USC men’s basketball finds Pac-12 success in 2018

first_imgThe early months of the 2017-18 campaign wreaked havoc on the USC men’s basketball program. Returning with all five of last year’s starters and adding three key recruits, USC appeared poised for its best season in decades and sustained success for years to come. However, the September scandal involving former assistant coach Tony Bland rocked the program to its core, leaving questions surrounding two players’ eligibility and even the job security of head coach Andy Enfield. USC hired former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh to investigate the program’s NCAA compliance. Senior guard Jordan McLaughlin reaches for a layup against the Cal Bears. In that game, he recorded a .429 field goal percentage. Deanie Chen | Daily TrojanIn November, minutes before USC’s season tip-off, the program announced sophomore guard De’Anthony Melton would sit out indefinitely as a consequence for his embroilment in the Bland investigation. The Trojans ranked 10th in the AP Preseason Poll — their highest starting mark since 1974 — and played well in their first couple games, including an overtime win at Vanderbilt when senior captain guard Jordan McLaughlin scored a career-high 35 points.Then, USC started a brutal stretch of losses against Texas A&M, SMU and Oklahoma. The Trojans continued to sputter throughout December, losing to Princeton and Washington at home.However, they had some bright moments, too. On Christmas, the Trojans won the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii, and McLaughlin tied a longstanding Pac-12 record for assists in a game with 19 versus UCSB on Dec. 17. Nevertheless, for the AP voters and  USC basketball fans, the losses certainly drowned out the preseason expectations for the program. On top of it all forward Taeshon Cherry, USC’s highest-ranked recruit in a decade, decommitted from USC and has since committed to rival ASU. Perhaps morale bottomed out after the Stanford loss on Jan. 7. After USC blew a 15-point lead in ten minutes, McLaughlin scored a reverse lay-up to give USC a 2-point lead with less than two seconds on the clock. Tragically, Stanford’s freshman guard Daejon Davis scored a magical 55-foot shot as time expired to gift the Cardinal a victory.In the moment, his half-court heave seemed to suck the life out of Trojan basketball. Forget top-10 aspirations. After a 2-2 start to conference play, even an NCAA Tournament bid seemed in jeopardy. Since, the Trojans have gone 6-0. In the past three weeks, the Trojans beat Utah for the first time since 2012. On the road, they swept the Oregon schools and won in Eugene for the first time since 2009. They are second place in the Pac-12, a half-game behind No. 9 Arizona and two games ahead of their next opponent, perennial rivals, UCLA. They appear safe off the NCAA Tournament bubble and again received votes in Monday’s AP Poll.So, what changed? How did the Trojans turn the season around?One could cite Enfield’s decision to switch the rotation. Over the last six games, redshirt junior Shaqquan Aaron has started in place of sophomore Jonah Mathews. Over that span, Mathews, who had been averaging 8.5 points per game, has led USC in scoring twice. Undoubtedly, he has freshened USC’s bench, which on Sunday outscored UC Berkeley’s bench 31-4, even though the usual sixth man Nick Rackocevic had to start in place of an injured Bennie Boatwright.“Our players are resilient,” Enfield said of his players’ adaptability in new roles.McLaughlin added that coming off the bench gives Mathews, an underclassman, the ability to see a bit of the other team’s strategy before he has to make key decisions. “That helped me when I was coming off the bench as a freshman,” McLaughlin said.High energy on defense is another reason for the team’s turnaround. After bouncing back from the Washington loss, Enfield said, “The team was simply tired of playing below its potential.” After allowing Washington to shoot 67 percent from the floor, USC has held its opponents to 43 percent from the floor.“We’re playing great defense. In man-to-man and in zone,” Enfield said after Sunday’s game. “We are forcing a lot of turnovers, which gives us a chance to stay in the game until we start to shoot the ball better.” But the paramount reason for USC’s outburst of energy is not tactical. Rather, USC has found its identity through the trials and tribulations of the Bland scandal. Indeed, the same events which initially deflated the team have become a source of inspiration. Since sophomore guard De’Anthony Melton was officially ruled ineligible for the season on Jan. 11, the Trojans have played with greater unity and purpose. Without hope of Melton returning, the players and coaches finally realized that their current lineup would be the one available for the rest of the season. Although not ideal, the finality of the decision to keep Melton ineligible has strengthened everyone’s resolve to perform well knowing that a knight is not going to rescue them in the midnight hour.Some of USC’s best have funneled their resentment about the Melton decision into more passionate play on the court, for better or worse. Junior forward Chimezie Metu, for instance, has always had a reputation as a violent player thanks to his rim-rattling slam dunks. Recently, though, his play has become noticeably unsettled, as he has received three technical fouls and an ejection since conference play began. Metu is one of Melton’s closest friends; his temper could suggest that he is playing to avenge his pal. Junior forward Bennie Boatwright, too, has engaged in some horseplay, for which he has garnered a couple technical fouls and also an ejection. Although Metu and Boatwright’s comportment does not necessarily reflect well on USC or add to the Trojans’ win probability, their rough style of play has galvanized the esprit de corps of  their teammates and fans.“When [Metu] is screaming, he gets us all fired up,” redshirt junior guard Shaqquan Aaron said.When the Trojans take the court, there is a sense of USC basketball versus the world. With some conference foes elevating their smack talk against the Trojans or circling the USC matchup on their calendar, USC could have backed down, intimidated. Instead, they have harnessed their rivals’ negativity. The veteran team — used to the underdog label —  started to feel at home when their dismal start to the season pushed their backs against the wall, and existential questions about the program cast doubt on the entire legitimacy of this squad.“Our chemistry has improved throughout the season,” Aaron said. “It is better to have your losses at the beginning.”With Melton gone for good this year, the Trojans are playing with an intensity they lacked earlier in the year. Although he still attends each game, Melton, in some sense, has become a martyr for USC, motivating the Trojans. The rest of the team does not want to look at him and think of what could have been. They are determined to win, hell or high water, Melton or not.last_img read more

Winfield duo – Riley Osen and Kelsey Buffum win SSB Wheat Run Saturday

first_imgRiley Osen and Kelsey Buffum.by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — A couple of Winfield runners traveled west to participate in the State Security Bank Wheat Run and took home first place medals Saturday morning.Riley Osen, a two-time Class 4A state champion in cross country and the one-mile and two-mile runs in track, dominated the run at the 2015 Kansas Wheat Festival in Wellington. He swept both the 5K and one mile race in rather dominating fashion.Osen ran the 5K, equivalent to 3.2 miles, in 18.28 minutes. He then ran the mile run in 5:13.Osen is getting NCAA Division 1 offers.On the women’s side, Kelsey Buffum of Winfield, won the women’s division with a 21.59 time in the 5K race. Buffum is a runner for the Southwestern women’s cross country team.The race attracted 139 races. It was the first downtown wheat run in a number of years. Originally it was a downtown race run by First National Bank, now Impact Bank, of Wellington. Dr. John Anders took the Saturday morning race about a decade ago and it was run as a cross country race.State Security Bank took it back over this year and brought it back downtown.The placings are here: 2015 Wheat Run Results placing 7-15-15 Places The times are here: 2015 Wheat Run Results placing 7-15-15 TimesFollow us on Twitter. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. There are no comments posted yet. Be the first one! Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new commentslast_img read more

ASA Advocates Protection of Food Aid Programs in Farm Bill Conference

first_imgBags of partially-defatted soybean flour bound for Burkina Faso.As part of a coalition of trade, nonprofit and agriculture groups, ASAjoined in a letter to lawmakers this week urging the protection of America’s in-kind food aid program in upcoming conference negotiations on the farm bill. ASA has consistently opposed the White House’s plan to replace a portion of foreign food aid with cash.“We do not support provisions that deviate significantly from the current transparency and structure of those programs by allowing the use of PL 480 Title II and Food for Progress funds to pay the costs of unspecified ‘activities’ conducted in recipient countries; decreasing the minimum funding level for non-emergency (developmental) Title II programs; and capping the amount of funds that can be spent on developmental programs,” the groups stated in the letter.“Keeping U.S. commodities the differentiating characteristic of these programs has been the touchstone of their success, and we believe that proven approach paves the way for a sustainable future. U.S. food aid programs provide a reliable pipeline of commodities and nutritionally-fortified foods to developing countries to meet emergency needs and for multi-year programs that help people overcome chronic hunger. USDA’s Economic Research Service estimates that over the next decade there will be an annual food gap of 15 million metric tons to meet minimum caloric needs in 76 food insecure countries (June 2013). Countries with food shortfalls and high levels of malnutrition need imported food aid because local supplies are limited.”A full copy of the letter is available here.[gview file=”https://soygrowers.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Farm-Bill-Conferees-International-Food-Aid-Ltr-10-15-2013.pdf”]last_img read more