Q and A with Trojans Wire: Wisconsin basketball takes on USC

The Badgers are back in action for the third time in three days as they get set to take on USC in their final action from The Bahamas Battle 4 Atlantis.

Wisconsin is fresh off of a heartbreaking loss to Kansas, but has a quick chance to bounce back on Friday afternoon.

We spoke with Matt Zemek of Trojans Wire to get a better idea of how USC stacks up this year, how they match up with the Badgers, and their impending move to the Big Ten conference.

Here is a look at our Q and A ahead of Wisconsin and USC matching up at 12:00 PM CT in The Bahamas:

 

What has surprised you most about USC so far this year?

Nov 24, 2022; Paradise Island, BAHAMAS; USC Trojans head coach Andy Enfield reacts during the second half against the Tennessee Volunteers at Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Zemek: Frankly, not much. The one really surprising thing connected to this new USC team is that before the season began, coach Andy Enfield said it was a really good shooting team. I know Enfield is a good coach who knows a lot more about basketball than I ever will, but it was hard to take Enfield seriously when he said that.

To be clear, I’m sure Enfield was trying to pump up his team and create a confident mindset. He needs his shooters to be confident. Any coach does. I get it. However, did he need to say something which was so transparently untrue? Boogie Ellis and Drew Peterson are good basketball players, but they are not pure shooters. USC needs to recruit shooters and get them from the transfer portal. Against a good defensive team such as Tennessee, you saw what happened.

What happened in the home loss to Florida Gulf Coast?

FGCUÕs Cyrus Largie goes up for a basket against USCÕs Isaiah Mobley during a game at FGCU on Tuesday, Nov. 16. 2021. USCÕs head coach, Andy Enfield is a former head coach at FGCU and took the the team to the Sweet 16.

Matt Zemek: Enfield vowed to use a smaller lineup and play at a faster pace this season with more shooters, partly as a response to Isaiah Mobley’s departure, but also as an adjustment to the absence of elite recruit Vince Iwuchukwu, who had an episode of cardiac arrest in July and has still not been medically cleared to play. Very simply, USC is not a good shooting team. Bad shooting gave Florida Gulf Coast a lot of confidence, and the Trojans’ difficulties snowballed. Enfield is caught between styles of play with this team, because he thought he would have his next big man, Iwuchukwu, to follow the Mobley brothers and Onyeka Okongwu. Not having Iwuchukwu has Enfield scrambling for solutions.

Is USC comfortable playing at Wisconsin’s pace?

Nov 24, 2022; Paradise Island, BAHAMAS; Wisconsin Badgers forward Tyler Wahl (5) reacts after scoring during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks at Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Zemek: Absolutely. USC won’t pull away from Wisconsin, but Wisconsin is unlikely to pull away from USC. The Trojans might outwardly claim to want a faster tempo, but they’re very comfortable getting into a defensive grinder. Recall last season’s Wooden Legacy win over San Diego State.

Do the Tennessee and FGCU losses have any common themes?

Nov 7, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; USC Trojans head coach Andy Enfield watches play from the bench in the second half against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles at Galen Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Zemek: USC’s offense did not look good at all in them — bad shooting and turnovers.

Is USC a tournament team?

Nov 24, 2022; Paradise Island, BAHAMAS; USC Trojans head coach Andy Enfield reacts during the second half against the Tennessee Volunteers at Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Zemek: I don’t think so. Not having Iwuchukwu is the big plot twist that might keep this group out of the brackets in March.

Who wins the Pac-12?

Nov 17, 2022; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Arizona Wildcats head coach Tommy Lloyd at McKale Center. Mandatory Credit: David Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Zemek: Arizona. Tommy Lloyd is so good. U of A made a fantastic hire.

Which side of the ball is a bigger concern for USC right now?

Nov 24, 2022; Paradise Island, BAHAMAS; Tennessee Volunteers forward Julian Phillips (2) reacts in front of USC Trojans forward Kobe Johnson (0) in overtime at Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Zemek: Offense. Enfield teaches defense really well, but offense has lagged behind throughout his tenure. Next season, he finally gets his successor to Jordan McLaughlin, elite recruit Isaiah Collier. The offense might work really well next year. This year, it’s a real problem.

How does USC attack Wisconsin in the half court?

Nov 24, 2022; Paradise Island, BAHAMAS; Kansas Jayhawks guard Dajuan Harris Jr. (3) drives to the basket as Wisconsin Badgers forward Carter Gilmore (14) and Wisconsin Badgers guard Kamari McGee (4) defend during the first half at Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports                                                                                                                    

Matt Zemek: Drew Peterson and Reese Dixon-Waters are big guards who might be able to post up Wisconsin defenders. They won’t beat the Badgers with quickness, but they could win with size and a concerted effort to crash the offensive glass. USC’s best offense could be a missed shot. Turnovers will crush USC if the Trojans keep coughing them up

 

 

 

Predictions for USC/Wisconsin?

Nov 24, 2022; Paradise Island, BAHAMAS; Wisconsin Badgers forward Tyler Wahl (5) reacts after scoring during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks at Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Zemek: Wisconsin 59, USC 57

What are you most excited for with the Big Ten move?

Oct 24, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; General view of Big Ten logo on field prior to a game between the Michigan State Spartans and the Indiana Hoosiers at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Zemek: USC, in the Big Ten, will play a tournament team most nights in the conference. There will be more quality win opportunities than in the Pac-12.

Story originally appeared on Badgers Wire