By Rich Ruben
The latest round of news and notes coming out of USC basketball practices, as the Trojans get ready to tip-off their season on November 5.
– Daniel Utomi did not practice Tuesday. He has a twisted ankle, and sat thru most of practice with one shoe off. He is expected back in a few days. He told me that it is feeling better, but he was walking with a slight limp.
– Elijah Weaver sat out the Santa Clara exhibition due to a slight knee sprain. He participated fully in Tuesday’s practice, and appeared to be fine.
– I was told that both Max Ankobongo and Kyle Sturdivant played well against Santa Clara
– The team made only two three point shots in that exhibition. The freshmen mostly played down the stretch and were able to secure the win.
– Villanova played UNC in a closed exhibition this weekend. It was played in segments rather than a regulation game, which seems to mean that there was much less emphasis on winning than in SC’s game with the Wildcats. The total score from all segments and team stats were generally fairly even.
– Tuesday’s practice was on the main court in Galen. At the end of practice, Elijah swished a 3 from about 35 feet. Red shirt Noah Bauman stays after most practices shooting threes for 10-15 minutes. Same smooth form on every shot.
– Tuesday they worked hard on half court offense to free up shooters. Lot of rapid ball movement. Co-captain grad transfer Quinton Adlesh was occasionally giving teammates direction between plays. It is obvious that he has the respect of his teammates.
– I have now interviewed almost all of the players. They are uniformly very approachable, and I have been very impressed by their maturity, especially the freshmen.
– The Memphis Grizzlies were in town to play the Lakers on Tuesday. D’Anthony Melton is on the Grizzlies’ roster, and Bennie Boatwright and Shaqqon Aaron are on the Memphis G League team.
Interview with Onyeka Okongwu
– He said the best part of his game is defense.
– According to Onyeka, the best part of Isaiah Mobley’s game is his versatility. Isaiah can play inside or outside, and can score from all parts of the court.
– The biggest adjustment for Onyeka has been learning to play for a different coaching staff with new teammates in a different system, and on a much bigger stage.
– He wants to continue to improve all aspects of his game, especially his ball handling. He expects the Trojans to make the NCAA tournament.
Interview With Isaiah Mobley
– Isaiah was working with his Dad after practice on his low post moves.
– He broke his foot over the summer, and is still working to get back to 100%.
– He said his biggest asset is his versatility. He can shoot from outside, and also play down low.
– When the three bigs are on the court together and they are playing a man defense, he will play the small forward. He is working on his lateral quickness to cover smaller threes, and believes he will be able to shoot over most small forwards.
– His high school coaches and his family helped him greatly to prepare for college and the college game.
– He said that the best part of Onyeka’s game is his ability to do everything. Isaiah said that O is a great low post offensive and defensive player, that he is a better outside shooter than most people know, and that they are both good free throw shooters.
– Isaiah expects his game to grow and improve over the season. He isn’t afraid to take shots he thinks are good ones, and if he gets pulled out, that’s ok.
– My impression from reading between the lines during our discussion is that Isaiah is working toward the goal of becoming an NBA draft choice next Spring, but he did not expressly say this.