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After the Fire

Photo: Hans Gutknecht – The Daily News
I'm not sure what we learned about this team last night other than the fact that they got torched. A 24-point loss, closed out by and 18-3 run that got it to 24 points, is not something that I think we can measure this team by. This was not some last minute meltdown like we saw a couple of times this season nor was it indicative of how we will perform in the Tournament. But there is no question that this loss surprised a lot of people at the way SC was demolished last night, nothing like giving our detractors a little ammunition on this beautiful Sunday.

Lets give the Ducks some credit they played lights out and put the word out that they came to play. But lets not get carried away either, Oregon needs to send Cal a basket of fruit for getting UCLA out of the tournament on a night where UCLA played like USC did last night. As the 8th seed, there was no way Cal could make it 2 in a row so the Ducks had things lined up pretty good for them. As I said earlier this week I think UCLA's exit was a good thing for them, their seeding in the West Brackett is pretty much an assured #1 so all these extra games only opened the possibility of injury and such. Don't get me wrong, the Bruins (players) wanted to win bad and the Cal loss hurt and pissed them off no doubt but Pac 10 banners are not the prizes they want.

USC is pretty well locked in as a middle seed, 7, 8 or 9, and if you look a their body of work through out the season this was not a characteristic loss for them. Yes, they did lose to Stanford by 15 and UW by 15, but this sort of blow out is an aberration. Unfortunately it happened on national TV in the conference championship game so there are points off there.

I saw what looked like a lot of standing around last night and shots coming up short, which would indicate fatigue. Oregon always seemed to be getting behind the SC defenders or had open looks because there wasn't a defender in their face. The players seemed to think that they came out a little tight and maybe wanted it "little too much". Maybe, but even if that's true the game should have been closer, the ducks played great but lets not get carried away they are not Florida or UCLA or even Ohio State. Oregon got their ducks in a row, no pun intended, and made the most of their opportunities.

SC clearly exceeded expectations for this past season so now they need to live up to that potential going forward. They were off the radar screen in the early going but those days are over and now they have to live up to those high expectations. This was the season that they would use to prepare for the arrival of OJ Mayo and next season they would turn some heads but that is not how it worked out. SC can still be dangerous and it only takes one team to underestimate or look past them because they aren't considered a "basketball school", but like PT Barnum said "there's a sucker born every minute".

LOS ANGELES - For most of the year, USC been positioned perfectly -- a very good team that no one really knew, cared or worried much about.

A Pacific-10 Conference afterthought to start the season, the Trojans joined the fray early, slogged their way through the league schedule with the big boys and ended up in a better-than-expected tie for third.

Now they've gone one better -- a spot in the Pacific-10 tournament final after Friday night's 70-61 victory over 11th-ranked Washington State, the tournament's No. 2 seed.

Not bad for a team supposedly waiting a year for a prep superstar to show up.

Definitely on the radar screen!

We'll see how the Mayo experiment works out, as I am still not convinced that he is the best thing for SC. I don't care if he's here for one game or four years. There is some baggage there and it's a little unnerving.

It's gonna be interesting to watch so stay tuned.