The Dagger - NCAAB

Why, it seems like it was just yesterday when I referred to the USC basketball program as a "smoking, post-apocalyptic crater." My, how the time flies when you're having -- what's that? That was yesterday? And the metaphor is still apt, because the things that make USC smoldering and barren -- no head coach, no remaining players or recruits, an impending NCAA investigation that might take down both the football and basketball programs with the dreaded "lack of institutional control" charge -- all still exist. Really?

Really. USC is no better off than it was yesterday, when little old Eamonn was convinced that no one was going to step in and attempt to rebuild that Metal Gear. (I used a complicated, dumb video game reference yesterday, too. Never mind.) And yet there are apparently two men bold enough to step into the abyss without knowing how deep it goes. Two men so hell-bent on coaching next season they'll each take a college job after spending most of their careers in the pros. Two men, like Lewis and Clark, Columbus and Vespucci, Jack and Sawyer.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: P.J. Carlesimo and Reggie Theus.

Yes, according to the Los Angeles Times, those two have emerged as USC's top candidates for the job. They fit USC athletic director Mike Garrett's hiring profile: two experienced (albeit one more than the other) pro coaches with college roots. Theus recruited well and took New Mexico State to one NCAA tournament in two years before being hired by the Kings; his tenure in Sacramento was short and unimpressive. (To be sure, I asked the foremost Kings blogger on the planet, Tom Ziller, to describe Theus over GChat, and he wrote: "Terrible game coach. Bad x's and o's. He had Artest/Bibby/Martin/Miller, which had been a decent playoff team two years prior. But he is about the most charming man in the world. After I met him, I had trouble ripping him wholesale.") Theus would seem to be a good fit for USC, where he can recruit -- but not too well, ahem -- and fits in with the flashy Los Angeles stereotype that may or may not be pertinent to this conversation.

The other candidate is Carlesimo, and really, God bless P.J. Carlesimo's little heart. Most recently fired from the Oklahoma City Thunder, which for a while there was like coaching a college team, the last time P.J. rolled them out in the college game was in 1994, when he took Seton Hall to the NCAA title game. But really? P.J. Carlesimo? He's a better game coach than Theus or Floyd will ever be, but Carlesimo's just sort of a resounding "meh" at this point, right? Is anyone excited about P.J.?

Actually, check that: USC fans should be excited about P.J., because USC fans should be excited about anyone with a whistle, a clipboard and a bank account routing number. Theus and Carlesimo are better than anything I would have imagined USC pulling 24 hours ago. The crater is still smoking, after all.

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