Four Trojans from the men’s basketball program are in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame: Sam Barry, Jack Gardner, Alex Hannum and Bill Sharman. This weekend, there will be significantly more.
As a result of competing in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament, the Trojans (2-1) will take a tour of the Hall of Fame on Friday in Springfield, Mass., allowing them to witness the plaques honoring former Trojans.
After visiting the “Hoop Hall,” the Trojans will play two games in two days at the MassMutual Center, located just minutes from the Basketball Hall of Fame.
On Saturday, USC will play Bradley. The game will be the first road contest for the Trojans and the Braves (3-0).
The Braves are coming off a narrow victory against Loyola-Marymount, who beat the Trojans last season in the Galen Center.
Less than 22 hours after tip-off against the Braves, the Trojans play New Mexico State Sunday afternoon. The Aggies (2-1) are a high-scoring team, averaging 94 points per game in their first two games. As a team, the Aggies shoot 43.5 percent from 3-point territory, and 52 percent overall.
More than a quarter of the Aggies’ points have come from forward Troy Gillenwater. Gillenwater is averaging 25.5 points per game, and has made seven of his 13 3-point attempts. He leads the team with an average of eight rebounds per game.
The Trojans are hoping to play better in the tournament’s final two games than they did in the first. On Wednesday, the Trojans lost at home to Rider, 77-57. The Broncs (2-1) shot 60 percent from the field, and 63.2 percent from beyond the 3-point arc, while USC only made 37.7 percent of its shots and one of its 15 3-point attempts.
“We obviously have a lot of growing up to do,” said USC coach Kevin O’Neill. “In my two years, that was the worst we have been defensively. To give up 60 percent is unacceptable.”
The young Trojans, who have three freshman playing significant minutes — forward Garrett Jackson and guards Maurice Jones and Bryce Jones — hope to use the first road trip of the season as a chance to regroup and bond as a team.
“It seemed like nothing went right [against Rider],” senior forward Alex Stepheson said. “Hopefully we can learn from that and get some wins on the road.”
USC is three games into a stretch of eight games in 17 days, the most games the Trojans have had in a 17-day period since the 1983-1984 season. Depth has been an issue for USC, with only seven players earning any playing time. Against Rider, the third game in a five-day stretch, the Trojans seemed fatigued. Maurice Jones, Bryce Jones and junior forward Nikola Vucevic — who all average 32 or more minutes per game — entered the Rider game averaging a combined 56 points per game, and yet only managed to score 27 against the Broncs.
The Trojans return home to face Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.