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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

June 10, 2009 at 11:09 PM

Will USC ever get it right?

The resignation/forced unemployment of Tim Floyd this week also brought to the surface a larger question — will USC ever get it right when it comes to basketball?
It’s probably going to take a while to find out as USC is likely to get some sort of penalty from all of this that will set back any recovery by a year or two — or maybe more, depending on what is found.
But when the dust settles, you wonder if this might finally be the time USC figures out how to find some longterm happiness in men’s basketball. UW hoops fans, I understand fully, have no problem with the Trojans remaining in the relative hinterlands forever — Floyd’s three straight NCAA appearances the last three years were the best sustained run ever for the Trojans, which seems kind of hard to believe for a school of that stature and with its resources. Even then, however, USC seemed just good enough to make the tournament, not necessarily a threat to become a permanent power,
But an objective view is to look at the Floyd resignation and wonder why it is that the Trojans keep pulling face plants when it comes to men’s basketball.
Every hire the school makes in men’s basketball seems to end in disaster. Stan Morrison won the school’s only Pac-10 title in 1985 then was fired a year later, resulting in Bo Kimble, Hank Gathers and Tom Lewis deciding to transfer, leading to a swift drop back to the bottom. Who knows how USC’s basketball history might look today had those guys hung around?
That brought on George Raveling, who got things going for a while — including two straight tourney appearances with Harold Miner in the early ’90s. But a car accident led to a forced retirement before the 1994-95 season and the beginning of a coaching carousel that has too often seemed a little unseemly.
Charlie Parker succeeded Raveling but was fired midway through the following season and replaced by Henry Bibby. Bibby got an Elite Eight out of an ultra-talented crew that included Seattle-area player Brian Scalabrine. But there always seemed to be whispers about how Bibby was getting it done and speculation that he wasn’t really all that popular with his players. The latter thought seemed proven true when Bibby was fired early in the 2004-05 season, seemingly just because everyone was tired of him, which led to the awkward deal where Rick Majerus was hired for a few weeks before the school finally turned to Floyd — but only after letting Jim Saia coach out the season, which led to the predictable lost season.
There have been some obvious reasons why USC has struggled in basketball — the LA Sports Arena, frankly, just completely blew as a place to play, and the stereotype that no one at USC cares about the sport has some evidence to back it up. I lived in LA for a while and remember buying tickets and just walking down to the second row to watch the game. Still, it’s always seemed like USC had too much going for it to be this mediocre for this long in basketball, especially now that the Galen Center is in place.
Floyd, to be fair, seemed like a logical hire at the time. Sure, he didn’t exactly come off like the poster child for all that is right about the sport — indications I’ve gotten are that he wasn’t all that popular with his fellow Pac-10 coaches for a number of reasons. His track record, however, made it understandable why USC might want to hire him.
But there always seemed to be a lot of unnecessary drama around the program during the Floyd era — remember the Daniel Hackett-Dwight Lewis fight following the UW game in LA this year? And I don’t think he really did all that great a job on the floor, either. Thanks in part to the new arena, he acquired some sterling talent the last few years — winning the Pac-10 tourney, in my eyes, only underscored what an underachieving team USC was all season as the Trojans shouldn’t have needed that bailout to get to the NCAAs. And once the allegations started airing a year ago, it was just a matter of time until what happened yesterday actually happened.,
The intermittent success Floyd and others at USC have had, however, seem mostly to prove anew what a sleeping giant USC really is.
What might happen if USC ever hires a coach who not only doesn’t seem to be tainted in some way but also simply knows what he’s doing? This obviously isn’t the way USC would have wanted it to happen, but maybe Floyd’s departure is the opportunity for the Trojans to finally find the answer to that question.

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