Trojans Host Cal And Stanford
Jan. 18, 2005
Los Angeles -
The USC men's basketball team--now 8-9 overall and 1-5 in Pac-10 play--looks for its first home conference win of the season as it beings a 3-game homestand that starts with California (8-7, 1-4) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and then continues with Stanford (8-7, 2-3) on Saturday at 3 p.m (televised live by ABC). Since Trojan head coach Henry Bibby was dismissed on Dec. 6, the Trojans are 6-7 under the direction of interim head coach Jim Saia. Troy is led by three talented underclassmen in the back court: sophomore shooting guard Lodrick Stewart (14.6 ppg), freshman point guard Gabe Pruitt (10.8 ppg) and freshman swingman Nick Young (10.5 ppg). Six seniors are also featured. The Trojans are coming off their best shooting performance of the season, a .552 effort at Arizona State that led to Troy's first road win of the year.
SCOUTING CALIFORNIA -- Cal is coming off three-straight losses (all at home), the most recent a 74-58 loss to Stanford. The Bears have been hampered by injuries and are led by junior guard Richard Midgley (15.1 ppg) and junior center Rod Benson (13.1 ppg). Cal is one of the best defensive teams in the league, yielding just 65.3 ppg and holding teams to .409 FG% (both figures are second in the Pac-10).
NEW COACH ON THE HORIZON -- It's been a coaching whirlwind for USC this season. First ninth-year coach Henry Bibby was fired on Dec. 6, and replaced by interim coach Jim Saia. Then former Utah coach Rick Majerus took the job on Dec. 15, only to back out five days later, citing health reasons. Last Friday, Jan. 14, saw the hiring of Tim Floyd, who previously coached in college at Iowa State (where he had great success, posting three-straight 20-win seasons). Floyd will spend this season as a Trojan assistant so that he can recruit, but he will not be involved in coaching the 2004-2005 USC team. Saia will finish out this season for Troy.
NEXT UP -- The Trojans host crosstown rival UCLA on Saturday, Jan. 29, at 1 p.m. USC has won four in a row over the Bruins and five of the last six.
LAST GAME -- The Trojans snapped a five-game losing streak and picked up their first Pac-10 win of the season in the process as they defeated Arizona State, 98-94, last Saturday (Jan. 14) in Tempe. USC's shot a season-high .552 from the field and the 98 points scored was its most against a conference foe in 21 games (and a season best). Freshman Nick Young led Troy with a career-high 22 points, while sophomore Lod Stewart added 19 and freshman Gabe Pruitt tacked on 14 (including 11-of-12 from the charity stripe). It was USC's seventh win in its last nine games against the Sun Devils.
HOT LOD -- In the first three games of the season (two of them Trojan losses), sophomore guard Lodrick Stewart averaged 6.3 points, 1.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.6 steals per game and was shooting just 35% from the field. Since then, the left-handed Stewart is averaging 16.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists while shooting .485 from the field. He has scored in double figures in 13 of his last 14 games. He also has scored 20 points or more five times in that stretch. In his career, he has seven games of 20 points or more. He is USC's leading scorer this year (14.6), ninth in the Pac-10. He averages 15.0 points in conference games, tied with Nick Young for the team high.
Lodrick Stewart IN THE LAST 14 GAMES
OPP FG/FGA FG% 3FG 3FG% PtsBYU 7-16 .438 2-6 .333 22FSU 4-11 .364 1-3 .333 12USD 11-19 .579 5-11 .455 27WMU 8-14 .571 4-9 .444 21ISU 3-9 .333 2-4 .500 11UAB 6-10 .600 2-6 .333 14Hawaii 4-9 .444 2-7 .286 12Southern 7-12 .583 5-9 .556 20Oregon 9-16 .563 5-12 .417 25OSU 5-12 .417 4-9 .444 14UW 4-8 .500 1-4 .250 10WSU 4-10 .400 4-8 .500 14ARIZ 3-10 .300 2-7 .285 8ASU 6-11 .545 5-9 .555 19TOT-- 81-167 .485 44-104 .423 16.3
PRUITT CAN DO IT -- Freshman point guard Gabe Pruitt is quickly establishing himself as one of the best young point guards in the country. The Los Angeles native didn't waste much time in game one--a check of the records indicates that when Pruitt co-led the Trojans in scoring against UC Irvine with 13 points, it was the first time since the advent of freshmen eligibility that a freshman had led the Trojans in scoring in a season opener. But Pruitt--who has a style reminiscent of NBA star Jalen Rose--wasn't just a one-game wonder. He currently leads the Pac-10 in steals (2.06 per game) and is ninth in assists (3.71 avg.). Known for his calm demeanor and clutch shooting, he is second on the Trojans in scoring (10.8 avg.). He has shot .500 or better from the field in 10 of USC's 17 games.
YOUNG GUN -- USC's recruiting class was ranked as high as seventh by one expert. The two jewels of the class--and the prime building blocks of USC teams to come--are Gabe Pruitt and Nick Young. While Pruitt's exploits were noted earlier, it is Young who has come on the most of late. An explosive 6-6 swingman who can jump out of the gym, Young is averaging 14.1 points and 4.5 rebounds in the last nine games and is averaging 15.0 points in conference through six games (tied with Lod Stewart for the team high). He has three 20-point games in his last six outings (all conference games). He had a fine outing last week in the desert against the Arizona schools, scoring 18 against the Wildcats and a career-high 22 against ASU. He also put up 21 points against Oregon in his Pac-10 debut and tallied 20 points and 7 rebounds against Washington.
SENIORITIS -- The Trojans have six seniors--guards Errick and Derrick Craven, and forwards Rory O'Neil, Jeff McMillan, Nick Curtis and Greg Guenther--the most of any team in the Pac-10. Between the six of them, they have played 11,374 minutes, scored 3,996 points, snagged 2,240 rebounds and dished out 710 assists in their careers.
BALANCING ACTS -- USC is 5-0 this year in games where at least five players score in double figures.
STEAL THIS NOTE -- USC led the Pac-10 in steals last year with an average of 8.89 steals per game. The Trojans are third in the league this year with an average of 8.71 steals per game.
3-POINT KINGS -- The Trojans lead the Pac-10 in three-point field goals made per game (7.53). USC is 6-0 in games where it hits at least nine three pointers.
ASSISTS IMPROVEMENT -- USC has been passing the ball well lately, thanks to the 1-4 Ralph Miller offense that Jim Saia installed at USC this season. It's an offense that relies on passing and results in a lot of easy baskets and assists when run properly. The last two seasons, USC has averaged just 13.6 assists per game. So far this season, the Trojans have improved to an average of 15.59 assists per game (fourth in the conference).
FREE THROW PEAKS AND VALLEYS -- The Trojans attempted a season-low 8 free throws against Arizona, then attempted a season-high 39 free throws just one game later against Arizona State.
SLOW PAC-10 START? NO PROBLEM! -- The last time USC started out 1-5 in conference, it went on to finish 10-8 in the league and have an overall record of 19-10--good enough for an NCAA tournament berth. That year was 1990-91.
TOUGH SCHEDULE -- USC's schedule this season has been nothing short of brutal. The Trojans' 17 opponents have a combined record of 172-93 (.649). That's an average record of about 10-5 for each team. Only three opponents that USC has faced have losing records, while nine have 10 or more wins. Three are ranked among the top 12 in the polls.
CRAVEN BACK -- Exciting and athletic senior guard Errick Craven--the Pac-10's active career leader in steals with 213--returned to the lineup for the Trojans in Arizona. He had been out for a couple weeks with a high ankle sprain. Though not fully healed, he played six minutes against the Wildcats, collecting 3 rebounds and handing out 2 assists. He bounced back with 18 minutes against ASU, hitting his first field goal since game six against San Diego while scoring 9 points.
PAST GLORY -- Fifty years ago this calendar year, the Trojans went to their last NCAA Final Four. The 1953-54 USC basketball team was coached by Forrest Twogood and was captained by forward Dick Welsh. The Trojans fell to Bradley, 74-72, in their semifinal game. Bradley went on to lose to La Salle (which beat USC earlier this season, coincidentally) in the NCAA title game.
NEW ARENA COMING -- Thanks to the generosity of Louis and Helene Galen, USC's athletic department has begun construction on The Galen Center--a new $114 million, 10,258-seat campus events center that will be home to USC men's basketball. Complete with locker rooms, offices and practice facilities for both basketball and volleyball, The Galen Center is scheduled to be completed in 2006.