Basketball Opens Regular Season On The Road

Nov. 14, 2000

The Facts
The USC women's basketball team begins 2000-2001 season on the road with two nonconference match-ups. USC faces Creighton on Friday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m. CST in Omaha, Neb., then travels to Des Moines, Iowa, for a 2 p.m. CST game against Drake on Sunday, Nov. 19.

USC, under fourth-year head coach Chris Gobrecht, returns nine letterwinners from a team that posted its first winning record and made its first postseason appearance in three years. Returning All-Pac-10 selections Tiffany Elmore and Tashara Carter will lead a Women of Troy squad that includes a Top-20 incoming freshman class.

The Last Outing
In their first exhibition game, the Women of Troy suffered a 66-63 loss thanks to a last-second shot by Jamie Redd of the Bay Area Pro-Am (and former player at Washington under head coach Chris Gobrecht) on Wednesday (Nov. 8). Tashara Carter and Tiffany Elmore led a young USC squad with 13 points each as the Trojans battled back from a 14-point deficit to tie the score, 63-63, with 0:24 remaining.

Tiffany Elmore again led with 19 points as USC dropped its second exhibition game, 84-78, to the national team of China on Sunday, Nov. 12. The Women of Troy entered the break down by four (48-44) despite shooting 60 percent (17-28) from the field and 75 percent (3-4) from three-point range. In the second half, the gap increased to 14 with 7:16 left, but USC slowly began to chip away at the lead. The Trojans came within one (76-75) by forcing six China turnovers and taking advantage of five consecutive fouls, only to fall behind again with a turnover and two fouls of their own. In the end, it was accurate shooting from the field, and a 87.5 effort at the line, gave China the win.

USC In The Polls
In the national preseason polls, the Women of Troy are ranked No. 21 according to, and No. 24 according to the Women's Basketball Journal, and have received mention in numerous others.

Season Openers
USC is 21-3 all-time in season openers ... 6-3 on the road, 10-0 at home and 5-0 at neutral sites.

What They're Saying About USC Basketball
'Coach Chris Gobrecht is still working to rebuild the USC program, and the addition of Ebony Hoffman is definitely a step in the right direction. Hoffman, a 6-2 power forward... will be a candidate for national freshman of the year honors.'
- Women's Basketball Journal

'Last year's athletic underdogs pulled their share of upsets and are now joined by perhaps the best incoming freshman in the country in Hoffman. Coach Gobrecht has made steady progress in her first three years, so look for the Trojans to surge in her fourth... a legitimate Pac-10 threat.
'From 7-17 in 98-99 to 16-14 in 99-00 to 20+ wins and the NCAA's in 00-01... We would say that fits the profile of `going up.'

'Coach Chris Gobrecht has got it going on in L.A., with a big-time recruiting class and plenty of returning talent. In addition, the Trojans are due for a year without injuries, which have plagued them for the last few seasons. The Pac-10 isn't exactly the SEC, either, so if USC can find a point guard, there's room for Gobrecht and company to elbow their way into the Top 25.'
- Street & Smith's College Basketball

'My top five freshmen of influence... Diana Taurasi (UConn), Shereka Wright (Purdue), Ashley Robinson (Tennessee), Iciss Tillis (Duke) and Ebony Hoffman (Southern California).'
- Nancy Lierberman-Cline, USA Today

The Three-Year Vet
Senior Tashara Carter enters the 2000-2001 season as the team's lone three-year veteran of the program, and the only player to play under Coach Gobrecht all three years. A recruit of former USC head coach Fred Williams, Carter endured the first years of instability and transition as the 1998-99 squad posted a 7-20 overall record and finished tied for ninth in the Pac-10. In three years, Carter has played in all 84 games and only missed four starts, helping guide the Women of Troy back to nation prominence.

Mitchell Payed Her Dues
Redshirt freshman Portia Mitchell is back in the lineup much to everyone's delight. A highly touted 1999 recruit out of Narbonne High, Mitchell sat out during the 1999-2000 season after not meeting conditioning requirements. So a year of relentless training has paid-off for the 6-4 center after she proudly met her qualifying times (1 1/2 miles in under 13 minutes) in early September and began practicing with the team on Oct. 14.

Offensive Boost
After facing two tough exhibition opponents, the Women of Troy proved that this season USC will display an offensive boost. In 1999-2000, USC struggled offensively and even lost a few games due to poor shooting. In 30 games, the Trojans only shot above 50 percent once (a 77-66 win over Washington on Jan. 7 with a 50.8 effort from the field), and averaged 39.4 percent for the year. In two exhibition games, USC shot 48.3 percent against Bay Area Pro-Am and 48.1 against China, including 74.2 percent from three-point range.

1999-2000 Highlights
* USC posted a 7-2 record in the second half of the Pac-10 season.
* The Women of Troy played the 28th toughest schedule according to Jeff Sagarin and the CBN Women's College Basketball Ratings.
* The Trojans faced nine ranked opponents throughout the season
* The Women of Troy upset No. 20 UCLA, No. 16 Arizona and No. 20 Oregon when each was in first place in the Pac-10.
* USC was the only team to sweep Pac-10 conference champion Oregon.
* The Women of Troy had three players (returners Tashara Carter and Tiffany Elmore) named to the All-Pac-10 honorable mention team.
* The Trojans recorded their first winning record, posted their best Pac-10 finish (5th), and received their first postseason invitation, all since the 1996-97 season and under head coach Chris Gobrecht.
* Four of USC's last five losses were by 10 points or less.
* Trojans posted a 10-3 record on their own territory.

Last Season In The Stats
For the second consecutive year, USC topped the Pac-10 in turnover margin, forcing an average of 2.5 more opponent turnovers per game... Junior Tiffany Elmore finished ninth in the Pac-10 with a 76.4 free throw percentage... Senior Denise Woods narrowly missed out on making the Pac-10's top 10 list for field goal percentage (.462) and finished third in blocks (1.47 bpg)... USC out-rebounded its opponent by nearly two boards per game last season and finished second in the conference with 16.2 offensive rebounds per outing... In conference play, the Trojans finished second in steals (10.67 spg)... Strangely enough, USC and its opponents averaged the exact amount of points throughout the season - 66.6 ppg.

Injury Report
Sophomore Camille Norwood may play limited minutes this week. Norwood underwent ACL surgery on her right knee this summer and re-injured the ligament during early-season conditioning. Since then, she has been cleared to play and is still undergoing treatment. Freshman Aisha Hollans is sidelined while rehabbing a lower back injury. Hollans is expected to begin practicing in the coming week.

Head Coach Chris Gobrecht
Chris Gobrecht enters her fourth season at the helm of the USC women's basketball program. Replacing former head coach Fred Williams on May 8, 1997, Gobrecht returned to her alma mater to help guide the Women of Troy back to national prominence. Throughout 22 years of head coaching experience, Gobrecht has amassed a 367-252 (.593) career record with her programs at Cal State Fullerton (six years), Washington (11), Florida State (one) and USC. During her 11-year tenure at Washington, she was twice named Pac-10 Coach of the Year (1987 and 1988). Gobrecht remains the second-winningest coach in conference history with a 162-84 (.659) mark, and she ranks 37th among active Division I coaches with 367 career victories.

This Week's Opponents

The Bluejays return 10 letterwinners, including four starters from last year's squad which posted a 12-15 overall record and 7-11 mark (6th place) in the Missouri Valley Conference ... Head coach Connie Yari enters her ninth season at Creighton and boasts a 129-97 record (.571) ... The team is led by senior forward Taya Allen who averaged 9.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in 1999-2000, and senior guard Angela Timmons who posted 16.1 points and 3.5 boards per game ... The Bluejays welcome four newcomers to the squad ... Creighton won both exhibition games - 70-55 over TTT Riga Latvia and 75-63 over Nebraska-Omaha.

USC-Creighton Series Record
Creighton and USC faced each other for the first time in program history last season in Los Angeles. The Women of Troy defeated the Bluejays, 61-56, to open the regular season at home on Nov. 26.

The Bulldogs return four starters and eight letterwinners from last year's squad which posted a 23-7 overall record ... Drake won the Missouri Valley Conference regular season (with a 15-3 record) and tournament title, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in the last six years, and earning their fifth 20-win season ... Sophomore Carla Bennett, a first team All-MVC pick last year, led the team in scoring (14.3 ppg) and rebounding (7.1) in 1999-2000, while ranking eighth nationally in field goal percentage (.592) ... Junior Erin Richards ranked 12th nationally last season in three-point field goal percentage (45.8)... Drake won both its exhibition games with a 81-63 over KSC Szekszard and 89-79 over Johnson Financial.

USC-Drake Series Record
USC and Drake will meet for the third time in program history on Sunday (Nov. 19). The Trojans won both previous meetings in Los Angeles with a 66-61 win in 1979-80, and a 86-71 decision in 1998-99.

2000-2001 Women of Troy

#1 Ayeshia Smith
Guard * 5-5 * Senior * Philadelphia, Pa. * Cowley County CC
Ayeshia Smith begins her senior year at USC and second year in the basketball program... Looking to make an impact this year after losing her junior season to injury (broken finger)... A scoring threat on the floor, she adds energy to the point guard position.

#3 Tiffany Elmore
Guard * 5-10 * Junior * Sacramento, Calif. * Florin HS

Tiffany Elmore begins her junior season with the Women of Troy as one of two returning starters... Primarily a two-guard, she was the go-to player last season and played a big role in a lot of key wins... Will establish herself as one of the top guards in the conference this season... A 2000 All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection and Pac-10 Player of the Week (Feb. 21).

#5 Camille Norwood
Guard * 5-8 * Junior * Los Angeles, Calif. * Washington HS

Camille Norwood enters her junior season with the Women of Troy... A player who has proven to be one of the steadiest performers on the team... Her progress made a huge impact last season and she expects to do the same this year... A dependable player who is tough to rattle at the point.

#10 Jessica Cheeks
Guard * 5-9 * Freshman * Los Angeles, Calif. * Narbonne HS

Jessica Cheeks begins her first season with the Women of Troy... A player with great instincts for the game... An excellent shooter who provides a terrific backcourt threat... Will be able to play well with a three guard lineup.

#13 Denise Woods
Center/Forward * 6-3 * Senior * Richmond, Calif. * Univ. of San Francisco

Denise Woods begins her senior year with the Women of Troy... She will be looked upon for her maturity and leadership on a young team... She has made a huge commitment in her final season and is prepared to play at a peak level... Will make an impact in the conference in the post.

#14 Carmen Krause
Forward * 6-1 * Junior * Prescott, Ariz. * Prescott HS

Carmen Krause returns for her junior season with the Women of Troy... An athlete who plays with passion and intensity... Her defense has improved tremendously over the past two seasons and the team will rely on her toughness at the post.

#15 Lauren Smith-Hams
Guard * 5-7 * Sophomore * Los Altos, Calif. * Pinewood HS

Lauren Smith-Hams begins her sophomore season with the Women of Troy... Recruited to be a shooting force for the team at guard, but instead became one of the team's most solid defenders... This season, she will again be utilized on defense and will be relied on as one of the team's most reliable shooters off the bench.

#20 Tennille Grant
Forward * 5-10 * Sophomore * Kansas City, Mo. * Northeast HS

Tennille Grant returns for her sophomore season with the Women of Troy... She has worked hard in the off-season to get stronger and improve her defense... Will likely be used as a post or wing player this year... A natural player who can score with her back to the basket.

#21 Erin Young
Guard * 5-11 * Sophomore * Dallas, Tex. * Highland Park HS

Erin Young enters her sophomore season with the Women of Troy as a walk-on guard... Will return to the court with high expectations after a solid freshman campaign... Looks to become a more consistent shooter, primarily at the two... Has an exceptional ability to learn and will continue to get better with each season.

#22 Tashara Carter
Forward * 6-0 * Senior * Harbor City, Calif. * Bishop Montgomery HS

Tashara Carter begins her senior season with the Women of Troy as one of two returning starters... A do-everything player at forward, she contributes points, rebounds, assists and steals... She brings experience as the only three-year starter on the team... A 2000 All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection.

#23 Aisha Hollans
Guard * 5-10 * Freshman * Berkeley, Calif. * Berkeley HS

Aisha Hollans begins her first season with the Women of Troy... An extremely talented young athlete who possesses all the qualities of a great wing player... Brings a completely different dimension to the game with her ability to create opportunities... A gifted and knowledgable basketball player.

#24 Ryane Alexander
Guard * 5-7 * Freshman * Copperas Cove, Tex. * Copperas Cove HS

Ryane Alexander begins her first season with the Women of Troy... A classic point guard who likes to dish the ball and run the show when she is on the court... A hard-nosed player with great intensity and toughness... The type of player who does what the team needs her to do at all times.

#32 Ebony Hoffman
Forward * 6-2 * Freshman * Harbor City, Calif. * Narbonne HS

Ebony Hoffman enters her first season with the Women of Troy... A player with the potential to have a dominating influence and make a significant impact on the team... One of the country's best post players, she can run the floor and hit an outside shot... She plays a power-quickness game which will make her an exceptional player in the Pac-10.

#35 Portia Mitchell
Center * 6-4 * RS Freshman * Los Angeles, Calif. * Narbonne HS

Portia Mitchell begins her redshirt freshman year at USC... A player with great size, a soft touch around the basket and excellent skills... Her commitment to her conditioning last year has already payed off this season... Mitchell ran a mile and a half in 13 minutes, one second on Sept. 8 to fulfill her requirements and begin team workouts... The team will benefit greatly from having her at the post.

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