While the men’s basketball schedule looks like a mirage with USC football dominating the headlines over summer, the Trojans have announced a marquee tournament for their 2013-2014 non-conference schedule.
The Trojans made one big splash this offseason, signing Andy Enfield fresh off a trip to the Sweet 16 with the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. Now, the men’s basketball squad has secured a bid to participate in the “Battle for Atlantis” non-conference tournament, which awards schools $2 million for their participation in the event.
The tournament will take place from November 27th-December 1st on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. The field will feature Kansas, who is coming off huge news after signing the nation’s top recruit Andrew Wiggins. Tennessee, Villanova, Xavier, Iowa, Wake Forest are among the other participants in this years bracket.
The most intriguing matchup however, would square the Enfield’s-led Trojans against a former coach of USC, and head man who expressed interest in running the program this spring, in Tim Floyd and his UTEP Minors.
The Trojans took part in the Maui Invitational as their marquee tournament last season, under the direction of former head coach Kevin O’Neill. They finished the Hawaiian getaway 1-2, punctuated with a humiliating 30-point loss in the opening game versus Illinois.
Following the thumping loss at the hands of the Illini, the Trojans responded by defeating Texas in OT, fueled by key points late from Dewayne Dedmon. In the final game of the tournament, the Trojans battled the eventual Elite-Eight participant Marquette, losing by eight points. JT Terrell led all scorers in that contest with 21 points, in what is considered his best game under Kevin O’Neill.
This year’s club returns three starters in Byron Wesley, JT Terrell and Omar Oraby with role players Ari Stewart and Chass Bryan looking to increase their role this season. Rest assured that the diligent Andy Enfield is already preparing game plans for the Bahama Tournament.
Battle for Atlantis has traditionally featured a fair share of power house teams with top-ten rankings. Last season, Duke defeated eventual national champion Louisville 76-71 in the final. USC foes Stanford and Minnesota also participated in the tournament, finishing 5th and 6th respectively. The Atlantis ties to Enfield are also quite intriguing, as the Florida Gulf Eagles won the “Mainland Bracket” defeating Toledo 72-66 in the November 22nd National Championship Game.
The Be7ieve offense will be on full display this summer, with national tournaments like the Battle For Atlantis as barometers for the Trojans hopes as an NIT or NCAA contender. The biggest question this offeseason is whether the Trojans committed recruits, Julian Jacobs, Roschon Prince, Nikola Jovanovic and Kahlil Dukes can provide some intangibles for a basketball team looking to build an identity for next season.