Ignore the photo above, it was only designed to lure you into reading this post. Why? Because we have a HUGE basketball game tonight. USC might be sanctioned out of its mind this year, but its still a tough team. They gave us all we could handle in Haas and now Cal has to face them on the road. Winning on the road anywhere is tough in the Pac10.
No TV makes Twist a sad panda. Anyway, to get a better look at USC, we asked our southern brethren Conquest Chronicle about the game. Their answers after the jump. Here are our answers to their questions. GO BEARS!
1. Halfway through the season, how well has the USC taken the news of the sanctions?
Well, despite what head coach Kevin O’Neill says, I’m not so sure this Trojan bunch is taking the news particularly well. Since word of the sanctions got out January 3rd, the Trojans have gone 2-5 and have not played as well as they were during the Diamond Head Classic and opening weekend of Pac-10 play. Last week’s trip to Oregon was particularly frustrating as the Trojans sort of collapsed in the final minutes of the games – a possible sign that this team may be folding.
2. Karma's a bitch: evaluate this statement.
Well, you’re sort of stating the obvious here. Although, I am inclined to believe that the Trojans’ current predicament is due to Mike Garrett’s incompetency rather than USC’s own mistakes. But nevertheless, USC has had some lapses in judgment (recruiting O.J. Mayo and hiring Tim Floyd) so they’re paying for it now (postseason ban). It’s definitely frustrating, but you can only piss the NCAA off so much.
Are you kidding me? Greatest hire! Who needs Big Balls Pete when you have Long Shaft Lane? In just three weeks on the job, he’s brought us the number one ranked recruiting class according to Rivals.com. A lot of people said our recruiting class would take a significant plunge with Pete’s departure, but Lane has managed to do more than just hold the fort together. He outdid Carroll! Additionally, he’s pissed some UCLA fans off in the process so major props is due. Just give Layla some more face time, and he’s almost ready to reach Carroll-level popularity here in LA.
Minus his performance at Oregon State last week, Dwight has been playing exceptionally well over the past few contests. In the first game after his 20-point performance against Cal, he racked up 24 points against UCLA in Westwood on 9-of-15 shooting. Additionally, he’s been more than solid offensively during Pac-10 play. In 7 of 9 conference games, he’s finished in double figures, including recent performances against Washington (19 points) and Oregon (16 points). He’s a streaky shooter so the Bears must be careful he doesn’t have "one of those days" on Thursday.
5. Is USC's defense still playing at an all-pro level? What'd be the best way to exploit it Thursday night?
The defense isn’t as good as it was against Tennessee and the Arizona schools, but it’s still one of the best in the Pac-10 (of course that’s essentially like being the best looking waitress at a roadside diner). But still, they’re doing pretty well overall. Against Oregon, they held top scorer Tajuan Porter to just 9 points, and in 9 conference games, no team has scored in the 70s against them. If you’re going to have success on offense against the Trojans, then you need to attack the basket early and get the big guys – Alex Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic in foul trouble. What makes the ‘SC defense click is the fact that Stepheson and Vucevic anchor the interior and are able to protect the basket from guards who can penetrate the lane. The Trojans’ wing defenders are average so if teams can get in the lane when either of the bigs is on the bench, they’ll have a great chance at having success.