While Western Michigan may not have the pedigree of either Texas or Tennessee, they should still provide the Trojans with an interesting test this afternoon. It is feasible that USC, which is coming off a possibly program altering victory against the Volunteers, could overlook a middle of the road MAC team like Western Michigan, and therefore, come out flat against the Broncos. This trend existed under previous coaches, Henry Bibby and Tim Floyd, so it isn't out of the question it could reoccur today. Yet, if the Trojans wish to take the next step as a program, they must prove they can follow up a big-time win such as the one over Tennessee with victories over inferior foes. Thus, this afternoon should provide an opportunity for us fans to further understand where this program is at.
But before we get carried away, here's a closer at the competition - Western Michigan:
SCOUTING THE BRONCOS -- Western Michigan (4-4) is coming off a 72-64 home win vs. Kennesaw State on Dec. 19. The Broncos returned three starters from a team that went 10-21 a year ago. WMU is led in scoring by senior guard David Kool (21.5 ppg), sophomore forward Flenard Whitfield (12.3 ppg) and senior guard/forward Martelle McLemore (12.0 ppg). USC leads the all-time series with WMU 2-1, winning the last meeting 77-62 on Dec. 16, 2005.
Because this is a part of a three-game tournament, it is quite likely that the Trojans will be busy over the holidays:
ON DECK AT THE DIAMOND HEAD CLASSIC -- The winner of today's USC-WMU game will play the winner of Northeastern/St. Mary's on Dec. 23 at 2:00 p.m., while the losers of each game will square off on Dec. 23 at noon (PT). St. Mary's is 9-1 and defeated Pacific on Dec. 18 for its seventh-straight win. Northeastern is 2-5 and have been off since falling to Rhode Island on Dec. 10. The final games will be played on Dec. 25. The other teams in the eight-team field are UNLV, SMU, College of Charleston and host Hawaii.
There is a lot of excitement regarding the USC basketball program, as the team is currently on a three game winning streak and has received a fair amount of positive publicity for once after a strong performance this past weekend. The holiday tournament in Hawaii provides the Trojans with yet another opportunity to test themselves against quality competition, while also presenting them with the chance to continue their strong level of play. The most challenging opponents in this tournament are UNLV and St. Mary's so there is no legitimate reason as to why 'SC shouldn't seriously contend for the tournament championship despite a somewhat depleted roster.
Fight On! Beat the Broncos!