Last year, the USC basketball team was left out of the NCAA tournament partly because of a lack of quality wins, as determined by the tournament selection committee. After losing to Vanderbilt 82-78 on Sunday, the Trojans missed out on an early opportunity to grab what could have been a resume-building victory.
After the game, USC coach Andy Enfield said his mind wasn’t able to jump that many months ahead.
“We’re just trying to compete game by game and get healthy and develop as a team,” Enfield said. “We’re not even thinking about March. We show up at practice hoping we have 10 players. We’re just thrilled to be able to go five-on-five. That’s what we’re thinking about.”
After impressive freshman wing Kevin Porter Jr. fouled out with six minutes left against the Commodores, Enfield looked down the bench and didn’t have an option he felt good about as an offensive weapon, he said. Senior forward Bennie Boatwright (knee) and freshman point guard Elijah Weaver (ankle) were not ready to return from their respective off-season surgeries, and sophomore wing Charles O’Bannon Jr. broke his finger and will be out a couple of weeks.
“It’s extremely challenging for us,” Enfield said. “Our rotation was short tonight. Guys played too many minutes.”
USC (1-1) has one more tuneup — Wednesday night against Stetson — before playing in the NABC Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, Mo., on Monday and Tuesday. The Trojans will open Monday against Texas Tech, which made the Elite Eight last year, and play either Nebraska or Missouri State the next evening.
The good news for the Stetson game potentially is that Weaver may make his USC debut. He is ahead of schedule in his return from surgery. Enfield said Weaver could have played against Vanderbilt but that it would have been asking a lot of the freshman to play against a Southeastern Conference team without having much practice time.
“He should be back very quickly,” Enfield said. “I would expect him to play this week.”
Weaver would challenge junior point guard Derryck Thornton for playing time. Thornton had 17 points against Vanderbilt and would welcome the competition — and having another warm body available.
“We just need more reps as a group,” Thornton said. “I think we gel off the court and on the court, we just need to do it a little more often to have more game-like reps.”
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Galen Center.
On the air: TV: Pac-12 Networks; Radio: 1110.
Update: Stetson (1-1) lost to Missouri State 83-70 on Sunday. The Hatters won their season opener against Johnson University of Florida 116-66.