No. 23 USC Women Open Season in Hawai'i

Nov. 15, 2005

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START IT UPThe USC women's basketball team, under the leadership of second-year head coach Mark Trakh, gets its first taste of 2005-06 regular-season action with this week's season opener at Hawai'i's Waikiki Beach Marriott Classic in Honolulu from Nov. 19-20. There, USC will face the host Rainbows at 7 p.m. on Saturday (Nov. 19) and Eastern Illinois at 5 p.m. on Sunday. Two more road games follow for the Women of Troy before returning to Los Angeles for their home opener against TCU on Dec. 4 at the Sports Arena.

The Women of Troy got their preseason tune-ups in the form of a pair of exhibition games -- first a 76-63 win over Vanguard, followed by an 82-55 win over Team Concept. Those games highlighted a healthy set of balance to the Trojans' game, as eight and nine different players, respectively, scored for USC. Four scored in double figures against Vanguard, and five hit double-digits against Team Concept.

PRESEASON PICK 'EMThe Women of Troy have already popped up on most everyone's radars for the upcoming 2005-06 season. Last season's 20-11 overall record, second-place finish in the Pac-10 and second-round NCAA Tournament appearance -- coupled with a daunting 10 returners back -- have translated into several preseason rankings for the Women of Troy. In 2004-05, the Trojans were one of five Pac-10 teams to reach the NCAA Tournament and win at least one game. This season, USC has been picked to finish No. 2 behind No. 1 Stanford in the Pac-10 Coaches Poll and No. 3 in the Pac-10 Media Poll behind UCLA. In the larger 2005-06 scene, USC has also been chosen among the elite top 25 teams in the nation, selected at No. 22 standing in the USA Today/ESPN Preseason Poll and a No. 24 slot in the Associated Press Top 25 Women's Basketball Poll. The Women of Troy join five other Pac-10 schools in the national preseason polls. In the Athlon preseason poll, USC picked up its highest ranking at No. 16, while Lindy's has the 2005-06 Trojans at No. 21.

BACK IN ACTIONUSC returns 10 players from last season to this year's roster, and has added to it one highly regarded recruit, one walk-on player and a complete coaching staff with their first season at Troy tucked solidly under their belts. All told, almost 80 percent of the Trojans' scoring production returns to the court for the 2005-06 campaign. Leading the way are a pair of sophomore guards -- Camille LeNoir and Brynn Cameron -- who started as freshmen and emerged as the Trojans' top two scorers. The pair accounted for 18.5 points per game last season. Even mightier as a group is this year's junior class of six -- comprised of Jamie Hagiya, Jamie Funn, Eshaya Murphy, Chloe Kerr, Allison Jaskowiak and Markisha Lea. That group averaged a combined 27.1 ppg, 17.2 rpg, 6.16 apg and 5.0 spg last season as sophomores, and all six are set to hit the court in 2005-06 as well. Now the lone senior on the squad, Meghan Gnekow brings back her experience and adept skills on the boards as the team's leading rebounder (5.8 rpg last season) and defensive stopper.

CLOSE CALLSOf USC's 11 losses in 2004-05, six were against Top-25 teams, six were by four points or fewer and nine came on the road.

HOMETOWN SECURITYThe home courts at Troy (Sports Arena and Lyon Center) largely has been a secure place for the Women of Troy. Only two teams got the best of the Trojans on their home floor last season, and the 2005-06 ride will mark the final season before the opening of the new, highly anticipated 10,258-seat Galen Center (set to open for the 2006-07 season). This season's Pac-10 schedule opens up at the Lyon Center and the final 2005-06 conference game on USC hardwood is set for Feb. 11 at the Sports Arena.

SEASON OPENERSThe Women of Troy are 23-5 all-time in their season openers and 16-10 in opening road games. Last year, USC faced Massachusetts on the road at the DePaul Moran Realty Classic and won 54-49 to begin the year.

FOUR OPPONENTS RANKED IN TOP 25USC's schedule features four opponents ranked in the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Top 25, including No. 4 Ohio State (Dec. 11), No. 11/10 Stanford (Dec. 30 and Jan. 29), No. 15 Notre Dame (Nov. 27), and No. 20/18 Arizona State (Jan. 6 and Feb. 2). UCLA, TCU, Oregon and Arizona also all received votes in the polls.

HAWAI'I CONNECTIONS• USC has no players from the state of Hawai'i.• The Rainbow Wahine boast five players from the state of California - junior guard Janevia Taylor (Pasadena/San Bernardino HS), senior guard Amy Sanders (Huntington Beach/Mater Dei HS), junior guard Pam Tambini (San Jose/Piedmont Hills HS), junior center Brittany Grice (Redondo Beach/Redondo Union HS) and freshman guard Catherine Cho (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif./South Torrance HS) -- who attended the same high school as USC junior guard Jamie Hagiya.

EASTERN ILLINOIS CONNECTIONS• USC center Chloe Kerr hails from Illinois, attending high school at Bolingbrook HS -- well north of Eastern Illinois' Charleston campus.• Eastern Illinois has no players from the state of California.

Women's Basketball On LA AirwavesKMPC-AM 1540 -- USC's flagship station -- will air six Women of Troy basketball games this season, beginning with USC's home opener against TCU on Dec. 4. Pete Arbogast, the voice of Trojan football, will provide play-by-play, and former Trojan women's basketball standout Denise Woods ('00) will provide color commentary for the following games: Dec. 4 vs. TCU; Jan. 6 vs. Arizona State; Jan. 21 vs. UCLA; Jan. 27 vs. California, Jan. 29 vs. Stanford; and Feb. 18 vs. UCLA.

Head Coach Mark TrakhMark Trakh followed up a successful 11-year stand as head women's basketball coach at Pepperdine by propelling the 2004-05 Women of Troy to their first NCAA tournament appearance in seven years. He now enters his second season at the helm of the Trojan women's basketball program and 13th season as a collegiate head coach. In his first season at USC, Trakh led the 20-11 Trojans to a second-place tie in the Pac-10 at 12-6 to help earn a long-awaited place in the 2005 NCAA tournament. There, USC posted a first-round win over Louisville before falling on a last-second basket to NCAA runner-up Michigan State. Trakh, 50, was hired on April 14, 2004, becoming the seventh head coach in USC history.In 11 seasons (1994-2004) in Malibu, Trakh built a nationally recognized program that made six postseason appearances (2000-02-03 NCAA, 1999-2001-04 WNIT) and dominated play in the West Coast Conference, winning four of the last six league titles. He was twice named WCC Coach of the Year (1999, 2002). His teams compiled a 199-123 (.618) overall record and a 99-55 (.643) mark in the WCC. More impressive is the fact that in 11 years at Pepperdine, Trakh graduated each and every one of his players (100% graduation rate).Trakh came to Pepperdine after serving as the head girls' basketball coach at Brea (Calif.) Olinda High for 13 seasons (1981-93). During his tenure, the Ladycats emerged as a nationally-prominent program, compiling a cumulative record of 354-45 (.887) and earning annual rankings from USA Today. His teams captured four California state championships, six CIF Southern Section titles and 11 consecutive Orange League crowns. Brea Olinda High did not lose more than two games during any of Trakh's final five seasons, rolling to an amazing record of 161-8 (.953).

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