.
With 0.2 seconds left to play, Nikola Vucevic was called for his fourth foul on a Kyle Fogg desperation three-pointer. As a result, Fogg earned a trip to the charity stripe, where he made all three free throws to send the game into overtime.
Even with Dwight Lewis fouling out toward the end of the extended period, along with Vucevic, the Trojans wound up forcing another overtime, but the Wildcats would prove to be too much to overcome. Even with a pair of Mike Gerrity free throws tying the game up at 84, Nic Wise ended up scoring a layup at the other end of floor to give UA the win.
With the completion of this game, the season is officially over and the Trojans now head into a somewhat intriguing offseason, where the higher ups on campus are going to be making some crucial decisions regarding the future of the program. For one, the school is reportedly going to announce a new president within the next month or two, which could then put the job of athletic director Mike Garrett in jeopardy, especially with an NCAA ruling expected to be handed out within the next six-to-eight weeks.
Kevin O'Neill will also potentially be making some staff changes. There will be some player turnover as well with Gerrity, Lewis, and Marcus Johnson, all graduating. The Pac-10 pecking order could be changing with the coming tournaments and offseason recruiting. A lot of stuff going down, and as always, we'll try to keep you all posted on much of it. Thank God we're closer to football season.