Clary: Grading the USC Basketball Players

Ryan Clary evaluates the USC basketball players after their opening night win over the South Carolina State Bulldogs.

At times Friday night, the USC basketball team looked like five guys on a court who had never met. Other times, this team really moved the ball well and played excellent team defense. However, at no point could this team hit the ocean from the beach. If this is a team that is supposed to rely on shooting, then 1-18 from behind the arc could be a sign of bad times to come. However there were some good performances tonight, and I'm going to grade the team one player at a time.

Let's go ahead and not waste our time with Tre Kelley, Brandon Wallace, or Bryce Sheldon because we all know what they bring to the table. I will point out that Kelley was the best player on the court, and Sheldon has noticeably improved his defense.

Dwayne Day – Day was cold from behind the arc but drove to the basket well and did what he needed to do down the stretch to get baskets. His defense was much improved, but what I liked most about Day Friday night was his effort and enthusiasm. Day was diving for balls, motivating his teammates, and cheering hard from the bench. Day was the player that this team needed minus his poor shooting night. Grade: B+

Dominique Archie – Archie struggled all night. He was out of position on defense and missed some open shots. He got boxed out too easily and had three first half fouls. I will point out that most of the bigger guys tonight struggled because, as Coach Dave Odom put it after the game, "This was a guard's game tonight." Archie will have to step up, but it's only one game. Grade: D

Brandis Raley-Ross - BRR may have been the surprise of the night. He reminded me a lot of Rocky Trice; a small guard who played much bigger than he is. Ross was 5-7 from the free throw line, had seven rebounds (three offensive) and three steals. Odom showed his trust in Ross by keeping him in late in the game. Ross was also the best defensive player on the floor. He wasn't perfect, but forced a lot of bad shots and seemed to be a pest all night. Grade: A-

Evaldas Baniulis – Coach Odom said on Wednesday that Baniulis wasn't your typical Lithuanian because he had lived in the U.S. for three years and had already adjusted to this way of life. He also has adjusted to the U.S style of basketball. Baniulis was on the receiving end of a couple Kelley fast break passes and finished very nicely. He also drove the lane once and had a beautiful, no-look feed to Day. He's not the quickest player, but was effective enough on defense. Like Raley-Ross, the true freshman played very well Friday night. Grade: B+

Mitchell Carter – Carter only played one minute because Coach Odom said that it was a guard's game, and he didn't want to put Carter in a situation to fail. You can expect to see more of Carter in the future. Grade: No grade.

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