Men's Basketball Hosts Stanford
Jan. 21, 2005
Los Angeles -
The USC men's basketball team--now 9-9 overall and 2-5 in Pac-10 play--looks for its third conference win in a row as it hosts Stanford (9-7, 3-3) on Saturday at 3 p.m at the Sports Arena. The game will be televised live by ABC. USC, coming off a win Thursday over California, hasn't swept the Bay Area schools since 1997 and hasn't won three conference games in a row since 2002. Following Trojan head coach Henry Bibby's dismissal on Dec. 6, the Trojans are 7-7 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 (15.1 ppg), freshman point guard Gabe Pruitt (10.8 ppg) and freshman swingman Nick Young (10.4 ppg). Six seniors are also featured. The Trojans are coming off an 83-66 win over California behind Stewarts's 23 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals.
SCOUTING STANFORD -- Stanford is 9-7 under first-year head coach Trent Johnson. The Cardinal are led by junior guards Dan Grunfeld, whose scoring average has jumped 15.1 points since last year to 18.5 this year, and Chris Hernandez, a sharp shooter who averages 13.4 points and 4.0 assists. The Cardinal beat UCLA, 75-64, on Thursday.
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 ran their Pac-10 win streak to a modest two games as they beat California, 83-66, at the Sports Arena behind Lodrick Stewart's game-high 23 points. USC fell behind early, 12-3, but the combination of full court pressure and 10 points from senior guard Errick Craven cut its halftime deficit to two, 35-33. Troy took control in the second half, as freshman Gabe Pruitt hit a couple long three-pointers and the Trojans hit a season-best .808 from the free throw line. Jeff McMillan added 8 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for the Trojans.
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 16.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists while shooting .485 from the field. He has scored in double figures in 14 of his last 15 games. He also has scored 20 points or more six times in that stretch (including a career-high 27 against San Diego). In his career, he has eight games of 20 points or more . He is USC's leading scorer this year (15.1), ninth in the Pac-10. He is sixth in the Pac-10 in 3-point FG% (.438) and is second in 3-pointers made (2.94 pg). He averages a team-best 16.1 points in conference games.
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 19Cal 7-9 .777 4-4 1.000 23TOT-- 88-176 .500 48-108 .444 16.7
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 is second in the Pac-10 in steals (2.06 per game) and is ninth in assists (3.72 avg.). Known for his calm demeanor and clutch shooting, he is second on the Trojans in scoring (10.8 avg.) and leads in free throw percentage (.763). He has shot .500 or better from the field in 11 of USC's 18 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 11,486 minutes, scored 4,036 points, snagged 2,265 rebounds and dished out 717 assists in their careers.
BALANCING ACTS -- USC is 5-0 this year in games where at least five players score in double figures.
3-POINT KINGS -- The Trojans lead the Pac-10 in three-point field goals made per game (7.67). USC is 7-0 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 15.44 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' opponents going into Thursday had 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. He then put up 12 points to help lead USC over Cal.
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.