Quoting O'Neill: Starting the '11-'12 Season

Prior to the Trojans' season opener against CSUN, Kevin O'Neill sat down with the media to talk about his expectations of a team riddled with injuries.

(On whether any player got hurt in the exhibition games)
--"We're about the same as we were health-wise two weeks ago. Evan is still out. Curtis is out for the year, Jio who knows what's going on there but he's out for an extended period."

(On whether there's still a chance Jio Fontan will be healthy)
--"He's going to try. I mean he's accelerating his rehab as much as he can. So he's trying. Whether he does it or not, I don't know these things."

(On whether Maurice is injured)
--" Mo had a tendon [injury] in his little pinky in his left hand. It's affecting his shot a little bit right now..It just heals on its own. He played 80 minutes in two scrimmages."

(On who was O'Neill's second-best player in the scrimmages)
--"I would say Dewayne with a cast on and he couldn't catch the ball, we couldn't post him, we can't run offense through him right now and he can't rebound but he still played second-best I would say in the two scrimmages…without Jio we're basically down to one ball handler."

(Overall play in two scrimmages)
--"More good than bad, to be honest with you. I thought we played well in three halves and horrible in one."

(On who O'Neill plans to start for Friday's game versus CSUN)
--"I have no idea. I know Dewayne is going to start, I know Aaron Fuller is going to start, I know [Maurice] is going to start. I don't know what I'm going to do with the other two spots... It could be fluid over the whole season."

(On whether the freshmen currently starting will continue to)
--"Byron and Alexis starting both scrimmages. Two freshmen is two too many in starting roles."

(On whether O'Neill is looking forward to the CSUN game despite the bleak picture)
--"No I'm not at all…every coach needs more time, you know what I mean…we need more time. Time may not be a healer, I don't know. But last year at this time we weren't very good, the year before we weren't very good."

(On what O'Neill expects this season)
--"I really don't know what to expect. I knew what to expect when we had Jio and now I have no idea what to expect from minute to minute even in practice."

(On what if Fontan was healthy enough to come back mid-year)
--"If he was fortunate enough to come back, which I have no idea whether he can do it or not, I don't think it's anything that we can count on. I'm prepared that this is our group for the year that's all there is to it."

(On what he expected with Jio Fontan playing)
--"I thought we could be a high-level team…be competitive in every single game, have a chance to have big wins, big a tournament team, I thought we could do all that with him."

(On the player who has made the most progress)
--"Probably those two freshmen. Every freshman out of high school, with a few exceptions, has so far to go. They've made progress, but they have up and down days."

(On Danilo Dragovic)
--"He wouldn't be in the rotation right now. He's just a freshman. If you think about it he didn't even play the last two years of high school. It's been three years since he's had any coaching at all."

(On DeWayne Dedmon playing with a cast on)
--"It's helping Dewayne become a better player because now he can use his left hand. [He] made a couple free throws with his left hand the other day in the scrimmage. Made a jump hook left handed. And he wasn't using his left hand at all. When he gets this thing off, it will be interesting to see what his progress is like…I think I'm going to take [his cast] off this afternoon (laughs). But it's obviously sometime this week. We're in constant debate about when that should be."

(On the team's mood pre-season)
--"They're a great group to coach because they try to get better all of the time, they work hard. You couldn't ask guys to work harder, so that's been a positive for us."

(On whether he's asked Marqise Lee to play basketball)
--"If Marqise Lee came through this room right now I wouldn't know who he is, because I've never talked to Marqise. I really wouldn't."

(On whether the NBA lockout could be good for USC basketball)
--"Everybody think it's going to make more fans come out. I don't see that happening…I think no matter who you are, if you're playing top-10 basketball, top-15 basketball, they're going to come out. And if you're not, they're probably not going to come out as much, no matter who you play."

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