USC basketball coach Andy Enfield has often taken note of — or slighted — the fact that many Trojan games on the West Coast start late before much of the country is asleep.
Friday’s challenge is a little different — making sure that their own team is completely outmatched when the No. 10-seeded Trojans play in the NCAA tournament at 9:15 a.m. PT (12:15 p.m. local time) versus No. 7 Michigan State. is alert. Columbus, Ohio (on CBS).
Enfield said on Thursday, “I told my players, there are no excuses. It may feel like 9 in the morning, but we are in March Madness. You have to be mentally prepared to play and compete at the highest level.” Will happen.”
To help adapt to the Eastern time zone, USC (22-10) arrived in Columbus on Tuesday, three days before the game.
“We moved out here on Tuesday, which was huge for us. We moved out here a few days before, as we usually do for a trip just to adjust and prepare. We know that the last That’s how important it is to have some guys on the team with years of experience,” veteran guard Drew Peterson said, referring to USC’s tournament trip to Greenville, S.C., last year. “… I think we’re the first game on Friday, so we’re excited to be able to get that showcase slot.”
The natural follow-up question to Enfield was about USC’s upcoming two seasons in the Big Ten, when such trips and tip-off times will be the norm.
Enfield admitted, “Actually, when we landed in Columbus on Tuesday night someone reminded us that, hey, this is going to be a normal trip.” “It’s a long flight, cold weather, but we haven’t really thought about it yet.”
There were two broad topics the media in Columbus wanted to ask Enfield, Peterson and senior guard Boogie Ellis about Thursday — the time zone effect and the notion that the Pac-12 and Big Ten, a la Michigan State (19-12), basketball Play dramatically different styles of.
Enfield has pushed back on that narrative.
“I don’t know what style the Big Ten plays. I think when you get on the court it’s just a basketball game,” he said. “… We’re not really concerned with what other perceived styles are in other conferences. We’re really only concerned with USC and what we need to do to win games. I think players change every year.” So your style of play, at least we try to match our strengths, so our style of play this year is different than last year, with some good big guys last year. …
“I think Michigan State will try to move the ball, they will try to shoot 3s early in transition because they have great shooters and they will play their style like us.”
In fact, the Spartans may not be the quintessential example of the Big Ten’s rough and shoddy notion.
“We watched a lot of film on them. They’re a great shooting team. We just have to play our game, not really change anything, just adjust to taking 3-point shots,” Ellis said. “They play the same fast pace as Arizona, but they’ve got more guard play, some bigger ones.”
Peterson said: “We know the physical state of the Big Ten. We know it’s their kind of thing and a little slow, but Michigan State is actually relatively fast-paced compared to typical Big Ten teams. “
Michigan State is led by speedy senior guard Tyson Walker, who has been key in carrying that momentum, averaging 14.6 points per game and shooting 42.3 percent from 3-point range (55 of 130).
“Tyson Walker is an elite scorer. He can shoot it with range, he’s very quick and a really good player … but they also have a lot of good players who complement him,” Enfield said. .
Veteran forward Joey Hauser is the Spartans’ tallest starter at 6-foot-9 and is averaging 14.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, but he also does a lot of his work from the perimeter — shooting a team-best 45.6 percent from 3-points. Range (68 out of 149).
Guard AJ Hoggard (12.5 PPG), Jaden Akins (9.6) and 6-foot-8 forward Malik Hall (9.2) give the Spartans a balanced offensive line.
Michigan State’s limited size is a positive for USC, which may be without 7-foot-1 forward Vince Iwchukwu as he battles a back injury.
Enfield said, “Vince is day to day. He’s had that back issue. We’re hopeful. Whether he can play or not – we’ll probably know tomorrow morning, when he wakes up.”
Ultimately, as Enfield noted, his team plays at its best in a four-guard lineup, led by the surging play of Ellis, who is averaging 18 points per game and has finished his senior season on a torrid stretch up to this point. Has done – Scoring 24.3 ppg over last seven contests.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo insisted on Ellis’ inclusion for the Spartans.
“I’m telling you, they have a guard that is as good as any guard at Boogie Ellis this year,” Izzo said. “And Peterson is another one who’s a tremendous mismatch at 6-9, probably one of the better passers I’ve seen. So we’re going to include Ellis and not a lot of guys have. So he’s a first.” -Team All-Pac-12. It’s what helped them do what they do. We’ll see what we can throw at them.”
Watch video of Andy Enfield and Drew Peterson talking about the NCAA tournament matchup before leaving for Columbus: