first_imgYear two of the Andy Enfield era will come to a close soon. Barring an unlikely upset of UCLA at Pauley Pavilion or an unexpected run through the Pac-12 conference tournament, the Trojans will finish the season with a 3-15 record in conference play and 11 wins overall.In terms of a win-loss record, this year marks a slight increase from last season’s 2-16 march through conference play. Unless the Trojans are able to pull off a first-round upset in the Pac-12 tournament, they will match the overall win total of last year’s squad with 11 total victories.As frustrating as the record might be, there are some subtle indications of a program on the rise. Last season, the Trojans were blown out of the majority of conference games, losing by double-digits in more than half of their matchups. This season the team kept it closer, with six conference games being decided in the final few minutes. Unfortunately, the Trojans were on the losing end of all of these games, which is why the record only reflects a marginal improvement.Ultimately, though, it’s not good enough to just be close. College basketball isn’t horseshoes, and winning matters. As the great coach Bill Parcells says, “You are what your record says you are.”For the second-straight season, that makes the Trojan basketball team a fixture as a basement dweller. It would be inane to put the team’s dismal performance the last two seasons solely on Enfield. The second-year coach entered a bleak situation, coming into a program absolutely devoid of talent.He has made a few quality moves to rectify the situation, bringing in a respectable freshman class this past season. In addition to highly touted recruit Jordan McLaughlin, Enfield was able to nab Elijah Stewart who was the 2014 LA City Section Player of the Year for Westchester. Next year, local ESPN top-100 prospects Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu will headline another solid recruiting class.Both McLaughlin and Stewart have shown flashes of their potential during the season, turning in a few excellent performances throughout the year. Additionally, freshman Malik Marquetti has turned into one of the best defenders on this year’s team. So there are certainly some positives when evaluating the team and the future of the program.It would be impetuous to call for Enfield’s job after only two seasons, as next year will be the true indicator of whether or not he is the right man to be at the helm of the Trojan program. There are many areas where the Trojans can improve in order to really field a competitive basketball team in a power conference.USC needs another point guard to complement McLaughlin. Though he had a decent showing as a freshman, McLaughlin’s nagging shoulder issues that originated in high school are cause for concern. Offseason surgery might fix that issue, but it doesn’t address the bigger problem. The bulk of McLaughlin’s game is centered on driving through the lane; there is a high probability that constantly exposing his slight frame will always put him at a risk for injury.Furthermore, a point guard should be one of the best free-throw shooters on the team. McLaughlin cost the team repeatedly with an inability to shoot a high percentage from the line. Instead of relying on a platoon of Julian Jacobs, Katin Reinhardt and company to bring up the ball when McLaughlin is out next season, the team should be looking for a point guard to add to the 2015 recruiting class.In Enfield’s up-tempo system, athleticism and outside shooting prowess are of paramount importance. The Trojans were certainly athletic this season, but they were inept from outside the arc. Arguably the best shooter on the team, Kahlil Dukes, rarely sees the floor. The only other consistent outside threat was Reinhardt, who fluctuated between outstanding performances and turning invisible on the court.What USC really needs is a few players who can knock down an open 3-point shot consistently. It doesn’t matter how athletic all five guys are if every team packs it in with a zone because they aren’t the least bit concerned about the 3-point shot.The team showed promise this season, and hopefully they can build on that moving forward. The Trojans have a few key pieces, and with the right recruits and improved player development, they can move forward in the rebuilding process. Next year will answer a lot of questions.last_img

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