January 8, 2013 by David Blu
By David Blu
Despite what many people may think, the USC basketball season is far from over. Just two games into PAC-12 conference play the Trojan’s still have a chance to achieve what is the ultimate goal… Get to the NCAA tournament. After beating Stanford on Thursday and then losing to UC Berkeley on Saturday by eight points, the Men of Troy are 1-1 and tied for fifth along with The Golden Bears of Cal. USC is headed out of town this week to play against Colorado on Thursday and Utah on Saturday, and will have the opportunity to take a big step forward if they can split their two matchups. Kevin O’Neill’s squad has been true to form thus far, playing solid individual man-to-man defense as well as having one of the best team defenses in the league. The squad has the intensity that you need to be successful. The players genuinely like being around each other and want each other to succeed. So what’s missing??? Shooting…
The saying “defense wins championships” is definitely true, however, it seems like the teams that do reach that final goal do it with timely shooting and clutch free throws late in games. The Trojans are one of the worst shooting teams in the league, only making 32% of their three point attempts and 65% of their free throws. Other than Eric Wise making 50% of his three point attempts, the rest of the team is shooting 26% from deep. In the important home game against Cal in which they lost by eight, USC finished by making only 2 of 11 from three and 8 of their 18 free throw attempts, including five front ends of 1 and 1 bonus opportunities. This will not be good enough if they want to have a chance to play for something at the end of the season, which should be their collective goal as a team.
Unfortunately there is no such thing as a pure shooter and a player cannot spontaneously become a good shooter. Shooting is not something that a coaching staff can improve upon with some kind of quick fix. The only way to improve on the craft of shooting is by the players looking within themselves and deciding that their goal is not only to improve on their percentages, but also to master their shooting ability. They have to start putting in the work on their free time and understand that by sacrificing free time to practice an individual skill will not only help themselves but also benefit the team. With one week to go before school starts, there is plenty of time for the players to make a New Year’s resolution to put down their smart phones and Internet tablets, and to get in the gym to shoot on the shooting machine!