Last season was rough to say the least for Andy Enfield and the USC Trojans basketball team. Inexperience played a major role in the team's 12-20 record. In a number of games, the Trojans faltered down the stretch and simply could not close the deal.
USC returns a good chunk of their production from a season ago, so inexperience should be a thing of the past. As always, the Pac-12 will be a tough conference to navigate through, but the Trojans will look to take the next step in their rebuilding process.
Here's a look at what fans can expect from USC basketball in the 2015-16 college basketball season.
Key Losses: None
Key Additions: F Chimezie Metu (#40 ESPN100), F Bennie Boatwright (#87 ESPN100)
G Jordan McLaughlin, So.
G Julian Jacobs, Jr.
G/F Katin Reinhardt, RS Jr.
F Darion Clark, RS Jr.
F Nikola Jovanovic, Jr.
G Elijah Stewart, So.
F Chimezie Metu, Fr.
F Bennie Boatwright, Fr.
G Malik Marquetti, So.
Enfield on the hot seat?
Enfield has done some good things since being hired by USC in 2013, but it hasn't exactly translated to notches in the wins column. The Trojans are just 23-41 under Enfield, but it's not necessarily all his fault. The talent hasn't been there and the players couldn't finish close games last season. However, Division I athletics is a dog-eat-dog world and you have to produce or you get replaced. It's that simple. If USC puts forth another lackluster effort this season, Enfield's seat may begin to burn.
Depth in the backcourt
When looking at this year's roster, from top to bottom, there is no question that the strength of the Trojans is their backcourt. USC will have five guards who are capable of making plays in the rotation. McLaughlin and Reinhardt are the names that receive the most attention, and for good reason. But, let's not forget about Stewart and Jacobs, both of whom have proven that they are capable of making plays. Look for Malik Marquetti to have a breakout year.
One of the major reasons why USC basketball has struggled mightily over the past few seasons is their lack of recruiting success. It's impossible to find a good team that doesn't recruit well. Despite their poor track record in that department, things seem to be on the up-and-up. The Trojans landed a solid 2015 recruiting class, albeit just two players. What they lack in numbers, they make up for in talent. Both Metu and Boatwright were ranked in the ESPN100 and look to play vital roles in the team's success as true freshmen.
After an abysmal 2014-15 season, the expectations aren't very high for USC this season. However, Enfield and the Trojans are not to be slept on. See, that would be a monumental mistake.
Although the Pac-12 will be very competitive this year, with about three teams head and shoulders above the rest, the Trojans have enough talent to make things interesting. With another year under their belt, this team is primed and ready to take the next step.
Remember, this is still a team in rebuilding mode, but the process may not take as long as originally anticipated. The guard play will be nothing to worry about. If USC can get some consistent production from their bigs, as well as a spark from their freshman duo, they will have a chance to win a couple meaningful games.
All in all, don't expect this team to make the NCAA Tournament, but don't be surprised if the Trojans turn out to be better than advertised.