Women's Basketball To Open Season At New Mexico, Friday

Nov. 17, 2003

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Friday, Nov. 21, at New Mexico
7 p.m. MT - Albuquerque, N.M.
AUDIO: Listen to the game at www.golobos.com.

The Facts
The USC women's basketball team kicks off the 2003-04 season this week with its first regular season game on Friday, Nov. 21, at New Mexico. The Women of Troy tip-off against the Lobos at 7 p.m. MST at 'The Pit' in Albuquerque. Under the leadership of seventh-year head coach Chris Gobrecht, USC won both its exhibition games, including a 95-89 victory over Love & Basketball on Nov. 11 and a 68-60 win over Everyone's Internet on Nov. 16.

Featuring a roster of seven returners and seven newcomers, the Women of Troy will look to draw on both experience and youth this season in search of their first NCAA berth since 1996. Leading the way for the Trojans will be preseason Wooden Award candidate, Wade Trophy Award candidate, Naismith Award candidate and preseason All-Pac-10 pick Ebony Hoffman. Hoffman earned her third-straight All-Pac-10 honor last season and was named to the WBCA Region VIII All-America team after leading the team in points (16.3 ppg), rebounds (9.8 rpg), blocks (1.1 bpg) and steals (2.5 spg).

USC In Season Openers
The Women of Troy are 22-5 overall in season openers and 6-5 when the opening game is on the road. USC is also 16-11 in the first road game of the season. Last season, the Trojans defeated Northern Arizona in Los Angeles in the season opener, then beat Colorado State in Fort Collins for their first road game of year.

Nonconference Schedule Presents Top Competition
As is typically the case, the Women of Troy will not back down from tough competition this season (last year's schedule was rated the nation's toughest). USC opens the season on the road when they face New Mexico at 'The Pit' in Albuquerque, N.M., on Nov. 21. The team will then head to the Junkanoo Jam Grand Bahama Tournament on Nov. 28-29, where USC will celebrate Thanksgiving in a four-team tournament featuring Minnesota, Texas A&M and Seton Hall. USC will host four of its five final nonconference games at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, including match-ups with defending national champion Connecticut on Dec. 7, San Diego on Dec. 13, SMU on Dec. 17 and Colorado on Dec. 20, before traveling to Notre Dame on Dec. 22.

Four Nonconference Opponents Ranked In Top 25
USC's nonconference schedule features four opponents (maybe five if the Women of Troy face No. 13 Minnesota at the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas) ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 - No. 1 Connecticut, No. 15 Notre Dame, No. 18 UC Santa Barbara and No. 20 Colorado.

USC's nonconference strength of schedule is ranked No. 6 according to the Preseason WBCA/Summerville RPI report.

USC To Field One of Youngest Lineups
USC will field one of its youngest lineups in program history this season, including the most freshmen (seven) to ever compete on one squad (the Trojans had six freshmen listed on the rosters in 1996 and 1985). The average age on the 2004 roster is 19.4.

Hoffman Earns Preseason Honors
Three-year starter Ebony Hoffman returns for her final season at USC and has already begun to earn recognition. Hoffman has been named to the first-ever John R. Wooden Women's Award Preseason All-America team. As one of 30 honorees, Hoffman will be in the running for the John R. Wooden Award, which will be presented annually to the most outstanding female collegiate basketball player. She has also been chosen among the list of preseason candidates for the 2003-04 State Farm Wade Trophy, Naismith Player of the Year and NCAA Division I Player of the Year honors, as well as earning her third-straight All-Pac-10 preseason selection.

New Additions Among Nation's Best
This season, opponents and fans will see an entirely new version of Women of Troy basketball. With great success on the recruiting front last year, Gobrecht and her staff welcome the ninth-ranked incoming recruiting class of 2003 according to USA Today and Mike Flynn's Blue Star Report.

In addition to four seniors, two juniors and one sophomore, newcomers Jamie Funn (Los Angeles), Markisha Lea (Riverside, Calif.), Eshaya Murphy (Van Nuys, Calif.), Chlo� Kerr (Bolingbrook, Ill.), Allison Jaskowiak (Chesterfield, Mo.), Katie Henderson (Redmond, Wash.) and Jamie Hagiya (Torrance, Calif.) round out the 2003-04 Women of Troy lineup.

Freshmen Are Born Leaders
All seven freshman were equally successful as preps - especially off the court. Of the seven, five served as student body officers, including three presidents (Jamie Hagiya, Allison Jaskowiak, Markisha Lea), one vice president (Eshaya Murphy) and one treasurer (Chlo� Kerr). Also excelling in the classroom, six of the seven were either prep honor roll students or scholar-athlete award winners.

Competitive Siblings
Three USC players have siblings that are also currently playing collegiate basketball. Jamie Funn's sister, Nicole, is a senior guard at Pepperdine, Markisha Lea's brother, Marvin, is a redshirt freshman guard at Pepperdine and Allison Jaskowiak's sister, Emily, is a junior forward at Tulsa.

Head Coach Chris Gobrecht
Chris Gobrecht enters her seventh 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 24 years of head coaching experience, Gobrecht has amassed a 410-298 (.579) 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 179-109 (.622) mark and she ranks among the top 50 active Division I coaches with 410 career victories.

Opponent Notes

New Mexico -- New Mexico is coming off of one of its most outstanding seasons in program history. In 2002-03, the Lobos captured the Mountain West Conference Tournament Championship, advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 and finished the season in the top 25, in addition to setting attendance records at 'The Pit.' Last year's team posted a 24-9 overall record and 9-5 mark in conference play. Under ninth-year head coach Don Flanagan, New Mexico returns seven letterwinners this season, including two starters. Among the top returners is junior guard Mandi Moore, who averaged 9.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in 2003, and junior forward Lindsey Arndt, who averaged 5.8 points and 4.3 rebounds last season.

Friday's game will also be the season-opener for New Mexico, which defeated West Coast All-Stars, 67-56, and Houston Flight, 78-76 in over time, in its two exhibition games.

USC-New Mexico Series Record -- Friday's game will mark the second-ever meeting between USC and New Mexico. Last season, the Lobos traveled to Los Angeles on Nov. 23. The Women of Troy won the match-up, beating UNM 55-48.

2002-03 Team Comparisons
Team Ppg Margin FG% 3-FG% FT% Rpg Apg TOpg Spg Bpg

USC 66.1 -- 41.4 27.2 68.3 37.2 14.9 20.5 11.1 2.6
New Mexico 66.8 +10.3 42.4 34.7 70.1 40.8 16.4 16.3 6.4 4.2

Player Profiles

#2 Jamie Hagiya (Point Guard * Freshman)
This Season: Jamie Hagiya enters her first season at USC... A much-needed player at the point guard position whose leadership capabilities and work ethic may give her an active role in the lineup this season... As a senior at South Torrance (Calif.) High, she led all Southern California prepsters with an 87.7 free throw percentage... One of four USC freshman who served as student body president or vice president in 2003.

#3 Rometra Craig (Guard * Senior)
This Season: Rometra Craig begins her second season with the Women of Troy... A 2003 All-Pac-10 honorable mention pick... Averaged 13.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.4 steals last season, while leading the team with 34 three-pointers... A returning starter.

#5 Meghan Gnekow (Guard * Sophomore)
This Season: Meghan Gnekow enters her second season at USC... Played mainly at off the bench last season at the shooting guard and small forward positions... Averaged 6.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.4 blocks per game in 2002-03.

#10 Jessica Cheeks (Guard * Junior)
This Season: Jessica Cheeks enters her fourth season with the Women of Troy, but will not join the team until the conclusion of the fall semester as an extension of her 10-game hiatus from the 2003 season... Played 22 games last season and averaged 8.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.0 steals per game... A returning starter.

#14 Eshaya Murphy (Guard * Freshman)
This Season: Eshaya Murphy enters her first season with the Women of Troy... Also goes by 'Shay'... As a senior at Montclair Prep in Van Nuys, she finished among the CIF Southern Section's top 25 in scoring, rebounding and steals... She was a two-time Street & Smith All-American honorable mention and the 2003 CIF Southern Section Player of the Year... One of four USC freshman who served as student body president or vice president in 2003.

#15 Markisha Lea (Center * Freshman)
This Season: Markisha Lea enters her first season with the Women of Troy... A Street & Smith honorable mention pick... One of four USC freshman who served as student body president or vice president in 2003... Her brother, Marvin, is currently a redshirt freshman on the Pepperdine men's basketball team.

#22 Allison Jaskowiak (Guard/Forward * Freshman)
This Season: Allison Jaskowiak begins her first season at USC... A player capable of playing at the 2, 3 and 4 positions... One of four USC freshman who served as student body president or vice president in 2003... Comes from a long-line of athletes: her grandfather played 10 years in the NBA, father played football at Missouri, brother played football at Navy and sister, Emily, is currently a junior forward at Tulsa.

#24 Tiffany Hicks (Point Guard * Senior)
This Season: Tiffany Hicks begins her fourth season at USC... A 2002 junior college transfer... The only true returning point guard... Made 15 starts last season and averaged 2.0 points, 2.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game.

#30 Katie Henderson (Forward * Freshman)
This Season: Katie Henderson begins her first season at USC... A multi-sport athlete with good size and shooting ability... Will have the opportunity to contribute off the bench for the Women of Troy this season.

#32 Ebony Hoffman (Forward * Senior)
This Season: Ebony Hoffman enters her fourth season with the Women of Troy... One of the most dominating post players in the conference who has already enjoyed three outstanding seasons at USC... Named to the 2003 All-Pac-10 First Team and a WBCA All-District 8 selection after leading the team with 16.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.5 steals, 2.3 assists and 1.1 blocks per game last season... Already selected to three Preseason All-America lists for 2004... A returning starter in the post.

#33 Rachel Woodward (Forward * Junior)
This Season: Rachel Woodward enters her third season with the Women of Troy... A 2002 Pac-10 All-Freshman team selection... Made 29 starts and averaged 10.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game last season... A talented passer who works well in transition and possesses strong rebounding skills... A returning starter.

#41 Jamie Funn (Center * Freshman)
This Season: Jamie Funn enters her first season with the Women of Troy... A three-time Street & Smith honorable mention selection... A fellow Narbonne High standout, along with current teammates Ebony Hoffman and Jessica Cheeks... Her sister, Nicole, is currently a senior guard on the Pepperdine women's basketball team... A versatile forward with great reach.

#44 Kim Gipson (Center * Junior)
This Season: Kim Gipson begins her third season with the Women of Troy... At 6-foot-5, she is the tallest player on the USC roster... A fast and mobile player, who can run the court well... She played in all 31 games last season and averaged 3.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.4 steals and 0.2 blocks per game.

#50 Chlo� Kerr (Center * Freshman)
This Season: Chlo� Kerr enters her first season with the Women of Troy... A three-time Street & Smith honorable mention pick, who was ranked 33rd among prep recruits in 2003... Will be looked to for much-needed depth in the post... Her father and uncle both played basketball at Colorado State, one brother played football at Tennessee and another brother played basketball at Loyola-Chicago.

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