Season Outlook: Women of Troy Poised For Another Postseason Push
Like many programs around the nation, the USC women's basketball team saw its postseason plans dashed by the danger of the coronavirus pandemic. The Women of Troy were poised for a position in the WNIT in March 2020, boasting a balanced and talented squad primed with potential for a deep run at the tourney. But safety came first, and competition was canceled. If anything, USC women's competitive fire was fanned. Since then, the Trojans' fighting spirit and camaraderie have carried them through months of uncertainty, and in October the team was finally able to unite as one — back on home turf at Galen Center.
"I want to thank our university leadership, our athletic department starting with Mike Bohn, and our great medical staff," USC head coach Mark Trakh said. "They had a very complex matter to deal with in COVID and the different layers that they had to work with to put us in a position to be able to play basketball this season.
"I also would like to thank our athletes who remained very patient to the process as they were at home for six months. You know, everything was fluid and things were changing, sometimes day to day sometimes hour to hour. And I just want to commend everybody's patience, work and diligence to get us to the point where we can play a season right now."
Now reunited at Galen Center, the group has quickly galvanized, embracing the addition of four newcomers to a roster sparkling with savvy sophomores along with relative veterans and captains Shalexxus Aaron and Desiree Caldwell.
"I like the team's attitude," Trakh said. "They're together, and they're working and practicing hard. I like how they relate to one another and I like how they're following through on the things they need to do to become a cohesive unit — to be a family on and off the floor."
The only true senior on the roster is grad transfer Jordan Sanders, who joins the Trojans from UC Irvine. Sanders' presence gives USC its second conference freshman of the year, as Sanders was the Big West's 2018 top freshman while USC's Alissa Pili picked up the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year award last season. Pili and fellow sophomore Endyia Rogers are a proven one-two punch for USC, as the pair were the Trojans' top scorers in 2019-20. Pili and sophomore Angel Jackson packed the paint for the Trojans as freshmen, while sophomore sharpshooters Alyson Miura and India Otto were significant three-point threats, and Kyra White stood tall as a staunch defender and playmaker. That group got great experience as freshman, making for a shiny sophomore campaign ahead.
Replacing three departed seniors are four new Trojans. Sanders, as mentioned, spent three years as an Anteater. Also lined up for their USC debuts in 2020-21 are true freshmen Jordyn Jenkins, Amaya Oliver and Zayla Tinner, as well as redshirt freshman Madison Campbell, who is coming off a redshirt season.
All told, Trakh and his staff have crafted a special roster of tight-knit and talented Trojans – all of whom are eager to continue their upward trajectory and turn more heads in their pursuit of another postseason push.
"The future looks good," Trakh said. "They're all doing a really, really good job, and every returner participated in our success last year. We're excited and can't wait for our first game."