Trojans Set For Exhibition Opener Friday

Nov. 5, 2003

The USC men's basketball team, one year removed from back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and 20-win seasons but coming off of a 13-17 season in 2003, begins its quest to return to the postseason when it hosts its first exhibition game on Friday (Nov. 7) against the L.A. City All-Stars at 7 p.m. at the Lyon Center on USC's campus. Under eighth-year Coach Henry Bibby, the Trojans return eight lettermen, including five starters, and welcome three talented freshmen and an eligible transfer.


The L.A. City All-Stars feature a roster heavy in West Coast experience, including former Trojan forward Anthony White, who played for USC Coach Henry Bibby in 1997 and 1998. Among the other players who played college ball locally are former Cal State Northridge Matadors Edward Estavan, Derrick Higgins and Keith Higgins, Pepperdine Wave Derrick Anderson and Loyola Marymount Lion Calvin Patterson. Also on the team is Jelani Janisse (Kansas), Byron Wilson (New Orleans), Nana Gbewonyo (Washburn) and Tim Faulconer (Richmond). They are coached by Rocky Moore. Last year, USC defeated an L.A. City All-Star squad made up of similar players, 95-76. Anderson led them with 19 points while the Trojans were led by Desmon Farmer's 24 points.

In its second and final exhibition game, USC will host the Long Island All-Stars on Nov. 16 at the Lyon Center at 6 p.m.


The Trojans opened practice on Oct. 18 short on big men for a variety of reasons, turning the first couple of weeks of practice into a guard's paradise. At the start of practice, coach Henry Bibby spoke of using four-guard lineups to take advantage of the team's great depth at the position and also to compensate for the shortage of post players at this time of the season. USC features five frontcourt players on the roster, but only two, junior center Rory O'Neil and junior forward Nick Curtis, were at full strength and available at the start of practice. Redshirt junior forward Jeff McMillan, expected to play big minutes at the four-spot, was slowed by a lingering stress fracture in his left foot, though the injury is healing and he is nearing full strength. Fellow beefy junior forward Gregg Guenther Jr. is still playing football right now, starting, in fact, at tight end on USC's No. 2-ranked football team. He is set to join the team after the season, which could run into the first week of January. Also missing for now is senior center Jonathan Oliver, who will miss the start of the season while concentrating on academics. One more Trojan on the infirmary report is senior guard Roydell Smiley, who broke his leg in the Pac-10 Championship game in March. He also opened camp short of 100%, but, like McMillan, is rounding back into shape.


USC is scheduled to play two schools that opened in the 2003-04 ESPN/USA Today Preseason Top 25 and another five that received votes. The two ranked schools looming on the Trojan schedule is No. 4 Arizona and No. 17 Stanford. Oregon just missed the Top 25, finishing 26th among the coaches' votes. Other USC opponents also receiving votes are fellow Pac-10 schools California and Arizona State as well as non-conference foes BYU and UNLV.


The Trojans begin the regular season on the road on Nov. 21 against a talented Western Michigan team that reached the second round of the NIT last year. The Broncos feature a veteran squad that returns nine lettermen and four starters from a team that went 20-11 in 2003 and 10-8 (third, West Division) in the Mid-American Conference. Western Michigan was 12-2 at home last year and 5-0 in non-conference play at home.

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