USC Hoops: Okongwu, Turnovers, Bad Free Throwing and 3-Point Shooting

Adam Grosbard (OC Register)  — There have been several common threads to the USC basketball team’s three losses this season. Turnovers, which have been a reoccurring one, even in wins, free-throw shooting, and 3-point shooting.

And the shooting percentage of freshman center Onyeka Okongwu (left).

The former Chino Hills High standout has been transcendent for USC this season, leading the team in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots. He’s in the top 10 in all three categories in the Pac-12. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Okongwu’s performance dramatically impacts USC’s result at the end of any given night.

But the impact is still stark when you consider that the 12-3 Trojans are 1-3 in games in which Okongwu shoots below 50 percent from the floor.

Sunday’s back-to-earth, 72-40 loss to Washington was a prime example. The Huskies employed a zone that Okongwu had never seen before. They harassed the freshman into a 4-for-13, 10-point game.

But he still led all Trojans in scoring. No one else was able to step up and take some weight off Okongwu’s back. In fact, Okongwu’s 30.8 percent shooting was the highest among any USC player who took more than one shot against Washington.

For his part, Okongwu said after practice on Tuesday that he doesn’t feel like too much is being asked of him this season.

“I don’t really believe in pressure,” Okongwu said. “We’re all great basketball players. I don’t think anything’s on my shoulders, honestly. I rely on my teammates, they rely on me.”

Still, USC has yet to find a reliable secondary scorer, one who can fill in the gaps on Okongwu’s rare off nights.

Head coach Andy Enfield isn’t sure there needs to be one player who fills that role. He listed several players as capable of being that person, from seniors Nick Rakocevic, Jonah Mathews and Daniel Utomi to underclassmen Isaiah Mobley, Ethan Anderson and Elijah Weaver.

“Everybody can chip in,” Enfield said. “We win and lose as a team. The advantage we have is we have depth. But when that depth as a team doesn’t help out when some of the leading scorers aren’t playing as well or not shooting as well, then you have what happened Sunday night.”

There are other issues for the Trojans to sort out before Saturday’s crosstown rivalry game at UCLA. USC has 75 turnovers in its last four games. The Trojans currently rank last in the Pac-12 and 306th nationally in the statistic.

And the team’s 3-point shooting, after a couple of strong performances to end nonconference play, dipped during the Trojans’ tiring six-day trip to Washington. USC made just three of 22 attempts from 3-point range in the two games, which USC split.

“A lot of that stems from contested shots or rushed shots,” said Enfield, who said he worked on this area with the team on Tuesday. “We have to do a better job as a team to create for our teammates.”

ocregister.com

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Steveg
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Is Helton intentionally sabotaging recruiting by drawing out the hiring of a DC. USC will get the bottom of the barrel or else he will take the easy road and promote from within.

UtahTrojan
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Not surprised at all about the pace. Helton has never moved quickly.

Jamaica
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Wouldn’t it be something if WSU interviewed GH who is a disciple of Mike Leach‘s air raid offense? GH would walk right into that program in harmony with its setup. Helton would probably crap his pants for fear GH would be offered and accept it. Then we would see Helton really up against it and well deserving too.

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Another thought about the Holiday Bowl. I was thinking about CCH’s presser after the game and the meaningless gibberish he was putting out and I wondered, “What is he really thinking”? Giving it some thought he may have been telling himself, “We didn’t do anything differently. Our defensive ends played wide, our tackles stunted inside, our linebackers dropped back, the corners rushed and the safety red dogged. That quarterback sneak was killing us.”

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8 yard QB sneak, I am still shaking my head.

Paul_Muad_dib
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Those QB sneaks are tricky. It takes about 5 minutes of practice to get the D line to figure it out. Can’t expect Helton to pull that off.

UtahTrojan
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Generally all you are doing is trying to fall forward. To get 8 yards we would have been having to be matadors.

HOF19
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New NY Giants head coach Joe Judge comment from the early part of his press conference >>>>>>> Paul Schwartz

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Judge: We will practice in pads.

Jamaica
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With Mike Leach supposedly taking the Miss. St. HC job it just adds to the pathetic direction PAC-12 football is headed. Now you have David Shaw, Kyle Whittingham and Herm Edwards as the only coaches that know what their doing left to compete. Oh….. Clay Helton could conceivably “back into” a conference championship if more coaches bolt let alone the better players. Its all the PAC-12 school administration’s fault, lead by a commissioner that knows little difference between a football and a woman’s tennis racket, in not supporting these only money making programs they have to pay for their other… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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I wonder if WSU will now go after GH? The Pac 12 does not produce enough revenue to allow WSU to hire a first level coach. GH would probably cost them about 3 million plus the buy out. I think the catastrophic failure of the Pac 12 network to match the SEC or Big 10 or the Big 12 in revenue will have serious impacts on the lesser known programs like WSU and Oregon St. Miss St. had I think $20 million more to invest in coaching than WSU. But, the Pac 12 Network sure has the integrity to show… Read more »

TrojanMPA90
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Don’t see GH leaving USC for WSU. Weather in LA is better than Pullman.

HOF19
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Madison Square Garden Network HAVE SOME MERCY !!!!!!!!!!!!! (Every 3 days they are giving replay of the USC -Iowa Holiday Bowl) ………….EVERY 3 DAYS !

HOF19
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Maybe the program manager is an Iowa graduate ?

Jamaica
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If Rocky Long is fed up with administration-alum-fanbase criticism in SD, he sure as h*ll isn’t coming to this USC circus tent show. It doesn’t take a lot of intelligence to figure what Clancy had to work with being Clay Helton’s DC and finally getting the axe. The one glaring thing Clancy can be put down for was not caring to help recruit. So he was totally vulnerable to what Helton & the other coaches were signing on the defensive side which is pretty pretty pitiful. Helton not wanting physical practices really hurts the defense in their tackling and experience… Read more »