Culver City Observer -

UCLA, USC Basketball Teams Got It Half

 

March 31, 2016



When the basketball season began last year all four teams from UCLA and USC had high hopes and great expectations. When the season ended last weekend for the UCLA women in third round of the NCAA Tournament two of the four teams felt like they could have accomplished a lot more.

The USC men also made the NCAA Tournament but were beaten in the first round by Providence, 70-69. The USC women who started the season 13-0 ended with a record of 19-13 and the UCLA men ended their season at 15-17.

The UCLA women and USC men can hold their heads up high because they improved and they played fast paced, up tempo basketball that kept the fans engaged and the coaching staff happy.

The UCLA women ended with a loss to a tall and talented Texas team in the Sweet 16 round of the tournament. The Bruins ended the season with a record of 26-9 overall and 14-4 in the Pac-12 Conference.

They return 10 of the 13 players from the roster and their younger players look like they are ready to move the program in the right direction.

One of the reasons UCLA head coach Cori Close and her assistants have been able to turn the program around is they recruit local talent. Seven of the 10 returning players are from California and six of the girls returning played their high school basketball in the Los Angeles and Southern California area.

Southern California has always been a hotbed for talent in all the major sports.

The USC men have also reaped the benefits of recruiting local talent. The last two years before this past season the Trojans were one of the worst teams in the Pac-12, but after finishing the 2015-16 season with a record of 21-13 the men of Troy are ready to compete for a Pac-12 championship next season.

Their turnaround can be attributed to local freshmen and overall team improvement. Freshmen Bennie Boatwright from Mission Hills Village Christian High and Chimezie Metu from Lawndale High put USC in the position to bring back excitement to the men’s basketball program for the first time in 10 years.

Although several USC men basketball players have decided to transfer, the Trojans will still be a team to fear. Darin Clark, Malik Martin and Katin Reinhardt have announced that they will be playing at another school next season.

Despite the transfers USC men will return seven talented players, a strong recruiting class and Shaqquan Aaron, a transfer from Louisville.

The UCLA men’s team has a lot to look forward to after having one of the worst seasons in UCLA history. They have one of the best recruiting classes in the nation coming to Westwood next season led by National high school Player of the Year Lonzo Ball.

Ball and his two brothers, LiAngelo and LeMelo, who are also headed to UCLA, led their high school team, Chino Hills to a perfect 35-0 record this past season. They won the California state championship last week and also won the title as the No. 1 high school team in the nation.

The USC women’s team has some soul searching to do. After starting the season 13-0 the women of Troy ended the season 19-13. Two of their best players were academically ineligible during the heart of the Pac-12 season.

USC will need to get better to compete in Pac-12 next season. Right now the Pac-12 is the deepest conference in the nation. Two of their teams, Oregon State and Washington are in the women’s final four this weekend.

 

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