December 19, 2010 |
Reporting from Lawrence, Kan. ? At halftime against No. 3 Kansas here Saturday, USC was staring at a double-digit deficit with Allen Fieldhouse rocking as usual. A shameful exit, as is custom for most of Kansas' visitors, seemed certain. After all, points aside, USC also trailed Kansas in talent, skill and athleticism. But midway through the second half, the Trojans used an 11-0 run to take the lead after trailing by 11 at the half, turning a potential blowout into a nail-biting thriller, which USC eventually lost, 70-68.
November 23, 2010 |
A week ago, the USC men's basketball team got smashed at home by Rider, losing by 20 points. The Trojans' problem in that game, aside from the Broncs' shooting lights out enough to set Galen Center opponent records, was that it could do almost nothing against a zone defense. This was an issue USC Coach Kevin O'Neill knew his team would face this season because it lacks the shooters to stretch a zone. But following that game, he made a decision: Move junior forward Nikola Vucevic from the paint to the high post/three-point line area, and run the offense through him. In the two games since, a one-point loss to Bradley and a 19-point win over New Mexico State, the Trojans seem to have found the potential zone-buster they needed.
November 21, 2010 |
Free throws almost always come back to haunt those who miss them. The basketball gods, who place the game's fundamentals in high esteem, are vengeful like that. USC received a painful reminder of this everlasting fact Saturday in its 64-63 loss to Bradley in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament at Springfield, Mass. With a 63-61 lead and 11 seconds left, USC junior forward Nikola Vucevic went to the free-throw line and missed twice. On Bradley's next possession, guard Sam Maniscalco put up a three-point shot attempt with one second left, and USC senior guard Marcus Simmons, who ran over to defend the shot, was called for a foul.
November 15, 2010 |
The adjustment was small, but the payoff proved hefty. In the USC men's basketball team's first half against UC Irvine on Saturday, junior forward Nikola Vucevic knew the Anteaters would double-team him any time he touched the ball. But instead of being aggressive, the 6-foot-10, 260-pound Vucevic looked to pass, which explains his paltry halftime stats: two points on one-for-three shooting. In the second half of USC's 62-49 win, though, Vucevic scored 17 points, including nine of the Trojans' first 13 after intermission, to finish with a career-high-tying 19. What changed?
November 13, 2010 |
The takeoff for USC's basketball season wasn't so smooth Saturday, but the result was a 62-49 win over UC Irvine at the Galen Center. If the opener is an indicator, the Trojans and their fans might be in for a bumpy ride, at least until junior guard Jio Fontan becomes eligible in December, when he could give the young, depth-deprived squad a much-needed boost. For now, the idea of advancing to a postseason tournament one season removed from a postseason ban is the least of USC's worries.
November 12, 2010 |
The biggest of USC's men's basketball players should also be the biggest factors this season in determining the Trojans' success. Nikola Vucevic, the smooth-shooting Serbian, and Alex Stepheson, the brutish, broad-shouldered Angeleno. Both are 6 feet 10. Vucevic, a 240-pound junior, relies on finesse. Stepheson, a 250-pound senior, counts on power. So different, yet the best of friends. And both so important as USC tries to improve on a 16-14 record forged last season amid the tumult of self-imposed penalties and an NCAA investigation.
October 14, 2010 |
In the backcourt are two freshmen, a transfer and two seldom-used seniors. In the frontcourt are two of the Pacific 10 Conference's best post players. And on the sideline, USC Coach Kevin O'Neill is planning to retool plenty ? namely, a wretched offense ? before the season starts Nov. 13 against UC Irvine. "We're going to run a lot more motion, probably a few less set plays," said O'Neill, who was 16-14 in his first season at USC. "We're really concentrating on turning misses and turnovers into easy baskets.
February 27, 2010
UCLA today VS. OREGON Time: 2. Site: Pauley Pavilion. On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 570. Records: UCLA 13-14 overall, 8-7 Pacific 10 Conference; Oregon 13-14, 5-10. Update: The Bruins may have to do without Nikola Dragovic, who injured his left shoulder against Oregon State on Thursday and will be a game-time decision. They are already without Reeves Nelson, who has a slight tear of the retina in his left eye, James Keefe, who will undergo shoulder surgery Wednesday, and Brendan Lane, who sat out Thursday because of a sprained ankle.
February 14, 2010 |
Nikola Dragovic was too much to handle. He was older, and already competing with the best Serbia and Montenegro had to offer. So Nikola Vucevic, 12 years old and three years younger than his "godbrother," battled as best he could. His uncle's Belgium professional team was practicing for a Euro League game in Serbia, but the real competition was on the side court. This was the first time the two had met, even though their families were bound by basketball and friendship, and the outcome was predictable.
February 7, 2010
A month ago, USC's Nikola Vucevic blew the game against Stanford. This came on a failed tip-in at the buzzer. He used one hand on that attempt, not two. So Trojans Coach Kevin O'Neill asked ever-so politely, "If you get a tip-in at the end, go up with two hands, please." Vucevic paid heed and proved it Saturday, using both his sizable mitts on a tip-in with 20.6 seconds left that gave the Trojans a lead and the eventual win over Stanford, 54-49, at the Galen Center. "He always tells me not to do stuff with one hand," said Vucevic, who had a team-high 18 points.