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Akron Zips vs. USC Trojans: Q&A Preview with Conquest Chronicles

We take a deeper dive into the USC Trojans with a little help from the experts.

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While the news of Demetrius Treadwell's suspension is still lingering over the Akron basketball program, there are still games to be played. The Zips play their first game sans-Tree on Thursday afternoon against the USC Trojans in the first round of the Charleston Classic. We sat down with Evan Budrovich, who writes for SB Nation's USC blog, Conquest Chronicles, to answer some questions about the Trojans.

Hustle Belt: So, things got off to a bit of a rocky start against Portland State. Was there anything you could take away from that game, or was it just an overall bad performance?

Conquest Chronicles: USC really needs to work on holding on to the basketball, committing 40 combined turnovers in the first two games. Especially for a young team that features no seniors, just one role-playing junior and two freshmen in the starting lineup, the Trojans' have to play smart. I think we saw the best and worst of what USC can do this season. Andy Enfield's squad can run up and down the floor, but they will always get in their own way.

HB: What is the current state of the program? It's obvious that football is king at USC, but the basketball team has not been able to reach the .500 mark for the last few seasons.

CC: USC men's basketball is an afterthought right now. Especially as the football team prepares for Conquest, the annual meeting with UCLA, students/faculty and fans alike have hardly noticed that basketball season has begun. Andy Enfield just brought in the No. 12 recruiting class in the nation, which will bring promise and excitement back to the program. It might take another year or two, but basketball will continue to improve in the coming seasons.

HB: What were your thoughts when you heard of the first round match-up against Akron in the Charleston Classic? Now that Akron's best player is suspended indefinitely, I'm sure you're feeling a little better:

CC: Well that news certainly makes USC fans feel better, especially with the undersized lineups coach Enfield like to throw out on a nightly basis. I still think when it matters most, the Trojans' need forward Nikola Jovanovic to find his rhythm. Akron presents an interesting matchup because both teams love to shoot from the perimeter, but I'm not yet sure whether USC will be able to respond well (or poorly) to their first true test away from the Galen Center.

HB: Who are some players that we should be looking out for? Just scanning the roster, it seems like there are a lot of young guys. Jordan McLaughlin looks like a stud.

CC: Jordan McLaughlin is already a good player, even though he's only competed in two games. Katin Reinhardt, a transfer from UNLV, will provide a nice shooting touch for a scoring-deprived backcourt from last season. Freshmen guard Elijah Stewart and forward Malik Martin provide hustle out on the floor because of their freakish athleticism. I'd also say keep an eye out for Darion Clark (just 6-foot-7), the big-bodied rebounder for the Trojans.

HB: Give me your prediction for the game.

CC: I will say USC starts slow but finds a way to push tempo in the second half, winning 73-64.

Big thanks to Evan for the Q&A. You can watch the Akron-USC contest on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN3. The winner will face the winner of the Drexel/Miami game on Friday.