Cantu named interim coach
Trojans open conference play on Jan. 3 vs. Stanford
USC snapped their five-game losing streak with the win.
Byron Wesley added 13 points and Jio Fontan had nine points.
Five Trojans scored in double figures, led by 14 from Eric Wise, but USC (3-5) still lost its fourth straight.
USC vs. Utah - AP Photos
USC vs. Georgia
USC 64, Marquette 72 - AP Photos
USC vs. Washington - AP Photo Gallery
USC vs. Colorado - AP Photo Gallery
Kevin O'Neill, 55, was named the USC men's basketball head coach on June 20, 2009 and brought with him tireless energy, a vast depth of experience and a brilliant basketball mind. O'Neill's highly successful stops as a coach or head coach at both the college and NBA levels have helped him develop strong NBA ties and some impressive defensive systems.
The 2011-12 season had great promise, but injuries mounted starting with senior point guard Jio Fontan in the summer and then starting forwards Dewayne Dedmon and Aaron Fuller went down and the Trojans were left with just six scholarship players for nearly half of the season. The results was a 6-26 season and a keen focus on a return to past successes this season.
In the 2010-11 season O'Neill guided USC to a 19-15 record and into the NCAA Tournament. The Trojans finished tied for fourth in the Pac-10 conference and reached the Pac-10 semifinals. Along the way he oversaw the development of NBA first round draft selection Nikola Vucevic, who went from averaging 2.6 points per game prior to O'Neill's arrival to averaging 17.1 points, a conference-leading 10.3 rebounds and first team all-conference honors. The Trojans held the opposition to a .409 shooting percentage, second among Pac-10 teams and to a conference low of 62.7 points per game. USC lost 59-46 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to NCAA semifinalist VCU.
In his first season after replacing Tim Floyd, O'Neill led USC to a 16-14 record and a fifth-place tie in the Pac-10 Conference. He was named the 2010 Pac-10 Coach of the Year by CollegeInsiders.com. USC was in the hunt for the conference title until the final two weeks of the season, despite playing the second half of the year under the knowledge that self-imposed sactions would prohibit them from postseason play. Among the highlights during his first season at the helm was an eight-game winning streak, winning the inaugural Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii and wins over NCAA Tournament bound No. 9 Tennessee, St. Mary's, UNLV and Washington (twice), as well as a sweep of rival UCLA.
O'Neill brings 16 years of collegiate and NBA head coaching experience and has worked in the coaching ranks for 33 years. During the 2008-09 season, he served as an assistant coach and special assistant to the general manager of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies.
He has extensive knowledge of the Pac-12 and West Coast basketball as he served as an assistant at Arizona from 1987-89 when the Wildcats compiled an 82-19 record and went to three straight NCAA Tournaments, reached one Final Four and posted two first-place and one second-place finish in the Pac-10. He then served as the Arizona interim head coach for the 2007-08 season when Lute Olson took a leave of absence. O'Neill guided Arizona to a 19-15 record and into the NCAA Tournament despite directing a team with four of its top five players being freshmen or sophomores (19 wins & 1 loss later vacated by Arizona due to NCAA penalty).
O'Neill began his NCAA Division I collegiate head coaching career at Marquette, where he went 86-62 (.581) in five seasons (1990-94) and had three postseason appearances. His initial team in 1990 went 15-14 and played in the NIT, the school's first winning season and postseason trip since 1987. His 1993 squad was 20-8 (Marquette's first 20-win season since 1985) and captured the school's first NCAA berth since 1983. That season, he was named the Great Midwest Conference Co-Coach of the Year, Basketball Weekly Midwest Coach of the Year and National Association of Basketball Coaches District 11 Coach of the Year and he was a finalist for Associated Press National Coach of the Year.
Marquette then went 24-9 in 1994 to earn its first-ever league title and he guided the Warriors to their first NCAA Sweet Sixteen berth since 1979. O'Neill was selected as the 1994 Great Midwest Coach of the Year and the NABC District 11 Co-Coach of the Year. His final two Marquette teams led the nation in defensive field goal percentage. While at Marquette, he was featured in the 1994 Oscar-nominated documentary, "Hoop Dreams."
He then became Tennessee's head coach for three seasons (1995-97), inheriting a team that had won just five games in 1994 and getting the Volunteers into the NIT by his second season.
O'Neill then served as the head coach at Northwestern for three seasons (1998-2000), where he went 30-56. The 1999 Wildcats team was 15-14 (its first winning season since 1994) and played in the NIT, just the third postseason appearance in school history. He then moved on to the NBA as an assistant coach, spending the 2001 season with the playoff-bound New York Knicks and then two seasons (2002-03) with the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons won 50 games, were the Division champs and appeared in the playoffs both seasons (advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2003) and were regarded among the NBA's premier defensive teams.
O'Neill served as the Toronto Raptors' head coach in 2004. His team started out 25-25 and was in position to make the NBA playoffs, but then injuries struck and the team finished with a 33-49 record, just missing a playoff spot.
He spent the next three years (2005-07) with the Indiana Pacers, the first two as an assistant as the club made the NBA playoffs both seasons and the third as a consultant.
O'Neill began his coaching career as the head coach at Central High in Hammon, N.Y. in 1980, then spent the next two years (1981-82) as the head coach at North Country Community College in Saranac Lake, N.Y. Within two seasons the program earned a berth in the Region III junior college playoffs. In 1983 he served as the head coach at the NAIA's Marycrest College in Davenport, Ia. and led them to a 17-14 record.
He then became an assistant coach at Delaware for two seasons (1984-85), Tulsa in 1986 and Arizona (1987-89) before landing the head coaching job at Marquette. The Tulsa team went 23-9, won the 1986 Missouri Valley Conference tournament and made the NCAA Tournament.
O'Neill was a three-year basketball letterman at McGill University in Montreal (1976-79), helping the Redmen to a 52-35 (.598) mark in his career. In his 1978 junior season, McGill posted a school-record 28 wins and advanced to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championship tournament.
He received his bachelor's degree in education from McGill in 1979 and his master's degree in secondary education from Marycrest in 1983.
O'Neill was born on Jan. 24, 1957, in Malone, N.Y. His wife's name is Roberta. He has a son, Sean, who worked with the team and earned a graduate Business Management degree from USC last year.