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2015 Spring Practice #10: Notes

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The Trojans were challenged on and off the field by the coaches despite taking the pads off.
  • Head coach Steve Sarkisian called a timeout during practice to surprise the guys with a dance-off. We will publish all the photos in another post, but freshman OL Roy Hemsley (pictured) was declared the winner. Besides a little team bonding, the head coach wanted to test the Trojans ability to have fun and celebrate one minute and then refocus the next.
  • USC_spring_033115USC_football_spring_033115_MCG4478.jpgWhile practice was a little less physical, the activity level was still high. Wide receivers Steven Mitchell and Ajene Harris made eye-popping big plays. Mitchell showed off his moves in the open field by taking a bubble screen the distance and then Harris got behind the defense to make a fingertip catch on a bomb from Max Browne.
  • "Steven has had a really nice spring. I think, quite honestly, he has been motivating Ajene. Ajene had a great practice today as well. But Steven has been explosive with the ball in his hands, and that's what that position in our offense needs to be," Sarkisian said about the sophomore receivers.
  • "It has been up-and-down just due to my hamstring," Harris described his spring, which has been nagged by a lingering muscle injury. "I'm just coming out here competing, trying to find my role in the team. Everybody is coming out here and making plays."
  • The wide receivers are benefiting from accurate balls thrown their way by Cody Kessler and Max Browne. In the best shape of his career, Kessler is delivering passes on time and on target all over the field. He is focused on developing chemistry with the revamped receiving corps. "The best part for me is seeing other guys improving and seeing guys like Isaac [Whitney] have a standout day today and even Steven Mitchell," the quarterback said. "That's the best part about playing quarterback here. You have guys like that. I can throw a one-yard route to Steven and let him go 40 or 50 [yards]."
  • Sarkisian paid Browne the highest compliment a backup can receive, saying, "Max Browne is playing lights out right now for us. I would have not a problem if Cody went down and Max had to step in the game. I think Max would do great."
  • Defensively, Su'a Cravens was terrorizing the backfield. If he was allowed to tackle the quarterback, he would have accounted for at least three sacks. "Su'a had a heckuva practice today," said Sarkisian. "He was really electric coming off the edge."
  • Sarkisian was asked about Pat Haden's stance for gay rights today, and he explained that the coaching staff uses social issues as teachable moments for the team. "I support Pat every step of the way," said Sarkisian. "I met with the team on it today. I think it was a good statement for us to learn about. We've had issues this spring nationally that have allowed us as a team to grow."
  • Here is an extended press conference with Sarkisian at the Coliseum today:



Photo Gallery: Men's Basketball Awards

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USC men's basketball enjoyed its annual year-end banquet last night by celebrating the best performances of the season. Here are this year's winners:

Harold Jones Award (Most Improved) - Julian Jacobs
Bob Boyd Award (Top Rebounder) - Nikola Jovanovic
Ryan Francis Scholarship Award (Example of Being a Trojan) - Jordan McLaughlin
Bill Sharman Award (Top Free Throw Percentage) - Katin Reinhardt
Forrest F. Twogood Award (Best Defensive Player) - Elijah Stewart
Dr. James Zumberge Award (Top GPA) - Samer Dhillon
John Rudometkin Award (110% Effort) - Malik Marquetti
Ernie Holbrook Award (Most Inspirational) - Samer Dhillon

Here are the John McGillen photos from the event:


Samba Queen

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USC women's water polo freshman goalie Victoria Chamorro was a mostly impenetrable wall over the weekend, keying a 20-6 win over No. 17 Loyola Marymount and a 19-5 victory over CSU Bakersfield. For her efforts, the Brazilian import was named the MPSF Newcomer of the Week for the second time this season.

At just 18, she is already the starter for the No. 3 Trojans and a member of the Brazilian National Team. Chamorro is averaging 6.6 saves per game and 4.2 goals-against per game so far in her freshman season at Troy.

Chamorro and the Women of Troy will carry a five-game win streak into a trip to Berkeley this weekend, facing Cal at 12 p.m. on Saturday (April 4) in an MPSF match to be televised on Pac-12 Networks.

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LAX Weekend Split

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

In just the program's third season, USC women's lacrosse is going toe-to-toe with the best teams in the country and working to secure a spot in the MPSF Tournament at the end of April. On a road trip to New England this weekend, the Women of Troy extended their school-record winning streak to seven with a victory at Dartmouth on Saturday before losing in narrow fashion to No. 2 Boston College on Monday.

Click here for a complete recap from Saturday's victory.

Sophomore attacker Michaela Michael has played a pivotal role in the Trojans' success so far as the team's leading scorer with 26 goals and 64 draw controls. She banked a hat trick on Saturday, helping her team to victory by scoring three or more goals for the sixth time this season. She also had four draw controls, three ground balls and two caused turnovers in the game. The sophomore scored two more goals in USC's close loss on Monday and led the Trojans with five draw controls.

Click here for a complete recap from Monday's loss.

Next up, the Trojans visit Eugene to take on Oregon at 1 p.m. PT on Friday. The game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks.

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Meet Lamont Simmons

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

Name: Lamont Simmons
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Position: DB

Class: RS Freshman

Size: 6-foot-2, 185 pounds

Age: 19

High School: Raines High School (Jacksonville, Florida)

Scouting Report: Simmons is the tallest defensive back on the USC roster, and he is two inches taller than any other cornerback. Given his size, he provides a nice match-up for all the big targets around the Pac-12.

Prep Career: Simmons had 30 tackles, an interception and four deflections his senior season at Raines High School where he played cornerback, running back and wide receiver. He made the 2013 Jacksonville Times-Union Super 24.

Spring Ball: After redshirting in the fall and working on the scout team, Simmons has gotten his chance to shine this spring. The cornerback position is loaded for the Trojans, but he could be a key reserve in 2015 and a lockdown cover guy as he develops going forward.

Sark on Simmons: "Lamont is a guy who is a really cool fit if you want to play a lot of man-to-man because he's got length [and] speed."

Here is Simmons with our Sarah Bergstrom...


Photo Gallery: Men's Volley Guts It Out

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No. 7 USC men's volleyball has shaken out of its doldrums by winning three consecutive matches, all in the maximum five sets. The Trojans displayed tremendous poise and heart coming back to beat rival UCLA on Saturday, clinching a spot in the MPSF Tournament.

Click here for head coach Bill Ferguson's weekly Q&A.

Now riding a winning streak and sporting a 14-7 record (12-6 in conference), USC begins the stretch run of the season with a road trip to No. 8 Pepperdine (Thursday at 7 p.m.) and No. 19 Stanford (Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks).

Here are the John McGillen photos from the epic win over the Bruins:


Photo Gallery: Men's Tennis vs. UW

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No. 6 USC men's tennis started its run for another conference title last weekend by dominating Washington and Oregon at Marks Stadium. The Trojans will host Utah (Friday at 3 p.m.) and Arizona (Saturday at 1 p.m.) this week looking to stay undefeated in the Pac-12.

Saturday's dual match will also serve as Senior Day since the regular season home schedule is already coming to a close. The Trojans will honor national champions Yannick Hanfmann, Roberto Quiroz, Eric Johnson and Jonny Wang, a highly decorated quartet.

Here are the John McGillen photos from the win over the Huskies:


A Season to Celebrate

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USC men's swimming and diving backed up its first conference title since 1979 with a fourth place finish at the NCAA Championships led by senior stalwart Cristian Quintero, who won the 200y free individual crown and contributed to titles in the 800y free relay and the 400y free relay. Quintero leaves Troy as a six-time NCAA champion and recorded three top 5 finishes individually for the second consecutive year.

Click here for the NCAA recap.

"We crawled our way into the top 4 with some hard work. The guys never gave up," said USC Coach Dave Salo. "Relays are so important and to win both the 400 and 800 is great. To win the relay makes the fourth place that much more special."

The relay titles were a true team effort as Quintero was supported by sophomore Santo Condorelli, freshman Ralf Tribuntsov and sophomore Dylan Carter in the 400y free quartet. Carter took it home for the Trojans who combined for a new school-record.

"It was amazing. Swimming anchor at the NCAAs is like at no other meet," Carter said. "I can't compare it to anything. You don't feel any pain. It was a great experience and I'm glad I got to enjoy it with these guys."

The 800y free relay squad was made up of Quintero, Carter, Michael Domagala and Reed Malone. This time, Malone closed the show for the repeat title, which was another new USC record.

"I just wanted to do my best for the team," said Malone. "That's what I was thinking about the whole race, doing it for the guys I train with every day. Doing it for the group and when the race is close, I want to do it for my brothers. I was so excited for the opportunity and I'm proud of the whole team."


Five Alive

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No. 10 USC women's rowing defended the Jessop-Whittier Cup at the San Diego Crew Classic, earning the prestigious trophy for the fifth consecutive year.  The Trojans have won all three competitions that they have entered this season.

Click here for the recap.

The Women of Troy paced the field which included Texas and No. 11 UCLA. The Trojans will battle the Bruins once again on April 11 for the BMW Crosstown Cup points.


Enjoying Life at the Top

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USC women's tennis consolidated its No. 1 ranking by dominating Oregon 6-1 and Washington 7-0 to remain undefeated in Pac-12 play at 5-0. The Women of Troy have now won six straight dual matches.

Click here for the recaps.

USC will finish up its conference road slate this weekend at Arizona and Arizona State. The Women of Troy close the regular season with home matches against Utah (April 10), Colorado (April 11) and UCLA (April 16).

Senior Gabriella DeSimone returned to the singles lineup and picked up a pair of wins.
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