Trojans’ Minutes Multiply
Rather than take his chances with untested players in his team’s Pacific 10 Conference opener, Tim Floyd leaned heavily on his starters.
Sophomore guard Nick Young logged a season-high 38 minutes Thursday during USC’s 62-58 loss to California, nearly seven minutes above his season average. Junior guard Lodrick Stewart played a season-high 36 minutes, eight more than his average.
And then there was center Abdoulaye N’diaye. The 6-foot-11 junior played a season-high 35 minutes, nearly doubling his average of 18 minutes per game.
The Trojan bench hardly made a peep, with Dwayne Shackleford, Jeremy Barr and Sead Odzic combining for two points and two rebounds in 17 minutes.
USC’s starters figured to carry a heavier load in the wake of freshman forward RouSean Cromwell’s broken foot, but can the Trojans compete in the Pac-10 with an eight-man rotation?
“I don’t think the minutes are a problem,” said sophomore guard Gabe Pruitt, who played 37 minutes, “but if we use the bench more it could be good for us because they’re good too.”
USC committed a number of uncharacteristic mistakes in the second half against the Golden Bears, missing five of six free throws during one stretch and making several careless turnovers, but players refused to pin the blunders on fatigue.
“I wasn’t tired at all,” Young said. “We just beat ourselves. We had a lot of key turnovers and I made a couple of mistakes down the stretch that caused the game to go the other way.”
Floyd said his Trojans (9-3), who will try to rebound this afternoon against Stanford (4-5) at Staples Center, “had real matchup problems that prevented us from playing other people. When we played them we went to zone and weren’t very good at the zone and never got a rebound out of the zone.”
Cromwell won’t be back to ease the starters’ workload anytime soon. The freshman had a pin inserted in his broken right foot Thursday and is expected to miss eight more weeks.
“They told us they would take the screw out in six weeks, and then he’s got to go through a week or two of cardio before he can get back on the floor,” Floyd said.
Stanford has yet to record a quality win and has suffered some bad losses, including defeats against UC Irvine and UC Davis. The Cardinal is 0-3 on the road, including a 71-54 loss to No. 11 UCLA on Thursday.
The Bruins held Stanford’s Matt Haryasz, Dan Grunfeld and Chris Hernandez to a total of 27 points, 17 points below their collective average. Repeating that feat will be difficult for the undermanned Trojans.
“They did a great job with their coverages,” Floyd said of the Bruins. “I don’t know that our personnel will allow us to do the same things that they were able to do.”
vs. Stanford, 1 p.m.
Site -- Staples Center.
Radio -- 1540.
Records -- USC 9-3, Stanford 4-5.
Update -- The Trojans have held 11 consecutive opponents fewer than 70 points, their best streak since holding 13 consecutive teams under that figure during the 1959-60 season. After making only 38.9% (seven of 18) of their free throws against California, USC’s 65.6% free-throw conversion rate ranks last in the Pac-10. Stanford has also had trouble shooting, making only 40.2% of its shots from the field. Guards Dan Grunfeld (35.3%), Chris Hernandez (37.5%) and Tim Morris (36.1%) are among the worst-shooting Cardinal players.