Welcome, readers, to the second edition of Know Your Nemesis!
We've already given you a rundown of what to expect from Washington State. We'll move on from the team expected to finish last to the team that has finished last the past two seasons: The USC Trojans.
It wasn't long ago that Andy Enfield was perhaps the hottest coaching name in the country. Just two years ago, he had just left his post as Mayor of Dunk City (head coach at Florida Gulf Coast), to take over the job at Southern Cal. He was set to bring his up-tempo style and stingy defense that he showed everyone with FGCU during the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately for Enfield and the Trojans, life in the Pac-12 has proven to be not near as easy as the Atlantic Sun Conference. In 36 Pac-12 games, Enfield's Trojans have only won 5. In those 36 games, his vaunted defense has allowed 76.4 points per game and only managed to score 67.1. They may need to double his career conference win total this season for Enfield to be taken seriously in the Pac-12.
While the on-court product hasn't been pretty the last couple of years, Enfield has done his job in the recruiting department. This team doesn't have one guy that stands out and that's what makes them dangerous. Their top two scorers, Katin Reinhardt and Nikola Jovanovic, return. As a matter of fact, everyone that contributed to last year's team is returning, including two sophomore guards primed to break out, Jordan McLaughlin and Elijah Stewart. Plus, they add two Rivals.com top 100 recruits that should be able to contribute right away in forwards Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright.
Games versus Arizona...
Jan. 9 @ Galen Center
Feb. 14 @ McKale Center
The Projected Starting Five...
F Nikola Jovanovic
F Malik Martin
G Katin Reinhardt
G Julian Jacobs
G Jordan McLaughlin
All these men are returning to this year's Trojan squad. McLaughlin is returning from a shoulder injury suffered in February so he could be eased back into the lineup. Look for sophomore guards, Elijah Stewart and Malik Marquetti to get spot starts all season.
The Best Case Scenario...
Their best case scenario is simple: Andy Enfield delivers the offense and defense many people anticipated. This team is talented enough to be a fringe NCAA Tournament team. One thing that must be corrected for this to happen: Make free throws. They made just 63.4% of their freebies a year ago, good for 335th in the nation and dead last in the conference. The Trojans are at a huge advantage, with everyone coming back. If they make their free throws and, in turn, win the close games, they can find themselves in the mix for a tournament spot come March.
Andy Enfield doesn't deliver. I'll give them this: They won't finish last. They're just too talented to finish last for a third-straight season. But I believe they're lacking on the X's and O's side of things. I see 11th place and a 5-13 conference record.