USC Women Shove Off For Bahamas Tourney
Nov. 20, 2007
USC is off to the Bahamas this Thanksgiving to participate in the Freeport Division of the Junkanoo Jam, held in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas. The Women of Troy (1-1) open the two-game tourney against Virginia Tech (3-0) for a 6 p.m. ET game on Friday (Nov. 23). From there USC will face either No. 8 Georgia (4-0) or Prairie View A&M (1-3). Friday's winners play at 8:30 p.m. ET, and the losers play at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday (Nov. 24).
IN THE NATION
USC has received votes in this week's polls. Georgia ranks No. 8 in the AP poll and No. 9 according to USA Today/ESPN. Virginia Tech and Prairie View A&M are unranked.
USC grabbed its first win of 2007with a strong showing at home last weekend, as the Trojans worked ahead of Colorado in the first half and stayed there on the way to a 70-57 victory at the Galen Center. The Women of Troy put forth a well-balanced attack from the perimeter, tying a program record of 11 three-pointers in the game. Brynn Cameron continued her strong start to the season with four 3-pointers to finish with a game-high 16 points, and Simone Jelks had a career day with a 3-for-3 effort from outside the arc to grab a career-high 10 points in the game. Newcomer Heather Oliver also tallied her first points as a Trojans, hitting a three as well on the way to her nine points. And in her first game back this season -- after sitting out 2006-07 with a broken hip, Camille LeNoir stepped back into the lineup at point guard and delivered nine points for USC. Morghan Medlock led the way on the boards with seven. Also getting in on the 3-point splurge was LeNoir with one and Allison Jaskowiak with a pair of threes to make it an 11-of-22 day for the Women of Troy from 3-point range.
SCOUTING VIRGINIA TECH -- The Hokies are 3-0 this season after beating Liberty 73-68 on Monday. Andrea Barbour and Brittany Cook lead Virginia Tech in scoring with 21.3 and 21.0 points per game, respectively. Head coach Beth Dunkenberger is in her fourth season at Virginia Tech. The Hokies went 19-15 overall and 6-8 in ACC play last season, reaching the second round of the WNIT. This is USC and Virginia Tech's first-ever meeting.
SCOUTING GEORGIA -- The Bulldogs are ranked No. 8 in this week's AP poll, holding a 4-0 record after beating Temple 57-51 last weekend. Ashley Houts and Tasha Humphrey lead Georgia in scoring with 15.5 points per game apiece. Head coach Andy Landers is in his 29th season at Georgia. The Bulldogs went 27-7 overall and 11-3 in SEC play last season, reaching the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. USC is 3-1 all-time against Georgia. The teams last faced in the 1985-86 season when USC won 70-67 in nonconference play.
SCOUTING PRAIRIE VIEW -- The Panthers are 1-3 overall after falling 73-54 to Texas A&M last week. Gaati Werema led PVAMU with 14 points and 7 rebounds in that game. The Panthers are coached by USC alum Cynthia Cooper, who led them to the NCAA First Round last season and finished 19-14 oveall and 14-4 in conference play. USC is 1-0 all-time against Prairie View, winning 78-53 last season.
Brynn Cameron set USC records from 3-point range as a freshman, but has been sidelined since October 2006 by hip surgeries as well as the birth of her son Cole. In her first two games back in action, the junior guard has stepped right back into her comfort zone outside the arc. Cameron has led USC in scoring in USC's first two games this year, knocking down four 3-pointers in each game to now hold 99 career threes -- just one away from moving into the No. 6 all-time slot for career 3-pointers.
BLASTS FROM THE PAST
The first thing fans and followers will notice about this season's pack of Women of Troy is a group of faces who haven't quite been on the forefront of the Trojan lineup in a while. Three players who redshirted last season due to injuries et al are back in the mix. Standout point guard Camille LeNoir has healed up following hip surgery; Markisha Lea steps back in as a senior with cartilage intact in her knee; Brynn Cameron sustained her second hip surgery and gave birth to her first child on her way back to the court. Further balancing out the departure of five 2007 graduates are a pair of seniors who have extended their Trojan careers in unique ways. Kate Henderson and Allison Jaskowiak were freshmen together in 2003-04. Henderson wound up transferring after that season, but has since returned to USC and has worked her way back into the picture. Jaskowiak was granted a medical redshirt for that freshman season and has thus received another season of eligibility that allows her to return for her final year on the Trojan roster. With LeNoir, Cameron and Jaskowiak alone back on the court, USC taps back into the talent pool that helped spark the Women of Troy's resurgence to the NCAA Tournament scene with back-to-back postseason runs in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
INJURY BUG BITES BACK
It seemed to be the storyline of the 2006-07 season, but the injury bug hasn't seemed to shake loose of the Women of Troy yet. USC will have two players sidelined this season with torn ACLs. For redshirt freshman Jacki Gemelos -- considered the best player in the country coming out of high school in 2006 -- it is an all-too-familiar situation. Gemelos tore her ACL in her final high school game before coming to USC, redshirting her first season. She then reinjured the same knee in the offseason, bringing up a second surgery and pushing the highly anticipated guard's return to the floor back further. True freshman Stefanie Gilbreath endured the same injury just before the 2007 McDonald's All-American Game, leaving the Trojans short another outstanding newcomer for the 2007-08 season.
Lined up to add a depth charge to the backcourt is transfer Heather 'Ollie' Oliver, a member of the Australian Under-21 National Team, which won silver at the U-21 Women's World Championships this summer. She brings a smooth outside shot as well as stifling defensive abilities to the Trojan roster. She recently tallied her first points as a Trojan with a nine-point outing against Colorado on Nov. 18.
USC boasts a couple of different looks to the point this season, as 5-6 junior floor general Camille LeNoir returns to action after a year out to heal from hip surgery. She's complimented by 6-2 sophomore Hailey Dunham. Despite the height difference, the pair combine forces well in running the Trojans offense, each bringing their own spark to the offense to keep opposing defenses on their toes. LeNoir had her return to the court this season delayed a week, but when the junior point guard hit the floor for her first game against Colorado on Nov. 18, she came out strong. With nine points and three assists from LeNoir, the Trojan point guard tandem of Dunham and LeNoir is averaging 10.5 points and 5.5 assists per game.
The Women of Troy welcome three new members to the Trojan family this season. Assistant coach Jody Wynn recently gave birth to her second daughter, Kaeli, in October 2007, and junior Brynn Cameron has her son, Cole, fresh off his first birthday. And senior Allison Jaskowiak added a new name to her roster page when she married former USC baseball star Ian Kennedy in October.
MOVING ON UP
There's no pricetag you can put on experience, but USC returners Nadia Parker, Morghan Medlock and Aarika Hughes are aiming to at least rack up a hefty amount of points for the Women of Troy this season. Now a junior, Parker is charged with the go-to role in the paint after having backed up 2007 grad Chloe Kerr for the past two seasons. Medlock and Hughes boast a versatility that can go unmatched and are primed for success as they get back on court as sophomores following strong freshman seasons. Medlock earned Pac-10 All-Freshman honorable mention last season.
With her true freshman counterpart redshirting the season, center Kari LaPlante carries the torch as the lone freshman on the court for the Trojans this year. Freshman guard Stefanie Gilbreath will redshirt following offseason knee surgery. LaPlante towers as the tallest Trojan on the roster, setting up the 6-5 freshman to see significant time in the paint this year. She tallied her first points as a Trojan in USC's win over Colorado on Nov. 18, putting in two points and pulling down six rebounds for the Women of Troy.
RANK AND FILE
USC has four scheduled opponents that are ranked in the national AP and USA Today/ESPN preseason polls. Three of those are Pac-10 foes whom USC sees at least twice this 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 preseason polls -- is No. 9/10 Georgia, which the Trojans could well meet on the second day of the Women of Troy Basketball Classic on Nov. 24. The Trojans' next three ranked opponents are Pac-10 teams: No. 7/8 Stanford, No. 12/12 Arizona State and No. 13/14 California. All told, the USC schedule contains seven teams that reached the 2007 NCAA Tournament (Georgia, Prairie View A&M, Nebraska, Arizona State, California, Stanford and Washington) and three teams that ended the year ranked in the top-25 (No. 13/13 Georgia, No. 8/10 Arizona State and No. 16/5 Stanford).
The Women of Troy have been slotted at No. 4 in the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Coaches Poll and the Media Poll. The Trojans received 56 points in the coaches poll to come in behind top pick and defending conference champ Stanford (79 points), No. 2 Arizona State (71) and No. 3 pick California (68). Sitting below the Trojans in fifth is UCLA with 44 points.
USC used nine different players in its starting lineup rotations last year. Six players who saw time as starters return for 2007-08 -- sophomores Hailey Dunham, Aarika Hughes and Morghan Medlock and seniors Nicole Berberet, Allison Jaskowiak and Simone Jelks.