January 14, 2013 by Seth Rubinroit
By Seth Rubinroit
The news that many USC basketball fans expected to hear has come to fruition, albeit earlier in the season than anticipated.
USC athletic director Pat Haden announced that coach Kevin O’Neill has been “relieved of his duties,” according to the school’s press release. Longtime assistant coach Bob Cantu will serve as interim head coach while Haden searches for O’Neill’s successor.
The timing of the decision is odd, as the Trojans are only four games into Pac-12 competition and coming off of a 17-point victory on the road against Utah.
“Despite a nice road win in our last game, I felt it was best to make a change now,” Haden said in the release. “As the season progressed, it became evident to me that we needed new leadership in our men’s basketball program.”
O’Neill, who was in his fourth year at USC, finished with a 48-65 record, including last season’s 6-26 debacle.
Cantu is in his 12th season at USC. He is used to having little time to prepare to be head coach, as he learned only hours before 2011 Pac-10 Tournament semifinal game against Arizona that O’Neill was suspended and he would serve as head coach.
USC center James Blasczyk said on Twitter he was “excited and anxious” to start playing for Cantu.
It remains to be seen how the rotation changes under Cantu. The Trojans next play at home against Oregon on Thursday.
Former USC basketball player David Blu will provide analysis on the firing from a player’s perspective later in the day.