February 11, 2013 by David Blu
By David Blu
There are two popular sayings in basketball: “defense wins championships” and “good defense but better offense.” Basketball is certainly a game of strategy, endurance, and talent, however, at the most basic level, winning is about making more shots than your opponent.
During the Trojans’ three-game win streak, after starting 1-3 under interim coach Bob Cantu, the Trojans have been able to step up their offensive game while still maintaining the tough man-to-man defense the team has been playing for the past few years now.
Clutch shooting from the field and from the line have ben the biggest differences during this three game win streak. The Trojans are scoring 73 points a game on 45% field goal shooting, 37% three point shooting, and an impressive 83% from the line.
The Trojans have also been making shots when they’re counted on most. In OT against UCLA, the Trojans were 1-1 from behind the arc thanks to Jio Fontan and 3-4 from the free throw line, including two free throws by Ari Stewart in the extra period to seal the game. Against Washington State, J.T. Terrell made huge back-to-back threes to finish off the Cougars. And on Sunday, the Trojans shot almost 44% from three-point range and a whopping 93% from the free throw line.
USC has also maintained a stingy defense, only allowing 66 ppg on 40% field goal shooting and 28% from the three-point line.
Not only have they been keeping opponents to a low shooting percentage, but the Trojans have also won the two main toughness categories. The Trojans won the rebounding battle by +6, including 10 offensive rebounds per game, and they won the blocks per game battle by +3. Trojans commit 2.5 more personal fouls than their opponents, which is a sign of aggressiveness, but thanks to a good bench they are able to play that way.
Thankfully, good shooting percentages and toughness have been able to make up for a less than perfect 14 turnovers per game during this three-game win streak. Despite a somewhat reckless style of offense, including quick shots and lob plays to any number of players on the floor, this Trojan team seem to have a found a good formula for winning. Not only is it nice for the Trojans faithful to have regained some confidence in this Trojan team going forward, but it is also really fun to watch.