Tough hill to climb for Trojan basketball

first_imgThey happened five months and more than 6,000 miles apart.First, there was the late March press conference at the Galen Center in Los Angeles where first-team All-Pac-10 center Nikola Vucevic declared he was skipping his senior season at USC to enter the NBA draft.Just last week, in a nondescript gymnasium outside Sao Paulo, star senior guard Jio Fontan landed awkwardly after being hit on a drive to the basket late in the first half of USC’s preseason game against a Brazilian professional team, tearing a ligament in his left knee and ending his season before it started.USC’s 2011-2012 basketball season doesn’t tip off until mid-November, yet its two defining moments have already taken place.The Trojans record is still unblemished at 0-0, but it feels like they’ve already lost so much.Now, let’s spare the doom and gloom and refrain from calling this a lost season for USC basketball.It is still only August and the Trojans have some intriguing young talent.USC’s group of freshmen and transfers could end up gelling very well together.A return trip to the NCAA tournament isn’t out of the question.The season that will be, however, is overshadowed by what could have been.With Vucevic and Fontan in the lineup alongside guard Maurice Jones, the Trojans would have returned their top three scorers from a season ago.Instead, USC now only boasts two players on its roster that scored in a game for the Trojans last year — Jones and sophomore forward Garrett Jackson.Newcomers Aaron Fuller and Dewayne Dedmon would have been expected to fill their roles solidly, not spectacularly.Now, they will be counted on to shoulder a good portion of the offensive load.The leftover effects of the O.J. Mayo scandal won’t help the team cope with the losses of Vucevic and Fontan, either.“Right now, this third year, especially with Jio getting hurt, that’s when you get hit with the remnant of these sanctions where we lost two recruiting classes,” USC coach Kevin O’Neill said. “We have a bunch of inexperienced guys that have never played. They’re going to get a lot of experience early and hopefully they respond well and turn themselves into a really good postseason team.”This could have been a banner season for recently rejuvenated USC basketball.After making only six NCAA tournament appearances from 1962 to 2000, the Trojans have qualified six times in the last 11 seasons.USC’s runs to the Elite Eight in 2001 and the Sweet 16 in 2007 marked the first time the program had made it past the second round of the Big Dance since 1954.“Our only goal is to make the NCAA tournament and try to win the Pac-12 title,” O’Neill said. “Those are our goals and I don’t think we should change those goals.”Fontan’s injury was an especially cruel blow to the Trojans, with his teammates forced to watch their leader stretchered off the floor.“In my career, I’ve never felt worse for a player than I feel for him,” O’Neill said. “The first two and a half games [of the Brazil trip], he was playing at a first-round-NBA-draft-pick level. I feel bad for him that way and bad for our team that he can’t be there to lead us and do all the things that a guy of his caliber would do.”Freshman Alexis Moore, from Long Beach Poly High, will be tasked with stepping into Fontan’s spot in the starting lineup.“He’s going to have to be a guy that doesn’t play like a freshman,” O’Neill said. “And even then, it’s going to be very difficult for a guy his age to step into his role that requires a ton of leadership, especially for what is a very young and inexperienced team now.”The schedule will do the Trojans no favors, either.With non-conference games against Kansas, San Diego State and Georgia, a potential tournament date with North Carolina in Las Vegas and a challenging Pac-12 slate, USC’s young players will be tested early and often.This season, however, will not make or break USC basketball.The gains the Trojans have made over the last decade have been substantial. The program weathered the storm of NCAA sanctions while enjoying its greatest run of success in recent history.The future remains bright for the Trojans — a talented and youthful roster, an experienced head coach and a recruiting foothold in the Southern California basketball market are all long-term assets.The short term gains of the 2011-2012 year, however, don’t look nearly as promising as how they were projected six months ago. “Sellin’ the Sizzle” runs Wednesdays. To comment on this article, visit or email Jonathan at [email protected]last_img read more

KK Sarpong v Kotoko: “Don’t settle out of court” – Circles Chair insists

first_imgAsante Kotoko National Circles Council (NCC) Chairman, Kwaku Amponsah, has called on the club not to opt for an out of court settlement in its ongoing legal tussle with former former board chairman, Dr. Kofi Kodua Sarpong.Chairman One, as the NCC boss is known, expressed confidence in the judicial process, claiming that the subsequent judgment would help unravel the truth.“The impending court case should not be settled out of court but rather the case must be brought to its legal conclusion because Kotoko didn’t take Dr. Sarpong to court [but it was rather the reverse],” he told Adom FM.Dr. Sarpong dragged the Porcupine Warriors to court to claim monies which, according to him, are owed him from his period of stewardship at the helm of the club’s affairs.The NCC Chairman noted that since this is the first time such a legal suit is being brought against the club, it is in Kotoko’s best interest to let the law run its course in order to have a full restoration of reputation.He further urged all Kotoko supporters to be patient and stay away from the case in order to avoid contempt. “l know that when a case is in court, you don’t subject it to public commentary so l will advise my supporters to be careful when commenting on the court case,” Amponsah added.Both parties – Kotoko and Dr Sarpong – are set to appear in court on June 11.–last_img read more


first_imgCOME ON DONEGAL – VOTE FOR LESLIEDONEGAL Daily readers are scattered throughout the globe and every now and then one of them comes on looking for help.And we always like to help!So we’re asking all our readers at home and abroad to help Raphoe girl Leslie Ann Goudie realise her dreams. Not happy with lounging in 32C heat in her lovely suburb of Perth, Leslie wants to win a trip to see the Lions in Hong Kong. That’s where you are needed.Just go to and click ‘enter’ under the competition details. Once you log in, vote for Leslie.She told us: “You can vote every 24hours. I’m in Australia, so I need all my fellow Donegal people to get behind me. Please!”  DONEGAL GIRL’S APPEAL FROM ‘DOWN UNDER’ TO WIN LIONS TRIP TO HONG KONG was last modified: February 5th, 2013 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:DONEGAL GIRL’S APPEAL FROM ‘DOWN UNDER’ TO WIN LIONS TRIP TO HONG KONGleslie ann goudieRaphoelast_img read more