Floyd takes over the program with a reputation as a charismatic recruiter who instills a blue-collar work ethic in his teams. He will need those skills as he sets out to turn around a USC program that under Henry Bibby was better known for mistreating walk-ons and writing dozens of recruiting letters every day than they were for winning.
|USC: 2005 - 2006|
|1||Nick Young||G-F||6-6||195||Sophomore||Los Angeles, CA|
|3||Lodrick Stewart||G||6-4||210||Junior||Seattle, WA|
|10||Chris Penrose||G||6-0||160||Junior||San Diego, CA|
|12||Ryan Francis||G||5-11||170||Freshman||Baton Rouge, LA|
|15||Dwayne Shackleford||G||5-10||185||Senior||Washington, DC|
|20||Daniel Garrett||G||5-11||155||Freshman||Pasadena, CA|
|23||Keith Wilkinson||F||6-9||215||Freshman||Mission Viejo, CA|
|25||Sead Odzic||G||6-3||180||Freshman||Niles, IL|
|30||Collin Robinson||G||6-0||170||Freshman||Diamond Bar, CA|
|34||Gabriel Pruitt||G||6-4||170||Sophomore||Los Angeles, CA|
|40||Greg Gaudino||F||6-6||195||Senior||La Canada, CA|
|42||RouSean Cromwell||F||6-10||215||Freshman||Bradenton, FL|
|44||Reed Doucette||F||6-6||215||Junior||Acampo, CA|
In hiring Tim Floyd, the Trojans have committed to building the Trojan basketball program into a peer for its gridiron brother. Next summer, USC will christen the Galen center as the university's first ever on-campus basketball arena. With more than 10,000 seats and three practice courts, the new facility will be an effective magnet for potential recruits.
Before Floyd can begin selling the new arena, however, he needs to make the Pac-10's youngest team respectable. One on hand, the team returns three talented starters in Gabe Pruitt, Nick Young and Lodrick Stewart. On the other, USC's roster contains 8 newcomers.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, the NCAA doesn't sanction 3 on 3 tournaments. And despite the three strong wing players, Floyd will have a rough inaugural season in Los Angeles.
Even with that looming challenge, it doesn't sound like Floyd misses the NBA, "In the NBA, you're maybe practicing two of every 12 days and the rest of the time is game preparation," said Floyd. "I'm looking forward to the [practicing] phase of the college game.
"I'm glad to be back. I noticed in the first week of practice that when I told a player, 'Pick up your darn feet and get back on defense,' that I reflected back to the NBA when I would say, 'Pick up your darn feet and get back on defense, please, sir.'
"There is obviously a vast difference in how you approach a team in college than the NBA. I enjoyed the NBA. I'm glad I did it. It helped me in coming back to college now in a lot of different areas. I grew as a coach."
Gabriel Pruitt landed on the All Pac-10 freshman team while ceding the Pac-10 freshman of the year award to his counterpart, Jordan Farmar at UCLA. While Farmar got off to the better start, Pruitt appears to have more upside and may prove to be the better player before their two careers are complete.
Pruitt has great size at 6'4" to go along with outstanding touch from deep (45% on threes in 2004-5). A very good athlete, Pruitt uses his quickness to create space for his jump shot or to get to the rim off the dribble. While he played primarily as the point guard last season, in the long run Pruitt may be more comfortable off the ball.
While Gabe is still learning to play defense, he possesses quick hands and good vision, leading the Trojans in both assists and steals last season. A potential All Pac-10 player entering his sophomore year, much of USC's hopes rest on his young shoulders.
Fellow sophomore, Nick Young (who along with Pruitt was the team's co-MVP
in 2004-5) returns as a focal point for the squad. At 6'7", Young
is a spectacular run and jump athlete whose skills are still developing. A
true slasher, Young uses his first step and quick hops to score off the dribble
or when posting up. A better rebounder than his slender frame might indicate,
Young is not afraid to mix it up in the paint. In need of a consistent jump
shot and/or a go-to move down low, Young is probably a year away from ascending
to an All Pac-10 level.
Pruitt believes this year will be different for himself and for Young, "We each have a year under our belts and have been in the weight room a lot this summer. Also, our confidence is a lot higher. We know what it is like to play in the Pac-10 now. This year is completely different from last year."
Lodrick Stewart returns for his junior season without his identical twin brother Roderick (who transferred to Kansas) and will be asked to be a leader for this team. At 6'4" and 210 lbs, Stewart possesses an NBA body and athleticism.
An improving three-point shooter (he set a USC record as a sophomore in making 70 treys), Lodrick is also a defensive standout. One area of the game that needs to improve for Stewart is his ability to break down defenders off the dribble. A mediocre ball handler, Lodrick often plays more like an undersized forward than a guard.
While Floyd will rely heavily on his three returning starters, it is the newcomers who will decide the fate of this team.
"The guys we signed ... can play at this level and they certainly are going to have an opportunity," Floyd said. "Our success will be determined by the ability of our newcomers to adjust to playing at the four-year level."
The frontcourt is where USC needs immediate help. There, the Trojans figure to rely heavily on JC transfer, Abdoulaye Ndiyae.
Ndiyae was a limited scorer at the JC level (9 ppg) and contributed primarily by rebounding and playing defense. What Ndiyae may lack in skills and polish he will try to make up with his 6'11", 235 lb frame.
Joining Ndiyae in the paint will be three true freshmen, Jeremy Barr, Rousean Cromwell and Keith Wilkinson. Barr is a load at 6'8" and 265 lbs who has looked better than Ndiyae in early practices and exhibition games, but who isn't likely to make anyone forget Sam Clancy as a freshman. Cromwell and Wilkinson were well-regarded preps who are long and lean. Cromwell is more athletic, while Wilkinson is the best outside shooter of all the Trojan big men.
Even with trio of talented returning starters, the Trojans have simply too many new faces to mount much of a run in the Pac-10. Without any proven low post scoring, teams will extend out on Pruitt and Co.
USC's real coming-out party is at least a year away - when they open their new arena and welcome back a team with a few more miles on the odometer.
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