USC Hosts 2nd Women of Troy Classic
Dec. 18, 2007
USC continues its holiday home stretch as host of the second annual Women of Troy Basketball Classic, presented by the Wilshire Grand Los Angeles, this week. Undefeated at the Galen Center this season, the Women of Troy welcome Grambling State, Hawai'i and Portland State to town for the two-day tournament. Portland State (8-1) and Hawai'i (4-5) match up first with a 4:45 p.m. game on Thursday (Dec. 20). USC (5-4) will square off against Grambling State (1-6) next at 7 p.m. The following day (Dec. 21), the losing teams are set to play in the consolation match at 4:45 p.m., with the winners facing in the championship game at 7 p.m.
Live video of the USC games this week will be available online through Trojan TV All-Access at www.usctrojans.com. Live stats for all four tournament games also will be available on Gametracker through the USC women's basketball page at usctrojans.com.
IN THE NATION
Participating teams are not ranked in the national polls this week.
USC got back in the win column last weekend thanks to a comeback effort against visiting Pepperdine. After trailing by as much as 10 points late in the game, the Women of Troy edged ahead and held on for a 55-52 win over the Waves on Saturday at the Galen Center. Only one Trojan finished in double figures, as Nadia Parker scored all 17 of her game-high points during the second half. In fact, those points all came in the last 14 minutes of the game. USC had led by as much as eight during the first half, but moved behind by 10 during the second half. It wasn't until 3:50 to go in the game that USC worked back into the lead on Parker's 14th points of the day. Pepperdine would tie it up 52-52, but Heather Oliver came up big, taking a charge to get USC back the ball in the final minute, then slipping in a putback to get USC ahead 54-52 with 27 seconds left. The USC defense was effective in interrupting the final possessions of the Waves, as Parker knocked down her 17th point of the night with one last free throw to secure the junior's fifth game in double figures. USC shot 36.4 percent from the floor in the game, going a season-low 20 percent from 3-point range in an abnormally off offensive night. And although outrebounded 44-32, USC took care of the ball to the tune of a season-best 15 turnovers while forcing 30 turnovers out of the Waves.
SCOUTING GRAMBLING STATE
The Tigers are 1-6 overall after losing their sixth straight game in a 59-49 defeat to Central Arkansas on Dec. 1. Kourtney Sherman leads GSU in scoring with 12.7 points per game. Head coach David 'Rusty' Ponton is in his 11th season with the Tigers, who went 12-19 overall last season and finished seventh at 7-11 in the SWAC. This is just the second meeting between USC and Grambling State. The Tigers won 61-56 in the 1997-98 season.
SCOUTING PORTLAND STATE
The Vikings are 8-1 after winning their past three games, including a 73-58 win over UC Santa Barbara and an 81-54 win over Idaho last week. Kelsey Kahle and Delaney Conway lead PSU in scoring with 19.0 and 15. 1 points per game, respectively. Head coach Sherri Murrell is in her first season with the Vikings, which went12-18 overall last season and finished fifth at 8-8 in the Big Sky. USC is 1-0 all-time against Portland State, winning 108-61 in the teams' only meeting in the 1980-81 season.
The Rainbow Wahine are 4-5 overall after going 1-2 at the Paradise Classic, falling 69-60 to Western Carolina, beating Tennessee Tech 60-57 and losing 70-57 to Oregon State. Tanya Smith leads Hawaii with 10.9 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Head caoch Jim Bolla is in his fourth season at UH, which went 15-14 overall last season and finished fourth in the WAC at 9-7. USC is 3-0 all-time against Hawaii after posting a 72-52 win over the Rainbow Wahine last year in USC's last game at the Lyon Center.
Brynn Cameron set USC records from 3-point range as a freshman, but had been sidelined since October 2006 by hip surgeries as well as the birth of her son Cole. In her first two games back in action, the junior guard stepped right back into her comfort zone outside the arc. Cameron led USC in scoring in USC's first two games this year, knocking down four 3-pointers in each game. With 12 threes now this season, Cameron recently passed up current USC assistant coach Jody (Anton) Wynn in the record books, as Cameron now holds 107 career threes to rank No. 5 all-time at Troy. She's just three away from tying the No. 3 slot occupied by Tammy Story and Kristin Clark with 110.
Greatly missed from the USC lineup last season was point guard Camille LeNoir, who was sidelined with a hip injury. Following surgery, the junior returned to the floor this season as a redshirt junior, and has wasted little time getting right back to her impressive ways on court. She's set up camp as USC's second leading scorer this season, averaging 9.1 points, 3.9 assists and 2.0 steals per game. Against Cal State Fullerton, LeNoir matched Trojan great Cheryl Miller's 100 percent effort on the floor from 1985, coming one short of Miller's 10-of-10 outing by going 9-for-9 and finishing with a season-high 19 points.
Nadia Parker made herself well at home in the Bahamas, serving up 28 points and 18 rebounds in the two games on her way to her first-ever Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. The junior center had a career day in USC's comeback win over Virginia Tech, tallying career highs of 21 points and 11 rebounds (also her first career double-double) and a shooting percentage of 9-of-11 (.818) to help spark USC to victory. She now stands as USC's leading scorer (11.4 ppg) and top rebounder (5.7 rpg).
BLASTS FROM THE PAST
The first thing fans and followers will notice about this season's pack of Women of Troy is a group of faces who haven't quite been on the forefront of the Trojan lineup in a while. Three players who redshirted last season due to injuries et al are back in the mix. Standout point guard Camille LeNoir has healed up following hip surgery; Markisha Lea steps back in as a senior with cartilage intact in her knee; Brynn Cameron sustained her second hip surgery and gave birth to her first child on her way back to the court. Further balancing out the departure of five 2007 graduates are a pair of seniors who have extended their Trojan careers in unique ways. Kate Henderson and Allison Jaskowiak were freshmen together in 2003-04. Henderson wound up transferring after that season, but has since returned to USC and has worked her way back into the picture. Jaskowiak was granted a medical redshirt for that freshman season and has thus received another season of eligibility that allows her to return for her final year on the Trojan roster. With LeNoir, Cameron and Jaskowiak alone back on the court, USC taps back into the talent pool that helped spark the Women of Troy's resurgence to the NCAA Tournament scene with back-to-back postseason runs in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
Known for their stifling defense, USC seniors Allison Jaskowiak and Simone Jelks have also come up strong on the offensive end this season. Jelks averaged 2.6 points per game last season as a junior, and has upped her tally to 5.8 ppg so far this season to help in USC's balanced offensive effort. Jaskowiak has also increased her offensive role, going from 3.1 ppg last season to 5.0 this year.
INJURY BUG BITES BACK
It seemed to be the storyline of the 2006-07 season, but the injury bug hasn't seemed to shake completely loose of the Women of Troy yet. USC will have two players sidelined this season with torn ACLs. For redshirt freshman Jacki Gemelos -- considered the best player in the country coming out of high school in 2006 -- it is an all-too-familiar situation. Gemelos tore her ACL in her final high school game before coming to USC, redshirting her first season. She then reinjured the same knee in the offseason, bringing up a second surgery and pushing the highly anticipated guard's return to the floor back further. True freshman Stefanie Gilbreath endured the same injury just before the 2007 McDonald's All-American Game, leaving the Trojans short another outstanding newcomer for the 2007-08 season.
Lined up to add a depth charge to the backcourt is transfer Heather 'Ollie' Oliver, a member of the Australian Under-21 National Team, which won silver at the U-21 Women's World Championships this summer. She brings a smooth outside shot as well as stifling defensive abilities to the Trojan roster. She tallied her first points as a Trojan with a nine-point outing against Colorado on Nov. 18, and saw her first starts in the past two games. She now is averaging 6.3 points per game after posting double-digit efforts against Cal State Fullerton (13 points) and at Michigan (11).
USC boasts a couple of different looks to the point this season, as 5-6 junior floor general Camille LeNoir returns to action after a year out to heal from hip surgery. She's complimented by 6-2 sophomore Hailey Dunham. Despite the height difference, the pair combine forces well in running the Trojans offense, each bringing their own spark to the offense to keep opposing defenses on their toes. LeNoir had her return to the court this season delayed a week, but when the junior point guard hit the floor for her first game against Colorado on Nov. 18, she came out strong with nine points and three assists in the game. The Trojan point guard tandem of Dunham (31 pts, 26 asts) and LeNoir (73 pts, 31 asts) is averaging 12.5 points and 6.8 assists per game.
The Women of Troy welcome three new members to the Trojan family this season. Assistant coach Jody Wynn recently gave birth to her second daughter, Kaeli, in October 2007, and junior Brynn Cameron has her son, Cole, fresh off his first birthday. And senior Allison Jaskowiak added a new name to her roster page when she married former USC baseball star Ian Kennedy in October.
With her true freshman counterpart redshirting the season, center Kari LaPlante carries the torch as the lone freshman on the court for the Trojans this year. Freshman guard Stefanie Gilbreath will redshirt following offseason knee surgery. LaPlante towers as the tallest Trojan on the roster, setting up the 6-5 freshman to see significant time in the paint this year. She tallied her first points as a Trojan in USC's win over Colorado on Nov. 18, putting in two points and pulling down six rebounds for the Women of Troy. LaPlante now averages 4.3 points and 3.0 rebounds per game.
RANK AND FILE
USC has four scheduled opponents that are ranked in the national AP and USA Today/ESPN preseason polls. Three of those are Pac-10 foes whom USC sees at least twice this season. The Trojans were 2-7 against ranked teams in 2005-06. The first top-25 team on tap for USC -- which received votes in the preseason polls -- was No. 9/10 Georgia, which the Trojans played extremely tight to a 59-57 loss during the final game of the Junkanoo Jam. The Trojans' next three ranked opponents are Pac-10 teams: No. 7/8 Stanford, No. 12/12 Arizona State and No. 13/14 California. All told, the USC schedule contains seven teams that reached the 2007 NCAA Tournament (Georgia, Prairie View A&M, Nebraska, Arizona State, California, Stanford and Washington) and three teams that ended the year ranked in the top-25 (No. 13/13 Georgia, No. 8/10 Arizona State and No. 16/5 Stanford).
The Women of Troy have been slotted at No. 4 in the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Coaches Poll and the Media Poll. The Trojans received 56 points in the coaches poll to come in behind top pick and defending conference champ Stanford (79 points), No. 2 Arizona State (71) and No. 3 pick California (68). Sitting below the Trojans in fifth is UCLA with 44 points.
USC used nine different players in its starting lineup rotations last year. Six players who saw time as starters return for 2007-08 -- sophomores Hailey Dunham, Aarika Hughes and Morghan Medlock and seniors Nicole Berberet, Allison Jaskowiak and Simone Jelks.