I sat with "Big Al" to get his take on his hand, UCLA and his mean streak...
- After breaking a bone in his left hand during the first game of the season, Alex Stepheson has been playing with a cast ever since, but he was finally able to take it off today. "It's nice!" Stepheson said about getting to use two hands. "It will definitely make rebounding easier and catching some of the passes that I was fumbling before." He will have to strengthen the repaired hand over the coming weeks. "It's a little weak, but it's a relief not having to deal with the cast anymore."
- As I wrote below, UCLA is not the intimidating force that they used to be. "We're not scared or intimidated," Stepheson stated. "I don't buy into they're a better basketball school and we're a football school." However, the Trojans always play with an edge against their crosstown rivals. "We definitely have something to prove every time we play UCLA. We have a chip on our shoulder and this game means a lot to us."
- Stepheson is known as a gentle giant, but he got tired of being hacked in practice today and unleashed his mean streak. "That's the first time I've seen him be that mean ever," Kevin O'Neill said. "I wish he would play with that fervor all the time. Al plays hard, but he had a stretch here today where he played pissed off, which is great."
- Former Trojan Marcus Johnson practiced with the team today. He was playing in Romania and is likely headed back to Europe soon. O'Neill likes that Johnson adds more competition to the practice. "He's not bad for a walk-on," the head coach joked.
A two-handed Stepheson will help USC control the glass.