Well, we got another big men's basketball game tonight! After a successful 3-1 home stand that could have easily been 4-0, Cal had a rough 0-2 road trip to the Pacific Northwest.
Our beloved Golden Bears hope to return to the land of the winning in returning to Haas Pavilion. However, Kevin O'Neill's USC team is first to stand in the way of the right side of the ledger. To get a stronger appreciation of what the Bears face this evening, we spoke with Joey Kaufmann at ConquestChronicles. After the jump, see his answers to our questions about the Trojans.
Here you can see our answers to his questions. Good luck (excuse me, Good Rodgers!) tonight to USC, but, as always, GO BEARS!
1. How much of a role is USC's lack of depth playing in their recent struggles?
Kevin O’Neill isn’t going to admit it, nor is anyone else, but it’s a problem. If you only play seven players, you’re going to have issues; there isn’t much more to it. It’s not the end of the world, but it is a hindrance to force guys to play 70 minutes in a span of 72 hours. But more importantly, the lack of depth really limits the team’s lineup options. In short, it really doesn’t have enough guys on the perimeter. It lacks wing players. Neither Garrett Jackson nor Marcus Simmons is a consistent scoring threat, and since the loss of Bryce Jones, it doesn’t have a reliable 3-pointer at that position. Yes, depth is playing a serious role.
2. Jio Fontan doesn't seem to be offering much on the offensive end. Anything behind his lack of production, or is he just not as good as advertised?
For one, Fontan was overhyped. I think that’s clear by now. O’Neill really went overboard in playing the Fordham transfer up before his debut against Kansas in December, calling him the team’s best player, etc. etc. But he is certainly better than what he has shown as of late. Against Oregon, he had just four points. He’s better than that. IMHO, fatigue may be the biggest factor for Fontan. Remember, he sat out all of last season, so he hasn’t played a full season in two years.
3. Nikola Vucevic really struggled the last time we played him. How do you think he'll adjust his game?
He’s coming off a 22-point, 16-rebound outing, so the guy should play well. Last time he got into foul trouble, which in all honestly, seemed to be the primary reason for his struggles. He got into foul trouble and never seemed engaged. He’s playing well as of late on the offensive end, so I would anticipate that continues.
4. Based on what you've seen of Cal, how do you think USC can avoid a repeat of the disaster in Galen?
Based on what I’ve seen from Cal, yes. Based on what I’ve seen from USC, no. To put it bluntly, ‘SC isn’t a particularly good basketball team right now. They’re not playing all that well on defense (have struggled closing out on shooters and the team’s 3-point defensive field goal percentage has taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks). And well, the offense hasn’t been all that great. Remember, the only reason USC was even in the game to begin with last time around was the fact
5. Kevin O'Neill hasn't been getting a lot of love lately from the Trojan faithful. Deserved or undeserved?
The hate is premature; I’ll say as much. I don’t think he’s the world’s greatest coach, but if you look at this roster, it’s largely incomplete. He’s been dealing with a seven-man rotation, while under NCAA sanctions. The fact that they’re over .500 in two seasons is not something to be frowning upon. There are problems, but in the big picture, it’s really tough to expect much at all from this group.