With about a few minutes remaining in the USC basketball team’s most the latest activity, Trojans soccer mentor Lincoln Riley quietly slipped out of his courtside seat and disappeared into one of the tunnels leading out of the arena.
Really don’t criticize Riley for lacking the stop of USC’s defeat to Arizona. If everything, he should really be applauded for sticking all over for as long as he did.
The weak male lived in Oklahoma for seven years. Hadn’t he endured plenty of?
Riley was subjected to USC’s worst effectiveness in an normally stellar year, the Trojans trailing by as lots of as 30 factors right before settling for a 91-71 loss.
What a squander.
Coach Andy Enfield’s staff has gained 25 online games and is ranked 16th in the nation but stays the finest-kept solution in Los Angeles. The Trojans will keep a mystery until finally they can seize the type of moment in which they froze on Tuesday night time.
They hosted the second-rated group in the state. They were being on countrywide television. They played in front of their second packed household of the period at Galen Heart.
And they stunk up the joint.
Their failure to increase their software-document regular-time win complete removed them from competition for the Pac-12 frequent-time championship, which was claimed by the browsing Wildcats.
College students seated guiding the north basket were being prepared to rush the court docket, as they did final thirty day period in a win above UCLA, but were being alternatively despatched trudging towards the exits.
Last yr, the Trojans arrived at the Elite 8 for the very first time in 20 several years. But in the West Regional closing of the NCAA event, with an possibility to completely transform by themselves into a thing additional than an afterthought, they had been overcome by Gonzaga in an 85-66 loss.
The shame was not in the loss, but in how the activity was shed.
USC wasn’t prepared.
The former two sentences have been the opening traces of a column I wrote just after the Gonzaga recreation and they could have been the opening traces of this column.
Against Arizona, USC was at the rear of by 14 details soon after 10 minutes and by 24 at the half. They made only 32.1% of their area goals in the very first 50 percent, such as 12.5% of threes. They had 9 turnovers in the opening time period.
“Whatever we did or didn’t do, that is on me,” Enfield said.
USC’s prime 3 scorers for the time — Isaiah Mobley, Drew Peterson and Boogie Ellis — have been a put together 8 of 34 from the field. Peterson concluded with 10 points, Mobley and Ellis 9 just about every.
“Everybody has off-game titles,” Enfield reported. “But when all 3 of them have an off-video game at the identical time, it seriously hurts us.”
Due to the fact of how typically the Trojans’ large a few missed photographs or turned in excess of the ball, the Wildcats ended up equipped to do what they do greatest, which is play in transition. Arizona made 55.6% of its discipline goals, such as 48.% of its threes.
What was unlucky about USC’s off-evening was that it didn’t reflect who the Trojans have been this year or the upward trajectory of their application.
“All the college students, the guidance the administration has specified us, and our internet marketing and sales workforce, and our fans have been definitely exclusive this 12 months,” Enfield reported. “Unfortunately, we did not reciprocate all the challenging operate that every person did.”
USC also marketed out its household sport against UCLA.
“They generally said, ‘If you build it, lovers will come,’” Enfield stated. “Well, we have been successful for seven several years, and it’s awesome to at last have this application remaining recognized by our college students and our administration.”
The recreation on Tuesday represented what USC basketball could be.
Several hours in advance of, students formed a line that wrapped all over Galen Center. Keith Williams Jr. carried out an additional stunning rendition of the national anthem. Enthusiasts placed their arms all-around their neighbors’ shoulders and bounced as the arena’s in-home DJ played Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” There have been chants of, “De-fense!” and “Go-S-C!” through the recreation.
What was missing was the gain.
The Trojans will keep on to go after that software-altering victory, their restoration setting up Saturday with a match at UCLA ahead of they engage in in the Pac-12 event as the 2nd or third seed.
Probably their subsequent chance will arrive in March in the NCAA match. Or future 12 months when they welcome what could be Enfield’s very best recruiting course at USC.
When an prospect presents itself once more, the Trojans had improved be prepared. They owe by themselves that a lot, to enjoy much more of their residence online games in a offered-out arena, to have the sort of supporter help that matches their winning file.