O'Neill Named Pac-10 Coach Of The Year By CollegeInsiders.com
March 10, 2010
USC men's basketball head coach Kevin O'Neill was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year by CollegeInsiders.com it was announced yesterday (March 9).
O'Neill guided the Trojans to a 16-14 record and kept them in the Pac-10 Conference title chase until late in the season before the team settled for a fifth-place tie in conference. USC was picked to finish ninth in the Pac-10 before the season due to three players leaving early to play professionally and almost its entire recruiting class leaving during the summer as a result of the NCAA investigation of the program.
The Trojans never looked back, fighting through some early-season injuries and depth issues to knock off then No. 9 Tennessee 77-55 on Dec. 19 and then went on to win the Diamond Head Classic, defeating St. Mary's and UNLV along the way.
USC then opened conference play with two wins before being handed down self-imposed sanctions which would keep then out of postseason play this season. They continued to fight sweeping the season series from Washington and crosstown rival UCLA and were tied for first place in the conference in the loss column on Feb. 18, before falling in its final five games. The Trojans had the lead or were tied in the second half in all 18 conference games and were the only team in Pac-10 play whose losses were all by 10 points or less.
Under O'Neill, USC played stellar defense leading the conference in fewest points allowed per game (57.2) and defensive shooting percentage (.384). Among the bright signs for the Trojans was the development of sophomore forward Nikola Vucevic who averaged 10.7 points and led the conference with 9.4 rebounds per game.