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NCAA Basketball: Arizona State at California Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

A tale as old as time

True as it can be

Barely even friends

Bland’s just a loose end

Cheatin’ USC

Just a little coach

Small to say the least

Melton will not play

Tomorrow or today

Cheatin’ USC

When last we met, Cal faced a USC-team struggling with controversy. Coach Andy Enfield made the ever-so-brave decision to suspend leading scorer and rebounder Chimezie Metu for… an entire half. Unconfirmed sources report that Metu had volunteered for punishment via spanking except that a suitable copy of Forbes could not be located. USC fans and pundits alike were agonizing over whether this should be called a slap on the wrist, or an “oh behave” finger wave. Coach Enfield can be forgiven for not punishing Metu’s illegal and flagrant groin punch with more severity; he can’t be expected to have empathy since he apparently lacks balls of his own.

It’s not like the Trojans are strangers in a strange land trying to navigate the morass which comes with scruples, ethics, and common decency. They’ve long since damned the torpedoes and decided to hitch their wagons to Andy’s round-up. Suspending Assistant Coach Tony Bland and declaring sophomore De’Anthony Melton ineligible are part of their “nothing to see here” master plan. Sadly enough, it’s just crazy enough to work as the NCAA continues to embody the eternal struggle between incompetence and impotence.

NCAA: “So let us get this straight, your assistant coach both accepted and paid bribes.”

SC: “Who?”

NCAA: “Tony Bland.”

SC: “Who?”

NCAA: “The coach you put on administrative leave.”

SC: “We did?”

NCAA: “It’s in your press release.”

SC: “Oh. Him. I think he just helps guys stretch out. And stuff.”

NCAA: “Your school website refers to him as your ‘elite recruiter.’”

SC: “Oh that Tony Bland. He’s on leave.”

NCAA: “And your coach knew nothing about it?”

SC: “Who?”

NCAA: “Andy Enfield.”

SC: “Of course not. He’s not very bright. And did you know he has no balls?”

NCAA: “Whaaaat?”

SC: “He’s like Theon Greyjoy, only dimmer and more cowardly. But man, can he take a kick to the nethers. We have videos. Check this out-”

NCAA: “Oh hell no. Is that all you have to say for yourself?”

SC: “Well, in conclusion, your magnificent eminence, we’ve done worse.”

NCAA: “_That’s_ your argument? You’ve done worse?!?!”

’SC: “Well, duh.”

NCAA: (sighs) “Why do we put up with you again?”

’SC: “We have pictures of goats and your-”

NCAA: “Rhetorical! That was rhetorical!!!”

Surely it’s just coincidence that the Trojans recently landed their best recruiting class since…illegally paying OJ Mayo. There’s no way that Good Ol’ Andy could possibly have known about any of this, so by all means, tell the band to keep playing until the FBI iceberg hits.

At Haas, USC used a trapping zone to disrupt our offense and rode a wave of turnovers to a huge early lead. Although they’ve switched between man and zone looks all year, it’s hard to see a reason for them to not zone us up again. Their pressure looks force the most turnovers in the Pac-12, yet they’re able to pull this off without fouling. On offense, they let McLaughlin take his pick of finishers versus shooters. Irresistible force, meet movable object!

Win before you vacate is the new smoke ‘em if you got ‘em for Enfield and his mercenaries. It’s good enough to have them transiently ranked at #2 in the Pac-12 with both the second-ranked offense and defense. We’ve also got a #2 in our ranking. Along with a #1. Because we’re just that darn good.

Our computer overlords project a 5% chance for us to pull the upset. So why the heck not?

Starters:

Sr G Jordan McLaughlin - 6’1”/185, 13ppg, 4.0rpg, 7.5apg, 44.6 3FG%

- One of the league’s best set-up men and quite capable of hitting the open shot.

So G Jonah Mathews - 6’3”/195, 8.8 ppg, 3.0rpg

- Designated sniper.

Sr G/F Elijah Stewart - 6’5”/195 10.9 ppg, 3.4rpg

- Previously more athlete than player, has actually turned himself into a dangerous outside threat.

Jr F Chimezie Metu - 6’11”/225, 16.6ppg, 7.1rpg

- Don’t shake his hand without antibacterial gel, but he’s dynamic in the paint.

Jr F Bennie Boatwright - 6’10”/227, 15.1ppg, 6.7rpg

- Stretch big is versatile and can step out.

Key Reserves:

So G Derryck Thornton - 6’2”/195, 3.3ppg

So C Nick Rakocevic - 6’11”/225, 7.0ppg, 5.0rpg

Fr G/F Charles O’Bannon - 6’6”/210, 1.0ppg

Keys to the Game:

1). Turnovers

So last time, we tried to tire them out by throwing the ball at them repeatedly. That didn’t work so well.

2). Tempo

“If you’re going to make a mistake, do it going a hundred miles an hour.” Been there, done that. Solid nope.

3). Make them win the game

Insert your favorite cliche about playing hard, embracing the process, and either accepting or denying the existence of moral victories. The fact remains that forcing ‘SC to play well enough to beat us is a far cry from rolling over and beating ourselves. Our effort against ASU was commendable. At this point, we are absolutely looking for building blocks to help our young Bears grow.

TV: Pac-12 Network

Tip-Off: When Andy Enfield rubs his nose, licks his lips, or breathes, it means he’s lying.

Sunday 1/28/18: 1pm PST