Max Analysis: Cantu’s Debut

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January 18, 2013 by Max Meyer

By Max Meyer

In interim coach Bob Cantu’s debut, USC put up quite a fight against No. 21 Oregon. However, they came up just short against the Ducks. Here were a couple observations I made throughout the game.

One Thing I Liked: JT Terrell’s Offensive Performance

Terrell was in Kevin O’Neill’s doghouse for most of the season, so he hasn’t been getting consistent playing time. However, Cantu made a statement by starting Terrell against Oregon. He played 35 minutes last night. In nine of the last 10 games, Terrell played fewer than 30 minutes.

He got off to a hot start, and it led the way to a season-high 22 points. He shot 50 percent from the field, and made four three-pointers. He also made six of his seven free throw attempts. This was the kind of game that USC has been expecting from the Wake Forest transfer.

Terrell is USC’s strongest offensive player, and I’m happy Cantu played him appropriately instead of plopping him on the bench for the majority of the game. Hopefully he can build off his last two efforts and play at a consistent level for the remainder of the season.

One Thing I Didn’t Like: USC’s Lack of Offensive Fluidity 

Yes, the Trojans did score 74 points, which was their third-highest total of the season. However, I did not care for USC’s offensive strategy, especially for the majority of the first half.

USC had a hard time creating easy shots and was easy to guard. Why? Simply because of USC’s lack of off-the-ball movement. The weak-side guard (the player on the opposite side of the ball) would simply just stand in the corner and hope the ball was coming his way. There were very few off-the-ball screens, so the Trojans had a difficult time creating open shots instead of contested ones.

When USC did call offensive sets, the results were successful. For instance, after a timeout, Cantu ran a play that freed up Terrell in the corner. The result was not only Terrell drilling a three, but also getting fouled to set up a four-point play. When USC did call sets on offense (and they did more of them in the second-half), the offense was more organized and efficient.

Quick Hits

  1. USC shot 62.5 percent from the free-throw line, missing 12 of them. Inexcusable, especially in a two-point loss.
  2. Starting point guard Jio Fontan struggled last night. He had five points, four assists, four fouls, three turnovers, three missed free throws, and just one shot made from the field.
  3. The Trojans were 2.5 point underdogs against Oregon, so they improved to 7-9-1 against the spread this season.

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