Many teams across the country celebrated the opening day of official NCAA men’s basketball practices by hosting Midnight Madness pep rallies – often consisting of little more than dunk contests and three-point shootouts.
USC, however, went through a grueling practice that lasted nearly three hours.
“We want to make sure that we get straight to work,” said coach Kevin O’Neill. “We have a lot of new guys.”
Sophomore guard Maurice Jones, who averaged 9.9 points last season, and sophomore forward Garrett Jackson, who contributed an average of 3.2 points per game, are the only two returning players who scored a point for USC last season.
Freshman guard Danilo Dragovic, as well as transfers Ari Stewart and Eric Wise, practiced officially with the team for the first time. Stewart and Wise will not be eligible to compete until the 2012-2013 season.
Sophomore forward Dewayne Dedmon, who sustained a non-displaced fracture of his right hand, was limited but practiced with a large cast.
Senior guard Jio Fontan, who suffered an ACL tear during the exhibition games in Brazil, and sophomore forward Curtis Washington, who has a torn labrum, did not practice. Both could be sidelined the entire season.
“We are going to experiment with a lot of [rotations],” O’Neill said. “We need to figure out this team over the next month-and-a-half to two months.”
The Trojans open the season at home Nov. 11 against Cal State Northridge.