Trojans Set For Exhibition Finale On Sunday

Nov. 14, 2003

The USC men's basketball team, one year removed from back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and 20-win seasons but coming off of a 13-17 season in 2003, continues its quest to return to the postseason when it hosts its final exhibition game of the preseason on Sunday (Nov. 16) against the Long Island All-Stars at 6 p.m. at the Lyon Center on USC's campus. Under eighth-year Coach Henry Bibby, the Trojans return eight lettermen, including five starters, and welcome three talented freshmen and an eligible transfer.


USC's women's basketball team will play before the men on Sunday at the Lyon Center, tipping off in their final exhibition at 2 p.m.


Fans planning to attend USC's exhibition game on Sunday should allow extra time to arrive because of anticipated traffic congestion due to the American Music Awards, which are being held simultaneously at the Shrine Auditorium across from the campus. Jefferson Blvd. is scheduled to be blocked off east of McClintock St., so access to the campus entrance at Gate 5 at Jefferson and McClintock will be easiest coming from Vermont Ave.


The Long Island All-Stars feature a handful of names familiar to Pac-10 fans, including two former UCLA players. Among the players scheduled to suit up on Sunday to play the Trojans are former Bruin guards Rico Hines and Ray Young. Also set to play are former Pepperdine forward Troy Cousins and former Cal guard Geno Carlisle.


Senior guard Desmon Farmer scored 26 points while freshmen twin guards Lodrick and Rodrick Stewart scored 15 points apiece to lead the USC men's basketball team to a 99-79 exhibition opener win over L.A. City All-Stars on Nov. 7. The Trojans, who had five players score in double figures, shot 53.8% from the floor (35-of-65) and forced L.A. City into 22 turnovers. USC's older set of identical twins, junior guards Errick and Derrick Craven, scored 14 and 10 points apiece, respectively. Junior redshirt forward Jeff McMillan, playing in his first game after sitting out last year due to transfer rules, scored seven points and had five rebounds. Junior center Rory O'Neil and freshman guard Quinton Day both added six points.


The Trojans continue to practice shorthanded during the preseason and continue to be hampered by injuries. USC opened practice on Oct. 18 short on big men for a variety of reasons, turning the first couple of weeks of practice into a guard's paradise. At the start of practice, coach Henry Bibby spoke of using four-guard lineups to take advantage of the team's great depth at the position and also to compensate for the shortage of post players at this time of the season. And that's exactly what he did in USC's first exhibition game, employing a variety of four-guard sets. USC features five frontcourt players on the roster, but only two, junior center Rory O'Neil and redshirt junior forward Jeff McMillan, are currently available. McMillan was slowed by a lingering stress fracture in his left foot at the start of practice, but is nearing full strength. Meanwhile, junior forward Nick Curtis opened camp on the court, but has since been sidelined with a sore left knee that will force him to miss both exhibition games. Beefy junior forward Gregg Guenther Jr. is still playing football right now, starting, in fact, at tight end on USC's No. 2-ranked football team. He is set to join the team after the season, which could run into the first week of January. Also missing for now is senior center Jonathan Oliver, who will miss the start of the season while concentrating on academics. One more Trojan on the infirmary report is senior guard Roydell Smiley, who broke his leg in the Pac-10 Championship game in March. He is out indefinitely.


The Trojans begin the regular season on the road on Nov. 21 against a talented Western Michigan team that reached the second round of the NIT last year. The Broncos feature a veteran squad that returns nine lettermen and four starters from a team that went 20-11 in 2003 and 10-8 (third, West Division) in the Mid-American Conference. Western Michigan was 12-2 at home last year and 5-0 in non-conference play at home. The Broncos won both of their exhibition games, beating GT Express, 92-80, and defeating Marathon, 87-68.

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