USC Basketball Predictions
Overall: 19-15 (12-4 H, 5-8 A, 2-3 N)
PAC-10: 10-8 (6-3 H, 4-5 A)
Conference Tournament: Lost in Conference Semifinals
Postseason: Lost in first round of NCAA tournament
Kevin O’Neill guided USC to a 19-15 record and into the NCAA Tournament last season. The Trojans finished tied for fourth in the Pac-10 conference and reached the Pac-10 semifinals.
The team’s leading scorer, Nikola Vucevic, averaged 17.1 points, a conference-leading 10.3 rebounds and received first team all-conference honors.
USC held the opposition to a .409 shooting percentage, second among Pac-10 teams, and in conference play held the opposition to just 63.3 points per game. USC lost 59-46 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to NCAA semifinalist VCU.
Other Returning Players
Three starters are gone, including top scorer Nikola Vucevic, who averaged 17.1 points per game for the Trojans last season and was also the team’s top rebounder at 10.3 rebounds per game.
Alex Stepheson is gone as well. He was the team’s second best rebounder at 7.2 boards per game and averaged 9.8 points and 1.1 blocks per game.
The Trojans will definitely need to make up for the loss of Vucevic and Stepheson, who each played in all 34 games. They were the conference’s top two rebounders and accounted for 58 percent of all of USC’s rebounds during last season.
The other big loss is Marcus Simmons, who also played in all 34 games, scoring 5.1 points in 25.5 minutes per contest.
|Date||Opponent / Event|
|11/11/2011||vs. Cal State Northridge|
|11/17/2011||@ San Diego State|
|11/19/2011||vs. Cal Poly (Las Vegas Invitational)|
|11/22/2011||vs. Morgan State (Las Vegas Invitational)|
|11/25/2011||@ UNLV (Las Vegas Invitational)|
|11/26/2011||vs. North Carolina or South Carolina (LV Invitational)|
|11/30/2011||@ UC Riverside|
|12/10/2011||vs. New Mexico|
|1/5/2012||vs. Arizona State|
|1/21/2012||@ Oregon State|
|2/2/2012||@ Washington State|
|2/25/2012||@ Arizona State|
|3/3/2012||vs. Washington State|
If the first two seasons under Kevin O’Neill has shown Trojan fans anything, it is that the team will play hard, improve throughout the season and put themselves in position to make the postseason. The 2011-12 USC men’s basketball team has to replace a majority of the production from a year ago, but should have the pieces in place to keep the program moving in the right direction.
Despite losing Nikola Vucevic via the 16th pick in the NBA Draft and three other Trojan starters graduating, USC has a strong core returning in Jio Fontan, Maurice Jones and Garrett Jackson, brought in a solid recruiting class and has planned for the departures with transfers Dewayne Dedmon and Aaron Fuller, who practiced with the team last year.
The optimism of USC this season starts with their two dynamic guards Fontan and Jones. Fontan only played the final semester last season, but had quite an impact on the team-leading the team in assists in that stretch and finishing second on the team in scoring with a 10.5 ppg average.
Maurice Jones was third on the team in scoring with a 9.9 ppg average, was the top Trojan in assists with 110 and set the USC freshman record with 69 steals. His impact did not go unnoticed – he was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team last year.
USC also believes it has vastly improved its guard depth with the additions of freshmen Byron Wesley, Alexis Moore and junior college transfer Greg Allen. The 6-5 guard Wesley is expected to be a key member of the Trojans right away.
Wesley averaged 19.2 points as a senior at Etiwanda HS. Moore, who averaged 9.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists as a senior at Long Beach Poly, is a 6-2 guard with an excellent all around game and figures to become a big part of the Trojans’ 2012 team.
The 6-3 shooting guard Allen comes to USC after two seasons at Navarro College in Texas. He is an excellent outside shooter and lock-down defender who started all 31 games for Navarro College (20-11) averaging 11.0 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
The Trojans believe they have the men that excel in the paint in forwards Aaron Fuller and Dewayne Dedmon and center James Blasczyk.
The 6-6 Fuller practiced with the team all last season after transferring to USC from Iowa, and demonstrated a nose for the ball and a very high basketball IQ. In 2010 as a sophomore at Iowa, Fuller was named Big Ten honorable mention as he averaged 9.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
Coach O’Neill will have two outstanding players in transfers Ari Stewart and Eric Wise, who are sitting out this season while practicing with the team and learning the system. The 6-7 forward Stewart comes to USC after two seasons at Wake Forest, where he averaged 8.5 points and 4.4 rebounds in 30 games with16 starts as a sophomore. Meanwhile, Wise is a 6-6 forward who transfers to USC from UC Irvine, ranking 11th all-time in scoring and 15th in rebounds on the Anteaters all-time list.
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