Team preview: USC

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

Tim Floyd wasn't overly thrilled with how his first season as USC coach concluded. His Trojans lost seven of their last nine, and despite finishing 17-13 overall and 8-10 in the conference, were not extended an NIT invitation.

The postseason snub notwithstanding, Floyd had to feel good about what his team had accomplished. Floyd had returned from an eight-year absence from the college ranks and immediately brought respectability to a program that hadn't won more than 13 games since 2001-02. And the future appeared nearly impeccable; the team's top six scorers were returning, and one of the nation's top recruiting classes was in tow for 2006 with another on the horizon. And come this November, there will be a new home for Trojans basketball with the opening of the state-of-the-art, on-campus Galen Center (capacity 10,258).

Barely a year after accepting the position, Floyd had the college basketball world talking about potentially the next perennial power in the college ranks. As Floyd said last summer, "It's a bunch of malarkey to say that you can't be great in both basketball and football. We have watched it happen at Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Michigan and others through the years. It will happen here."

And while Floyd is still on his way to accomplishing that goal at Southern California, life interrupted basketball around 3 a.m. May 13.

Freshman Ryan Francis, who started all 30 games for USC last season, was shot multiple times and killed while riding in the back seat of a car in his hometown of Baton Rouge, La. From all accounts, he was an unintended victim of a dispute involving two other men. Francis, an only child, was home that weekend for Mother's Day.

"We're all devastated," Floyd said. "We've lost a special young man who in his short time at USC made an impression that will last forever. He was a wonderful young man, a fine student and a leader who was admired by his teammates. He came from a great family, he loved his mother and talked about her all the time. This is just so, so sad."

Francis was a Pac-10 All-Freshman selection, averaging 7.3 points and a team-high 3.7 assists. His 47 steals were second on the team.