Trojans Play First Exhibition Saturday
Nov. 7, 2002
The 2002-2003 USC men's basketball team, which is coming off of back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and 20-win seasons, plays the first of its two exhibition games when it hosts the L.A. City All-Stars 2 on Saturday (Nov. 9) at the Lyon Center at 7 p.m. on the USC campus.
Under seventh-year Coach Henry Bibby, the Trojans return two seniors, four upperclassmen and nine lettermen from last season's squad that finished 22-10 overall, tied for second in the Pac-10 at 12-6, reached the final of the Pac-10 Tournament and received a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Trojans play their second exhibition game against the L.A. City All-Stars 1 on Nov. 15 at the Sports Arena at 5 p.m. That game is part of a doubleheader with the Women of Troy, who open their regular season against Northern Arizona in the first round of the NIT at 7:30 p.m.
Among the former college standouts USC will face on Saturday is former Trojan Anthony White, Pepperdine star Derrick Anderson, Cal State Northridge alumni Derrick and Keith Higgions and former Kansas Jayhawk Jelani Janisse.
RETURNING PLAYERS - Sophomore shooting guard Errick Craven, a 2002 All-Pac-10 Freshman selection, is USC's leading returning scorer (11.8) and rebounder (4.4) and joins senior center Kostas Charissis as USC's returning starters. Charissis, who saw limited action last year but was a regular starter when he was healthy, has 32 career starts. Senior point guard Robert Hutchinson, the Trojans' captain as a junior, is back for his third year at Troy. Junior shooting guard Desmon Farmer was USC's top player off the bench as a sophomore and blossomed in the final five games of the season, averaging 17.6 points per outing. Athletic junior small forward Jerry Dupree is back to try to build on his strong finish last year, which featured a 10.3 scoring average in the Pac-10 Tournament, though he will sit out USC's first six games to focus on priorities off the court. Sophomore center Rory O'Neil, who showed a soft touch from the field as a freshman and ability in the paint, has returned with about 25 pounds of added bulk and muscle. Sophomore point guard Derrick Craven saw his role increase toward season's end last year and hopes to continue the trend this year. The story is the same for sophomore power forward Nick Curtis, who showed promise as a rebounder in his limited action in 2002. And don't forget about sophomore forward Gregg Guenther Jr., a tight end on the football team who joined the squad after football season to add some strength in the key. He plans to do the same this year.
THE NEW FACES - USC welcomes four first-year players into the program in 2003, three junior college transfers and one Division I transfer who will sit out the year. Sophomore Brandon Brooks will immediately challenge for the starting job at point guard after transferring from Compton College, where he concentrated on academics last year. A year earlier, he was among the top JUCO point guards in the country at Indian Hills College. Junior center Jonathan Oliver will challenge for a starting role a year after re-writing the record books at Ventura College, where he set season and career blocked shot records with 173 in 2002, also tops in the state. Junior guard Roydell Smiley rounds out the trio. A sharpshooter who can also play the point and even some small forward, Smiley will challenge for time after two years at Southeastern Iowa College, where he earned a pair of NJCAA Region XI first team honors. Jeff McMillan, who was among the top rebounders in the Atlantic 10 Conference during the past two seasons, transferred to USC from Fordham and will be eligible to play in 2003-2004.
NO, THEY CAN'T GET A FIFTH YEAR; WE ALREADY CHECKED - While they won't be missed in Westwood, Eugene, Tucson, Palo Alto or any other Pac-10 town, USC's graduating senior trio of Sam Clancy, David Bluthenthal and Brandon Granville leave the current crop of Trojans with some major voids to fill. In their careers, the threesome combined for 310 starts, 4,400 points, 1,889 rebounds, 1,037 assists, 479 steals and 10,835 minutes. Last year, Clancy, Bluthenthal and Granville combined for 56.4% of USC's offense, 49.7% of its rebounds and took 54.1% of its field goal attempts. Clancy, taken in the second round of the 2002 NBA Draft by Philadelphia, is now playing for 76ers. Bluthenthal was not drafted and signed to play in the pro league in Israel for Maccabi Tel-Aviv. Granville is not currently playing basketball.
NOTE THIS- USC is coming off of one of its best defensive seasons in its history. The Trojans led the Pac-10 in steals (8.97), setting a school season record for total steals (287) as well. The Trojans allowed the third lowest points per game in the conference (69.8), and its three-point field goal percentage defense and overall field goal percentage defense was second and third in the Pac-10, respectively ... Errick Craven returns as the Pac-10's 11th leading scorer in Pac-10 games and will look to defend his Pac-10 categorical title for steals, overall and in Pac-10 games. His 51 steals during conference play last year were 18 more than the next closest player in the league, both of whom were Trojans (Sam Clancy and Brandon Granville) ... With Clancy, Granville and David Bluthenthal gone, the record-keeping gets easier. But there's still a little bookkeeping to do. Desmon Farmer enters his junior year 16th on USC's career three-point chart with 57. With increased minutes and a hot hand, he could have an outside shot at the Top 10. It won't take long too long for Craven to break into the Top 10 in steals. In fact, if he were to match his 68 from last season, he'd break into the Top 5 ... If USC's finishes above .500 this year, it will give the Trojans their first streak of five consecutive winning seasons since they did it nine times in a row between 1967 and 1974.
RANKINGS - For the first time in three years, USC did not open the season in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Preseason Top 25 poll. The Trojans, however, did receive nine votes in the poll.
GAMES AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS - USC will face four teams ranked in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Preseason Top 25 poll and five others that received votes. Pac-10 rival Arizona was No. 1 while Oregon was No. 9 and UCLA No. 12. The Trojans will also play No. 18 Missouri in the Wooden Classic. Schools that received that USC will face include UNLV (13), California (11), Pennsylvania (3), UC Santa Barbara (3) and Stanford (2).
BIBBY REACHES THE CENTURY MARK - USC seventh-year coach Henry Bibby won his 100th game as Troy's head coach last year at Stanford and begins the 2002-2003 season at 103-77. He is tied for fifth at USC in career coaching victories with Stan Morrison. If USC wins at least 13 games this year, Bibby will pass George Raveling, who is currently fourth with 115 wins. Sam Barry (1930-41, 1946-50) is USC's all-time winningest basketball coach (260), followed by Forrest Twogood (1951-66, 252) and Bob Boyd (1967-79, 216). (Bibby's Trojans went 0-9 after becoming interim head coach at the end of the 1996 for a fired Charlie Parker. One of those losses was later turned into a win after Cal was forced to forfeit its win. Those nine games, however, are not included in his head coaching record at USC).
TWEAKED - USC senior center Kostas Charissis is out for a couple of weeks, nursing a tiny fracture in his ankle. He hopes to return for USC's second exhibition game on Nov. 15.