USC Women Open Pac-10 Play In Arizona
Dec. 23, 2007
USC takes a three-game win streak into the start of Pac-10 play this week, following up a stretch of home victories with a conference road trip to Arizona. The Women of Troy (7-4) will open Pac-10 action against Arizona (6-5) in a 2 p.m. MT match on Friday (Dec. 28) in Tucson. USC next heads to Tempe for a televised game against No. 21 Arizona State (6-5) at 1:30 p.m. MT. The Trojan-Sun Devil clash will be broadcast live on FSN.
Both of USC's games will have live stats available through Gametracker through the USC women's basketball page at usctrojans.com. Sunday's USC-ASU game will be televised live on FSN.
IN THE NATION
USC and Arizona were not ranked in the latest national polls. Arizona State ranks No. 21 in the USA Today poll and is No. 22 according to AP.
USC remained undefeated on its home court at the Galen Center with a pair of victories in the Women of Troy Basketball Classic last week. The Trojans had five different players hit double figures in both games, and Nadia Parker tallied back-to-back double-doubles to lead the Women of Troy to the tournament title. USC opened up compeition with a 78-45 win over visiting Grambling State behind a game-high 18 points and five steals from Camille LeNoir. LeNoir and Parker (11 points, 10 rebounds) were joined in double figures on the night by three more Women of Troy. Hailey Dunham punched in 12, Heather Oliver tallied 11 and a career-high five assists, and Morghan Medlock delivered 10 points, rounding out the second time this season that USC has had five players in double digits. The following night in the tournament title match against Portland State, USC replicated that balanced attack. Parker tallied another double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while LeNoir matched Parker with a team-high 13 points, Brynn Cameron added 11, and Dunham and Oliver scored 10 apiece. Oliver also had a career-high seven rebounds and was named the MVP of the tournament, joined on the All-Tournament Team by Parker, Portland State's Kelsey Kahle and Delaney Conway and Hawaii's Tanya Smith.
The Wildcats are 6-5 overall after having a four-game win streak snapped with an 81-59 loss to Green Bay last week. Ashley Whisonant is Arizona's leading scorer with 14.6 points per game. Head coach Joan Bonvicini is in her 17th season at Arizona, which went 11-21 overall and finished ninth in the Pac-10 at 4-14 last season. USC is 43-16 all-time against the Wildcats, having won the past five meetings. The Trojans beat Arizona 77-68 in Tucson and 66-42 in Los Angeles last season in Pac-10 play.
SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE
The Sun Devils are 6-5 overall after beating Fresno State 79-49 and losing 62-51 to Texas last week. Briann January leads ASU with 11.9 points and 4.7 assists per game. Head coach Charli Turner Thorne is in her 12th season at ASU, which went 31-5 overall with a trip to the Elite Eight after finished second in the Pac-10 at 16-2 last season. USC is 47-12 all-time against the Sun Devils but has lost in the past three meetings. ASU beat the Trojans 62-54 in Tempe and 68-57 in Los Angeles during Pac-10 play last season.
Brynn Cameron set USC records from 3-point range as a freshman, but had 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 stepped right back into her comfort zone outside the arc. Cameron led USC in scoring in USC's first two games this year, knocking down four 3-pointers in each game. With 12 threes now this season, Cameron recently passed up current USC assistant coach Jody (Anton) Wynn in the record books, and with three more 3-pointers during USC's win over Portland State, Cameron moved up to tie in the No. 3 all-time slot occupied by Tammy Story and Kristin Clark with 110.
Greatly missed from the USC lineup last season was point guard Camille LeNoir, who was sidelined with a hip injury. Following surgery, the junior returned to the floor this season as a redshirt junior, and has wasted little time getting right back to her impressive ways on court. She's set up camp as USC's second leading scorer this season, averaging 9.1 points, 3.9 assists and 2.0 steals per game. Against Cal State Fullerton, LeNoir matched Trojan great Cheryl Miller's 100 percent effort on the floor from 1985, coming one short of Miller's 10-of-10 outing by going 9-for-9 and finishing with a season-high 19 points.
Nadia Parker made herself well at home in the Bahamas, serving up 28 points and 18 rebounds in the two games on her way to her first-ever Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. The junior center had a career day in USC's comeback win over Virginia Tech, tallying career highs of 21 points and 11 rebounds (also her first career double-double) and a shooting percentage of 9-of-11 (.818) to help spark USC to victory. She's since recorded two more double-doubles, grabbing back-to-back efforts at the Women of Troy Classic. Parker stands tall as USC's leading scorer (11.5 ppg) and top rebounder (6.5 rpg).
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.
Known for their stifling defense, USC seniors Allison Jaskowiak and Simone Jelks have also come up strong on the offensive end this season. Jelks averaged 2.6 points per game last season as a junior, and has upped her tally to 5.5 ppg so far this season to help in USC's balanced offensive effort. Jaskowiak has also increased her offensive role, going from 3.1 ppg last season to 4.6 this year. The two seniors have already tallied as many 3-pointers as they hit all of last season. Jelks has nailed seven to even last year's mark, and Jaskowiak has knocked down 11 so far.
INJURY BUG BITES BACK
It seemed to be the storyline of the 2006-07 season, but the injury bug hasn't seemed to shake completely 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 tallied her first points as a Trojan with a nine-point outing against Colorado on Nov. 18, and saw her first starts in the past three games. Honored as the Women of Troy Classic MVP, she now is averaging 7.1 points per game after posting back-to-back double-digit efforts during the tourney.
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 in the game. The Trojan point guard tandem of Dunham (53 pts, 29 asts) and LeNoir (104 pts, 39 asts) is averaging 15.2 points and 6.5 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.
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. LaPlante now averages 4.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.
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 -- was No. 9/10 Georgia, which the Trojans played extremely tight to a 59-57 loss during the final game of the Junkanoo Jam. 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.