USC Women Open Season On The Road
Nov. 11, 2008
USC's 2008-09 campaign kicks off on the road this season, as the Women of Troy take a trip to North Carolina to join the action at NC State's Wolfpack Invitational. USC opens the tournament with a game against Charlotte at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday (Nov. 15) and then will face either host NC State or Milwaukee the following day (Nov. 16) at either 12 or 2:30 p.m. in Raleigh, N.C.
Live audio, broadcast by Jon Horn, as well as live stats through Gametracker will be available online for this weekend's games through the women's basketball page at www.usctrojans.com.
IN THE NATION
USC is unranked, but received votes in the preseason AP Poll.
USC got contributions from eight Trojans during exhibition action on October 30. The Women of Troy dealt out a 79-63 win over Love & Basketball in USC's first competition of the season, receiving a double-double from sophomore center Kari LaPlante along with double digit scoring from three other Trojans on the night. USC freshmen Ashley Corral and Briana Gilbreath both nailed double figures in their first competition as Trojans. Corral delivered five 3-pointers on the way to a team-high 17-point outing, while Gilbreath tacked up 13 points and led USC with four assists and had nine rebounds in her first night in USC gear. Junior Heather Oliver also got into double figures for the Trojans with 13 points, while senior Brynn Cameron hauled in 10 rebounds. LaPlante's final tally was 13 rebounds and 12 points on the night.
When Brynn Cameron and Camille LeNoir came to USC, it was with the expectation that they'd be playing in the Trojan backcourt for four seasons together. They just didn't think it would take five seasons to get to that senior year. Hip injuries to both players delayed the two talented guards' departure from Troy by a year -- putting the pair on a path to this season's senior stretch alongside true senior Nadia Parker. Together, Cameron, LeNoir and Parker stand as the three Women of Troy who have had a taste of the NCAA Tournament. Cameron and LeNoir were freshmen when the Trojans snapped a seven-year absence from the postseason in Mark Trakh's first season at Troy. Parker joined in as a freshman in the 2005-06 season when USC made it back-to-back NCAA appearances. Now all on the same track to graduation, the two guards and center are joined by former walk-on Nicole Berberet as Trakh's senior class of talent and leadership. Cameron, LeNoir and Parker have all garnered All-Pac-10 honors during their USC careers to date.
Added incentive for a strong regular season is the promise of hosting both the Pac-10 Tournament and the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship First and Second Rounds at USC's Galen Center. The Galen Center became the new home to the Women of Troy in 2006, and USC has won 22 of 29 games on its home court since then. USC will host the Pac-10 Tournament from March 12-15, and has NCAA First and Second Round games set for March 21 and 23 at the Galen Center.
In 2008-09, the Trojans played out 12 games that were decided by five or fewer points. One of those nailbiters turned out to be one of the most exciting wins by the Women of Troy in years, as USC edged No. 2 Stanford 73-72 for its first win over the Cardinal since 2004. Stanford would go on to reach the NCAA championship game, but the Trojans would fall short of the postseason after the injury bug bit again late in the season, taking top scorer and rebounder Parker out of the picture with a knee injury during the final week of the regular season. USC finished 17-13 overall on the year after earning the No. 4 seed into the Pac-10 Tournament with a 10-8 conference mark.
Six of USC's top seven scorers are back for more this season, including the Trojans' top three point producers Brynn Cameron, Camille LeNoir and Heather Oliver. All told, USC returns those three starters along with Cameron -- who matched LeNoir with 40 threes last year -- sophomore center Kari LaPlante and versatile juniors Hailey Dunham and Aarika Hughes as key contributors from the 2007-08 squad.
USC also boasts a solid group of first-year additions to the gameplan. Guard Daniela Roark will make her debut this season after sitting out last year due to NCAA transfer rules. And three true freshmen will hit the hardwood at Troy as well. Two of those newcomers were teammates as McDonald's All-Americans -- and opponents as first- and second-place finishers in the national 3-point shootout following the game. Three-point champ Ashley Corral will team back up with fellow All-American Briana Gilbreath (younger sister of Stefanie) as fast fits in the USC backcourt as freshmen, along with 6-3 freshman forward Michelle Jenkins.
Until a week before the season began, there were two additional shining Trojan stars set to make their long-awaited debuts at Troy. McDonald's All-Americans Jacki Gemelos and Stefanie Gilbreath came to USC a year apart, but both now remain sidelined by repeat knee injuries. Gilbreath's redshirt freshman season has been stalled by a second tear to her right ACL, and Gemelos will now miss a third consecutive season at USC after tearing her ACL and cartilage in her left knee -- this after back-to-back tears in her right knee kept her off the court for her first two years at Troy.
GOING BIG ABROAD
Freshman Ashley Corral gathered some valuable international experience this summer, winning gold as a starter with Team USA at the U-18 FIBA Americas Championships in Argentina. The Trojan was the United States' top scorer against Puerto Rico, and finished the tournament leading her team in minutes played.
RIGHT ON SCHEDULE
The 2008-09 test begins on the road for the Trojans, with USC's schedule kicking off with a trip to Raleigh, N.C. After a visit to the Wolfpack Invitational to open against Charlotte and then face either North Carolina State or Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USC returns to California to play Trakh and his staff's former program, Pepperdine. Aside from a trip to Hawai'i for the Women's Seasider Challenge for matchups with Utah Valley and BYU, the bulk of the nonconference stretch will be played on home turf. USC has UC Santa Barbara, Michigan, Montana State and Utah tabbed for visits to Troy and the Women of Troy Basketball Classic bringing Duke, Harvard and Siena to town. The Trojans take on the Blue Devils in a bigtime clash on December 19. After a December 30 tilt with Utah, 2009 marks the start of conference clashes. The Pac-10 has been a battleground for years, and the competition level for the coming season has the makings of yet another full plate for conference squads.