By Steve Finley
Sports Editor 

Trojan Men's Basketball Has Enough Talent to Make a Difference

 

January 16, 2020

George Laase

USC's Ethan Anderson, left, had a break out game against UCLA last Saturday. The Trojans face Stanford on Saturday at home at 3:30 p.m.

Talented players and good coaching creates a winning combination most of the time. In the case of the USC men's basketball team it appears that combination is putting the Trojans in a position to stay near the top of a very talented Pac-12 league. At press time (Tuesday)10 of the 12 Pac-12 teams had winning records and the other two teams, UCLA and California were 8-8.

USC was 13-3 at press time and they have the talent to continue to battle the best teams in the Pac-12. Stanford, Oregon, Colorado and Oregon State along with USC are playing well right now but the truth is any Pac-12 team is capable of winning a league game at home or on the road. The Trojans play Stanford Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at home inside the Galen Center

The Trojans have solid senior leadership in Nick Rakocevic and Jonah Mathews and a very talented group of freshmen in forwards, Onyeka Okongwu, Isaiah Mobley and guards Ethan Anderson, Drake London and Kyle Sturdivant. Add sophomore Elijah Weaver and senior Daniel Utomi to the list and that gives the Trojans enough talent to compete at a high level.


Talented players don't improve without good coaching. The Trojans have a very good coaching staff in head coach Andy Enfield, and assistants Jason Hart, Chris Capko and Eric Mobley.

During USC's win over UCLA on the UCLA campus last Saturday seniors Rakocevic and Mathews dominated the second half but it was the play of freshman point guard Anderson in the first half that kept the Bruins on their heels.

Last year's Los Angeles City Player of the Year from Fairfax high school scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half and continued to push the ball up the court. "My teammates and coaches have instilled confidence in me and they are telling me to play like I did in high school," said Anderson after the win over UCLA. "Just go out there and be aggressive and find my shot. I was able to get some good looks tonight and my confidence is at an all-time high."

Playing in one of the top high school rivalries in the nation helped Anderson prepare for the intensity of college basketball. "The Fairfax against Westchester rivalry is a lot like this (USC/UCLA). Playing in those games prepared me for games like this. When we played at Westchester the fans used to scream my name so coming into this game it was almost like second nature."


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Anderson committed to UNLV last year but things did not work out but now that he is a Trojans it's seems like a perfect t fit. "This is a great situation," Anderson said. " I am blessed to be here. USC is right down the street from my house and my teammates and coaches are amazing and there is no other place where I would want to be."

Another USC player who had a dominant game against the Bruins was Rakocevic. He scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. "I struggled against Washington," said Rakocevic after the UCLA game. "That was one of the worst games I have played since I have been here so tonight I had to come with a new mentality and a new attitude. I have never won here (at UCLA) before. Me and Jonah have played here for four years so it was important to get a win and put us in a better situation in the Pac-12.

"Whenever you get a win on the road it's great but especially at UCLA. It's an amazing feeling. I want to lead this team to places we have never been before."

USC coach Andy Enfield was also excited after the win. "It was a great win for us. UCLA is a terrific basketball team. It was a very good college basketball game and we were fortunate to win. Our players really stepped up, especially our seniors. The nice thing about this team is we can go on the road and bring our toughness with us. As long as we defend and play team basketball we have a chance."

George Laase

USC freshman Isaiah Mobley gets ready to slams down two points during a game at the Galen Center last month. The Trojans battle a very good Stanford team at the Galen Center on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

 

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