USC Hosts Washington and WSU This Week
Feb. 5, 2008
USC aims to get back on a winning run this weekend, as the Trojans bring their solid 9-1 home record into this week's contests at the Galen Center. USC (13-9, 6-5 Pac-10) first look to avenge an earlier Pac-10 loss to Washington with a 7 p.m. clash against the Huskies (9-13, 4-6) on Friday (Feb. 8) before hosting Washington State (3-18, 0-10) at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday (Feb. 10). Sunday's game also marks USC's 'Think Pink' game day, where the Women of Troy encourage fans to join them in wearing pink in support of breast cancer awareness.
In support of the WBCA's 'Think Pink' initiative to raise breast cancer awareness, Sunday's game versus Washington State will be 'Think Pink' day at USC. The USC coaching staff will be sporting pink Crocs sandals before the game, and players will wear pink shooting shirts during warmup. Fans wearing pink will receive discounted admission ($5) to the game, and the first 1,000 fans to arrive at the Galen Center will receive a mini basketball. The Women of Troy also will hold an autograph session after the game in the Hall of Fame area at the Galen Center. For more information on the WBCA's 'Think Pink' events, visit http://www.wbca.org/thinkpink.asp.
Both games this week 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, Washington and Washington State are all unranked in this week's polls.
USC went on the road to face the Pac-10's two top-10 ranked teams last week and came close to grabbing a split until Pac-10 leader Cal managed to force overtime and get the win over the Trojans. USC had fallen 77-51 at No. 7 Stanford before losing 60-55 in overtime at No. 9 Cal. To open the road trip, USC came up against a tough Stanford team on the Cardinal's home court, as the Trojans had its three-game win streak snapped by the 77-51 loss to No. 7 Stanford. USC was led in scoring by 16 points from Brynn Cameron - who hit four 3-pointers on the night. Freshman Kari LaPlante had her third straight double-digit game for the Trojans with 12. Throughout the game, Stanford was able to generate short scoring runs to keep an extra stride on the Women of Troy. USC shot 29 percent in the first half to Stanford's 46 percent as the Cardinal led 44-21 at the half. USC upped its scoring percentage in the second half, but were hurt by a 15-0 scoring run by the Cardinal that put the Trojans in a deep hole. USC finished the game shooting 38 percent, and Stanford shot 49 percent in the game, led by 18 points apiece from Jayne Appel and Candice Wiggins, who became the Cardinal's all-time scoring leader when she passed 12 points in the game during the first half. Two days later, USC took No. 9 California into overtime on the Bears' home court thanks to a late run in regulation, but Cal emerged with the Pac-10 win over the Trojans with a 65-55 overtime decision. LeNoir led all scorers with 21 points and had a team-high seven rebounds for the Trojans, and Parker had 12 points and a career-high 5 blocks in the game. Cal had three players finish in double figures, including a double-double from Devanei Hampton with 20 points and 15 rebounds. USC kept a tight leash on the Pac-10 leaders throughout the game, erasing a late six-point hole with an 8-0 run to grab a two-point lead until free throws from Hampton leveled things with 20 seconds to go. Already with a big advantage from the free-throw line, Cal converted seven of eight free throws in overtime to get to the win. USC out-shot the Bears 36 percent to 31 from the floor, but Cal was 19-of-23 from the free-throw line in the game compared to USC's 4-of-7 outing.
The Huskies are 9-13 overall and 4-6 in Pac-10 play after a big 84-40 win over Washington State last week. Katelan Redmon and Sami Whitcomb lead Washington in scoring with 12.5 and 10.6 points per game, respectively. Head coach Tia Jackson is in her first season at Washington, which went 18-13 overall last year, finishing fourth at 11-7 in the Pac-10 and reaching the NCAA First Round. USC is 20-28 all-time against the Huskies after the Trojans fell 60-45 in Seattle last month in the first round of Pac-10 play.
SCOUTING WASHINGTON STATE
The Cougars are 3-18 overall and 0-10 in Pac-10 play after falling 84-40 at Washington last week. Katie Appleton is WSU's leading scorer with 12.6 points per game. Head coach June Daugherty is in her first season at WSU, which went 5-24 overall and finished 10th at 1-17 in the Pac-10 last year. USC is 34-11 all-time against the Cougars, including 15 straight wins in the past meetings after USC's 62-58 win last month in the first round of Pac-10 play in Pullman.
In addition to the loss of redshirt freshman Jacki Gemelos and true freshman Stephanie Gilbreath following offseason knee surgeries, sophomore Aarika Hughes is sidelined indefinitely by a foot injury as of Jan. 21. Morghan Medlock, too, missed the Oregon series with injury but returned to the lineup on Jan. 31. Gemelos, Gilbreath and Medlock all came to USC as McDonald's All-Americans, and Hughes has participated at the U.S. Under-20 National Team trials.
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. Now with 32 threes this season after hitting a season-high four against Stanford on Jan. 31 and then another at Cal, Cameron stands all alone in the No. 3 all-time slot with 123 career 3-pointers -- nine short of former teammate Jamie Hagiya at No. 2
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 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 10.9 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, and recently knocked down a career-high five 3-pointers in USC's upset win over then-No. 2 Stanford. With two more threes against Oregon, LeNoir passed up current USC assistant coach Jody (Anton) Wynn in the record books to now rank No. 6 all-time at USC in career threes with 107.
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 now recorded a total of four double-doubles, most recently grabbing 10 rebounds and adding 13 points in USC's home win over UCLA. Parker stands tall as USC's leading scorer (11.1 ppg) and top rebounder (6.5 rpg). She's hit double figures in 13 of USC's 22 games to date.
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 4.6 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 3.5 this year while also standing out as USC's top free-throw shooter with a .773 effort. The two seniors have already tallied more 3-pointers than they hit all of last season. Jelks has nailed 11 to better last year's mark of seven, and Jaskowiak has knocked down 14 so far to beat last year's 11.
Adding a serious 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 has now become a mainstay in the starting lineup, starting the past 15 games. Honored as the Women of Troy Classic MVP, she now is averaging 8.1 points per game after setting a new career high with 16 points against Washington State ¬-- all 16 came in the second half. She has posted double-digit efforts in seven of the past 13 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 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 (109 pts, 50 asts) and LeNoir (217 pts, 77 asts) is averaging 15.9 points and 6.2 assists per game.
DUNHAM DOES IT ALL
When fellow sophomores Aarika Hughes and Morghan Medlock were both out of the lineup with injuries, Hailey Dunham had to expand her role from back-up point guard to a flexible guard/forward that has put the sophomore in the 1, 2, 3 and 4 spots on the court for the Women of Troy. So far so good, as the flexible 6-2 Dunham showed her versatility during that stretch with 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks and a 4-for-4 free-throw effort in games against OSU and Oregon for the Trojans.
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. After a career night against OSU where she led USC with 13 points and two more double-figure outings against Oregon and Stanford, LaPlante now averages 4.5 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
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.
Although injuries have hampered the amount of time they've been able to spend on the court recently, sophomores Aarika Hughes and Morghan Medlock 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 picked up the pace on all accounts this year. Hughes and Medlock combined for 9.0 points per game last season, and have averaged 13.4 together this year. Hughes upped a freshman year average of 2.6 ppg and seven total 3-pointers to a sophomore campaign where she averaged 6.1 ppg and nailed 17 threes until her foot injury sidelined her indefintiely. Medlock produced 6.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as a freshman and has delivered 7.1 ppg and 5.4 rpg this season.
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, who turned 1 in November. And senior Allison Jaskowiak added a new name to her roster page when she married former USC baseball star Ian Kennedy in October.
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 seven different starting lineups.
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.