It seems as if people who call themselves basketball fans … as well as some who cover the sport for a living … can't wait for this b-ball thing at USC to get going. Last I heard, we were supposed to wait until next season for some one-year wonder to make people notice USC hoops. Apparently, that’s not the case …
Even after the bruins earned a 65-64 victory Saturday, it appears all anyone wants to talk about is how the Trojans “basketball” program is improving … or how USC’s new Galen Center is a great venue that gives the Trojans a boost … or how the perennially presumed basketball gap between USC and ugla – whose position, as we know, is pre-ordained by history – is supposedly closing.
Beating USC in basketball always is a Bruins priority. If not an expectation.Even sports media out here in New York, the mecca of basketball and the birthplace of one Lewis Alcindor, are eager to see the Trojans challenge the bruins’ hegemony in Los Angeles. Dick “Hoops” Weiss, a columnist for the New York Daily News, wrote last week about a “Trojan Uprising” …
But the stakes have gotten higher. The task is getting tougher.
USC finally has a serious coach in Tim Floyd, who took New Orleans and Iowa State to the NCAA Tournament, and coached both the Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Hornets.
Floyd is making inroads into recruiting blue-chippers. The sort of players USC used to go decades without landing.
In two years at Troy, Floyd has added 6-9 center Taj Gibson and a pair of athletic, 6-5 guards, Dwight Lewis and Daniel Hackett. Three of his top six players, that is.
The Trojans already look like better athletes than the Bruins. And that's before uber-recruit O.J. Mayo joins the USC show next season.
UCLA can hear the footsteps. The challenge to its SoCal hoops hegemony is overt.
Suddenly, Pauley Pavilion seems less like a basketball cathedral ... and more like an old, primitive facility. (What, no luxury boxes? Galen Center has 'em.)
What once seemed a huge talent gap in UCLA's favor ... now it's more like Ben Howland and the Bruins winning on guile, character and institutional memory.
USC certainly can't be penciled in as a pair of "Ws" on the UCLA schedule.
Their game Saturday could have been a tipping point.
[Tim Floyd] inherited a major rebuilding project from Henry Bibby, who was fired at midseason in 2005, but Floyd won 17 games his first year and beat three ranked teams - UCLA, Arizona and North Carolina. This season, he has transformed the Trojans (13-4, 3-1 Pac-10) into a major player in the best league in the country. Expect USC to make the NCAA Tournament and eventually make a run at competing with the Bruins on an equal basis in Los Angeles within three years. […]Final Four contender … blue-chip prospects … making the Tournament … And, what’s this about USC beating Arizona, North Carolina and ugla last year … in hoops? I find that incredibly difficult to believe. But, I digress …
The Trojans might not be ready to make a run at Florida and UCLA this season, but Gibson is right - the battle is on. Floyd has signatures and commitments from enough blue-chip prospects in the next two classes to make the Trojans a Final Four contender. In addition to Mayo, Floyd has signed Davon Jefferson, an athletic 6-8 forward from Los Angeles who is taking a prep year in North Carolina. Floyd also inked 6-8 forward Leonard Washington, the best prospect in Louisiana.
Certainly, unlike the state of USC Football, this “basketball” stuff is not normal. But it’s funny, nonetheless. And, like other things we’ve found “funny” recently, all this attention being paid to USC “basketball” has the bruins’ proverbial panties in a bunch.
True to form, the “nation” showed its colors after sweating out ugla's one-point win. Attempting to draw parallels with lies told about “WMDs Found In Iraq” of all inappropriate things, Nestor [no, I won’t reveal his real name again no matter how many times you ask] worked himself into a lather, posting one of his grammatically lacking rants to complain about the Los Angeles Times:
Today it is Robyn Norwood's turn to pimp a basketball program, which hasn't sniffed the NCAA tourney in half a decade an elevate it to the level of Duke, North Carolinas of the world. Ms. Norwood writes up an article saying somehow the gap between UCLA and Southern California basketball program is closing despite the fact this year Trojan lost to UCLA in their brand new gym against a Bruin squad that was playing without its second leading scorer. Riddle me this. How can you claim a program is closing gap with the defending champion of the conference after it loses to the same program it beat on its home floor last year?“hasn't sniffed the NCAA tourney in half a decade an elevate it” … ? “despite the fact this year Trojan lost to UCLA” … ? “a program is closing gap with the defending champion” …?
"Riddle me this." What’s with the broken English?
Anyway, as if on cue, “Tydides” went out of his way to stroke himself with this:
Here's the bottom line (addressed to the excuse-making whiners):Not surprisingly, “Tydides” still doesn’t get it. There’s no need to hate. Even if real USC fans actually did care about basketball, he needn't waste his limited capacities to write (if you can call it writing) something like this, all full of misplaced anger.
We won. We are UCLA. We are relevant, you are not. We beat you on YOUR homecourt, in front of YOUR fans, WITHOUT one of our best players. You might think you played well enough to win, perhaps even think you "outplayed" the Bruins, but you know what? You didn't, and the scoreboard shows it. It hurts to have to actually have to care about basketball, doesn't it? Will you still care about it now? I doubt it. You are losers. Thank you and good night.
Why isn’t a bruin win on USC’s shiny new floor enough for the “nation”?
I suppose “Tydides” is trying to put USC “basketball” in its place, where new arenas and top recruits and supposedly good coaching don’t threaten to threaten the righteous present and history of ugla basketball. But why address USC fans in this way … unless the threat is real?
I wouldn’t know. As a tried and true traditional USC Football fan, I honestly couldn’t care less about USC “basketball.”
Obviously, the same can’t be said for ugla. They know their basketball … and they know USC is coming. Funny isn’t it?