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USC fires Kevin O’Neill, P-12 teams pop into rankings

Post by Todd Dybas / The News Tribune on Jan. 14, 2013 at 3:13 pm with No Comments »
January 14, 2013 3:13 pm

That’s it for Kevin O’Neill at USC. The Trojans fired him today and named Bob Cantu the interim head coach.

Here’s the official release about O’Neill’s departure. It makes you wonder if basketball can ever work at USC on a consistent basis. Based on the resources and location, you would think it should thrive.

LOS ANGELES–USC men’s basketball coach Kevin O’Neill has been relieved of his duties, Trojan athletic director Pat Haden announced today (Jan. 14).

Longtime USC assistant coach Bob Cantu will serve as interim head coach while a search for O’Neill’s successor is conducted.

“I would like to thank Kevin O’Neill for his four years of service to USC,” said Haden.  “He took over a program under difficult circumstances because of our NCAA issues and, despite that, he was able to do some good things.

“It was hard for me to evaluate him as a head coach until this year when he had enough players and veterans to compete.  As the season progressed, it became evident to me that we needed new leadership in our men’s basketball program.  Despite a nice road win in our last game, I felt it was best to make a change now, with most of the Pac-12 season still ahead of us, in order to re-energize our team.

“I feel confident that Bob Cantu will capably guide our team on an interim basis while we search for a new coach.”

Said O’Neill:  “I enjoyed my four years at USC.  It is a special place.  I enjoyed the people I worked with, the players I coached and our fans.  I thank USC for allowing me to guide their program.  I couldn’t be more proud to work anywhere.

“I would encourage all of our recruits to honor their commitment to USC and help build the Trojan program in the right direction.”

O’Neill, in his fourth year at USC, had a 48-65 overall record, including 7-10 this season after going 6-26 in an injury-plagued 2012 campaign.  The Trojans are 2-2 in Pac-12 play this year and are coming off a road split this past weekend, falling at Colorado before winning at Utah to snap a 14-game road losing skid.  USC has lost 9 of its last 13 games, which included a 5-game losing streak.

Cantu is in his 12th season with the USC men’s basketball program and 17th on the collegiate level.

In 2011, he was thrust into the head coach’s role hours before USC’s Pac-10 Tournament semifinal game against regular season champion Arizona.  The Trojans under Cantu took Arizona down to the wire before losing, 67-62.

USC returns home this week to host Oregon on Thursday (Jan.17) at 8 p.m. and Oregon State on Saturday (Jan. 19) at 5 p.m., both in the Galen Center.

Meanwhile, Oregon (21st) and UCLA (24th) popped into the AP top 25. Arizona fell from fourth to seventh after losing at Oregon last week. Here’s the top 25:

1. 15-1 1591 3
2. 15-1 1527 5
3. 15-1 1501 1
4. 14-1 1416 6
5. 16-1 1415 2
6. 16-1 1284 7
7. 15-1 1205 4
8. 16-1 1141 9
9. 15-2 1041 8
10. 12-2 1019 11
11. 13-3 939 15
12. 16-1 896 13
13. 14-2 855 14
14. 14-2 836 20
15. 14-2 704 16
16. 13-2 670 18
17. 12-3 598 10
18. 14-3 426 22
19. 15-2 368 25
20. 14-2 295 17
21. 14-2 238 NR
22. 14-3 212 NR
23. 14-4 199 12
24. 14-3 185 NR
25. 12-3 177 NR
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