USC Women Host Top-10 Teams This Week
Jan. 1, 2008
After picking up a Pac-10 road split last weekend, USC opens the new year with a home stand against two ranked conference teams, making three straight ranked opponents for the Women of Troy. The Trojans (8-5, 1-1 Pac-10) first host No. 10 California (11-2, 2-0) for a 7 p.m. game on Friday (Jan. 4), then play No. 2 Stanford (12-1, 2-0) at 2 p.m. on Sunday (Jan. 6) at the Galen Center.
Both games will be broadcast live on the web through Trojan TV All-Access at www.usctrojans.com. Live video and audio is available, as well as live stats on Gametracker also linked from the USC women's basketball page at usctrojans.com.
IN THE NATION
USC is not ranked in the latest national polls. California ranks No. 10 in this week's AP poll and No. 11 according to USA Today, and Stanford sits at No. 2 in both polls.
USC came away with a road split last week, notching its fourth straight win with a 77-70 victory at Arizona, and then falling 66-63 to Arizona State two days later. Against the Wildcats, USC set a new program high with 13 three-pointers, and sophomore Morghan Medlock served up new career highs with a double-double to lead the Trojans to a 77-70 win over Arizona in their Pac-10 opener on Friday night in Tucson, Ariz. USC shot 48 percent from 3-point range on the night, and worked its record up to 8-4 overall and a 1-0 start in conference action. Medlock served up 13 first-half points to account for half of USC's points off the bench in the opening stretch. She and Aarika Hughes combined for a 6-of-7 effort from 3-point range during the half to help get USC a slim 31-30 lead by halftime. Meanwhile, Camille LeNoir had all 13 of her points during the second half, and ended up dishing out a career-high eight assists and was responsible for USC's 12th 3-pointer on the night - tying a program record - during USC's second-half surge. Medlock worked her way into her first double-double of the year, tallying new career highs with 18 points and 13 rebounds and doubling her previous career best for threes with four in the match to lead the Trojans. Heather Oliver also notched her third straight game in double digits, putting in 10 points for the Trojans. USC was later edged out 66-63 by No. 24 Arizona State on Sunday. Nadia Parker had a career high of 22 points to lead the Women of Troy, and Hailey Dunham added 12 and LeNoir put in 10 for the Trojans. USC had a strong first half, leading by as much as 13, but ASU's many trips to the free-throw line helped the Sun Devils' cause during the second half. The USC defense forced 14 turnovers out of the Sun Devils during the first half, while the Trojans shot 47 percent from the floor to help USC to a 33-22 advantage at halftime. Arizona State was awarded 26 free throws in the game, compared to USC's eight, and the Sun Devils converted 19 of those 26 while USC went 4-of-8.
The No. 10 Bears are 11-2 overall and 2-0 after opening Pac-10 play with a 66-40 win over Washington and a 99-44 win over Washington State last week. Ashley Walker leads Cal with 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Head coach Joanne Boyle is in her third season at Cal, which reached the NCAA First Round last season and finished 23-9 overall, taking third in the Pac-10 at 12-6. USC is 31-17 all-time against the Bears, but the Trojans have lost the past four games against Cal. USC last won in a 103-69 decision at home in 2005. Last season, Cal beat USC 62-53 in Los Angeles and 86-79 in overtime in Berkeley.
The No. 2 Cardinal are 12-1 overall and 2-0 in Pac-10 play after beating Washington State 105-47 and beating Washington 77-42 last week. Candice Wiggins leads Stanford in scoring with 17.5 points per game. Head coach Tara Vanderveer is in her 22nd season at Stanford, which reached the NCAA Second Round, finishing 29-5 overall after placing first in the Pac-10 at 17-1. USC is 18-39 all-time against Stanford, having lost the past 10 games to the Cardinal. Stanford beat USC three times last season, including a 67-52 win in the semifinals of the Pac-10 Tournament.
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. LeNoir also served up a career-high eight assists in USC's Pac-10 opener against Arizona.
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 (12.1 ppg) and top rebounder (6.6 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 4.9 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 3.9 this year. The two seniors have already tallied more 3-pointers than they hit all of last season. Jelks has nailed eight to better 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 double-digit efforts in three of the past four games.
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 (70 pts, 33 asts) and LeNoir (127 pts, 53 asts) is averaging 16.0 points and 6.9 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.
Sophomores Aarika Hughes and Morghan Medlock (6.4) both have stepped up as key contributors in their second season at Troy. Both versatile players with ball-handling skills and a slick 3-point shot to go along with size and strength, the pair have picked up the pace on all accounts this year. Hughes and Medlock combined for 9.0 points per game last season, and are averaging 15.3 together this year. Hughes has upped a freshman year average of 2.6 ppg and seven total 3-pointers to a sophomore campaign where she averages 7.1 ppg and has nailed 13 threes already. Medlock produced 6.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as a freshman and has delivered 8.1 ppg and 5.8 rpg this 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. LaPlante now averages 4.1 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.
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. This year USC is on a similar page, with nine different players getting at least one starting nod, as the Trojans have utilized six different starting lineups.