USC Women Honor Greats In Friday Home Opener
Nov. 9, 2006
START IT UP
The USC women's basketball team opens the 2006-07 season on Friday (Nov. 10) at 7 p.m. against Long Beach State at the brand-new Galen Center. The Trojans' home opener will be highlighted by a special halftime ceremony, wherein USC greats Cheryl Miller and Lisa Leslie will have their jerseys officially retired and raised in the Trojans' new home arena. Galen Center's glittery opening day for USC women's action involves a heated rematch to wage against Long Beach State. The 49ers dealt an unexpected and disappointing 51-46 loss to USC last season, but the Trojans have the opportunity to avenge things in their 2006 home opener and debut game at the Galen Center.
HONORING THE BEST
On Friday night, USC welcomes back the great #31 and #33 -- Cheryl Miller and Lisa Leslie -- for a halftime ceremony with many other former Trojans in attendance. USC also is hosting a Women's Basketball Alumni Reunion in conjunction with this game, which falls during USC's annual Homecoming Weekend. Both Miller and Leslie have absoltely sparkling basketball resumes. The pair stands alone as USC's two Naismith Player of the Year Award winners, and both are Olympic gold medalists. At USC, Miller helped the Women of Troy claim back-to-back NCAA titles (1983 and 1984) and finished her USC career owning virtually every school record, including career scoring (3,018 total points), scoring average (22.3 ppg), career rebounds (1,534), total field goals (1,159) and total free throws made (700). In her Trojan career, Leslie was the first player in Pacific-10 Conference history to make the All-Pac-10 team in each of her four seasons, and she holds the conference record for scoring and rebounding with 2,414 career points and 1,214 career rebounds. She still stands at No. 3 on USC's all-time scoring chart and is No. 4 in rebounding. She is also USC's all-time leading shot blocker (321), No. 3 in field goals (973), free throws (461), scoring average (20.1) and rebounding average (10.1), and No. 5 in all-time steals (228).
IN THE NATION
This season, the 2006-07 Trojans have been tabbed the No. 22 team in the nation according to the AP and USA Today preseason polls. The Women of Troy also weigh in at No. 15 according to ESPN.com and No. 25 according to Street & Smith. One of five Pac-10 teams to receive a preseason top-25 rank from ESPN.com, the Women of Troy were also tabbed as one of ESPN's 'Three Programs On the Rise.'
RANK AND FILE
USC has five scheduled opponents ranked in the final USA Today/ESPN Top 25 poll. Three of those are Pac-10 foes whom USC will see at least twice this coming season. The Trojans were 2-7 against ranked teams in 2005-06. The first top-25 team on tap for USC -- which received votes in the final poll -- will be No. 10 Ohio State on Nov. 19 in Columbus, Ohio. Two weeks later, USC comes up against No. 12 Utah, again on the road, on Dec. 4 in Salt Lake City. The Trojans' next three ranked opponents are Pac-10 teams: No. 7 Stanford, No. 17 Arizona State and No. 18 UCLA. USC lost three times to the Cardinal in 2005-06, split games with the Sun Devils, and swept the Bruins during Pac-10 action. Ohio State dealt USC a 68-57 loss in their nonconference showdown in 2005, while Utah will be a relatively fresh face for the Trojans. The teams last faced in a nonconference tournament in 1996, when USC posted an 81-59 victory.
USC will redshirt freshman Jacki Gemelos and junior Camille LeNoir this year in order to allow the two guards to heal from respective injuries. Gemelos suffered a torn ACL in one of her last high school games, and LeNoir suffered a broken hip during the offseason. Also redshirting the season will be junior Brynn Cameron.
A record six Pac-10 teams reached the NCAA Tournament in 2006. Five won their first-round games, and three ended the season ranked in the Top 25. Six teams are also ranked in the nation's top 25 this year, and six Pac-10 players received WBCA/Kodak All-America honors last season. Four of those athletes are back for more this year, including USC senior Shay Murphy.
MURPHY LAYS DOWN THE LAW
All-America honorable mention recipient Shay Murphy (Van Nuys, Calif.) was USC's leader in scoring, rebounding and steals in 2005-06 and carries a 25-game streak of double-digit scoring performances into her senior year at Troy. She has been named to the Wade Watch list, and is also a preseason Wooden Award candidate.
Junior Camille LeNoir is now one of three USC athletes hailing from nearby Narbonne High School. Senior forward Jamie Funn (Los Angeles, Calif.) is the eldest of the trio, with freshman Morghan Medlock (Pasadena, Calif.) rounding out the high school connections on the Trojan roster. Four years ago, the three were teammates on Narbonne's Los Angeles City Section champion team.
Senior forward Jamie Funn is now one of seven seniors on the USC squad. Her junior season was cut short when an offseason hip injury required surgery halfway through the year. Thanks to a broken nose suffered early in the season, Funn donned a face mask for the 16 games she appeared in. She notched nine starts and averaged 5.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Now with a healed hip and nose, Funn is in line to return as one of the Trojans' forces in the paint.
SENIOR STRENGTH IN THE PAINT
Center Chloé Kerr (Bolingbrook, Ill.) was USC's third leading scorer (9.4 ppg) and the Pac-10's third leading shot blocker (1.5 bpg) as a junior. At 6-3, Kerr boasts the height and experience to stand strong as the Trojans' go-to post player. USC's other senior post player is Markisha Lea (Riverside, Calif.), whose athleticism off the bench has been key to the Trojans' depth. Lea saw time in 28 games as a junior and hit career highs in scoring (10 points) and rebounds (eight rebs) during games last season.
THE TOUGH GET GOING
USC returns two of its hardest working senior guards in Jamie Hagiya (Torrance, Calif.) and Allison Jaskowiak (Chesterfield, Mo.). A well-respected point guard, Hagiya stands out as the Pac-10 leader in assist/turnover ratio and was second on the team in assists as a junior. She has climbed the Trojan career charts as the No. 9 all-time 3-point shooter (80 career threes) and the No. 10 all-time assists leader (284 career assists). This season, Hagiya's defensive tenacity, ball-handling and distribution skills will again be a huge factor in the gameplan for the Women of Troy. Jaskowiak is back for more after a phenomenal junior season for the Trojans. As the USC roster was thinned out by injuries, Jaskowiak made it known to her teammates and opponents that she wouldn't let the Women of Troy down, even with a banged-up body of her own down the final stretch of the 2005-06 season. She hadn't started a game in her first two years at USC, but as a junior she proved a crucial part of the Trojans' starting lineup. Jaskowiak started 23 games and averaged 26.4 minutes per game, standing out as an unselfish player with dominating defensive skills and an ability to both hit the boards and the perimeter shot.
In contrast to USC's load of seniors, the Trojans have just one sophomore in center Nadia Parker (Spanaway, Wash.). Also towering in the key at 6-3, Parker provides a strong one-two punch at the post when paired with Kerr. Parker played in every game as a freshman, generating 4.4 points and 3.0 rebounds per game to go along with 19 blocks. An enthusiastic presence in the paint, Parker brings size, strength and a deepening pool of experience to the center position for the Women of Troy.
USC drummed up four standout freshmen to the roster for 2006. Narbonne grad Morghan Medlock is joined by fellow blue-chip newcomers Hailey Dunham (Los Angeles, Calif.), Jacki Gemelos (Stockton, Calif.) and Aarika Hughes (Beaverton, Ore.) as the Trojan freshmen this year. Heralded as the top recruiting class in the nation, the foursome will put the finishing touches on Trakh's 2006-07 lineup. Before she was injured, Gemelos was tabbed the No. 1 recruit in the nation and a McDonald's All-American in her senior year at St. Mary's High School. However, the standout guard suffered a torn ACL at the close of her prep season, and will likely redshirt her first season at Troy to fully heal from the setback. At 6-0, Gemelos is a mismatch waiting to happen, as she has a startling ball-handling ability coupled by an offensive firepower that has gone unmatched, and which stands to propel her to the top of the collegiate game in the very near future.Medlock, too, was a McDonald's All-American, and as a 6-1 guard/forward, she offers up another level of versatility to USC's game. A proven scorer and presence on the boards, Medlock is primed for inclusion in the Trojans' rotation. Hughes and Dunham also have the tools to add an instant punch to USC's game. Hughes' Southridge High School squad lost just five games in three years, thanks in large part to the 6-2 guard's all-around abilities. Hughes also competed at the U.S. Under-20 National Team Trials over the summer and will be an important tool of added versatility on the perimeter for the Women of Troy, while Dunham will be called upon for additional backcourt duties. Although both stand 6-2, Dunham boasts such deft ball-handling and distribution skills, and Hughes poses such a threat from the 3-point arc along with defensive shutdown skills, that their key roles will be as guards for the Trojans.
As an overwhelming welcoming gift to the new-and-improved USC team, the Women of Troy kick off their 2006-07 season in a new home. The impressive Galen Center facility offers a plush and state-of-the-art forum for the Women of Troy to build on their tradition of success. Coach Trakh and his troops have 15 home games on the schedule -- not including the 2007 NCAA First and Second Rounds that the Women of Troy plan to be a part of in March.
The Women of Troy have been slotted at No. 3 in the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Coaches Poll. The Trojans received 63 points to come in behind top pick and six-time defending conference champ Stanford (81 points) and No. 2 Arizona State (70). Tied up in fourth place with 53 points are California and Washington, with UCLA coming in at No. 6 with 46 points.
USC used nine different players in its starting lineup rotations last year, and eight of them return this season.
While Allison Jaskowiak was a starter for USC at the 2006 NCAA tournament in Norfolk, Va., her sister Emily Jaskowiak started for Tulsa at the NCAA tournament in Chicago. Both sisters helped lead their schools to the second round. Also, on the same night that USC point guard Camille LeNoir helped lead the Women of Troy to a Pac-10 Tournament win against Washington on March 4 with 17 points and five assists, her younger sister Danielle, a former ball girl at USC, had 10 points and four steals as her Narbonne High School won the Los Angeles City Section championship.
A LOOK BACK
USC is coming off a 2005-06 season where it posted an 11-7 mark in Pac-10 play to finish tied with Washington in fourth place behind Stanford, Arizona State and UCLA. Eight Pac-10 regular-season games were decided by five or fewer points for the Trojans, leaving USC with a 5-3 mark in those tight conference games. After three straight down-to-the-wire games at the close of the regular season, USC pulled out possibly its most crucial win with a tense 70-67 victory over Washington in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tournament. That effort gave the Trojans their 18th win to lock them into the NCAA Tournament.