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Some Further Thoughts

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Just picking through the various articles that are looking at, or ahead if you prefer, to what the future may hold for SC.

Let me start with Dan Weber at the Press-Enterprise:

Wouldn't it have been nice to go out with a bang, the way the 2007 USC Trojans did in the Sweet 16, playing until they ran out of bodies?

Or wouldn't it have been nice for the 2008 Trojans to play like the team that beat UCLA, Stanford, Oregon, Arizona, Oklahoma and San Diego while scaring the heck out of two more No. 1 seeds -- Memphis and Kansas?

Indeed. But a rough-and-ready Kansas State team with talent, and 11 first-year players that had lost six of its past nine, wouldn't let USC. Wouldn't let the Trojans run their offense, get a good look at the basket, rebound the ball, or pass it. Wouldn't even let them get to a loose ball.

The Wildcats had come to play with a purpose -- and poise. USC, well, it was hard to tell what the Trojans had in mind.

That really is what bothers me the most. The level of experience wasn't all that different yet SC looked like the never had a plan.

And yet that is exactly what Tim Floyd needs...a plan.

I have already discussed elsewhere the need for a big man in the middle that is durable, that is developed and who can step right in and play. This will get some help for Taj, if he stays, and also give us some sort of presence that can provide some muscle or enforcement under the basket. Because SC isn't known as a basketball school Tim Floyd can't sell any type of history or tradition like some other schools can and I'm not talking about ucla; that is whole other story for another time. What he can sell is the opportunity to be a part of the building of a basketball program that can piggy back on the success of the football program until it can stand on its own two feet.

Like it or not its going to take some baby steps to get there.

I don't know why Coach Floyd didn't use his bench more but I will also admit that I couldn't possibly know the whole story as I am not on the staff. We give Pete Carroll latitude, mostly because he has won for us, so there is no reason that we shouldn't give Coach Floyd some of the same latitude considering that he has done pretty well with this program and this rag tag bunch of merry marauders in a short time.

The fact remains that playing only 7 players was going to take its toll and SC just didn't seem to have any punch to their game. Why Cromwell didn't get into the game to at least take a bullet in the foul department is beyond me and with all the marbles on the line I am bit confused as to why a few more players didn't make it onto the floor. Floyd is known for mixing things up and with nothing else working why not give that a shot?

The L.A. Times takes a similar tack but also looks at something else that has not been looked at in regards to the basketball program...playing time.

The challenge confronting Floyd going forward could be supplementing one-year stars with a supporting cast of four-year players. But it's a delicate balance. Five players who could have contributed this season left the program in recent years after expressing unhappiness about playing time, leaving the Trojans with a thin and inexperienced roster.

USC's 2008 recruiting class includes two guards, a swingman and no big men, potentially leaving the Trojans short-handed inside if forwards Gibson and Jefferson leave.

"It's a speculation game with recruiting and future needs when you have projected NBA players," Floyd said earlier this season. "We don't know where we'll be next year. We'll still have a good core group if we don't sign another big."

One potential solution is 6-foot-6 forward Leonard Washington, who signed with USC in 2006 before being granted a release to assess other options. Sources have indicated Washington may now revert to his original plan.

I'll get to Washington in a bit. I am certainly not one to question with any authority as to the reasons for those departures mentioned but with SC losing players that could potentially contribute it does open up the door to questions about whom we are recruiting. Like football, read Moody and Holland, some players take a second look and decide that this might not have been the best move for them regardless of the reason. But on a football team losing two or three guys on a large roster can sting but it's not the end of the world either. But with basketball losing 5 players in the past 2 or so years does make one wonder if the right pieces to the puzzle are being recruited. Again, I don't know but it has to be thrown out there and looked at because it could have a negative effect on how we recruit from the future.

As for Washington, Wolf has a great take on it today. (bad etiquette I know, but I took the whole post for continuity)

The turning point for this basketball season actually occurred last year, when forward Leonard Washington was unable to academically qualify. After watching him play, it's hard to overstate just how potent USC would have been with such a physical and downright ornery presence under the basket. He pretty much completed the current USC team, or at least made it capable of beating anyone in the country.

Washington is still trying to qualify with the hope of enrolling at USC next season. But do Washington's academic issues let Coach Tim Floyd off the hook this season regarding the lack of frontcourt depth? I'll let you answer that question in the comments. But forward Taj Gibson probably deserves some type of coaches' award for being put in an often-hopeless position this season.

One other thought: Maybe Washington's absence should not be absolved, because USC seems so attracted to academic risks. Consider how long it took before Davon Jefferson qualified or the sweating done before Angelo Johnson qualified from a prep school. There are other examples but I'll refrain from listing all of them.
The point is, when you take so many risks, you have to be prepared to get burned sometimes.

Wolf is dead on here. I could care less about appearances not being an alum has its advantages of not being concerned about school pride, but if we ever expect to be consistent we need to have more stability in the players we choose.

This of course also dovetails nicely in to Mike Garrett's comments about character. Why SC continues to focus on high-risk student-athletes is a bit troublesome. I can see someone unique like a Renardo Sidney or a Washington every once in a while but not all the time. Are we saying that these are the only players that we can attract to SC? I realize it's difficult, and it can be categorized in the chicken-or-the-egg theory but something has to give. Coach Floyd has to try and find a way to break through and bring in some kids that will be committed to building this program and hope that have enough of an impact to influence others to want to be a part of it as well. That's how you build a program. I am not going to throw anyone on the current roster under the bus but, as Wolf said, there are too many players that have teetered on the edge of ineligibility that could cost this program dearly if we don't get some balance.

Coach Floyd, as noted before, has my full support but he needs to really put the hard sell to some of these kids and try to jump into the mix with some of those who may not even have SC on their radar.

It will be an interesting off-season...