Disappointing second half dooms USC

first_imgIn all fairness, the Trojans put up a fight.That seems to be the season-long trend that has afflicted this year’s USC men’s basketball team. Game in and game out the Trojans (10-13, 1-9 Pac-12) have shown flashes of brilliance, putting together stretches where it seemed as if head coach Andy Enfield’s squad had finally put it together.Worthy effort · Junior guard Byron Wesley led all scorers on Saturday night with 27 points, but could not push his team past UCLA. Wesley excited the home crowd by making four consecutive three-pointers in the first half. – JoJo Korsh | Daily TrojanUnfortunately, paradise for these Trojans does not last, and, more often than not, the brilliance is followed by borderline basketball incompetence. This time around, the Trojans lost their promising halftime lead just minutes after the break.Saturday’s clash with crosstown rival UCLA (18-5, 7-3) was no different.The Trojans came firing out of the gate, building a double digit lead off of some stellar outside shooting and great defensive work. Junior guard Byron Wesley was once again impressive, finishing the first half with 18 points, going 4-4 from beyond the arc en route to a 27-point performance. Wesley’s scoring tally led both teams.The wheels came off in the second half for USC, though, with the Bruins finding their footing from outside and the Trojans losing their composure on offense. UCLA went on a 14-1 run early in the second half to build a 13-point cushion, and coasted to the finish on their way to an 83-73 win over USC and a season sweep of their rivals.Enfield, visibly frustrated with his team’s performance in conference play this year, was complimentary of his opponent.  The Trojans’ head coach gave UCLA credit for the win.“They have exceptional players,” Enfield said. “They’re very well-coached, and they played at an extremely high level today.”The former Florida Gulf Coast coach, however, did note his team’s inability to respond to runs like the Bruins had in the second half as a major issue plaguing the Trojans.“Teams have gone on runs and we haven’t been able to stop them,” Enfield said. “We need to handle those runs a little better.”Fans and players alike are finding it difficult to find silver linings in these conference losses. The Trojans are dead last in the Pac-12, meaning they have a likely first round date with juggernauts Arizona or UCLA in the conference tournament looming ahead. Enfield was aware of his team’s tendency to keep games close — only to end up losing when time expires.“We’ve been ‘in’ a lot of games we lost,” Enfield said. “I know our players are frustrated but they are working hard.”Freshman forward Nikola Jovanovic has been one of the few bright spots on this year’s squad, and, like most of the players, is choosing to look ahead to the next game instead of dwelling on the mounting losses. The first-year player out of Serbia preached Enfield’s message of improving as a team.“We just need to play more as a team and be focused,” Jovanovic said. “Just team effort.”Jovanovic, Wesley and every member of this year’s squad have put forth considerable effort in attempting to turn USC into a contender.Enfield was brought in not only to help with that task, but to bring excitement back to USC basketball and bring fans into the Galen Center.Many fans did show up on Saturday, and the Trojans had a prime chance to give their long-suffering loyalists a glimmer of hope for the future.Instead, USC showed once again that it is not on the same level as the conference elite, and the Trojan faithful went home disappointed.USC will stay at the Galen Center for their next set of games, hosting the Utah Runnin’ Utes on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and the Colorado Buffaloes on Sunday at 5 p.m. The Trojans will still be seeking an elusive second conference victory. The USC men’s basketball team suffered another conference loss Saturday night at the Galen Center when they fell to the visiting UCLA Bruins, 83-73.last_img read more

Isaac Dogboe set for another fight before end of year

first_imgFormer WBO super bantamweight champion, Isaac Dogboe, is expected to get back into the ring again before the end of the year.Dogboe beat American, Chris Avalos, earlier this month, in his first appearance in 14 months since his defeat to Emmanuel Navarette. Carl Moretti, Vice President of Top Rank, who manages the 25 year old Ghanaian, has confirmed Dogboe will probably be back in the ring by October or November. According to Moretti, no opponents have been discussed yet, but says Dogboe will get another fight “definitely before the end of the year.”Dogboe, since the Navarette defeat, has moved up in weight, to the featherweight division.last_img

Alexander: Clippers bolstered their roster, but gritty culture hasn’t changed

first_imgLOS ANGELES — The T-shirts draped over the backs of Staples Center seats Tuesday night, courtesy of the Clippers, were a reflection of how L.A.’s upstart franchise – and in the eyes of many observers, the NBA’s next champion – sees itself.“Driven over given,” they said. Or “We over me,” “Squad over self,” and “Streetlights over spotlights.”It’s gritty and at the same time, subtly slick marketing, based on the “L.A. Our Way” mantra the Clippers introduced last season. Set yourself apart from the legacy franchise, emphasize keeping it real, create a contrast between the other team’s Hollywood image and your own blacktop mentality.One problem Tuesday night: How many of those Clippers T-shirts were tossed aside by Laker fans assuming their seats for the season opener? From the moment the Clippers hype video on the scoreboard was booed – heck, from the moment the guy in the 300 seats yelled “Go Lakers!” during the National Anthem – the pro-Lakers spectators for what was technically their road game just reinforced an underdog mentality that fueled the Clippers’ 48-win season in 2018-19 and could take them much further this season, if the pundits and oddsmakers and, yes, the league’s general managers are correct.Then again, the Clippers fans in the announced crowd of 19,068 made themselves heard as the game, ultimately a 112-102 victory for their team, continued. An example: Just one game in, Kawhi Leonard is already hearing “M-V-P” chants from the faithful.Those championship predictions may be based on this: In adding Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers bolstered their talent level without appreciably messing with their already existing culture.“The way we played last year, and then you went out and targeted two free agents to kind of be the poster child of how we play, I don’t think we could have picked two better people than the two guys we ended up getting,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.“… It’s probably great for the young guys more. I mean, our rookies, they get called upon a lot (by the veterans) when they don’t do right. And from the coach’s standpoint, I love it. I don’t have to do it. It’s nice.” What the Clippers are saying the day after Luka Doncic’s game-winner tied series, 2-2 Clippers hope they can play to their capabilities, quell Mavericks’ momentum Kristaps Porzingis ruled out as Clippers, Mavericks set for Game 5; Follow for game updates For Lakers’ LeBron James, Jacob Blake’s shooting is bigger issue than a big Game 4 victory center_img “There are a few guys that can affect a practice with their temperament,” Rivers said. “Surprisingly, J.J. was one of them. When he didn’t practice, our practice was bad. The pace was different. Obviously, KG was one you can name. There’s a group of guys (where) it’s business time.”Rivers also told a story of a pro golfer, whom he declined to name, during Tiger Woods’ heyday who groused about how Woods worked harder than anyone else.“And I was thinking, ‘OK, he’s No. 1 in the world and he works harder than you,’” Rivers said. “Odds are you’re not going to beat him, you know.“LeBron, Kawhi, they all do (carry that work ethic). It’s what they have in them. In Kawhi’s case, he definitely carries this on the practice floor.”But it is early.“It’s game one,” Leonard said. “That’s where we are. It’s hard to say until right about 20-30 games in, and once we get to that point, we’ll pretty much see who we are and we’ll keep building. Like Doc said, we haven’t played too much together in practice and this is our first game, so there’s a lot to grow from, a lot to build from.”Maybe it all will lead to a championship. Maybe it won’t. But the underdog mentality, and the unspoiled culture that goes with it, certainly won’t [email protected]@Jim_Alexander on Twitter It is not a total carbon copy of last year’s roster. Maurice Harkless was acquired from Portland, Rodney McGruder (who didn’t play Tuesday with an ankle sprain) and Patrick Patterson were signed as free agents, and Terance Mann, Mfiondu Kabengele, Derrick Walton and Amir Coffey are the aforementioned rookies.Counting Leonard and George, who will be inactive for a while as he recovers from shoulder surgery, that’s nine new faces on a 17-man unit including the two-way contracts of Coffey and Jonathan Motley. When you add the players who came over at midseason in trades, Landry Shamet, JaMychal Green and Ivica Zubac, that’s 12 of 17.“It’s really different,” Shamet said. “I mean, we have a new team, new players, new (actually remodeled) practice facility. It’s not the same at all. The same culture, the same mindset, same core guys. But you can’t compare this year and last year too much.”Yet the key pieces that are the beating heart of that culture are still around: Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell.And the highest-profile new guy has set a tone in his own way.Kawhi “is a great communicator, a great talker defensively, offensively,” Shamet said. “He’s very open. I think from the outside looking in, everybody views him as a quiet guy who doesn’t talk and doesn’t have any personality or whatever, however people view him.“But he’s a great guy, a really good teammate so far. And I’m glad he’s with us.”It’s a work in progress. Rivers said that Kawhi’s efficiency while on the floor with Williams and Harrell is about 10 percent of what it’s going to be, adding, “It’s going to get way better.”And while different combinations might need time to build familiarity, Beverley said the basics remain the same.“We’re so used to closing out games and fighting for whatever, especially the group that was here last year,” he said. “Of course, with the addition of Kawhi, it made it a lot easier tonight also.”Rivers has coached other guys, like Leonard, who have set a tone on the practice floor while demonstrating a serious approach to their craft. He rattled off some names Tuesday evening: Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and J.J. Redick, a guy you might not immediately think of in that vein.Related Articles Clippers vs. Mavericks Game 5 playoff updates from NBA beat reporters Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more