DC Bruins blogged this morning about Southern Cal being one of the worst programs in D-1. The game tomorrow night should be a walk in the park. It is also a game that presents Ben Howland great opportunity to get his bench players real PT and get them ready for one last charge to the Big Dance (if there is one) in these closing weeks of 2011-12 season. Bruins should be stomping all over the Trojans tomorrow night and it should be another edition of UCLA taking care of business vs JustSC.
But that's the short term picture. The long term picture could become disconcerting for UCLA fans if the Trojans make moves to resuscitate the slim credibility of their hoops program after this season. The frustration is "mounting" among two dozen Trojan fans, who actually care about basketball. Okay, we are kidding here but on a serious note - Trojan honks are not happy at all about the current state of the hoops program. Even though at Southern Cal, everything is around football, it is a reasonable bet that their athletic director Pay Haden will make a move, if they think that the atrocious performance of their hoops teams is hurting the Trojan athletic brand.
So what if Haden decides to make a move after this season? That could potentially spell serious trouble for long term interest of the UCLA basketball program, which currently is leaderless and mired "in the abyss of irrelevance".
There could be huge ramifications in Southern California basketball scene if the Trojans make a move, while the Bruins stay the course during this off-season. Here is how it can potentially play out. UCLA barely gets to the NIT and flames out. Gene Block decides to do nothing and let Chianti hang out. Chianti in turn sits around talking up the incoming recruiting class of Ben Howland, promising a big season.
Assuming Howland somehow gets Shabazz Muhammad and Tony Parker, UCLA could still be saddled with toxic personnel/chemistry issues due to Howland's mismanagement. Bruins may end up winning the conference and then flame out in the Elite Eight, only to find themselves back to their mediocre and irrelevant spot when Muhammad (and others) jump to the NBA.
Meanwhile, if the Trojans fire O'Neill, a very plausible scenario could be Pitt. head coach Jamie Dixon taking over at Southern Cal. Based on what we have heard over the years, there is a good chance Dixon would be very interested in a job like Southern Cal. And if he takes it, it could potentially have dire consequences if UCLA is still stuck with Howland.
Dixon is a good defensive oriented coach like Howland. However, he is a better recruiter and a program manager, who was the key driver of Howland's establishing of Pitt as a factor in the Big East. He is also a much better communicator. He will have a chance to dominate Howland (if Bruins foolishly are still stuck with Ben) in the Southern California recruiting scene.
So Bruin fans ... look out. Tomorrow night may be fun but as we say here always think about the big picture. The scenario of Dixon taking over at USC is another big reason, pressure should be on UCLA to get rid of Guerrero now and set hard expectations and accountability for our basketball program.