The shockwaves of Monday’s suspension handed down by the men’s basketball program could be felt around the entire locker room. Players did not speak after practice, as head coach Bob Cantu was the only person to address the media at that time.
USC interim head coach said the suspended Dewayne Dedmon and James Blasczyk will not play against Utah on Wednesday.
— Jacob Freedman (@Jacob_Freedman) March 12, 2013
Due to James Blasczyk and Dewayne Dedmon’s actions over the weekend, the Trojans will be down two of their biggest front court players for at least Wednesday’s matchup against Utah. The Trojans are one of two teams in the nation with three seven-footers in their rotation, but will now have to play small to survive the running Utes.
The Trojans have started Dewayne Dedmon and Eric Wise in the front court for 12 straight games dating back to January 24th against Arizona State. Dedmon has been a hit-or-miss player this season, depending on his activity on both ends of the court, and whether he can stay out of foul trouble.
Over the course of this season, Dedmon is averaging 6.7 PPG and a team-high 7.0 RPG for the Trojans. Dedmon has scored in double figures eight times, finishing the season shooting 50-percent from the field. Where the Trojans might suffer the most is on the defensive end of the court. Dedmon has recorded a block in 18 straight games, while also forcing a turnover in seven of the past eight games.
The active defender and tenacious rebounder should be missed for his statistical impact but will be leave the largest hole in the Trojans effort department. Dedmon plays with tenacity on both ends of the court, showcasing his emotion on almost every possession.
Take for example his first and only meeting against Utah, a game that USC won handily on the road. In the Trojans 17-point victory, Dedmon scored 13 points while grabbing 13 rebounds and recording an impressive five blocks. He not only dominated the stat sheet but also shut down Utah’s greatest scoring weapon in seven-footer Jason Washburn.
The Trojans will now look to Aaron Fuller to fill these minutes that were left by Dedmon’s absence. Fuller has been extremely effective against teams with smaller lineups, UCLA and Arizona for example. The key for USC will be team-oriented rebounding and defense which will certainly slow down the pace of play.
Since the Trojans are also down James Blascyzk, a crafty role player for Bob Cantu, the lineup could also lend itself towards more playing time for Ari Stewart and Renaldo Woolridge.
Woolridge is the most interesting of the two, because he did not play on Senior Day, and has only registered 11 minutes in the past four games. Luckily for the Trojans, Woolridge played numerous games at the center position last season for the undersized Tennessee Volunteers.
Expect a depleted Trojans lineup for most, if not all the Pac-12 tournament. The first round matchup against Utah became that much more interesting because the Trojans greatest strength may have been neutralized. The Trojans will now rely heavily on Aaron Fuller and Eric Wise to carry the tough assignments of defending Utah’s massive front court featuring Washburn and Jordan Loveridge.
James Blascyzk has not registered as many minutes as last season, a year in which he averaged nearly 20 mintues per game, but the seven-footer makes so many smart basketball plays. The senior’s ability to rebound, set screens and take charges can make all the difference in winning games. His loss makes the subtraction of Dedmon more worrisome for the Trojans chances this week.