Will you like USC when they’re angry? Because — they should be. The Trojans trailed for 36 minutes in the season-opening loss to Portland State, committing 23 turnovers on their way to their first loss in a home-opener since 2008.
The first 10 minutes could be quite the challenge.
Expectations are high for year number two of the Andy Enfield era in southern California. The consensus is that the former Florida Gulf-Coast coach didn’t have the talent last year to bring “Dunk City” to Los Angeles, but this year’s team should better. After notching just two wins in conference, it wouldn’t be incredibly difficult to be “better.”
But this is still a young team — two freshman, Malik Marquetti and Elijah Stewart will likely see quality time in the backcourt, along with the speedy Jordan McLaughlin and 6’6 wing Katin Reinhardt, who transferred to USC from UNLV. (Seriously — does anyone ever stay at UNLV?) Son’t let McLaughlin 6’0 stature fool you — he want to get to the rim, or drive and dish to Reinhardt, who provides a much needed three-point threat; USC barely shot 30% behind the arc a year ago.
Inside, the Trojans get the services of 6’7 Charlotte transfer Darion Clark. He’s coming off a shoulder surgery, but was a 54% shooter as a freshman with the 49ers two years ago — and was highly recruited out of Oak Hill Academy.
We still don’t have a good feel for Tennessee Tech after a blowout win. The one thing that is a bit concerning was their three-point shooting — hitting just 4-15, and you can’t exactly credit top-notch defending from Piedmont International. One thing I did like — balance: Four players finished with double-figure scoring, including Dwan Caldwell. The offense is really going to look to him inside for a spark, but they also need more consistent production from the backcourt this year if they’re going to make the step forward.
We known USC is vulnerable, but they’re also angry. If you can stay with them early — the pressure is going to build, especially if Tennessee Tech can be in a game in the second half. Getting out to a good start is key if Tennessee Tech is going to follow in Portland State’s footsteps.