USC guard Greg Allen, right, shoots over Washington State forward Brock… (Dean Hare / Associated Press )
During an injury-plagued season that won't get any easier with Saturday night's game at Washington, USC Coach Kevin O'Neill has told players to keep moving forward, that better times are ahead.
On at least one note, he's probably right: USC will take a trip to Hawaii in November to play in the 2012 Maui Invitational.
O'Neill is hoping that guard Jio Fontan, 7-footer Dewayne Dedmon and forwards Aaron Fuller, Evan Smith and Curtis Washington will return from injuries next season to compete against a tournament field that includes North Carolina, Butler, Illinois, Texas, Marquette, Mississippi State and Chaminade.
The Trojans finished fifth in the 1999 tournament.
Meantime, USC has eight regular-season games and at least one Pac-12 tournament game remaining.
The Trojans fell to 6-17 overall and 1-9 in conference play Thursday night after losing at Washington State, 60-53.
With only one player taller than 6 feet 7, USC bombed away from the perimeter, making nine of 25 three-point attempts. Reserve guard Greg Allen made five of 11 three-pointers and finished with 17 points.
O'Neill said the long-distance approach, necessitated by the Trojans' depleted roster, would continue.
Now USC plays a Washington team that is 15-7 and 8-2 in conference play following Thursday's 71-69 victory over UCLA. The Huskies are alone atop the Pac-12 standings.
USC won at Washington in each of the previous two seasons.