Big opportunities don’t come around too often.Three weeks ago, the men’s basketball team, fresh off its first appearance in the AP Top 25 since 2008, headed to Oregon for weekend road contests against the Ducks and Beavers with a chance to solidify or even improve upon a robust No. 21 ranking.Instead, the Trojans fell flat, losing to both teams and dropping out of the rankings as quickly as they entered them.“We worked so hard to be a really good basketball team and to get the recognition that we deserve,” redshirt junior guard Katin Reinhardt said to the Los Angeles Daily News last month. “We saw that ranking and then we lost it.”Now, after sweeping a three-game homestand with strong wins over Washington State, Washington and UCLA, the Men of Troy find themselves back in the rankings and in a similar position as they were in mid-January.Ranked 23rd in the nation in both the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll, the Trojans once again will hit the road for a couple of games over the weekend, this time against Arizona State and No. 17 Arizona.Adding to the parallelism, the quality of the opponents is alike.Arizona State is a lot like Oregon State — a team that, on paper, the Trojans should beat. Arizona is comparable to Oregon as the more established ranked team against whom a road loss would be understandable, but the Trojans should be able to hang with.USC has already beaten both the Sun Devils and Wildcats at home on Jan. 7 and 9, a weekend capped off by the classic four-overtime win over then seventh-ranked Arizona that turned a lot of heads around college basketball.All they’re looking for this weekend is a repeat formula, except on the road. Here lies another massive opportunity not only for head coach Andy Enfield and the Men of Troy in their quest to become not just relevant but also to remain in the conversation as legitimate Pac-12 contenders.Because let’s be honest: nobody expected the Trojans to even sniff the rankings this season, much less be points behind perennial powerhouse Kentucky this deep into the campaign. The Trojans are even one spot ahead of Texas, which was one Buddy Hield spectacular buzzer-beater away from upsetting No. 3 Oklahoma on Monday. If USC were to play the Sooners today, the result would probably not be very pretty.But the thing about an up-and-coming team is that nobody — not even themselves — knows their true potential, and that should be very scary for any of the NCAA’s top dogs should the Trojans make it to March Madness.Speaking of which, the Trojans are picked to enter the NCAA Tournament as high as a No. 4 seed in the Midwest bracket in USA Today’s latest bracketology predictions updated on Thursday, while Duke and Arizona are both projected to be sixth seeds — a development that would not have even been plausible prior to the season.First, though, the Men of Troy must take care of business in their remaining eight conference games. Enfield has continuously stressed that his team should stay in the moment.“Now we’re ranked again, and we’re on the road again, so we will see if we have learned anything from last time,” Enfield said, according to The Register Guard. “You can easily lose on the road in this conference whether you’re ranked or not, whether you’re overconfident or not because the road is so hard in this league.”Multiple appearances in the rankings are yet another indication that the Trojans are moving rapidly in the right direction. This weekend presents a chance for the Men of Troy to take it a step further and stay in the Top 25 for consecutive weeks, stay ahead of Arizona and move closer to overtaking Oregon atop the Pac-12 and keep building their reputation as an up-and-coming program everybody wants to see come March.Opportunity is knocking for the Trojans, and they better grasp it before it’s in their rear view mirror.Eric He is a freshman majoring in print and digital journalism. He is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Grinding Gears,” runs Fridays.
Paul sustained inflamed rib cartilage during the third quarter of Monday’s victory over the Portland Trail Blazers and did not dress for Wednesday’s game against the Indiana Pacers.Redick suffered a sprained right ankle 17 seconds into the loss to the Pacers, meaning the Clippers (10-9) had to try to beat one of the best teams in the East without either one.Paul averages 17 points and 8.3 assists. Redick averages 13.4 points.“The CP and J.J. dynamic, that takes a lot out of your offense,” Rivers said. “It takes (away) a lot of movement, a lot of shooting, a lot of know-how, a lot of experience.“But it may be a silver lining somehow. Not for them, but for the other guys, maybe learning their way a little faster.” Crawford on strugglesSixth man Jamal Crawford is shooting just 35.6 percent and a career-worst 25.7 percent from 3-point range. When asked about it, he took the philosophical approach.“If you take out the two 1-for-9 games, I’m five percentage points higher,” he said. “So it’s such a fine line. I think the more I think about it, the worse I do. And the times I don’t think about it, are pretty good.”Crawford, 35, was asked how his legs are feeling.“I’m great, honestly, I’m great,” he said. “I feel really good.”Scouting the MagicOrlando is 11-8 under first-year coach Scott Skiles. The Magic, winners of five in a row, are led by forward Evan Fournier. He’s averaging 16.7 points. Center Nikola Vucevic, formerly of USC, is averaging 15.4 points and 8.6 rebounds and forward Tobias Harris comes in at 14.9 points per game.“They have talented young players, great coach, they play hard and they play the right way,” Clippers forward Blake Griffin said. “I think they’ve all bought into the team concept. They’re a fun team to watch; I’ve watched them quite a bit this year. They’re good, so we have to be good. We have to be better.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error PLAYA VISTA — Just when the Clippers were starting to find themselves — at least somewhat — they lost starting guards Chris Paul and J.J. Redick to injury.Neither is expected out long. Coach Doc Rivers said Paul definitely won’t play Saturday night when the Clippers host Orlando, and that Redick would have to be “really healthy” in order to play.But for a highly touted team that began 6-7 before winning four of five, the disruption doesn’t help.“Just because guys are out doesn’t change our process,” Rivers said before practice Friday at the team’s training facility. “We’re going to keep working on it and we’re going to have to do it a little bit without two key guys. But everyone goes through injuries; we’re not the only team.”
The SEC completed a decade of draft dominance with nine first-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft on Thursday. That edged out the Big Ten and ACC, which had seven first-round picks each. The Pac-12 and Big 12 each had three first-round picks.The SEC dominated again. The conference finished with 95 first-round picks in the last 10 NFL drafts, dating back to 2010. That leads all Power 5 conferences in that decade-long stretch. There is a huge gap between the SEC and the rest of the Power 5 conferences. The ACC (51), Big Ten (45), Pac-12 (43) and Big 12 (37) finished in that order in the last 10 drafts. The SEC had the most first-round picks in every NFL Draft this decade except 2010 and 2015.MORE: 2019 NFL Draft: First-round analysisThat trend continued in 2019. Alabama’s Quinnen Williams (No. 3), LSU’s Devin White (No. 5) and Kentucky’s Josh Allen (No. 7) were top-10 picks.The Crimson Tide led all FBS schools with 28 first-round picks since 2010, a remarkable stretch under coach Nick Saban. Jonah Williams (No. 11) and Joshua Jacobs (No. 24) added to that total. Mississippi State also had three first-round selections in Jeffery Simmons (No. 19), Montez Sweat (No. 26) and Johnathan Abram (No. 27). Georgia’s Deandre Baker (No. 30) rounded out the first-round picks.The SEC also had the No. 1 pick in three drafts in the decade, including Auburn’s Cam Newton (2011), South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney (2014) and Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett (2017).Here’s a look at every first-round pick from the SEC since 2010:YearPickPlayerTeamSchool20105Eric BerryKansas CityTennessee20107Joe HadenClevelandFlorida20108Rolando McClainOaklandAlabama201018Maurkice PounceyPittsburghFlorida201020Kareem JacksonHoustonAlabama201025Tim TebowDenverFlorida201026Dan WilliamsArizonaTennessee20111Cam NewtonCarolinaAuburn20113Marcell DareusBuffaloAlabama20114A.J. GreenCincinnatiGeorgia20115Patrick PetersonArizonaLSU20116Julio JonesAtlantaAlabama201113Nick FairleyDetroitAuburn201115Mike PounceyMiamiFlorida201125James CarpenterSeattleAlabama201128Mark Ingram Jr.New OrleansAlabama201132Derrek SherrodGreen BayMississippi State20123Trent RichardsonClevelandAlabama20126Morris ClaiborneDallasLSU20127Mark BarronTampa BayAlabama201210Stephon GilmoreBuffaloSouth Carolina201212Fletcher CoxPhiladelphiaMississippi State201214Michael BrockersSt. LouisLSU201217Dre KirkpatrickCincinnatiAlabama201218Melvin IngramSan DiegoSouth Carolina201225Dont’a HightowerNew EnglandAlabama20132Luke JoeckelJacksonvilleTexas A&M20136Barkevious MingoClevelandLSU20139Dee MillinerN.Y. JetsAlabama201310Chance WarmackTennesseeAlabama201311D. J. FlukerSan DiegoAlabama201313Sheldon RichardsonN.Y. JetsMissouri201317Jarvis JonesPittsburghGeorgia201318Eric ReidSan FranciscoLSU201323Sharrif FloydMinnesotaFlorida201329Cordarrelle PattersonMinnesotaTennessee201330Alec OgletreeSt. LouisGeorgia201332Matt ElamBaltimoreFlorida20141Jadeveon ClowneyHoustonSouth Carolina20142Greg RobinsonSt. LouisAuburn20146Jake MatthewsAtlantaTexas A&M20147Mike EvansTampa BayTexas A&M201412Odell Beckham Jr.N.Y. GiantsLSU201417C.J. MosleyBaltimoreAlabama201419Ja’Wuan JamesMiamiTennessee201421Ha Ha Clinton-DixGreen BayAlabama201422Johnny ManzielClevelandTexas A&M201423Dee FordKansas CityAuburn201429Dominique EasleyNew EnglandFlorida20153Dante FowlerJacksonvilleFlorida20154Amari CooperOaklandAlabama201510Todd GurleySt. LouisGeorgia201521Cedric OgbuehiCincinnatiTexas A&M201522Bud DupreePittsburghKentucky201523Shane RayDenverMissouri201524D. J. HumphriesArizonaFlorida20169Leonard FloydChicagoGeorgia201611Vernon HargreavesTampa BayFlorida201613Laremy TunsilMiamiOle Miss201617Keanu NealAtlantaFlorida201618Ryan KellyIndianapolisAlabama201623Laquon TreadwellMinnesotaOle Miss201629Robert NkemdicheArizonaOle Miss201631Germann IfediSeattleTexas A&M20171Myles GarrettClevelandTexas A&M20174Leonard FournetteJacksonvilleLSU20176Jamal AdamsN.Y. JetsLSU201714Derek BarnettPhiladelphiaTennessee201716Marlon HumphreyBaltimoreAlabama201717Jonathan AllenWashingtonAlabama201719O. J. HowardTampa BayAlabama201721Jarrad DavisDetroitFlorida201722Charles HarrisMiamiMissouri201723Evan EngramN.Y. GiantsOle Miss201727Tre’Davious WhiteBuffaloLSU201731Reuben FosterSan FranciscoAlabama20188Roquan SmithChicagoGeorgia201811Minkah FitzpatrickMiamiAlabama201813Daron PayneWashingtonAlabama201820Frank RagnowDetroitArkansas201822Rashaan EvansTennesseeAlabama201823Isaiah WynnNew EnglandGeorgia201825Hayden HurstBaltimoreSouth Carolina201826Calvin RidleyAtlantaAlabama201829Taven BryanJacksonvilleFlorida201831Sony MichelNew EnglandGeorgia20193Quinnen WilliamsN.Y. JetsAlabama20195Devin WhiteTampa BayLSU20197Josh AllenJacksonvilleKentucky201911Jonah WilliamsCincinnatiAlabama201919Jeffery SimmonsTennesseeMississippi State201924Josh JacobsOaklandAlabama201926Montez SweatWashingtonMississippi State201927Jonathan AbramOaklandMississippi State201930Deandre BakerN.Y. GiantsGeorgia