Las Vegas • Bob Cantu was nothing if not honest.
As USC’s interim head coach, Cantu was thrown into the deep end during the middle of the season. Two days after the Trojans throttled Utah at the Huntsman Center, Kevin O’Neill was fired, with Cantu taking over. What transpired after that is a mixed bag of good wins and puzzling defeats.
Following a 69-66 loss to Utah in Wednesday’s Pac-12 Tournament, Cantu was asked where he would be next season.
“I don’t know at this time,” was Cantu’s response.
At this point, it’s tough to imagine Cantu getting the job full time. Reports are that USC has reached out to former coach Tim Floyd, as well as having Pitt coach Jamie Dixon on its wish list.
And while USC did beat UCLA and Arizona, the Trojans were beaten down by Washington State in their regular-season finale. They did suffer the black eye of having to suspend starting center Dewayne Dedmon for his participation in a brawl last Saturday. And of course, USC lost to lower-seeded Utah on the first night of the league tournament.
With a talented and athletic roster, Cantu also made significant coaching mistakes against the Utes, his decision not to foul Utah down by three points with 39 seconds remaining the most glaring. Still, USC finished last in the Pac-12 a season ago. The Trojans were much better than that this time around.
“We have made a lot of progress,” Cantu said. “We’ve had great wins, and this is a good group of character guys. We’ve had some wins that we can really be proud of this season.”
The best performance of the day belongs to Arizona State freshman point guard Jahii Carson, who dazzled his way to 34 points in an 89-88 overtime win against Stanford. The two best rookies in the Pac-12 — Carson and Shabazz Muhammad — will meet on Thursday when the Sun Devils and UCLA hook up at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Colorado’s Andre Roberson played and started in a win over Oregon State. Roberson, one of the best rebounders in the country, missed the last two games with concussion-like symptoms.