Pac-10 Men's Basketball Media Day: USC

Oct. 29, 2009

 

USC Head Coach Kevin O’Neill

Opening Statement
“I am just learning our team, really. In the current situation we are in, I am still learning a lot about our players.  We have two key contributors that will sit the first seven or eight games, Leonard Washington and Mike Gerrity. We will rely strongly on Dwight Lewis.  He will be a number one option for us and we will rely on him heavily.  As he goes, basically we will go. I think he is really up to the task.  He worked really hard all summer and he is in great shape.  He has had experience on three NCAA teams.  He will be our main scorer and also become a leader on the floor and in the locker room.

Then we have a bunch of guys who haven’t played much.  Alex Stepheson, a power forward transfer from North Carolina, he had a great summer.  Nikola Vucevic is a guy who had a great summer overseas, but he didn’t get many minutes last season. Kasey Cunningham has stayed healthy so and he will be a contributor if he can keep his health.  Marcus Johnson will finish out his last year, he will not play the first two games regular season games. Marcus Simmons is a strong defensive stopper.  He is a great athlete, he had a great summer.  Guard Donte Smith, he has lost about 20-22 pounds and worked really hard to get better.  Our group is a group that will play hard.  We will need to rebound and play tough on defense.  We will need to be resilient.  We lost three key guys to the draft and the recruiting class, we are at a position where every guy will be asked to do more.  We will know more a preseason play gets under way.  We do know the challenges ahead and we feel like the we are ready for them.” 

On implementing his system and transitioning the squad to his style of play
“For me, the number one thing for me was to keep the guys intact that were already here. June is too late to really recruit anyone.  My style is different than what [former USC coach Tim] Floyd taught, but the guys are responding well to it.  They are learning everyday.  Our point guard will be Donte Smith. It is a position he has never really played before.  Gerrity will be a great option for us once he becomes eligible [due to NCAA transfer eligibility rules].”

On North Carolina transfer Alex Stepheson
“Alex is an NBA-type rebounder.  He has a great body.  He is a guy who needs playing time.  If you look at North Carolina, he didn’t get much playing time time.  He sat out the past year and working in practice is nothing like game situations. He is a guy that competes hard.  He worked hard this summer to really develop his skills. Traditionally, he has been a bad free throw shooter so, hopefully, he will be better at that. He has been working hard at that.  It will take some time for him to get the rust off. He is a guy that we will rely on heavily everyday.”

On facing Arizona
“Would I like to beat Arizona twice, sure? I want to beat UCLA twice, I want to beat Cal twice.  I am happy and proud to be the head coach at USC.”   

 

 

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