USC Women Hit The Hills For Weekend Road Trip
Nov. 28, 2006
The Trojans (2-3) are on the prowl for their first road win this season, taking a trip to the high country this week. USC first visits Colorado (4-2) for a 2 p.m. game at Coors Events Center in Boulder on Saturday (Dec. 2), then travels to Utah for a 7 p.m. game in Salt Lake City on Monday (Dec. 4).
WELCOME TO THE CLUB
USC senior guard Shay Murphy reached a landmark last weekend on USC's first road trip of the season. With a 23-point night at South Dakota State, Murphy hit the 1,000 career point-mark on the money. She began the season with 956 career points and has now extended her double-digit scoring streak to 29 straight games to now hold 1,034 career points and include herself on a legendary list of Women of Troy who have hit that heralded career mark. She becomes the 20th Trojan to break through the 1,000-point plateau, joining USC greats Cheryl Miller and Lisa Leslie, who had their jerseys retired and hung in the Galen Center on Nov. 10.
IN THE NATION
The Women of Troy dropped out of the national rankings last week, but is still receiving votes in the AP poll. Neither Colorado nor Utah are ranked.
USC ended up with a split at home last week, grabbing a long-awaited 69-58 win over Notre Dame on Friday before falling 72-65 to Nebraska on Sunday. The Trojans snapped a seven-game losing streak with Notre Dame behind Shay Murphy's third consecutive double-double. Murphy yanked down a career-high 17 rebounds in the match -- accounting for 31 percent of USC's season-high 54 boards in the game. Hailey Dunham also put forth a career night with a personal best 12-point outinf. She was one of four Women of Troy to hit double figures in the game -- the first such effort this season for the Trojans. Shay Murphy pumped in 13 second-half points to finish with a team-high 15, and Chloé Kerr and Jamie Hagiya each added another 12 for USC. It wasn't the cleanest of games for the Women of Troy, who gave up a season-high 27 turnovers in the match. But USC's season-best rebounding effort helped it keep ahead of the Irish. On Sunday, the turnovers kept coming for USC, which committed 23 turnovers in the game. Senior center Kerr led the Trojans with a career-high 25 points. Leading all players on the day, however, was Nebraska's Keira Hardy, who hit a late 3-pointer to seal the deal for the Huskers and notch her 32nd point of the game. A 48-percent shooting effort in the first half wasn't enough to get USC any extra room against Nebraska, as the Huskers grabbed 10 points off Trojan turnovers and had Hardy score 17 points in the half to keep the game locked 32-32 entering the second half. Nebraska shooting continued to heat up in the second half, however, with a 64-percent half bumping the Huskers' game average to 49.2 percent while USC slowed down to finish at 43 percent. Stopping Hardy proved problematic for the Trojans, as she wound up shooting 61 percent from the floor to help keep Nebraska a step ahead throughout the second half. USC's Hagiya nailed a season-best three 3-pointers to finish with 15 points in the game, and Murphy tallied her 30th straight game in double figures with 11 for USC. Kerr's career-high 25 points were helped along by a stellar day at the free-throw line, as the senior match Cheryl Miller's No. 3 all-time single-game free throw mark, going 11-for-11 from the line. For her outstanding efforts over the weekend, Chloé Kerr earned her first career honor as Pac-10 Player of the Week.
This season, the 2006-07 Trojans were tabbed the No. 22 team in the nation according to the AP and USA Today preseason polls. The Women of Troy also weighed 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
With her two double-figure efforts over the weekend, Shay Murphy extended her double-digit scoring streak to 30 games -- an accomplishment that carries over from her junior season in which she received Kodak/WBCA All-America honorable mention. She provided team-high scoring (17.6 ppg), rebounding (7.3 rpg), steals (2.4 spg) and 3-pointers made (69) and finished out the year ranked among the top-10 in the Pac-10 in seven categories. Murphy's 2006-07 preseason honors now include: State Farm Wade Trophy Preseason Candidate, John R. Wooden Award Preseason All-America Team, Street & Smith Preseason Honorable Mention, Preseason All-Pac-10 Team.
Junior Camille LeNoir is now one of three USC athletes hailing from nearby Narbonne High School. Senior forward Jamie Funn is the eldest of the trio, with freshman Morghan Medlock 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 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.
SENIOR STRENGTH IN THE PAINT
Center Chloé Kerr 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. She recently nailed a career-high 25 points -- including an 11-of-11 effort from the free throw line to rank No. 3 all-time in single-game free throw percentage -- against Nebraska, earning her first career honor as Pac-10 Player of the Week. USC's other senior post player is Markisha Lea, 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, but the senior will be sidelined for the start of the season after going through knee surgery.
THE TOUGH GET GOING
USC returns two of its hardest working senior guards in Jamie Hagiya and Allison Jaskowiak. 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. Now with a freshly healed knee, 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. 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, Jacki Gemelos and Aarika Hughes as the Trojan freshmen this year. Heralded as the top recruiting class in the nation, the foursome 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 is redshirting her first season at Troy to fully heal from the setback. 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. Already this year, Trakh has utilized four different starting lineups, and USC's three active freshmen -- Hailey Dunham, Aarika Hughes and Morghan Medlock -- have each seen at least one start this year.
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.