Floyd took over a team at rock bottom. The Trojans were returning four players from a last-place team in the Pacific-10 Conference. After two years under Floyd’s influence, the Trojans enter the Pac-10 tournament today at Staples Center as the third seed, their highest placement in the tournament’s 10-year history. USC’s first trip to the NCAA tournament in five years is likely. Stewart, Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt – talented players who seemed lost under the previous coaching staff of Henry Bibby and, for a few months, Jim Saia – quickly rallied around new leadership. Like Carroll, Floyd appears to be a better fit in college than in the pros – and not simply because of his win-loss record (93-235) in 31/2 seasons with Chicago and New Orleans. “Guys here are aspiring to be something, either in the NBA or in the real world,” Floyd said. “As a result, it’s easier to capture their listening at this level. I realized the impact I could have here is far greater.” LOS ANGELES – Tim Floyd attended most USC football home games last season, slipping in anonymously and watching the action like any other school employee. In a few more years, maybe he’ll trot into the Coliseum like a movie star, an entourage of the nation’s top recruits at his side, and receive the largest ovation of the day from 90,000 fans when shown on the big screen. That’s the treatment Pete Carroll receives at Galen Center, and Floyd is drawing comparisons to the football coach in the way he has turned around the USC basketball program in two seasons. “The best thing to happen for me and this team was coach Floyd coming here,” senior Lodrick Stewart said. “He’s brought new life to us.” Floyd instilled a defensive mindset into a team that used to think defense was an occasional gamble for a steal. He took a USC team in disarray and turned it into an NCAA tournament team in two years. The future looks even brighter. With a new arena to sell to recruits, Floyd locked up the top prospect in the country for next season in O.J. Mayo. “I know we haven’t had the level of success as some of these major programs,” “But why wouldn’t it happen here in Los Angeles, with this city, the talent in the area and now this facility?” Sound familiar? Carroll also is a defensive-minded coach and great recruiter. He took a team coming off a last-place season, made it respectable in his first year and took it to a major bowl in his second. The Trojans won the national championship his next two seasons, and Carroll became a Southern California icon. “We’re on the rise, especially with the guys coming in,” Pruitt said. “It’s only a matter of time before (Floyd) brings this team to that type of level.” Floyd said. [email protected] (818) 713-3607 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!