January 15, 2013 by David Blu
By David Blu
Head coach Kevin O’Neill was “relieved of his duties” on Monday morning after the USC men’s basketball team returned from Colorado and Utah with a road split, making them 2-2 in the conference. During an up and down season, which seemed to have more downs than ups, the Trojan leadership decided that a change needed to be made. It is never easy to see a man get fired from his job and I wish nothing but the best for the former Trojan coach.
Over the last few weeks it seemed that there was a disconnect between the players and the coach, which led to a toxic relationship that showed itself on the court and in the locker room. On the court the players didn’t seem to really respond to the pleads, threats, or rewards that KO offered as he tried to guide their play. Unhappiness from guys who transferred in from other schools and did not get the playing time they thought they would get was part of the uncomfortable atmosphere. It also seemed that the players and fans alike did not appreciate the language and tone that the coach used at times. All of these issues perhaps led the players into not giving KO their maximum effort, which resulted in inconsistent play and a few unacceptable losses. Perhaps Coach O’Neill just could not connect with his team on a sociological level in terms of the hip-hop atmosphere of the squad and the wide spread use of social media by the players. It seemed that there was a generational gap between KO and his guys that was too wide to mend, and the end result was a frustrated coach and disgruntled players.
And just how do the players feel about the termination of their coach? Let’s hope they’re motivated and even hungrier than before to win. The way I see it is they can either make excuses as to why they may not play as well moving forward during this season or they think of the situation as a fire being lit under their @$$’$. With Oregon and Oregon State coming up this weekend at Galen Center, it is the perfect opportunity for the Trojans to really get ahead in the conference. If they can come up with two wins and be 4-2 in the PAC-12, they could possibly stand in the top-four of the conference. It is also a great opportunity for some of the players who didn’t play as much to impress the recently promoted interim coach Bob Cantu in practice and earn their way into the rotation. As for the players who were playing a lot of minutes prior to the coaching change, it is important for them to understand that they will need to pick up their level of play in practice if they want to remain in the rotation.
What does this mean? Hopefully some intense, focused, and competitive practices, which will inevitably lead to intense, focused, and competitive games that will result in W’s.