College Hoops

Shooting woes at USC go far deeper than the players themselves

USC shows toughness, resilience in OT win versus Oregon State

The USC Trojans shot only 31 percent from the field in their NCAA Tournament loss to South Dakota State. They shot near 30 percent in a number of their late-season games against Washington, Washington State, Oregon State, Stanford, and others. This was obviously not a great — or even good — shooting team. USC did not have elite shooters. Naturally, that mattered. It limited the Trojans’ ceiling.

So, you might be thinking, “USC just didn’t have good-enough players, right?” It’s not that simple. These are tremendous defensive players. They just needed a pinch more offense to become a very dangerous team. To be sure, USC does need more shooting. This wasn’t a complete roster. However, it’s simplistic to say USC’s players weren’t good enough.

The nuanced view: USC had players who were good enough. It just didn’t have enough good players.

Rayah Marshall, Destiny Littleton, and Kadi Sissoko combined for 45 of USC’s 57 points. None of them shot well. They were a combined 17 of 52 from the field. People might say they aren’t good shooters. To be sure, they could be better. Yet, keep in mind that they all played 40 or more minutes in this 45-minute game.

When players are logging that kind of a workload, their shot is not going to be consistent late in a game unless they are getting layups.

USC not having enough depth to rotate players in and out, and to significantly reduce the workload for its three best players, left the Trojans overworked and undermanned.

Imagine an alternate universe in which the Trojans had a nine- or 10-deep rotation with Littleton, Marshall and Sissoko playing 33 minutes instead of 43, 30 minutes instead of 40.

You would see shooting percentages go up, because legs wouldn’t be as tired and energy would be in greater supply.

Keep in mind that it’s not just about one game. Imagine Marshall-Littleton-Sissoko having 7-10 fewer minutes played over the course of three or four months. All those minutes would really add up. Shooting percentages almost certainly would be several points better. Those points would add up.

USC had good players. They measured up.

The program doesn’t need better players. It just needs more of them. That’s the nuance. The starters weren’t deficient. Building a bench is the priority.

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at Basketball | Trojans Wire…