USC Basketball

Notes & Observations: USC vs Orlando Invitational Field

December 1, 2019

Game 1 vs Fairfield

**Has Jonah lost confidence in his outside shot?   Early in the game it appears Matthews is passing up the open 3, forcing the offense out of rhythm, especially late in the shot clock...Later in the half Matthews finds his range making a couple in a row.

**Trojans are finishing poorly in the paint.  Almost looks like they’re anticipating contact or avoiding contact instead of being aggressive.  Nick Rakocevic having a rough go of it out of the gate for the second game in a row.  Last week Nick’s Houdini act contributed to the loss at home against Temple.

**When Nick’s offensive game gets pushed around by a 180lb freshman down on the block, I’m left to question his mental and physical approach to the game. 

**Ethan Anderson forcing the issue too much.  Needs to anticipate the second level defender help sliding over when he starts his move to the basket

**2ND half hot from the outside in the first 8:00.

**Too unselfish in the paint...shoot the ball!!!!!  Two empty possessions when Nick and Isaiah overpass instead of shooting 3 foot layups.  The Trojans have a 42-32 lead with 11:45 to go in the game.  The Trojans are also dominating the paint scoring 20-2 and it should be a lot more if Nick plays with some aggressiveness.

**With 7:21 left in the game Coach Enfield brings Rakocevic back in the game with a  14 point lead.  On one possession Nick gets his shot blocked and the it’s ruled a  jump ball.  On the possession arrow Nick misses a lay up, however,draws the foul...Rackocevic converts one of the two free throws.  Nick’s body language doesn’t exude leadership and  Coach Enfield takes him out of the game.  As far as I’m concerned, he should stay there for the duration with 4:00 to go.  Stop sulking and act like a senior captain.  The Trojans have a 51-39 lead

Overall a poor performance by the guys who had a chance to impress on national TV.  Whatever the case, the Trojans will need to play better if they want to win this tournament.  Inconsistent outside shooting combined with another Rakocevic no show leaves the rest of the younger guys trying to figure it out.

Game 2 vs Marquette

**The winner will take on No.5 Maryland in the finals after the Terrapins ousted Harvard.  The Terps are led by Sr. PG Aaron C and Ron Aya;a, Jaylen Brown

**Jonah gets the assignment to start the game on defense against much energy does he use on defense and how will it affect his offemse?

**Ethan Anderson picks up where he left off yesterday and is too aggressive...slow down and survey the floor...six minutes into the game he picks up his 2ND foul and has to leave.  Markus  Howard for Marquette is hot from the start.

**Trojans are down 10... how will they respond after the TV timeout with 11:45 to play in the half trailing 23-13?

**Howard leaves around the 9:00 mark and the Trojans are now  trailing by 15

**Trojans trail by 22 with 6:16.  The players heads are down...poor half court offense slow to close out no one want to take an open outside shot.  These are just a few of the glaring issues and Coach Enfield is running out of timeouts

**Marquette as team is shooting 8-12 from behind the arc with 5 38 to go in the half.

**At least Isaiah Mobley is showing some heart.  He pounds his chest after making a basket and drawing the foul.  At the 3:25 mark of the first half Mobley completes the 3pt play and cuts Marquette lead to 23 which had grown to 30.

**USC guard play muxst have missed the flight from Los Angeles.

**Trojans Had a chance to cut into the lead and get it  below 20, however, Onyeka Okongwu takes a bad shot with a 1:00 left...Marquette takes 57-36 lead the half.

**The Golden Eagles are 10-15 from 3, and are shooting  55% from the field.  Meanwhile the Trojans will have 1 timeout to use in the 2nd half.  Can they come out with a mini 8-10 point run and make the game interesting?    

**The Trojans come out strong to start the 2nd half similar to their first half start to the game... this time making a couple of 3’s from Jonah Matthews and Daniel Utomi.  Mobley replaces Nick who has 4 fouls and cuts the lead to 15 with a FT coming and 15:38 to go...Mobley completes the 3 point play and Marquette’s lead is now only 14 points.

**Trojans in the bonus with 14:56 to go.  Can the team take advantage and make their free throws?

**Rakocevic is thrown out of the game with his 2nd technical for yelling from the bench and the Trojans trail by 13 points.

At this point in the game the wheels are starting to fall off the bus.  Everything Markus Howard throws up is going in the basket  and the Trojans are just going through the motions   This is a very deflating loss and one where Coach enfield is going to have to make some hard personnel decisions.  Until Nick is ready to be a team leader and act like a senior, his role should be coming off the bench.   Another glaring issue is finding a consistent outside threat to make life easier on the Trojans bigs inside..  Right now, Matthews, Adlesh, Utomi are unsure of their shots, and the point guard decision a work in progress.

3rd Place Game vs Harvard

**Good to see Coach Enfield take my advice and put Nick on the bench to start the game.  He can say Isaiah Mobley’s play earned him the start, however, Rakocevic’s attitude is what forced the move.  

**Onyeka Okongwu looks very comfortbale with Mobley starting...Mobley’s activity from block to block is also fun to watch.

**Quick start Trojans jump out to an 11-2 lead at the 15:48 TV timeout.

**Trojans owning the paint Big O is going to have a big game if he keeps up this pace.

**Elijah Weaver needs to finish with his right hand  on his drive to the right...back hand lay ups are not good and the scouting report is going to catch up with him.

**Trojans interior defense needs to get better on Harvard’s dribble penetration

**Kyle Sturdivant is out of control at PG...poor guard play overall directing the halfcourt offense no matter who is at PG this weekend.  Weaver and Matthews looked most comfortable, however, the freshmen are going to have to work their way through this.

**Rakocevic and Utomi both go up soft around the basket... one gets swatted the other rolls of the rim...The Trojans take  52-43 halftime lead.  Big O with 21 1st half points

**How hard do the Trojans play defense?   Are they playing 100% on the defensive side of the ball?

**Like the 1st half the Trojans come out strong on offense and extend to a 14 point lead.

**Ball handlers need to run the offense and needs better floor spacing

**2nd half defense really much better

**61-45 with 11:48 to play

**Quinton Adlesh is having an  IVY League flashback from his days at Columbia, shooting 4-5 from behind the arc.  His 12 points compliments Big O’s 27 points 12-14 from the field  4th double double in 9 games...he also chipped in with 14 rebounds

**Daniel Utomi youre not a back to the basket guy...stop trying to be.

**The Trojans have a 70-45 lead with 8:40 to strong do they finish?

It took nearly 3  minutes before SC would score their mext basket.  Instead of staying disciplined and finsishing strong, the team starts playing street ball with no sets and out of control drives to the basket.

**There’s 3:51 left to play in the game and the Trojans have scored 3 points since the 8:40 mark and just 7 points total in the last 8:30 minutes including missed FT’s.   77-62 final score

The Trojans may taken home the Third Place Trophy, however, I’m not sure there were too many positives to take away from this tournament.  Nick Rakocevic will need to do some deep soul searching or he may find his playing time dwindle, especially if Mobley continues to progress on the court.  Defensively, they play well in spurts, however,still leave the opponents best shooters open and close out poorly.  The nonconference schedule is halfway over and the Trojans have a lot of work to do if they want to earn respect from the national pundits.

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