We recapped Wednesday night's game in its many facets last night, including the Trojans' inability to get a big piece of their offense going offensively, a repeat of the team's season-long struggles against the zone and questions over a lack of effort.
We'll have a season-in-review post on the blog Friday looking back on the game and the 34 others USC played this season in a broad scope, looking both to the past and future of USC basketball.
Until then, here are some telling quotes from many of the parties involved in Wednesday's game:
Junior guard Jio Fontan, on the reasons behind the loss: "I don't have a good taste in my mouth, obviously, about this performance, but...I'm glad our team got to bundle up and get here. And just thank the university for the support they gave us, thank our fans for coming out and supporting us, and me, personally, I thank K.O. for this opportunity to play on this team and to lead this team."
Coach Kevin O'Neill, on what adjustments he attempted to make in the second half for offensive rebounding purposes and why they didn't work out: "Our adjustment at halftime wasn't -- I liked where we were at halftime. I liked 22-22. I'm cool with that. So the only thing I told our guys is we needed to keep controlling the tempo, which we didn't do. We tried to speed things up a little bit and it really hurt us, and we needed to make sure we were as good defensively in the second half as were in the first, and we weren't...But, again, that's the game of basketball. Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don't."
Junior forward Nikola Vucevic, on whether things started to look bleak in the second half when VCU started hitting 3-pointers and the Trojans started really getting in foul trouble: "They got on a good run in the second half and we didn't respond well. Then we got into foul trouble. We didn't have players that could come in and sub those guys. But, I mean, they just did a great job of playing us. They scouted us real well. They knew most of our plaus. They did a great job on both ends of the court and you gotta give them credit for it."
VCU coach Shaka Smart, on whether or not he had a feeling his team was going to be able to play well Wednesday: "I'm a pretty positive guy so I usually have a feeling we're going to play well. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. I think in our last seven games we've played well. And I think our guys have played very hard. They've shared the basketball, and they've followed the game plan. So I didn't think tonight would be any different. I knew there were some challenges with USC, but I think our guys did a nice job on Vucevic. He's a high-level player, and to hold him to 11 pointas and only five field-goal attempts, that's about as much as you can ask for."
More O'Neill, on his players' all-around nervousness, even in the late-going: "They've never been here before. For a lack of a better word, they're virgin NCAA players. They haven't been on this stage. They haven't been out there. It's like anything else, when you do it for the first time, there might be some bumps in the road. I think experience makes us all better at everything. And we're an NCAA-inexperienced group for the most part. This is Jio's first time playing in the tournament. Mo [Jones]' first time, Garrett [Jackson]'s first time. Nik played sparingly. Marcus [Simmons] played sparingly. Donte [Smith] didn't play in an NCAA tournament game; Al played in a couple games for North Carolina."