Hoops Season Begins With Two Exhibition Games

Nov. 8, 2004

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Tuesday, Nov. 9
Love & Basketball (exh.) at 7 p.m. - Lyon Center

Sunday, Nov. 14
Play Mode All-Stars (exh.) at 2 p.m. - Lyon Center

The Facts
The USC women's basketball team, under the leadership of first-year head coach Mark Trakh, kicks off the 2004-05 season this week with two exhibition games. The Women of Troy host Love & Basketball on Tuesday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m., then face Play Mode All-Stars on Sunday, Nov. 14, at 2 p.m. Both exhibition games will be played at the Lyon Center.

The Women of Troy open the regular season next week when they travel to Chicago, Ill., for the DePaul Moran Realty Classic, Nov. 19 and 20. The first home game of the year is against Notre Dame on Friday, Nov. 26, at the Sports Arena on the eve of the annual Trojan-Irish football showdown.

It's a new start for the USC women's basketball team as it prepares for the upcoming 2004-05 season under Trakh. Trakh, who was hired in April and boasts a history of success after spending 11 seasons at nearby Pepperdine and 13 years at the prep level, has high hopes for his young squad made up of nine returning letterwinners and four newcomers.

Season Outlook
Featuring only three upperclassmen and 11 freshmen and sophomores, USC is in search of its first NCAA berth since 1996. The team will rely on a number of local standouts, including returning part-time starters Jamie Hagiya (Torrance, Calif.), Jamie Funn (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Eshaya Murphy (Van Nuys, Calif.). The three sophomores earned Pac-10 All-Freshman honorable mention honors in 2004.

Meghan Gnekow, a junior guard from Santa Ynez, Calif., is the only full-time starter on the roster. She averaged 7.9 points and 5.5 rebounds last season.

The Trojans also boast a heralded recruiting class that includes local standout guards Brynn Cameron of Newbury Park (Calif.) High and Camille LeNoir of Harbor City's Narbonne High, as well as point guard Jazlyn Davis (Toledo, Ohio) and forward Símone Jelks (South Euclid, Ohio).

Senior Co-Captains
Seniors Rachel Woodward and Kim Gipson were selected as team co-captains for 2005. Both players are looking to gain additional playing time this season after quiet campaigns in 2004. Woodward enjoyed her most successful season as a freshman. That year she earned Pac-10 All-Freshman accolades and finished third on the team with 11.3 points, 1.8 assists and 0.6 blocks per game. Gipson also had her best season as a freshman, averaging 3.8 points and 3.0 rebounds per game.

Sophomores Looks To Lead
The sophomore class makes up nearly half of the 2004-05 squad with six players. This group, including Jamie Hagiya, Jamie Funn, Eshaya Murphy, Chloé Kerr, Allison Jaskowiak and Markisha Lea, averaged 19.2 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.8 steals per game last season.

Looking To Improve
The Women of Troy are looking to improve upon a 15-13 effort in 2004 that ended with a loss to Washington in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament. Midway through the season USC upset both Stanford and Arizona to pull within a half-game of the conference-leader and top-10 ranked Cardinal. But the team lost five of the final 10 games to finish in a tie for third place with an 11-7 league mark.

Hoffman Becomes Most Recent Addition To WNBA
Forward Ebony Hoffman became USC's most recent addition to the WNBA when she was selected in the first round (ninth overall) by the Indiana Fever of the 2004 WNBA draft. She became the 16th Trojan overall to move into the professional ranks and one of five active players and coaches, including Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks), Tina Thompson (Houston Comets), Adrain Williams (San Antonio Silver Stars) and Karleen Shields Thomspon (Los Angeles Sparks Co-Head Coach).

Head Coach Mark Trakh
Mark Trakh, who in his 11 years as the head women's basketball coach at Pepperdine guided his team into postseason play each of the past six seasons and won four conference titles, enters his first season as head coach of the USC women's basketball program. Trakh, 49, was hired on April 14, 2004, and becomes the seventh head coach in program history. He enters his 12th season as a collegiate head coach.

In 11 seasons (1994-2004) in Malibu, Trakh built a nationally recognized program that made six postseason appearances (2000-02-03 NCAA, 1999-2001-04 WNIT) and dominated play in the West Coast Conference, winning four of the last six league titles. He was twice named WCC Coach of the Year (1999, 2002). His teams compiled a 199-123 (.618) overall record and a 99-55 (.643) mark in the WCC. More impressive is the fact that in 11 years at Pepperdine, Trakh graduated each and every one of his players (100% graduation rate).

Trakh came to Pepperdine after serving as the head girls' basketball coach at Brea (Calif.) Olinda High for 13 seasons (1981-93). During his tenure, the Ladycats emerged as a nationally-prominent program, compiling a cumulative record of 354-45 (.887) and earning annual rankings from USA Today. His teams captured four California state championships, six CIF Southern Section titles and 11 consecutive Orange League crowns. Brea Olinda High did not lose more than two games during any of Trakh's final five seasons, rolling to an amazing record of 161-8 (.953).