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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    USC limps into McKale

    Tim Floyd may be looking into the medical field for a new profession soon.

    “”If we play anymore games like we did against UCLA, I might have to,”” the USC men’s basketball head coach said, referring to the Trojans’ 76-60 shellacking received in Pauley Pavilion last Wednesday.

    The Trojans (15-7, 6-4 Pacific 10 Conference) aren’t just hurting emotionally, though. They’re injured on a physical level, too.

    Senior forward Marcus Johnson sat out of the UCLA game because of an injured right shoulder and is not expected to play against Arizona. Floyd said the staff is still uncertain what exactly is wrong, but suspects it may have to do with the labrum or rotator cuff.

    “”He can’t remember how it happened, how he got the injury,”” Floyd said. “”We played (against California) on Saturday (Jan. 31) and (he) woke up Sunday and couldn’t brush his teeth, and still can’t lift his right arm.

    “”We were hoping to get him healthy,”” Floyd added, “”and that still hasn’t happened yet.””

    Freshman forward Leonard Washington is only about 50 percent healthy, the coach said, because of a nagging high-ankle sprain he suffered last month.

    “”Leonard Washington is a guy who we desperately needed this week,”” Floyd said, “”because he has not played to the efficiency level he played at prior to his injury.””



    Perhaps the biggest blow to the Trojans is Taj Gibson, the team’s big man who averages 14.3 points and a team-high 10.0 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-9-inch forward suffered a dislocated finger on his left hand against UCLA.

    On Tuesday, Floyd said that Gibson – who battled pneumonia while teammate Daniel Hackett fought a flu leading up to the start of February – is doing well and should play agaisnt Arizona, giving the Trojans a solid defender to go up against Arizona’s Jordan Hill.

    But even with a beat-up team, the Trojans still pose a dangerous threat on the defensive end. USC allows a .396 scoring percentage to its opponents, which is second best in the conference.

    Floyd’s available arsenal of triangle-and-2 and box-and-1 defensive sets is something the Trojans didn’t utilize much against the Wildcats the last time the two teams met up, but UA interim head coach Russ Pennell knows it’s always a possibility, though he tries not to let his team think too much about it.

    “”We always understand that’s something they can do,”” Pennell said. “”I think sometimes when you talk about those things it’s counter-productive. … I think sometimes just the term ‘triangle-and-2’ is supposed to psyche somebody out. If it occurs, we’ll be ready for it.””

    Despite their recent bumps and bruises – combined with their defensive capabilities – Pennell said the Trojans suit up an impressive squad.

    “”They may be the most talented team, talking about athletically and size,”” he said. “”They look like a basketball team. They’re real good.””

    With the Trojans sitting in fifth place in the Pac-10 and the Wildcats right below them, this is a critical series for both teams. USC will certainly have to fight through the pain if it wants to have a push toward the postseason, not to mention saving its coach from the throes of the medical field.

    “”It’s going to be a tremendous challenge for us this week,”” Floyd said. “”It’s going to be a big weekend of college basketball.””

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