Men's Hoops' First Exhibition Saturday
Nov. 3, 2000
LOS ANGELES - The No. 24 USC men's basketball team, which returns all five starters and three other lettermen from last year's 16-14 team that barely missed the postseason, plays its first exhibition game of the season when it hosts the Double Pump California West All-Stars on Saturday (Nov. 4) at 7 p.m. at the Lyon Center on the USC campus. The Trojans finish their exhibition schedule when they host the Double Pump California Southwest All-Stars on Nov. 12 at 6 p.m., also at the Lyon Center. Tickets for both games will be available at the door or by calling (213) 740-GO SC.
RANKINGS - USC was ranked No. 24 by the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Coaches' Preseason Poll announced on Nov. 2, marking the first time since the 1978-79 season that the USC men's basketball team will open a season ranked in the Top 25 in one of the two major polls. The AP writers' poll has yet to be released. USC received 87 points to secure their No. 24 spot. The last time USC was ranked in the preseason, the Trojans were tabbed No. 12 in the AP poll at the start of the 1978-79 year. The Trojans are among four Pac-10 teams that are ranked. Arizona is No. 1, Stanford is No. 3 and UCLA is No. 19. The only other definite 2000-2001 opponent ranked is Utah at No. 16. Iowa State, a possible match-up in the Pearl Harbor Classic in December, is just ahead of Troy at No. 23. No other Pac-10 school received any votes. The only other USC opponent that got a mention was Cal State Northridge, which received one vote.
THIRD'S A CHARM - The Trojans were picked to finish third in the 2000-2001 Pacific-10 Conference men's basketball race, according to a poll of media members who cover Pac-10 men's basketball. Arizona was chosen first and garnered all 29 first-place votes (290 points). Defending Pac-10 co-champion Stanford was picked second (255) and USC (206) edged UCLA (205) for third. California was picked fifth (160), followed by Oregon (138), Oregon State (133), Arizona State (109), Washington (58) and Washington State (41).
PRESEASON HYPE - The Trojans have received more than their share of hype in the preseason and have been ranked as high as No. 14 in some polls. Both the Trojans' backcourt and frontcourt have been listed among the nation's Top 10 and each of the starting five are rated by numerous sources as first or second team in the Pac-10 or as the most underrated player in the Pac-10. Lindy's ranks Brian Scalabrine as the No. 2 power forward in the country and The Sporting News has him at No. 4. Jeff Trepagnier is listed as the Pac-10's top defender by Lindy's and Preview Sports. The Sporting News lists Brandon Granville as the seventh-best point guard in the country and Lindy's dubbed him the top playmaker in the Pac-10. Athlon Sports called Sam Clancy the most underrated player in the Pac-10 while The Sporting News gave the same distinction to David Bluthenthal.
IT'S ALL SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA - Among the 12 non-conference games USC will play before the Pacific-10 Conference season, only the three games at the Pearl Harbor Classic in Laie, Hawai'i (within an hour's drive of Honolulu on the North Shore of Oahu) and the game at Northwestern are beyond 100 miles from campus. The Trojans open the season with four of its first five games at the Sports Arena and the fifth at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, Calif. USC begins by hosting Bradley on Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Sports Arena. The Trojans follow the game against the Braves by hosting San Diego on Nov. 21 at 7:30 and Loyola Marymount on Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. USC then plays Utah at the Arrowhead Pond in the Wooden Classic. The Trojan-Ute rumble will follow the matinee match-up of UCLA-Georgia Tech, which begins at noon. The USC contest will start 30 minutes after the completion of the first game. The Trojans return to the Sports Arena on Dec. 5 to host Cal State Northridge at 7:30 p.m. USC will play at UC Santa Barbara on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. but returns home once more to host Pepperdine on Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m. Then, after the Hawai'i tournament and the game at Northwestern, USC concludes its non-conference slate by hosting Long Beach State at 5:30 p.m.
GRIDIRON-HARDCOURT DOUBLEHEADERS - USC's regular-season opener against Bradley on Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. is scheduled on the same day as the USC-UCLA football game at the Rose Bowl. The starting time for the gridiron contest has yet to be announced. A week later, USC hosts Loyola Marymount on Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. on the same day as the USC-Notre Dame football game at the Coliseum. The football game will start at 12:30 p.m. and fans will be able to use the ticket stub from the football game to receive a $5 admission to the basketball game later that night at the Sports Arena.
TROY ON THE TUBE - The Trojans will play 18 games that will be broadcast live in Los Angeles. Five games will be aired nationally on FOX Sports Net (Fox Net West in Los Angeles). Three games will be aired on FOX Sports Net West (Los Angeles only) and seven will be broadcast on FOX Sports Net West 2 (Los Angeles only). The game against Utah will be shown on KCAL (Channel 9). USC's game at Arizona State will be shown regionally on ABC and the Trojans home game vs. Arizona will air regionally on CBS. Refer to USC's composite schedule at www.usctrojans.com for complete TV listings.
TROY ON THE RADIO - Twenty of USC's 30 games - 18 Pac-10 games plus the Loyola Marymount and Long Beach State games - will be broadcast live on XTRA-AM (690). The game against Utah will be broadcast live on KXTA-AM (1150) while the remaining nine games will be broadcast live on KMPC-AM (1540). Rory Markas returns for his third year as the play-by-play voice of the Trojans while former USC assistant coach Jim Hefner is back for his fifth year providing commentary.
STUBBING TOES - The Trojans, hit hard by serious foot injuries to forwards Sam Clancy and Jarvis Turner last season, have had their share of nicks and cuts in the preseason, but nothing major (find your own wood on which to knock). The latest casualty is senior guard Jeff Trepagnier, who suffered a hairline fracture in his left foot earlier in the week. Fortunately, the injury does not require surgery and he will likely be out just two to three weeks. Returning starting forward David Bluthenthal underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to remove cartilage two weeks ago, but is slated to return to practicing full time as early as Monday (Nov. 6). First-year junior college transfer Robert Hutchinson, a sophomore point guard slated to back-up starter Brandon Granville, was slowed slightly by a fracture on his little finger, but has still practiced while the injury heals. Returning reserve guard Nate Hair suffered a strained tendon in his knee last week, but the injury does not require surgery and he could be back practicing before the Trojans' final exhibition game on Nov. 12.
NUMBER CRUNCHING - USC has just about all of its firepower back from a year ago. All five starters return in addition to three key reserves. Percentage-wise the numbers are impressive. USC returns 97.2% of its scoring, 86.4% of its rebounding, 97.9% of its three-point production, 99.2% of its blocked shots, 95.8% of its assists and 93.8% of its steals. Overall, USC has eight players coming back who accounted for 94.4% of the minutes played last year.
FIRST RANDOM NOTE OF THE YEAR - USC will open the season with three consecutive home games for the first time since the 1988-89 season when the Trojans hosted their first four games. That year, USC won its first four contests against Delaware, Howard, Portland and U.S. International, but lost 22 of its remaining 28 games.
A (BRIEF) LOOK BACK AT LAST YEAR - USC opened 1999-2000 by splitting its first 10 games, but two of those losses were to powers North Carolina and Duke and another came in a heartbreaking, buzzer-beating loss to Utah State. USC righted the ship by winning its last two non-conference games and then opened the Pac-10 season tied for first place at 6-1. The opening conference stretch included a road sweep of the Washington schools, a convincing win over No. 25 UCLA to snap a 10-game losing streak to the Bruins and then sweeping Arizona State (an OT win) and No. 2 Arizona before splitting two games in Oregon. But foot injuries to forwards Sam Clancy and Jarvis Turner in the Arizona State overtime win eventually took the steam out of the hot start. After the 6-1 beginning, the Trojans dropped eight of nine, most of them close losses as the Trojans' lack of depth began to show. Included in the tight losses were a four-point defeat to California, a 10-point loss to No. 2 Stanford, a five-point loss at UCLA, a seven-point defeat (after leading for much of the game) at No. 4 Arizona and a three-point loss to Oregon. USC finished the season by sweeping, once again, the Washington schools, but it wasn't enough to earn the Trojans a postseason berth.
SCHOLARSHIP ADDITION - Senior guard Tyler Murphy, who transferred from Vermont last year and spent the season as a redshirt, received USC's final scholarship for the 2000-2001 season. A 6-foot-5, 190-pound guard from Los Angeles, Murphy played 80 games in three years at Vermont. As a junior in 1998-99, Murphy averaged 6.6 points in 20.3 minutes per game, starting four of 27 games. Murphy, a fine outside shooter, made 67-of-189 three-point attempts (35.4%) in his career at Vermont.
1999-2000 PAC-10 HONORS - Forward/center Brian Scalabrine earned Pac-10 first team honors last year as a junior, the first Trojan to earn the honor since guard Stais Boseman did so in 1997. Three Trojans also earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors last year: guard Jeff Trepagnier guard Brandon Granville and forward David Bluthenthal. The four Trojans selected were the most USC ever had in one season.
GOOD WILL - With the holiday season just around the corner, the Los Angeles Kings Wives and the USC Athletic Department are teaming up on the Kings Wives annual holiday Toy Drive presented by Pepsi. Kings Wives will be joined by USC student-athletes in collecting toys and distributing raffle tickets on Nov. 7, 9, and 11 before Kings home games at STAPLES Center. Toys will also be collected at USC men's basketball games on Nov. 18 and 21. All proceeds from the toy collection will benefit Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, Shriner's Hospital for Children, USC Women's and Children's Center, and Centinela Hospital Medical Center. Fans who donate a new unwrapped toy will be entered into a drawing to win a team signed hockey stick, a special gift courtesy of Pepsi, or an autographed piece of USC Athletics memorabilia. In December, USC student-athletes will deliver toys collected from the toy drive to USC Women's and Children's Center, while Kings players and their wives will present gifts to pediatric patients during their annual holiday hospital visits. For fans who are unable to drop off their toys at the selected games, USC Athletics will continue to collect toys at Heritage Hall until distribution on Dec. 8.
A FEW OF LAST YEAR'SMORE-INTERESTING NOTES* Forward David Bluthenthal tied a 22-year-old USC record with 28 rebounds vs. Arizona State on Jan. 20 at the Sports Arena last season. He tied Cliff Robinson, who had 28 boards vs. Portland State on the same date in 1978. It was the most in the conference since Robinson's effort and is tied for fifth-best ever in the Pac-10. Bluthenthal's 28 rebounds is the third-most ever in a Pac-10 game (tied with Washington's Steve Hawes in 1972) and the most in a conference game since Hawes' effort. The Pac-10 record in any game is 36, set by Swede Halbrook of Oregon State (Feb. 15, 1955). For perspective, no one in the Big Ten or the ACC has had at least 28 rebounds in the last 30 years.* Guard Jeff Trepagnier set a USC single-season record with 94 steals last year and junior guard Brandon Granville also set a single-season school mark with 248 assists.* USC set a Pac-10, USC and a Gill Coliseum record for three-pointers made when they connected on 20-of-29 three-point attempts at Oregon State on Jan. 29. The previous conference record was 18 by Washington State vs. Seattle on Dec. 29, 1990.* USC had three different Pac-10 Players of the Week last year (Brian Scalabrine, David Bluthenthal and Jeff Trepagnier). It was the first time USC had three different players earn the award in one season.* David Bluthenthal finished one rebound short of averaging a double-double in Pac-10 play.