We’re going to spend the next several weeks discussing USC men’s basketball. Today, we put a bow on the USC women’s basketball season and wrap it up.
The Trojans’ season ended Wednesday at the Pac-12 Tournament with a first-round loss to UCLA. USC finished 12-16. It went 5-12 in the conference’s regular season before losing a tournament game. The numbers look ugly, but if you look beyond them, you’ll see this was an encouraging first year for Gottlieb.
Let’s keep in mind that she was hired in May of 2021, well into the offseason. Players who might have transferred to USC had she already been in place were not in position to commit to the Trojans given the timing of the hire, which came after previous coach Mark Trakh decided to step down on April 21.
If Trakh had announced his retirement earlier and Mike Bohn had been able to hire Gottlieb earlier, USC might have made more gains in the transfer portal, and the Trojans might have been able to convince other players to stay. This was not an athletic department problem; Trakh’s late decision to retire was the main plot complication.
So, Gottlieb had to coach a limited roster in Year 1. This was going to be a painful process. No one should have gone into the season thinking USC would immediately contend for an NCAA Tournament berth — not in a conference which is routinely loaded in women’s basketball.
The main measurement of this first season for Gottlieb was if she gained total buy-in from her players and established the right culture.
She thoroughly succeeded, a very encouraging sign for the future at Heritage Hall.
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