McGillen Gallery: USC at UCLA

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USC men's basketball fell to No. 6 UCLA last night in front of a raucous crowd at Pauley Pavilion. Despite hanging tough for the first 15 minutes, the Trojans couldn't keep up with the Bruins in a 102-70 loss.

Team photographer John McGillen was in Westwood to capture all the action.

Trojans Tripped Up In Westwood

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Trojans Tripped Up in Westwood

Senior Sendoff

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From a young age, Courtney Jaco has been ambitious. Now, as the Trojan basketball captain's Senior Day approaches, she's taking the time to reflect on her accomplishments at USC and her big plans for the future.

Jaco started playing basketball at the age of six and worked her way up the ladder, earning a scholarship to USC out of Windward High (Mar Vista).

"My dream was always to go to USC," Jaco said. "My stepfather went here, my stepsister went here, and I've always wanted to stay home and have the chance to let my family see me play. So once the offer came around, it was a no brainer."

cj3.jpgJaco's freshman year at her dream school was filled with highs and lows. She struggled to adapt to coming off the bench and taking a backseat to USC's upperclassmen, but her patience was rewarded when the team won its first-ever Pac-12 Championship that March. In all her time at USC, that moment stands out as the culmination of perseverance and belief, two traits she's realized the importance of over time.

"I've learned that the intangibles are the most important part: teamwork, chemistry, camaraderie and stuff like that," Jaco said. "A lot of people come in thinking, 'I'm going to score this many points or get this many rebounds, and I've learned that you should have more goals that aren't so outcome-based. That will let everything else fall into place -- to just not focus so much on the outcome, but more with your own personal and team growth."

Jaco did come to USC eyeing two key goals, though.

Before stepping foot on campus, she had her heart set on earning a Master's degree. Through hard work and countless hours of summer school, Jaco received her Bachelor's degree in social sciences (psychology emphasis) last year and will walk away with a Master's in communication management this year. Inspired by her volunteer work with "A Place Called Home," an after school program dedicated to helping children complete their schoolwork and find their passions, Jaco aims to found her own nonprofit one day before eventually becoming a middle school or high school coach.

Jaco will also likely leave USC as the program leader in career three-point efficiency and runner-up in career three-pointers made, two marks that she has striven for from start to finish.

"Without the help of my teammates, there's no way that I could get those threes off," Jaco gushed. "So thankfully I had some good teammates, some good passes. And yeah, it's really special for me."

As Jaco and her teammates gear up for the last two home games of the season and the senior's career, she's thankful for the way her time at USC has changed her.

"As a person, I'm definitely more mature, just in the way I'm thinking," Jaco said. "Wanting to grow and wanting to get better and develop myself every day. And I've really just figured out what I'm most passionate about."

Jaco and the Trojans take on Washington State tonight at 6 p.m. She and her fellow seniors -- Jordan Adams, Alexis Lloyd and Ivana Jakubcova -- will be honored ahead of Sunday's game against Washington.


Stevens Center Academic Spotlight: Nicolette Martin

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USC's student-athletes are more than just champions on the field, court, diamond and pool --- they're champions in the classroom as well. Each week, we will get to know one of these scholarly Trojans a bit better in our academic spotlight.

USC_Beach_Volleyball_UCLA_HR_MCGillen_2209.jpgName: Nicolette Martin
Class: Senior
Sport: Beach Volleyball
Major: Fine Arts
GPA: 3.7

Aubrey Kragen (AK): When did you fall in love with art and decide you wanted to pursue it as a career?

Nicolette Martin (NM): I've been doing art my whole life, like ever since I can remember. All I wanted for my birthday or for Christmas was a new box of crayons. So I've always known what I wanted to do with my life -- I've always known that I wanted to pursue art.

AK: Some might say art isn't the most practical major. Did you ever encounter that with your parents or have they always been supportive?

NM: No, they've always been so, so supportive of whatever I've wanted to do. I understand that it's hard to make a lot of money and get a job with art, but they saw how easily I fell in love with it and how talented I became so quickly that they were totally supportive.

AK: Do you have a favorite type of art to create?

NM: My emphasis is drawing and painting, so I really like oil painting and just drawing with pencil. But it was a blessing and a curse that my schedule with volleyball kind of conflicted with the art classes here, because I've actually been in everything -- photography, ceramics, sculpture. But I kind of like that that happened, because I've gotten to try everything.

AK: Do you have a favorite piece that you've created?

NM: I guess I love them all. I'm really into print making right now, which is etching on a metal plate and rolling it through a printing press. I guess that's my favorite technique right now. But I don't know if I have a favorite piece.

AK: What do you want to do with your degree once you graduate?

NM: I'm not really sure yet. I know I want to play professional beach volleyball right after school on the AVP Tour. I'm still going to be making art, but it will just be freelance stuff. I've made wedding invitations in the past, so if I have friends or siblings getting married, they'll ask me to do that for them. Just little stuff on the side for at least a year or two.

AK: Does being an artist and being an athlete ever conflict? Or do they work together in some ways?

NM: I went through a period of time where I was making art about my team, which was really cool. I kind of stopped doing that, but it was really interesting. I'd never thought about combining the two. They don't really conflict. Sometimes it can be a good thing -- I like to make art about some experiences that I've had in volleyball, which is fun to show especially people at Roski who don't even know we have a beach volleyball team.

AK: Outside of your own experiences, where do you get inspiration?

NM: Most of the inspiration comes -- especially in my drawing class I'm in right now -- from artists that are working right now. We take a ton of field trips to LACMA and show openings and we get to talk to some amazing artists at Roski. They have some amazing people coming in to just speak to us. I guess that's where some of my inspiration is coming from, just the big names that are working right now.

AK: Who are some of those artists?

NM: The first really amazing show I went to was Pierre Huyghe at LACMA. Some inspirations for me right now are Sophie Calle and Karl Haendel, who just came and talked to us. He does some amazing drawings.

AK: As the only fine arts major on the team, do you ever feel out of place? Or is it nice to have something unique to bring to the table?

NM: I think it's kind of fun. I think there are more, but I only know one other athlete in Roski. I think it's fun to be on my own because I have my team who's always interested in what I'm doing and then my friends at Roski. So it's just like two groups of people that have no idea about the other. It's like a double life.

Honorable Vaughn

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ralph vaughn.jpgUSC hoops alum Ralph Vaughn will be one of 12 men inducted into the Pac-12 Men's Basketball Hall of Honor next month.

Click here for the full release.

The late Vaughn was a three-year starter at Troy (1938-40), leading the team in scoring and earning all-conference honors in all three seasons. He was a member of USC's first-ever NCAA Tournament squad and helped lead the Trojans to the national semis.

After a successful career at USC, which earned him USC Athletics Hall of Fame honors, Vaughn played in the National Basketball League for seven years.

Vaughn and the 11 other inductees (including Utah alum Andre Miller and UW alum Quincy Pondexter) will be honored during a ceremony ahead of the 2017 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas next month.

#FightOnForever: Coach John Jackson

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John Jackson, who was the running backs coach for tailbacks Marcus Allen and Charles White during their Heisman Trophy-winning seasons at USC, died on Thursday (Feb. 16) in Torrance, Calif., of complications following intestinal surgery. He was 81.

LYNN CAIN (21), USC FULLBACK JOHN JACKSON, ASST COACH - JOHN JACKSON.jpgInformation on a service for Jackson is pending.

Jackson was the Trojan running backs coach for 6 seasons (1976-81) under head coach John Robinson, and he also served as the offensive coordinator. White won the Heisman in 1979 and finished as the NCAA's second-leading career rusher with 6,245 yards, while Allen won it in 1981 when he became the first collegiate player to run for 2,000 yards in a season. Jackson also coached USC All-American tailback Ricky Bell as well as Lynn Cain, who set the Trojan fullback career rushing record, and future NFL fullback Mosi Tatupu. During Jackson's time at USC, the Trojans won the Rose Bowl 3 times and were the 1978 national champions.

After his coaching days at USC, Jackson worked 17 years with California Sports as a special assistant to Jerry Buss. While there, he ran Forum Boxing and helped develop the Prime Ticket sports cable network.

Jackson returned to the coaching ranks in 1999 as UNLV's running backs coach, run game coordinator and assistant head coach, again working under Robinson. He spent 6 seasons (1999-2004) at UNLV.

He also was the owner and manager of the Culver City (Calif.) Ice Arena from 1982 until it closed in 2014.

Jackson began his coaching career in 1956 as an assistant at his hometown Brooklyn (N.Y.) Technical High. He then spent 3 years in the Marines, attaining the rank of captain. From 1965 to 1967, he was the head coach at Boys High in Brooklyn, where he twice was the New York Metropolitan Coach of the Year and concurrently served as the Dean of Students at Brooklyn Tech.

He then moved to the collegiate ranks, first as the offensive coordinator at Hofstra in 1968 and 1969 (he also was head coach of the track team). He coached the running backs and receivers at Dartmouth in 1970, then spent 5 seasons (1971-75) as the backfield coach at Illinois before coming to USC. 

Jackson is survived by his daughter, Tracie, who currently is employed at USC, and his son, John, an Academic All-American football wide receiver and baseball outfielder at USC (1986-90) who then played in the NFL with the Cardinals and Bears and in baseball's minor leagues and is now the analyst on USC football radio broadcasts in addition to his announcing duties with FOX Sports West, plus 4 grandchildren, his brother, Pazel, and Tracie's and John's mother, Lillian.

Bring on the Bruins

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Crosstown Cup points are on the line this weekend as USC women's tennis hosts the UCLA Bruins.

No. 22 USC, boasting a 3-1 record this season, will take on No. 20 UCLA in a non-conference match at Marks Stadium.

Click here for the full preview!

Junior Gabby Smith (pictured) rides a nine-match win streak into tomorrow's rivalry crash. Her consistency has earned her a spot as the No. 25 singles player in the nation -- the highest ranking of any Trojan. UCLA's highest ranked player, meanwhile, is No. 3 Ena Shibahara, who's won five straight.

USC currently trails in the Crosstown Cup, 45-35, but can earn five points with a win on Saturday.

The match begins tomorrow at noon and will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network.


Upset SCity

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USC men's volleyball shut down the No. 6 Stanford Cardinal for a three-set sweep at Galen Center last night.

Click here for the full recap!

Senior leader Lucas Yoder stepped up with 15 kills, helping the Trojans hit .286 to Stanford's .089. Sophomore Woody Cook posted 10 kills and five digs as USC managed a 25-19, 25-20, 25-23 victory.

The win avenged USC's 3-0 loss at Stanford last month and marked the Trojans' first three-set win of the season. They now stand at 4-9 on the year, with a 3-7 mark in conference play.

USC, which now has three wins over Top 10 opponents this season, is gearing up to take on No. 9 Pepperdine tomorrow at 7 p.m. Click here to purchase tickets!

#FightOnForever: Mike Walden

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Mike Walden, a noted local radio and television sportscaster who was the play-by-play broadcast voice of USC football and men's basketball from 1966 to 1972 and then called UCLA sports for parts of 18 years, died on Sunday (Feb. 12) in Tarzana, Calif., from complications of a stroke. He was 89.

Click here for the complete obituary.

There will be a celebration of life for Walden on March 18 at 11 a.m. at Braemar Country Club (4001 Reseda Blvd., Tarzana 91356).

Walden, who was known for his distinctive broadcasting style and his even more distinctive wardrobe, handled the USC announcing duties when the Trojan footballers appeared in 5 Rose Bowls and won a pair of national championships (1967 and 1972) and the 1971 hoopsters posted a 24-2 record.

Click here for one of Walden's most famous calls.

A member of the Springfield Sports Hall of Fame (1994), Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame (2003) and USC Athletic Hall of Fame (2009), Walden began his broadcasting career in his hometown of Springfield, Ill., then after 2 years of service in the Air Force he did the play-by-play of his alma mater, Illinois. Next, he moved to Milwaukee to call Wisconsin, Green Bay Packers and Milwaukee Braves games and then worked for CBS Radio in Chicago before coming to the West Coast to announce Trojan athletics.

He also was a broadcaster for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1970 and the St. Louis Cardinals in 1972.

After his USC stint, Walden (pictured with fellow USC football broadcasters Tom Kelly and Pete Arbogast) moved across town and did UCLA sports play-by-play for portions of the next 18 years (1973-90), becoming the first person in history to serve as the broadcast voice of both universities.


Playing Hardball

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USC baseball begins its 2017 season this weekend, and the Trojans are ready to return to their roots of fundamental hardball under fifth-year head coach Dan Hubbs.

In the offseason, USC lost a program-record 12 players to the MLB Draft, leaving the roster short on star power, so Hubbs is pushing his young team to employ the game plan that got the Trojans back on the map in the first place. During the buildup to this season, the team has focused on being defensively sound, executing pitch location, and being aggressive and efficient on the base paths.

Click here for the season outlook.

USC will begin the season with four consecutive home games, hosting Coppin State on Friday (6 p.m.), Saturday (2 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.) before a Tuesday matchup with Long Beach State (6 p.m.) at Dedeaux Field. Junior right-hander Mitch Hart will get the ball as the Trojans' opening night starter. Please follow @USC_Baseball on Twitter for updates on weather-related schedule changes.

Click here for tickets.

Here is the first episode of "The Road" which previews the upcoming season: