Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Will USC retain Cantu?
By Matt Giles
When Kendal Yancy-Harris was given his conditional release from USC, Yancy-Harris' uncle made an interesting comment to ESPN's Dave Telep: "[Initially USC] wanted him to wait until they hired a new head coach. Pat [Haden] said that would be the end of February." While Bob Cantu, who was promoted to interim head coach following the firing of Kevin O'Neill, has helped the Trojans win five of their nine games since early January, it would appear that Cantu will not seamlessly shed his interim label for a more permanent one.
We have to wonder, though, judging the way USC has played under Cantu, whether another coaching change would be wise. Cantu is a gifted and able recruiter, a coach who has mined the state of California for talent, and was responsible for many of the players in USC's past several recruiting classes. For instance, per Telep, is Cantu is not promoted to the full-time head coach, current USC commit Roschon Prince might end up back on the 2013 recruiting board, and Telep has tabbed the 6-foot-5 wing as a potential sleeper in the Pac-12.
We also want to add that since the win over Utah on January 12th, the last game O'Neill coached, the Trojans have been on a roll. Three of those four losses were in the single digits -- USC was leading Cal for much of that loss before Allen Crabbe began converting continuous three-pointers. Before O'Neill was fired, USC was scoring .99 points per possession, while allowing .99 PPP -- an efficiency margin of roughly zero. During Cantu's tenure, the offense hasn't improved drastically -- though Cantu has provided J.T. Terrell with some much needed offensive freedom, but the defense has proved much tighter (.93 PPP).