Notebook: O'Neill to change starting lineup

Omar Oraby

After dropping five straight, USC Coach Kevin O'Neill says it's time to change the Trojans' starting lineup.

Shaking up the starters
USC Coach Kevin O'Neill said following the Trojans' (3-6) fifth straight loss of the season that a change needed to take place in his starting lineup in order to produce more energy at the start of games.

He told SCPlaybook after practice Thursday that he's settled on a new starting five which will include junior-transfer Omar Oraby.

Oraby, who led the Trojans with 15-points in their loss to Minnesota, will replace J.T. Terrell when the team takes the floor hosting UC-Riverside on Saturday.

The insertion of the center to the lineup means forward Eric Wise will be moving over to play the three.

O'Neill says he is also planning to get more minutes for the freshmen as well as transfer Renaldo Woolridge, who he calls "an energy guy".

"We're going to see what happens," O'Neill said, "but we can't continue down the path we've been continuing down where we play 25 minutes of good basketball. We've got to make changes."

Five in a row
After winning their first 3-of-4 games this season, the Trojans have now dropped five straight – three on the road and two at home.

"We need to get a win," O'Neill emphasized. "We've lost five in a row, which if you did it by NBA terms is like losing 15 in a row."

"We've played some really good teams, but we haven't won, so it's no excuse," he said.

USC's six losses are to teams who have a combined 50-6 record and include three squads in the Top 25 (No. 25 San Diego State, No. 18 New Mexico, No. 14 Minnesota).

"What we have to do is come out and try to get a win and play hard or play better on defense and share the ball," O'Neill said.

The center piece
The Trojans were able to erase much of the deficit in their loss to Minnesota in the second half when they started running their offense through Oraby.

The 7-foot-2 center collected a game-high 15 points, all in the second half versus the Gophers.

Now in the starting lineup, O'Neill says the Rice-transfer will play a larger role for the Trojans despite his inexperience, "He's going to be a little up and down, but at least he gives us a presence in the post," O'Neill said.

"Jio [Fontan] is going to start making shots and we're going to have a great inside-outside, what we need to do is be great on the defensive end, game in and game out."

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