Inside the Locker Room: USC

Trent Johnson heats up and Kenny Brown and Mitch Johnson speak up after USC's 77-64 victory over Stanford. Plus, hear Tim Floyd's thoughts on how USC was able to beat Stanford on the boards.

Editor's Note: The following contains commentary from the writer's "real-time" views of the on-court performances and decisions of our men's basketball team. In no way should constructively-intended criticism be deemed as a lack of respect or admiration for our team's obvious desire and commitment.

Trent Johnson was as angry postgame as I've seen him in three years. His arms were crossed, he was pacing back-and-forth and his face was tensed up as he talked with three Stanford beat writers. After a few minutes, he crumbled the box score into a ball and popped it incredibly loudly, and ended the interview seconds later, pacing away with his hands on his hips, shaking his head. He asked the Sports Information Director Brian Risso to hunt down Bill McCabe, Pac-10 officials director. I don't know if Johnson ever got to speak with McCabe, but I know he did get to speak with a former official and air his grievances.

It was unclear whether Johnson was frustrated and wanted a word with the officials because of the flow of the entire game, the last-minute technical, or a combination of the two. All I know is that I walked by the corridor outside Stanford's locker room at 1:35, and Johnson was still there, and still didn't look too happy.

Speaking with the professional radio guys after the game, I heard that Johnson had been in "frank dialogue" all day with the officials, and so that technical was likely cumulative. I also heard that Johnson said something to the effect of "we're shooting like sh-t" to his assistants, but the official running by only heard the last two words, and might have assumed it was directed at him, thus whistling the T.

I know this won't make me popular on this website, but I honestly thought if anyone caught more breaks from the officials, it was Stanford. At any rate, I think everyone can agree the officials certainly didn't cost us the game.

Note: Fred Washington emerged from the locker room with ice on his left hand and neck.

Trent Johnson:

I don't like losing. That's the bottom line. … Yeah we'll be fine. It's time to go back to work.

On whether he's concerned by the loss:

I'm not concerned whatsoever. We got contributions from Kenny Brown. We drew some shots that didn't go down USC played a very good game, give them credit…They're good. They're good. They're good. It's disappointing.

On what he said postgame:

Like I tell them all time, ‘Get showered, get cleaned up.' We'll evaluate when we look at the tape. Move on like we have. It's the first time we lost two games all year.

Kenny Brown:

Opening statement:

We were pretty tired emotionally, physically. It was quick turnaround game. We fought hard, we'll keep fighting as team and worry about next week. It's all do-or-die from here.

Mitch Johnson says the opposite half-a-page later. Just based on the way the two were talking, I believe Johnson more – he sounded more genuine, whereas Brown strikes me as more of a company-line guy.

On his big day:

I know that lot of guys had played big minutes [at UCLA] and were very tired and it was hard to get energized and get going. Everyone's fighting for a Tournament bid and seeds, and so I took it upon myself to get the team sparked and excited. I just tried to close the gap.

On a comeback:

We did get it down. We just couldn't get over that hump. Like I said, we lost a little gas.

On whether playing UCLA deflated Stanford:

We always play Thursday, Saturday, so you can't say that's the only reason. We just have to worry about bouncing back Monday.

On Stanford's resiliency:

I am very confident in this team's resiliency. That's different than some of our other teams, and we will take upon ourselves to be accountable for this loss. I know the staff won't let us down.

Mitch Johnson

Opening statement:

They came out and played a little junk D and helped on Brook's side. They got off to a hot start. I know everyone's going to say and think this, but I don't think it was letdown. Today was its own game and no one spoke about UCLA. They just came out as aggressors and hit big shots.

On rebounding:

Our biggest positive is rebounding and today was not a good day in that department. We're not going to win too many games like that. That's our staple: defense, but really, really rebounding. I bet every game we've won against a good team, we outrebounded them, but we got our butts kicked today.

On why he didn't think Stanford was fatigued:

We had contributions: Kenny Brown, Drew Shiller, they came and stepped up. So I don't know if we were necessarily tired. I don't think we were reading and reacting. I think we started thinking too much.

On the challenge that USC presents:

Their tempo more than their D forces outside shots. Coaches talk about fools good, you come down and there's a wide-open three, but now you're going up and down. I don't know if our defense got caught up in their tempo.

Tim Floyd:

Opening Statement:

It was a really good win for us. There was not a lot of time to prepare. We played hard, we played inspired. I think both teams were worried about a letdown. We felt we got into the NCAA Tournament. We've been playing big games for seven weeks, after a bad start with 0-3. The kids played inspired, they played unselfishly. They were able to get [Stanford] on the boards, which we couldn't have envisioned going into the game. It's the most encouraging thing. Now we've out-rebounded five or six teams in a row. [Stanford] may have been a little flat coming out after their loss with UCLA. They sure had an opportunity to win it. They're a dangerous team. We probably didn't give Kenny Brown enough credit. We had great rebounding from the guards coming back. Getting an edge in first half was critical. It was our first time pressing all year long. We wanted to play at a fast pace because they're so efficient in the half court. We did pick up the pace to our liking. O.J. was special down low, he played really well. Hackett got into a little foul trouble, but he played well when he was in. This was a good team win. Collectively, we did a great job defensively.

On how USC was able to out-rebound Stanford:

Our guys… we had guards rebounding down low. Maybe the press helped a little bit in that shots were coming at different times on the block than normal with the offense. They were so accustomed to throwing inside. Maybe the shots came quicker, from a different person. The Lopezes were not always where they are on the block. There were a few possessions when they kept tapping it, tapping it. It's hard to stop.

On when Floyd decided to press:

After the Cal game. It was hard to depart from what we did at Stanford earlier in the season. But we just got mashed on the glass. We wanted to play unconventional this time. [The decision] depends on the team, depends on the talent, depends on the strengths.

On satisfaction with how the team has matured:

We had obstacles, injury obstacles all year long. Simmons is barely with us right now. He was able to get back after not playing 90% of season. And Cunningham, losing him to an injury early in season. Hackett, going out with a stress fracture, a broken jaw early in year. There's no depth. A lot of youth. There's a lot of teams with veteran players coming back. The best thing for us was starting 0-3. We didn't panic. Not getting caught up in standings got us through. We won 11 of last 15 games. For young team to go in and play well is a tribute to their talent. Good talent. Good heart. We've been a defensive team all year. It's given us the chance to advance and play as we move forward.

On whether the young USC team is prepared for the post season:

I don't know how we couldn't be at this point. When you've played as many top 10 teams as we've played. Two against Stanford. Two against Washington State. Two against UCLA. Kansas, Memphis. We played everyone well except Washington State.

On whether twenty wins means something:

Not necessarily. It's significant that we believe we're in the NCAA Tournament. Numbers don't mean anything when you're playing to advance. We can't afford injuries. We have seven guys. There's not a lot behind them. Not a lot of experience and shooting behind them. To prepare for the NCAAs, we have to have a quick turnaround. Of course, we get a chance to do that in the league.

On the "one more year" chants for O.J. Mayo:

Wouldn't it be great if he did? We'll be responsible and do what's right for him. He knows he'll have option to come here next year, but he'll do the right thing when the time to make a decision occurs. We don't talk about it too much now. It takes away from a great season. He needs to be allowed to focus on what's important. This season, his growth here, and growth of the team. I prefer not to have a lot of conversations about that here.

On Mayo's growth and how he's emerged as player and a leader:

He's the most misrepresented player coming into college. He's been very dependable. Very accountable. Extremely bright. Not one ounce of trouble. He's a leader, he's a good student. Great GPA. Participates. He's a great talent. He was beaten up by the media in high school, and it seems some would like to make him look bad still. It's irresponsible on their part without getting to know the kid. He's easy to respect. Look where he comes from. Look where he represents himself to be. What kind of person is he? Does he treat people with respect? He does all of those things every day. He's less trouble than anybody. Great kid. I wish him the best.

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