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The End of the Road

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I have always admitted that I am still a novice when it comes to hoops, it really doesn't interest me like it did when I was in high school. But then I grew up in LA and saw Showtime up close and personal and back then one could identify with players. Today, at least for me, it's different, the powers that be sold their souls for a particular type of player that played a particular type of game and all that most care about is getting on Sport Center with some crazy dunk or such. So I ended up losing interest in the game itself, but that doesn't mean I'm blind.

What surprised me about last night's loss was that there seemed to be little to effort. First off I thought the game was pretty well officiated, some would call the fouls ticky-tack but if you looked closely the fouls were called because SC was always just a little bit out of position or they were effectively removed from the play so there was a lot of slapping at the ball which in turn resulted in fouls.

Tim Floyd threw everything but the kitchen sink at KSU, Box-and-1, Triangle-and-2 and even some Man-to-Man but SC could never really defend them properly. They had Beasley on the bench with foul trouble and they still couldn't take advantage of his absence, this told me all I needed to know that SC was not going to win. They were absolutely dominated, read embarrassed, on the boards and again turnovers were costly. Mayo was absent for most of the first half and SC was paltry on the perimeter.

SC came out in the second half determined to get back in it but like many other games it seemed that once SC erased a 10-point deficit and caught up to KSU the seemed to either just run out of gas or KSU pulled another trick out of its bag to keep SC at bay. It simply wasn't pretty.

The Trojans (21-12) were seeded sixth in the Midwest Region, but they always seemed to teetering on the edge of a rebounding monster that could at any time push them over.

The answer had come by halftime, when Kansas State had 12offensive rebounds - and USC had 11 total.

Eleventh-seeded Kansas State (21-11) looked like the higher seed. By the time the carnage was complete, the Wildcats held a 44-27 rebounding advantage, with 21 on the offensive end. Kansas State had 22 second-chance points to USC's three.

Seven times, the Wildcats scored while being fouled.

"You look at the rebounding numbers, that was the difference in the game," USC coach Tim Floyd said. "We have been better in some areas that we weren't tonight and the credit goes to Kansas State.

This was not the team that we watched in the later part of the season. There was simply no fire out there and no answers.

Mayo was upstaged by Beasley and his high school buddy Walker by going 6-16 with 20 points. They were outclassed last night. The questions will now fall onto Tim Floyd, is this the type of program we want to see built at SC? You would have to be nuts not to know that these questions were going to be asked once the season was over so this shouldn't surprise anyone. Coach Floyd has my full support and I would agree with Mike Garrett that character matters but to me the character paints too broad a stroke. Commitment is the key word. SC needs to recruit players that will be committed to the building of the program. I am disappointed with this loss but I will even more disappointed if we don't see some growth and stability in this program, but more on that later.

There really isn't much more to say, its pointless to try and break it down when its clear that SC just didn't want it as bad as KSU and in the end that all that matters. It's funny that SC started and ended the season with terrible losses. There were obviously some great things that we witnessed; the win at Pauley, the season ending win against Stanford, the close game against Memphis, which I saw in person at Madison Square Garden. The things that disappointed me the games against Kansas and the loss to ucla at Galen when SC was poised to win but couldn't hit the ocean if it was right in front of them, it's not like ucla was playing much better that day, as well as a few others.

So, that's it as far as the season is concerned. Now the Mayo watch will begin along with the Jefferson and Gibson watch. It would be great to keep all of them but I am not holding my breath. Gibson and Jefferson need take a second to understand that they are not ready for the NBA. I think Mayo needs some work too but he has too many potential upsides not to go to the next level.

Should be fun to watch.