Posted October 26, 2011 on AP on Fox
(Eds: Adds details, quotes. With AP Photos.) By BETH HARRIS AP Sports Writer Kevin O'Neill had Southern California's offensive scheme set for the season, using guards Jio Fontan and Maurice Jones to run pick-and-rolls as part of one of the Pac-12's best backcourts. Throw that idea out the window. Fontan is expected to miss the upcoming season after tearing a ligament in his left knee during the Trojans' exhibition trip to Brazil in August. The team's heart may as well have been ripped out, too. ''It changes everything we do and puts us in a position where we need to play off more movement and more inside than we planned on doing with Jio,'' said O'Neill, starting his third year as coach. Fontan only played the second half of last season after transferring from Fordham, but he quickly made an impact. The point guard led the team in assists during that stretch and finished second in scoring with a 10.5 average. Named team captain, he scored 57 points in USC's first two games in Brazil before he landed awkwardly on his way to the basket and suffered the injury. Now it's up to Jones to run the offense alongside freshman Alexis Moore, who made an impressive debut in Brazil. The 6-foot-2 guard showed he can score off the drive or from long range and can guard different spots on the perimeter. Jones, who averaged 9.9 points and set a school freshman record with 69 steals last season, is ready for his new role. ''I'm going to handle the ball more, and I've got to be more vocal and be more of a leader,'' he said. ''And I'm going to need to score more.'' O'Neill is comfortable with putting the ball in Jones' hands. ''We're going to sit him out as much practice time as we can without hurting the team, but he has to play 40 minutes a game,'' the coach said. The Trojans were 19-15 last season and tied for fourth in the league before earning a berth in the NCAA tournament. They lost leading scorer Nikola Vucevic to the NBA draft, along with Marcus Simmons, Alex Stepheson and Donte Smith. Even with the departures, O'Neill has a lofty goal in mind. ''We plan on being an NCAA tournament team,'' he said. Besides Moore, 7-footer Dewayne Dedmon and Greg Allen - both junior college transfers - Iowa transfer Aaron Fuller and freshman Byron Wesley are among the newcomers who figure to get major minutes. ''There is going to be a big learning curve. Everything is a first for these guys,'' O'Neill said. ''I hate to say it, but many of these guys are basketball virgins at the college level. Their first road trip, staying in a hotel is going to be brand new.'' O'Neill plans to experiment with playing three big men at the same time, using Dedmon, Fuller and 7-1 James Blasczyk, a former Texas A&M player who was in junior college last season. ''If we do go to that big lineup, I feel that we can dominate the offensive glass,'' Fuller said. ''Our bigs do a tremendous job of rebounding, getting good position and getting guys open shots. Any of us out there, it will be a good thing.'' Dedmon could be the Trojans' most intriguing player. Already O'Neill, a former NBA coach, predicts he will eventually make it to the pros. Dedmon didn't start playing organized basketball until he was a senior in high school. He averaged 6.6 points and 7.8 rebounds at Antelope Valley (Calif.) Community College before transferring to USC. He practiced the second semester with the Trojans, holding his own in the paint against Vucevic and Stepheson. Since then, Dedmon has bulked up and O'Neill expects him to be a force in the paint. The Trojans open the season at home Nov. 11 against Cal State Northridge. The highlight of their non-conference schedule is a visit by Kansas on Dec. 22, with other games against Minnesota, New Mexico and Georgia, before beginning Pac-12 play at California on Dec. 29. ''We're going to surprise a lot of people in the Pac-12 and even in the beginning of the year, there's going to be some teams people don't think we're supposed to beat,'' Jones said.

USC's Robert Woods wouldn't mind repeat against Stanford

The Trojans receiver caught 12 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns for a breakout performance against the Cardinal last season. Woods, though, would trade his great game for a victory.The Trojans receiver caught 12 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns for a breakout performance against the Cardinal last season.

Once highly touted RB Baxter off USC team

The running back, who has had run-ins with Lane Kiffin and USC, is off the Trojans but remains at the university.

Quoting Kiffin: Practice 1 of Stanford

Quotes from the Trojans' head coach after Tuesday's practice at Howard Jones Field. Read on for Kiffin's comments on the running game, the offensive guards' play, Dillon Baxter, Robert Woods, Matt Barkley and more.

Lane Kiffin apologizes for USC’s comments, but Brian Kelly thinks the ridicule is deserved

Lane Kiffin is trying to quash his team's public verbal bashing of Notre Dame after several of his players went on record as saying the Irish quit during the fourth quarter of USC's 31-17 win. Kiffin actually called Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly to apologize and issued a public statement, unfortunately, he only apologized for one of the many comments floated out there in...

USC RB Baxter no longer with team (AP)

Tailback Dillon Baxter is no longer part of Southern California's football team, likely ending the Trojans career of an elite recruit after less than two seasons. USC coach Lane Kiffin wouldn't reveal the reasons for Baxter's separation from the 20th-ranked Trojans (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) on Tuesday, refusing to characterize it as a suspension or a dismissal.

Writers' Recap: Starting Prep for Stanford

USC beat writers Dan Greenspan and Whitney Blaine recap a big day of practice for the Trojans at Howard Jones Field, including the implications of no Dillon Baxter, an injury update and more.

John Robinson still has plenty of spirit (of Troy) in him

The former Trojans coach, now 76, loves what's going on at the school with Pat Haden and Lane Kiffin. Oh, and beating Notre Dame, that's pretty special.The former Trojans coach, now 76, loves what's going on at the school with Pat Haden and Lane Kiffin.

Video: USC loss a defining moment for the Irish?

For those who are unaware, quite the brouhaha was stirred up following USC’s win over Notre Dame Saturday when at least one Trojan player, linebacker Chris Galippo, accused the Irish of quitting late in the loss.  Quarterback Matt Barkley tossed a little additional fuel on the fire during a subsequent radio interview by confirming his…

Lane Kiffin and father Monte coach USC football — and each other

USC Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin employing his father, Monte Kiffin, to run the defense has at times tested fans' patience. But their bond remains strong.USC was coming off a disappointing season, its 8-5 record not terrible by any means, but well below the expectations of football fans accustomed to national championships.
Trojans News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.