Just hours after completing a thrilling run through the Pac-10 Tournament, USC Head Coach Tim Floyd and his tired bunch of Trojans gathered in front of a flat screen television at the Galen Center, to see who would be their first dance partner in the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of something like this, coming off of a first Pac-10 Tournament title,” freshman DeMar DeRozan said.
While several bubble teams nervously waited to hear their names called, the Trojans could breathe easy with an automatic bid in hand, thanks to their gritty come-from-behind victory over Arizona State in the Pac-10 Tournament Championship game.
“I think this was a period to exhale,” Tim Floyd said. “I do think this was significant, what we were able to do given what was at stake for the players.”
Floyd praised the toughness and heart that his players showed while saving the season this weekend, but said now they must focus on getting ready for their next challenge, Boston College.
“I know it is something that players will remember forever, what they had to do to get there, but at this point, that is yesterday’s news,” Floyd said.
The Trojans received a No.10 seed in the Midwest regional and will travel to Minneapolis to face the seventh seeded Boston College Eagles at 4:20 p.m. PST on Friday.
“I know Al Skinner and know that he is a terrific coach. I knew they had a couple great wins in their league,” Floyd said. “They have run the flex offense and have a terrific player in Tyrese Rice.”
Other than that, Floyd admitted that he didn’t know much about the Trojans next opponent.
Boston College went 22-11 on the year, posting impressive wins over North Carolina and Duke but also suffered a home loss to Harvard. The Eagles are led by point guard Tyrese Rice, who averages a team-high 17.1 points and 5.4 assists per game.
USC’s success in the Pac-10 Tournament was due largely to their stifling defense, and shutting down Rice figures to be the key to advancing past the first round.
With the late-season charge, the Trojans have now made three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in school history.
“This program has changed dramatically with the Galen Center,” Floyd said. “There has always been talent at our backdoor but now we are able to keep that talent and that is what has transformed this program.
“I think it’s statement to the commitment that Dr. Sample, Mike Garrett and the Board of Trustees made to basketball at this University.”
Freshman DeMar DeRozan keyed the Trojans run through the Pac-10 Tournament.
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