Who Else Might Leave?

How concerned should USC be about whether assistant coach Jason Hart goes to Washington? He has been the Trojans’ main recruiter and I can vouch that he recruited Chimezie Metu, Bennie Boatwright; De’Anthony Melton and Jonah Mathews, among others. So it’s probably in Andy Enfield’s interest to keep him around.

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So Who Is Leaving?

Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright are the top candidates to go pro early. Both raised their stock during the NCAA Tournament. But this is one of the deepest drafts in years. Their decisions will determine if USC is a special team next year. I always thought Boatwrigjt was more likely to go pro but now it would not surprise if both did.

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USC And Madison Square Garden

If USC had beaten Baylor, it would have played South Carolina in Madison Square Garden (USC vs. USC). The last time I remember USC playing in the Garden was in 1973 in the NIT.

“I want to thank the tournament committee for pairing us with Notre Dame on St. Patrick’s Day,” USC coach Bob Boyd said at the time.

USC was called for 28 fouls and Notre Dame 10 as the Trojans lost, 69-65.

“I’ve never been involved in a game more influenced by calls by officials,” Boyd said. “I think the stats were indicative of that.”

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USC Morning Buzz: The Final Four Was Possible In This Regional

USC reawakened the fan base for at least a week with three entertaining games in the NCAA Tournament. What could have been this week if the Trojans won Sunday night? An East Regional without the No. 1 seed (Villanova) or No. 2 seed (Duke)? USC would have been as good as anyone else left in the regional. The Final Four really was possible.

The next two games are at Madison Square Garden, a basketball mecca in the heart of the Big Apple. Wow. It again makes me appreciate the 2001 Elite Eight run highlighted by a victory over Kentucky and that team’s first two games were in Long Island.

Now two things that I tire of hearing already: USC set a school record with 26 victories. It got 13 nonconference victories without playing almost anybody. Check who the 1971 team played in nonconference games here. And let’s not get too excited over two NCAA wins when one of them was in a First Four game. USC also went to the Round of 32 in 2009. No one was this thrilled over that. It went to the Sweet 16 in 2007. I remember excitement over that. Justifiably.

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USC-Baylor Thoughts

USC became a fun team to watch during the NCAA Tournament. And its athleticism was again apparent even against Baylor. But the Trojans’ undoing was the final four minutes or so. As happened the past four years, Andy Enfield teams cannot play patiently.

USC is down 76-70 and Bennie Boatwright shoots a 3 from about 30 feet. The Trojans get the rebound and Jordan McLaughlin immediately shoots another 3. Enfield coaches his teams to play one speed. All the time. That hurts USC at the end of games when the clock needs to run down or you need to look for a good, high-percentage shot. That’s why USC lost today. It doesn’t take away from the first two victories but it shows why close games can be frustrating under Enfield. But overall it was a fun three-game ride.

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USC Sunday Buzz: Another Game Day At NCAA Tournament

USC plays Baylor at 4:45 p.m. (PT) and I will have another live chat for the game. Meanwhile, Washington hired long-time Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins to replace Lorenzo Romar.

Hopkins was a finalist for the USC job when Andy Enfield was hired. I’ve heard he was not pleased because during interviews with Pat Haden, he prestented a plan to hire former Syracuse players and Southern California natives Tony Bland and Jason Hart as assistant coaches.

So after Haden hired Enfield, who had no Southern California ties, he told him to hire Bland and Hart. And the pair are still USC assistant coaches. Will one of them now go to Washington? Or perhaps Jim Boeheim will try to hire one at Syracuse?

UPDATED: There is already speculation in Seattle that Hart will join Hopkins.

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