USC Women Open Pac-10 Play At Home
Dec. 19, 2006
Pac-10 play has arrived! After a busy nonconference season, the Women of Troy take a three-game winning streak into their conference opener, which pits USC against Pac-10 power Stanford (5-3) and a successful California (8-1) squad this week. The Trojans play host to the No. 14 Cardinal at 7 p.m. on Wednesday (Dec. 20) and then square off with the No. 15 Bears at 1 p.m. on Friday (Dec. 22) for this year's Pac-10 kick-offs. Both games are scheduled to be broadcast on Radio Disney (KDIS 1110 AM), along with live stats available online at www.usctrojans.com.
IN THE NATION
The Women of Troy are unranked in the national polls this week. Stanford's highest ranking has the Cardinal at No. 14 in the AP Poll, and California weighs in highest at No. 15 according to the AP. USA Today/ESPN has Stanford at No. 15 and Cal at No. 16.
USC finally posted its first back-to-back wins of the year, adding two more wins over the weekend to a victory posted over Hawai'i the previous week to hold a three-game winning streak. The Trojans hosted their first Women of Troy Basketball Classic at the Galen Center, bringing to town Prairie View A&M -- coached by former Trojan Cynthia Cooper-Dyke -- and Houston. Powerful first halves in both games propelled USC to victory with Nadia Parker standing tall as USC's leading scorer in both games -- the first such effort in her career. Against the Panthers, Shay Murphy had a double-double by the first half to help push USC well ahead as four Trojans finished in double figures in a 78-53 USC win over PVAMU. When the Panthers clashed with Houston the next day, the Cougars pulled out a 96-90 double-overtime victory. On Saturday, USC overtook Houston while holding the Cougars to a season-low 11 first-half points. Nine different Trojans scored in the game, with Parker leading all with 16 points and Murphy and Chloé Kerr extending their respective double-digit scoring streaks as USC rolled to a 65-42 win.
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 her final high school game, and LeNoir suffered a broken hip during the offseason. Also redshirting the season will be junior Brynn Cameron. Freshman Aarika Hughes is not able to play due to a stress fracture in her foot, and seniors Markisha Lea (knee) and Jamie Funn (hip) are also sidelined with injuries this year.
WELCOME TO THE CLUBS
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 on Nov. 17 -- her 91st career game. She began the season with 956 career points and has now extended her double-digit scoring streak to 35 straight games to now hold 1,145 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. Her 33-point outing at Colorado on Dec. 2 made her just the 14th Trojan to have scored 30 or more points in a game, with the last such effort coming back in 2002.
Shay Murphy isn't the only Trojan to have hit her scoring stride. Senior center Chloé Kerr has joined Murphy in double figures in each of USC's 10 games this season, bringing her total double-digit scoring streak up to 12 straight games stretching from last season's NCAA Tournament action.
Sophomore center Nadia Parker had a career weekend at the Women of Troy Classic. After hitting double figures only twice in her freshman season at Troy, Parker posted back-to-back double-digit efforts and led the Trojans in scoring for the first time in her career in both games -- first with a career-high 19 points and seven rebounds against Prairie View A&M, and then with a game-high 16 points against Houston.
HIGHS AND LOWS
USC's winning efforts at last weekend's inaugural Women of Troy Basketball Classic saw the Trojans hit some new bests for the 2006-07 season. USC hauled down a season-high 54 rebounds (54) against Prairie View A&M, and then bettered that mark by an additional board the next game against Houston. 55 was USC's best rebounding mark last season as well. On the other end of the spectrum, USC held both teams to season-low scoring marks in the first half. Houston's 11 points in the first half stands as the second lowest scoring mark all-time by a USC opponent in a half.
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 2005-06 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 -- was No. 10 Ohio State on Nov. 19 in Columbus, Ohio. Two weeks later, USC came 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.
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 35 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. Most recently, Murphy was tabbed a Naismith Trophy Preseason Candidate.
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 has been 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. 6 all-time 3-point shooter (97 career threes) and the No. 7 all-time assists leader (339 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 at USC.
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 five 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.