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Men's Basketball Coaching Change

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USC men's basketball head coach Kevin O'Neill has been removed from the position as the search for the program's next head coach begins.  In the interim, lead assistant Bob Cantu will take over the Trojans.

Here is the official release from Pat Haden and the Sports Information Department:

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.

Kevin-O'Neill-AP.jpg"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.

11 Comments

You fire the basketball coach because you see the talent and veterans that he has, but lane kiffen with all the talent he has you don't? You should be fired Pat haden.

Smart move to do it now to get a jump start on search. How about Steve Alford?

Happy days are around the corner for us Basketball fans. Now the Pat has taken steps to rid us of O'Neil perhaps we can find a premier coach - one who can attract top notch players in fill the arena!

I think this is also a shot across the bow for Lane. It shows that Pat can make a change at any time of the season.

This is a huge relief, I am thankful Haden made a the call and decided he wanted excellence. I expect a top of the line coach, we want a winner for USC Basketball. Next coach to get the axe = Cooper, then the terrible baseball hire, then the grand finale in Kiffin if he can't win AT LEAST 10 games next year.

Steve Fisher of San Diego State would be great also.

I totally agree, I Hayden feels this way about O'neil, he should have fired that joke of a head football coach you guys have for sure.

Writing was on the wall. Off the field transgressions with O'Neill and the worst team on record last year.

This year a rocky start no consistency. The team is just not doing well offensively. Defensively they are fine but you need offense.

The killer is the lack of any turnout in the Galen Center. He lost the fans.. Can't have that. We are a private school. The lack of fans is money.

I am sure Haden laid down the parameters on what he expected from his coaches. So I am sure the coaches know when they are in hot water..

O'Neill seems to have taken it in stride. His commentary after the Utah game was completely different than other post game commentaries. REally makes me think he knew he was on the HOT seat which is fine.

I think mike brown would be a good hire for this program..

The best choice would be current LA Defenders head coach Reggie Theus.

He's proven himself at the college level by turning around New Mexico State while also learning under Pitino at Louisville.

In addition, he's got huge street cred and swag being a hometown Inglewood CA, college, and NBA star. This would be a solid recruiting draw in helping to keep areas stars at home. Not to mention his own son who is an incredible talent and senior in high school. His other blue chip friends would be sure to follow.

SC needs a coach whose been there, understands players, and who players respect. Theus would put the program back on the map, win games, and for sure boost attendance.

I think Brian Fish from Oregon, would be a smart choice! He is a hidden gem, look at the success of Oregon Basketball.

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