For the first time since the 1986 and 1987 seasons, the USC Men’s Basketball team finished in last place in conference in consecutive seasons. USC finished the season with a 12-20 record including an abysmal 3-15 record in conference. Since Andy Enfield became head coach in 2013, USC is 5-31 in conference play. However, despite another bad season, the Trojans do have reasons to expect an improvement next year as they were one of the youngest teams in the NCAA. Here are some positives/negatives from this season.
Positives: Freshman guard Jordan McLaughlin adjusted to the college game well in his first season despite missing the last eight games due to a shoulder injury that will require surgery in the offseason. In 22 games, McLaughlin averaged 12.1 points per game, 4.5 assists per game, and 1.5 steals per game. However, McLaughlin will need to improve on his 35% from the field and 65% from the free throw line next year as the primary ball handler will look to have a breakout sophomore season. Forward Nikola Jovanovic had a drastic improvement from his freshman season last year. Jovanovic improved his points per game from 8.0 in 2013-14 to 12.3 and rebounds from 4.4 to 7.0. He also improved his mid-range shot and only fouled out once in 32 games. The 67-64 victory against Arizona State in the Pac-12 tournament has to be viewed as a positive and give some momentum for the Trojans heading into next year. With all of the injuries and losing streaks this year, winning a game in the Pac-12 tournament was huge for the Trojans this year. Talking about being one of the youngest teams in the nation, USC only had three juniors on their team this year and not a single senior so every single key player from this year should be back. This team will become more experienced together and can use this season as motivation.
Negatives: Where to start? How about winning only three conference games this year in what was a down year for the Pac-12. The Trojans went a month (Jan.11 to Feb. 11) where they lost nine straight Pac-12 games. The Trojans were terrible all season on defense, getting dominated down low and on the rebounding glass in most games. When he was first hired, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden said that he wanted to bring USC’s basketball program back up and with a beautiful arena (Galen Center), Haden has to be frustrated with the process and with Enfield. If Enfield has another one of these seasons next year, there is really to believe that he will be fired.