California embarks on its annual Southern California tour this week, visiting the University of Southern California and University of California, Los Angeles. First up: USC! Shotgun Spratling of Conquest Chronicles, SBNation's USC community. weigh in on new hire Andy Enfield and "Dunk City".
1) Although the stats don't seem to reflect it, your team seems athletic and well-coached. What's the difference between upsets over Xavier and Dayton and how you've started conference play?
If you can outshoot your opponent and win the turnover battle, you'll win almost every game. When you can't do either of those? The results are five straight blowouts to start the conference season. USC has now turned the ball over more than the opposition the last 10 games. Against Xavier, USC won both the shooting and turnover categories. Versus Dayton, the Trojans turned the ball over an acceptable 13 times (Dayton had 10) and held the Flyers to 26 percent shooting in the second half.
2) Have you bought into the Dunk City Mystique? Does this team have the personnel to match Coach Enfield's uptempo approach?
This year's squad definitely doesn't embody the uptempo pace and fast action Andy Enfield wants to employ. USC has scored 66 points or less the past four teams. Omar Oraby isn't the type of big man Enfield recruits, the team doesn't have a pure point guard to run the show like it will next year in four-star recruit Jordan McLaughlin, and Enfield wants consistent outside shooters (a.k.a. the exact opposite of this team's deep threats).
3) If Cal can shut down Byron Wesley, is that the ball game?
Yes, but no. Byron Wesley has emerged as USC's primary offensive threat. He is a pretty consistent force save for the last two single-digit performances. But USC has the ability to win without him. There are players capable of carrying the load offensively. Oraby, J.T. Terrell, Pe'Shon Howard, Nikola Jovanovic and Julian Jacobs have all gone for 15+ at some point this season. The problem has been getting production from multiple players at the same time. Twice Wesley has been the only player in double figures and five games this season there have only been two players with 10+ points.
4) Enfield likes to play four out and one in, do you see him going big to match up against Cal's frontcourt duo of Solomon and Kravish?
USC might use a good amount of four-out, one-in offensive sets, but it isn't a four-guard, one-post team. Only once this season (against Arizona State) has Enfield started a four-guard lineup. Between USC's five bigs, two are on the court almost all the time. The Serbian duo of Jovanovic and Luis Gavrilovic and Roschon Prince guard the more mobile power forwards while Oraby and D.J. Haley stay in the paint to protect the rim. The Trojans have also used a lot of 2-3 zone defense since they struggle with containing dribble penetration.
5) What's the deal with JT Terrell? He was one of the top three point shooters in the conference last year. This year...not so much.
Terrell has struggled a bit to find his place on Enfield's squad, especially since missing seven games due to academic ineligibility. Unlike when Bob Cantu was the interim coach last season and Terrell knew he had the green light at all times, he seems to be tentative at times to be his overly aggressive self. He shot 60 percent from deep on the last road trip, so it wouldn't be surprising to me if he started to get in a better groove over the next few weeks and be one of the Trojans' primary contributors in the second half of the conference season (barring any time of incident that would keep him out of the lineup for regular minutes).
6) With USC's resources, why doesn't the basketball team get the same type of attention as the football team?
For better or worse, Los Angeles is an entitled frontrunning town. People feel that if you aren't producing an entertaining and winning program/team/event/performance/whatever...then they shouldn't give you their attention because there are plenty of other entertaining and winning programs/teams/events/performances/whatevers they can give their attention to. And while people want to blame the people of Los Angeles for being shallow and callous, you would get the same thing in any city that had multiple options. If Green Bay had a second NFL team that was successful and the Packers were crappy, fans would follow the second team.
The school continues to try to pump up the basketball program with various initiatives, but if the team starts winning, as it did when O.J. Mayo and Demar Derozan were on campus, the Trojans will get plenty of attention.
7) After Bibby and O'Neill, how happy are you with Andy Enfield? Do you feel he has the team headed in the right direction?
Way too early to tell. It was very positive seeing his early results in recruiting, being able to nab McLaughlin and being in the final choices against the likes of Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana, UCLA and Arizona for some high-profile recruits. Next year will be a much more telling season when Enfield has his own sets of recruits, loses the bulky big bodies down low and the players have a year of his offensive system and shooting guidance under their belts.
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