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September 16, 2020
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Grinding Gears: USC hoops can still make it to March

first_imgEric He | Daily TrojanAfter practice one day before the season began, senior guard Jordan McLaughlin talked about the heightened expectations that came with being ranked the preseason No. 10 team in the country.“We’re not going to be ranked No. 10 and blow it all away,” McLaughlin said.With seven games left in the regular season schedule, the jury is still out on pretty much everything for USC men’s basketball. A season that began with its hype train at full speed ground to a halt with three straight nonconference losses, a defeat to Princeton and then a lackluster Pac-12 opener against Washington.But then the Trojans caught fire, winning eight of their next nine games, their only loss coming on a halfcourt buzzer beater by Stanford. They beat Colorado, Utah and Cal by double digits. They pulled off close wins over Oregon and Oregon State, and then redeemed themselves against Stanford. And they took a huge step toward solidifying their NCAA Tournament bid.Still, there is work to do. USC lost to UCLA last Saturday in a game they should’ve won, if not for immaturity on the part of sophomore forward Nick Rakocevic and poor late-game execution. With or without De’Anthony Melton, it is clear at this point that the Trojans are not as strong as the No. 10 ranking they were handed preseason.They can, however, do their best not to “blow it all away.” Right now, the best case scenario for this team would be to make the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season, and go from there. Expectations can shift over the course of the season, and considering the start to this year, simply making the tournament would be a win. To do that, USC must get through this pivotal weekend ahead against the Arizona schools in the desert.On Thursday, the Trojans will play an upstart Arizona State program that has faded in Pac-12 play but burst onto the scene early in the season with several impressive wins. On Saturday, they face No. 13 Arizona, the Pac-12 favorite.These two games, combined with last Saturday’s loss to UCLA, constitute perhaps the most important stretch of USC’s remaining schedule. The Sun Devils may be faltering in conference play, but still sport the most dynamic offense the Trojans will see this season. They lead the Pac-12 in scoring offense, while the Wildcats, after a poor start, have won 16 of 18 games, lead the Pac-12 in field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage and have emerged once again as a Final Four hopeful. History does not bode well for USC on this road trip. The Trojans have been swept on their last five sojourns to the desert and seven of the last eight years. The last time they beat both Arizona teams in the same season was in 1985. This history underscores just how big these two games are. At the very least, USC needs a split — and if it can’t pull the upset at Arizona, at least make it a close game. Because if the Trojans lose both games, there are few opportunities left to climb back up in the tournament picture.Heading into Thursday, the Trojans rank 45th in RPI. That should be good enough to qualify for the tournament — both ESPN and CBS currently project USC as an 11th seed. Both opponents this weekend rank ahead of USC in RPI — Arizona State is 44th, Arizona is 16th. After these two games, the Trojans won’t have a chance to really build on their resume. Their only big test will be the season finale against UCLA, which is 56th in RPI. Otherwise, games against Oregon, Oregon State, Colorado and Utah won’t move the needle.USC has been through a lot this season — the preseason hype, the early struggles, the injury bug that has hit star junior forward Bennie Boatwright again. And, of course, the ongoing FBI investigation that led to the firing of assistant coach Tony Bland and the absence of Melton all season has lingered in the back of everyone’s minds.Perhaps this team, which some thought would be a sleeper to make the Final Four, won’t be the one that brings USC hoops back to glory. The Trojans won’t fully live up to their No. 10 preseason ranking. But they can’t blow it all away, and a couple of wins this weekend would go a long ways toward avoiding that.Eric He is a junior majoring in print and digital journalism. His column, “Grinding Gears,” runs Thursdays.last_img read more

August 26, 2020
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Clippers’ J.J. Redick says biometric program raises interesting questions

first_img“You’ve always got to be sort of wary of who’s looking at what and how they’re looking at it,” he said.This summer, Redick went to P3 (Peak Performance Project), a Santa Barbra-based sports science company, to have his workouts monitored and maximized.“It’s all good,” Redick said. “For me, it’s not necessarily about correcting, it’s just about maintaining and monitoring, and if anything does come up, you sort of assess it then and then figure out the best plan of attack to correct it.”Wearable monitors, which aren’t currently addressed in the league’s collective bargaining agreement with the players, will almost certainly be negotiated in the next CBA, with those issues needing resolution.Players could be worried how the data collected could affect them in contract negotiations. They could worry about that data being shared around the league, or in a more relatable sense, they could simply have concerns about their employers tracking all of their movements while at work.Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he didn’t think there was significant distrust between players and the organization in regards to data collection.“I’m not concerned with that at all,” Rivers said. “I don’t think that is an issue at all. You always have skepticism with everything. That’s how we are, or most of us. All of (the players) to a man have used it, have liked the stuff. Some believe in it, some don’t.”Rivers, it appears, certainly believes in it.The team sat Alan Anderson in an early-season practice and then sat Redick for the Toronto game, leading to his 3 a.m. cursing.“What Mark (Simpson) has brought here has been really good so far,” Redick said. “Again, I mean, you always want sort of a different set of eyes, whether it’s noticing something about your posture or your gait or anything like that that can be helpful for performance and injury prevention.”While decisions will be made thanks to a mixture of the data and observation, Rivers wants something to be clear to his team.“At the end of the day, my job is to make sure that they know what Mark says is the law,” Rivers said. “Sometimes, you don’t have to ask. If they come and tell me Raymond Felton has to sit down, Raymond Felton’s sitting down.”AlsoFirst-round pick Brice Johnson didn’t practice Friday because of back spasms. Johnson, who suffered the injury late in the Clippers’ win Wednesday, is being called day-to-day. … Regardless of Johnson’s healthy, Rivers said the rookie needs to improve his flexibility. … Fellow rookie Diamond Stone has continued to impress, with Rivers praising the second-round pick’s ability to pass the ball. PLAYA VISTA >> J.J. Redick wanted to play.The Clippers shooting guard, on night nurse duty for his newborn son, spent time in the pre-dawn hours momentarily fixated on what he hadn’t been allowed to do.The data collected by the Clippers’ new biometric program dictated that he shouldn’t play Wednesday against Toronto, the second day of back-to-back games. For a player, especially one like Redick who enjoys the work it takes, this was frustrating.“I was up for like an hour and I was like, ‘(Expletive), I just want to play,’” Redick said. “It was like two days of doing nothing. They wouldn’t even let me shoot. They just wanted me to rest.” With the Clippers, the numbers are, at least partially, in charge this season. As part of sweeping organizational changes throughout their basketball operations department, the Clippers added Mark Simpson to be their Director of Performance and Jay Porterfield as a Performance Scientist/Biomedical Analyst.The data the team is collecting from wearable monitoring devices during practice can be used in injury prevention and specialized training, and those applications have players like Redick intrigued. But, there’s concern the data could be used in ways that might not be in a player’s best interest.“Collecting data is fine,” Redick said. “How you use that data and how you interpret that data is another thing entirely, so I’m always a little cautious as far as why and what is being collected.“But, I’m a curious person and I’m an inquisitive person, and if there’s anything to sort of gain from the data, whether it’s performance-related or injury prevention, I’m all for it.”Redick laughed when a reporter asked if he was biometrically “woke,” a term commonly used on social media meaning “aware.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more