USC basketball focuses looks ahead at Pac-10 media day
The theme of the day was âcalm, cool, and confidentâ for USC coach Kevin OâNeill and junior forward Nikola Vucevic as the two headed to the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live Thursday for the Pac-10 menâs basketball media day.
âAs OâNeill addressed the mediaâs concerns that USC is in danger of falling to the bottom of the Pac-10, he explained that the Trojans are in the rebuilding process after losing ten starters in just a year and a half.
ââWe lost three guys to the pros, we lost a whole recruiting class that’s starting other places, and then we lost three starters from last year and I dismissed Leonard Washington. So we’re trying to piece this back together.”
âComing off a rough first year plagued with controversy after losing postseason eligibility in January because of self-imposed sanctions, OâNeill knew he and his team would be on the chopping block.
âWhen asked about different media sources picking USC to place sixth in the Pac-10 this year, OâNeill responded sarcastically, âWell, weâre going to finish sixth then. You guys are always right.â
âOâNeill kept his cool and stuck to the positive, explaining to the media that he is extremely impressed with his freshman players so far, including freshman forward Curtis Washington, who OâNeill said is âa way better rebounder and shot blocker than I thought he was going to be as a freshman.â
âVucevic told the media that he has most improved his conditioning, which he worked on while playing for the Montenegro national team over the summer.
ââI got in a lot better shape,â said Vucevic, â and with the help of the new strength coach (Shaun Brown), Iâll be able to play more minutes.â
âThe Trojans know they will be playing with a monkey on their backs this season, but with the positive attitude of their coach and the leadership of their newly elected captains (Alex Stepheson, Marcus Simmons and Donte Smith), USC hopes to beat the odds and get far into the NCAA tournament.