Kevin O'Neill, Jio Fontan

USC, the transfer capital of the 2012-13 season

Leave a comment

Kevin O’Neill couldn’t fathom the season he had in 2011-12. USC was slammed with an unbelievable amount of injuries, transfers and lack of cohesion among his squad and it ended with a school record 26 losses.

If you compare last season’s team to this year’s, there’s barely a resemblance. Point guard Jio Fontan returns after tearing his ACL prior to last year, along with five Division I transfers getting eligible, including Rice transfer Omar Oraby, who was granted a waiver for immediate eligibility on Thursday.

The pair are just two of a total of 10 transfers on the Trojans squad, and six have just one season of eligibility left. With 10 transfers that makes up over half of their 17-man roster, USC bares resemblance to Missouri and their 11 newcomers this season. They have their own version of Phil Pressey in Fontan, a Fordham transfer who will be one of the best point guards in the Pac-12 Conference this season.

But this a bit of a stretch. USC has eight Division I transfers and two junior college transfers (center Jame Blasczyk and guard J.T. Terrell spent time at both).

It’s a model that’s tough to win with, but we all remember last season’s Iowa State team that took a team of transfers, both new and old, to the NCAA Tournament third round last year, led by Minnesota transfer Royce White (who didn’t even suit up for the Golden Gophers) and others like Chris Babb from Penn State and Marquette defector Scott Christopherson and others. It can be done.

But I think it’s clear that Kevin O’Neill is putting a lot of his career on the line with this season. While it’s obvious there wasn’t a ton that O’Neill could’ve done last season to make things better, a 6-26 record is tough to overcome if the next season isn’t a lot better in big-time college basketball. O’Neill understands that. As Baxter Holmes from the Los Angeles Times writes.

He said most coaches — unless they’re Kentucky’s John Calipari, North Carolina’s Roy Williams or of that stature — are always only two bad seasons from being fired.

“So I’m one [season] into that,” [O’Neill] said.

This could definitely work for the Trojans this season. A number of those transfers, some who have already played a season, are coming from big-time programs such as Wake Forest (Terrell and Ari Stewart), Texas A&M (Blasczyk), Aaron Fuller (Iowa) and Tennessee (Renaldo Woolridge) and contributed. Others come from smaller programs and are looking for tougher competition like Fontan, Oraby and UC-Irvine transfer Eric Wise. They know what it takes.

The one problem is, it’s a one-year fix for O’Neill. What happens in 2013-14? Well, I guess he could watch what Fred Hoiberg does this season with the Cyclones. But USC has taken a calculated risk with this team. It’s only two seasons removed from an NCAA Tournament berth, and this is a move to at least make sure they get back.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

VIDEO: University of New Orleans aids area flood victims

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 7.21.45 PM
Leave a comment

After over 20 inches of rain fell over three days and over 60,000 homes were damaged in southeastern Louisiana, New Orleans coach Mark Slessinger called his acquaintance, John Derenbecker, in the area to check in. Derenbecker and his family were fine, Slessinger learned, but many in the area were not.

I told (Derenbecker) to figure out who needed the help the most,” Slessinger told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “that I had my whole crew who could come help out on Saturday and Sunday.”

That led Slessinger and his team to the home of an elderly couple, Elbert and Ione Norred, whose house was ravaged by over four feet of flood water. The Privateers helped slog out debris, cut away wet insulation and whatever else needed removing from the soaked home.

“I appreciate everything you have done,” Ione Elbert told the Privateers. “Nobody knows how long it would have taken us to have done this.”

The Red Cross estimates that the relief effort for the flooding could cost upwards of $30 million in the region. To make a donation to the organization call 1-800-RED CROSS.

UNO’s baseball team also got in on the aid effort, heading to Baton Rouge over the weekend.

“We are proud to see our student-athletes, coaches and staff serve our fellow Louisianians in their time of need,” UNO Director of Athletics Derek Morel said in a statement. “The men and women of our program understand the importance of serving others and using our resources to help those in less-fortunate situations. We will continue to play for neighbors.”

Rutgers land 7-foot grad transfer from UNC Wilmington

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Brandon Ingram #14 of the Duke Blue Devils drives to the basket as he is defended by C.J. Gettys #23 of the North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks in the second half of their game during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Rutgers landed a commitment from seven-footer C.J. Gettys on Monday night.

Gettys is a graduate transfer from UNC-Wilmington, where he averaged 5.3 points, 5.1 boards and 1.4 blocks for a team that reached the NCAA tournament. Gettys is a slow-footed back-to-the-basket player, however, and that didn’t exactly fit with the way that UNCW head coach Kevin Keatts likes to play; think Shaka Smart’s VCU teams.

So Gettys opted for Rutgers, picking the Scarlet Knights over Dayton, Purdue and Chattanooga.

He is the fifth member of new head coach Steve Pikiell’s first recruiting class.

VIDEO: Seventh Woods dunks on UNC student

Leave a comment

Some poor UNC student decided that he was going to try and block Seventh Woods, a freshman point guard for the Tar Heels, on a dunk attempt.

What ended up happening was that he got windmilled on.

To quote Samuel L. Jackson, as portrayed the great philosopher Dave Chappelle, “You ain’t never seen my movies?” Woods was doing this as a freshman … in HIGH SCHOOL.

Former National Player of the Year Michael Brooks dies at 58

Brooks for All-American Brochure
Courtesy La Salle Athletics
1 Comment

A Philadelphia basketball legend and a former National Player of the Year passed away on Monday night.

Michael Brooks, a 6-foot-7 forward who was named the NABC National Player of the Year in 1980, died in Switzerland on Monday night due to a massive stroke, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

He was just 58 years old.

Brooks finished his career with 2,628 points and 1,372 rebounds. He never averaged less than 20 points in his four seasons in college. (Think about that for a second.) He was the No. 9 pick in the 1980 NBA Draft and averaged double-figures for four years before season-ending knee injuries sent him to Europe to play. Brooks was also named the captain of the 1980 Olympic team that missed out on the Moscow games due to the USA’s boycott.

Brooks, according to the Inquirer, had aplastic anemia, which required him to receive a bone marrow transplant last week. His body rejected the marrow, which resulted in the strokes that ended his life.

UCLA cruises in opener on Australian tour

UCLA head coach Steve Alford, second from right, watches action against Cal Poly with his assistant coaches in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Baker)
AP Photo/Michael Baker
Leave a comment

UCLA, who will be the most interesting team in all of college basketball this season, played their first game of an Australian tour on Tuesday morning, and they won in pretty impressive fashion.

The Bruins had triple digits on the board early in the fourth quarter, eventually beating a club in Sydney by the score of 123-76. For comparison’s sake, Washington and potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz beat the same team 101-80 a couple of weeks ago, so the win and the margin of victory is somewhat impressive.

Also worth noting: None of UCLA’s freshmen started. Steve Alford rolled with Aaron Holiday, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton on the perimeter — Holiday and Hamilton combined for 27 points, 18 assists and 11 boards while Alford had 17 points on just 10 shots — with G.G. Golomon and Thomas Welsh up front.

But the noteworthy performances here were from the McDonald’s All-Americans that Steve Alford brought into the program. In his first game in the blue and gold, Lonzo Ball, a potential top ten pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, was just OK. He finished with nine points and four assists while shooting 3-for-9 from the floor. Leaf, however, was terrific, as he led the team with 21 points to go along with nine boards and three assists.

The first exhibition game is hardly a great way to predict how a season is going to play out, but given the pressure and expectations currently surrounding the program, everything the Bruins do this season is going to be scrutinized.

This isn’t a bad way to start.