To first preface this recap, I want to note that I didn't actually have the chance to watch this contest due to the fact that it wasn't televised locally here in Los Angeles (thank you Fox Sports West). But nevertheless, all one is has to do is take a quick glance at the box score to know that the Trojans had some serious issues in their loss to the Beavers on Thursday night.
‘SC, which was tied for second place in the conference before tonight, lost to a team that had dropped its last three games and was ranked last in the Pac-10. If you want to want to win a conference championship, that cannot happen. A loss like that is totally inexcusable. There is no way around it. You cannot lose games, where you're favored to win. And what makes it even more frustrating is not only the fact that they lost by to an inferior opponent, but also because they played extremely poorly. Here are a few things that went wrong:
- The turnover margin: The Trojans had difficulty with turnovers earlier in the year before the problem subsided with the arrival of Mike Gerrity. But against the Beavers, the turnover bug reemerged with ‘SC posting 19 turnovers in comparison to just 10 assists. Not exactly, the assist-to-turnover ratio needed to win road games in the Pac-10.
- Guard production: Despite playing a combined total of 76 minutes, Mike Gerrity and Dwight Lewis scored a combined 7 points on 2-of-15 shooting. Gerrity did not score a single basket, and Lewis shot under 20% - a major drop-off considering that he was averaging 19.6 points per game since January 6th.
- Stopping Haynes: Last season, when the Trojans went up to Corvallis to face Oregon State, Calvin Haynes proved to be too much to handle in leading the Beavers to the victory with 16 points. Consequently, you would expect returning senior guards Marcus Johnson and Dwight Lewis to place special attention on stopping Haynes. But that certainly didn't happen, as the junior guard scored 25 points on 7-of-15 shooting.
- Not getting the big guys the ball: The Trojans have success when they get their big guys the ball early and often. Alex Stepheson and Nikola Vucavic each shot over 50% but shot the ball a combined eleven times, while Lewis and Johnson posted a combined 26 shot attempts. Not exactly the offensive balance that is going to enable this team to win games on the roads.
- But Stepheson and Vucevic contributed to the lack of attempts: Because of foul trouble, Stepheson and Vucevic were forced to sit for long stretches during the game, especially in the second half. With the lack of depth, the Trojans are at a big disadvantage when these two guys are on the bench.
- Zone defense: Oregon State utilizes a 1-3-1 zone defense, and ‘SC is awful against a zone because they lack shooters. There isn't much more to it.
This loss really puts a damper on the Trojans' hopes to win a Pac-10 regular season, but before I get carried away, I'll wait until the weekend is over before taking a closer look at the second half of the season.