Young Team Shows Great Improvement

A team low on experience showed it can play with high effort in the Trojans double overtime 64-61 loss to Nebraska.

Kevin O'Neill was chock full of honesty during the preseason.

He said his expectations of his team had changed practically every minute.

He said the team needed much more time.

He said he had no idea who the starting lineup would be. He said this two days before the Trojans first game.

He said guard Maurice Jones would be the only sure role player, and that Jones would play every minute of every game.

So in its second contest of the season, USC looked to be in for a long night against non-conference opponent Nebraska.

And after a 64-61 loss in double overtime, it was. Both literally and figuratively.

For a team that is full on youth and high on inexperience, it didn't show.

Because despite the low preseason expectations, the laundry list of injuries and the figure-it-out-as-you-go mentality adopted by these players, this team battled.

For 50 whole minutes. And only in the last five did the youth show up.

O'Neill called them "freshmen mistakes."

But somewhere…somehow…in the first 45 minutes, USC fabricated experience.

They challenged Nebraska star Bo Spencer, who had four more years on most of O'Neill's young team.

They pushed the Galen Center fans to stay, and ride out the bumps of facing a challenging opponent with relatively few weapons.

While they're 1-1 on the season, there lies a glimmer of hope: these Trojans know how to improve.

From CSUN to Nebraska mistakes were corrected, and done so quickly.

They found another shooter in freshman Alexis Moore (11 points) in addition to Jones (18) and forward Aaron Fuller (13).

They found that Byron Wesley should play more--with 7 points and three steals--he made critical plays when it was needed.

That ability to improve quickly is good news for a team with a tough schedule and a team full of inexperience.

"I'm not very happy at all because it was right there for us to win," O'Neill said.

While it might have been right there, maybe it will be, definitely, the next time around.


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