- LB Dion Bailey was without the sling he wore last practice, after injuring his forearm the previous week. He was going through rehab drills this morning.
- Lane Kiffin thought the guys looked tired this morning, with less energy than last week. "It got a little hotter today, so that's a lot of times where pretenders fall out and contenders rise to the top." Temperatures hit the 70s even as early as 8 a.m.
- But QB Matt Barkley said the offense had its best day yet, and Barkley himself is feeling "in his zone" this spring, saying he was "light years" ahead of where he was last year.
- Some of that offensive power could be attributed to WR Robert Woods returning to practice today. The Barkley-Woods duo looked as solid as it did in the fall, with Woods catching some long passes that helped spark the offense. Woods sat out most of the last two practices due to a hamstring injury.
- The backup quarterback spot is still up for grabs, according to Kiffin, as redshirt freshman Jesse Scroggins, redshirt juniors Emon Saee and John Manoogian and spring enrollees Max Wittek and Cody Kessler all got reps today.
- A renewed focus on tackling, Kiffin said, is crucial for all members of the defense.
- CB Tony Burnett was tackling really well today. He's been splitting time between spring ball and practice for the track team. Burnett said he's getting advice from S T.J. McDonald and CB Nickell Robey, who Burnett called the "rocks" of the secondary.
- Kiffin said he did not attend yesterday's Pro Day, but it was a good motivation for current players who watched.
- Tight ends Randall Telfer, Xavier Grimble and Christian Thomas all caught a few passes. The depth at receiver, though, is still a cause for concern.
- Sophomore receiver Markeith Ambles and S Jawanza Starling got into a little scuffle, but Barkley said it's just minor frustrations. "It's good we still have that fire we just have to know when [to use it]," he said.
- Tight end turned DE/LB Eric Childs might have a new nickname. At one point in today's practice, Childs went up on a screen pass, nearly getting the pick, when members of the defense watching called him "the serial killer."
March 2011 Archives
Q.) How impressed are you by the Women of Troy's road run to the WNIT title game?
"This Women of Troy squad has won more games now than any women's basketball team since 1994. They wanted to extend the season and we were really supportive of that. They have had an incredible run and traveled all over the place. They have handled it all with great aplomb and played some outstanding basketball."
Q.) Have you fully resolved the off-court incident with Kevin O'Neill?
"To make it perfectly clear, Kevin O'Neill is our men's basketball coach. There is no doubt about that. He and his wife realize they made a serious mistake in judgment. They have done everything they possibly could to apologize to everyone involved. There are some other requirements of his reinstatement, but he is fully engaged in accepting responsibility for what he has to do to make amends and to be a leader of young men. "
Q.) As we transition into the spring seasons, what has caught your eye?
"We have so many nationally-prominent spring sports at USC right now. Our swim teams just had top 10 NCAA finishes, with Katinka Hosszu winning three NCAA crowns and being named Swimmer of the Meet. Our men's volleyball team is ranked No. 1 and they are crushing opponents. The track team, which has another home meet this weekend, is full of high-caliber athletes. Women's water polo is defending its NCAA title. Men's and women's tennis boast the No. 1 players in the nation in Steve Johnson and Maria Sanchez, respectively. Baseball, golf, rowing... There is always something to watch. I hope everybody enjoys it as much as I do."
Q.) How difficult is the baseball rebuilding job going to be?
"It is not going to be easy. It is different than when I was here in the 70's and we won five straight national titles. Tuition was $2,000 then and we did not have the scholarship limitations. With only 11.7 scholarships now, you have to be right on all your recruits. And, you hope they stay healthy. Frank Cruz has established a great recruiting base. Fundamentally, we are greatly improved. We would always love to win more games, but it is going to take a while."
Q.) Do you have any new updates on the NCAA appeal?
"Everybody is anxious and I get asked about it every day. I wake up wondering, 'Hey, is this going to be the day?' We could hear at any moment or it could happen a month from now. I do not think the delay is necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. It is just the way the NCAA works."
Q.) Can you provide us with a progress report on the new John McKay Center? Click here for LIVE updates!
"We are right on schedule. The John McKay Center is going to open up a year from this August. Our senior associate athletic director Mark Jackson has done a phenomenal job of marshaling this project through. He went on a tour to check out the top facilities around the country and he has come back with some incredible ideas and information. We are going to do this thing right."
SC TV's Rob McPherson put together this year-in-review highlighting the big wins and emotional conclusion set to the hip-hop sounds of Kanye West.
The sun was out on Loker Track Stadium today as NFL coaches, like the Cowboys' Jason Garrett and Raiders' Hue Jackson, and team scouts watched the Trojans who took part in USC Pro Day.
David Ausberry 23
C.J. Gable 22
Zack Heberer 38
Ronald Johnson 20
Butch Lewis 31
Michael Morgan 28
Mitch Mustain 18
Derek Simmons 29
Malcolm Smith 28
Tyron Smith 31
Player Electronic Time Hand Time
David Ausberry 4.46 4.5
Allen Bradford 4.65 4.54
Jurrell Casey 5.04 5.04
Omari Crittenden 4.74 4.69
C.J. Gable 4.61 4.59
Zack Heberer 5.09 5.10
Ronald Johnson 4.49 4.49
Butch Lewis 5.12 5.09
Michael Morgan 4.47 4.49
Mitch Mustain 4.9 4.93
Derek Simmons 5.17 5.19
Malcolm Smith 4.51 4.45
Tyron Smith 5.00 4.93
Aaron Dan 5.19 5.17
- The LA Times takes a look at the Trojans' NFL prospects.
- OT Tyron Smith is USC's best draft prospect. He's moved up in Mel Kiper's latest mock draft (Insider content).
- Michael Lev focuses on the players still on campus like Jawanza Starling.
- Scott Wolf checks in with WR Markeith Ambles.
- Lane Kiffin said T.J. McDonald has "taken his game to the next level."
- The USC Office of Religious Life is putting on a "Spirituality & Sports" night featuring Clippers' announcer Mike Smith.
- We mentioned this last week, but here is the full story on the great Mickey Mantle homerun at Bovard Field from Baxter Holmes.
- Former USC All-American Belen Mozo is living life on the LPGA Tour.
- Finally, sad news to report as the Trojan Family loses 1977 men's volleyball champion Don Killian to cancer.
Here is the full list led by Vucevic, the team MVP...
Sam Barry Award (MVP) - Nikola Vucevic
Bill Sharman Award (Best Free Throw %) - Donte Smith
Dr. James Zumberge Award (Top GPA) - Eric Strangis
John Rudometkin Award (110% Effort) - Marcus Simmons
Tom Kimmel Award (6th Man) - Maurice Jones
Ernie Holbrook Award (Most Inspirational) - Jio Fontan
Forrest F. Twogood Award (Best Defensive Player) - Marcus Simmons
The Harold Jones Award (Most Improved) - Donte Smith
Bob Boyd Award (Top Rebounder) - Nikola Vucevic
Ryan Francis Scholarship Award (Best Trojan) - Alex Stepheson
Here is a look at the celebratory banquet as documented by Pierson Clair...
After winning the job as a true freshman, he solidified his spot with a solid sophomore campaign. As a junior, he could be the face of the program for two more seasons or see his draft stock soar and enter the NFL as an underclassman.
Under his tutelage, three young men will battle.
Redshirt freshman Jesse Scroggins (photo by John McGillen) and spring early entrants Cody Kessler and Max Wittek are currently in a Barkley understudy derby, which could lead to being #7's heir apparent.
Lane Kiffin has divided the spring repetitions equally among the neophytes.
Statistically, Kessler has made the most of his opportunity so far, leading the way in completion percentage among the trio, but all three are clearly in need of seasoning before they are asked to ignite the Trojans' high-octane offense.
While no candidate has separated from the pack, Scroggins has a clear advantage to win the back-up job because he has already been redshirted.
In a perfect world, Barkley would take all the meaningful snaps and Kessler and Wittek could save a year of eligibility. However, as we were reminded last season, the back-up quarterback is just a snap away from the hot seat.
Scroggins is a bit more mobile than the typical USC quarterback of the last decade and even mimicked Jake Locker and Darron Thomas on the practice squad last fall.
Wittek is a strong armed passer with a Mater Dei pedigree, while Kessler is a natural leader a la Mark Sanchez.
At this point, the race is a dead heat.
Click here to meet Max Wittek!
Here is Cody Kessler, who talks about the comparison to fellow #6 Mark Sanchez...
Take a look...
- LB Dion Bailey came out to practice with his arm in a sling after injuring his forearm last Saturday, according to head coach Lane Kiffin. WR Robert Woods also missed practice to go along with the usual suspects that have been sidelined this spring.
- RB D.J. Morgan returned to action and continued to spark the offense, while Curtis "Moody" McNeal drew praise from Kiffin. Along with Dillon Baxter, they are the only three healthy scholarship running backs.
- The depth at receiver is even worse. With Woods down, Brandon Carswell ("the dark horse" of camp said Kiffin), Markeith Ambles and De'Von Flournoy (got banged up today as well) are the only scholarship players. On the positive side, new receivers coach Rod Gilmore should make them better. He did a great job drilling in the fundamentals during blocking drills today.
- Walk-on Cody Gifford is built like an athlete at 6'4", 205 pounds. I do not know how much game he has, but he definitely looks the part.
- The linebackers have been collecting interceptions in numbers this spring. Will Andrew has at least one pick in every practice, while Dallas Kelley made the play of the day scooping a deflected Matt Barkley pass with one-hand before it hit the turf. Hayes Pullard also took one the other way.
- During the team portion, Lane Kiffin screamed, "Practice is live!" The insertion of tackling always raises the energy level and intensity. The defensive sideline exploded when Tony "Red Dread" Burnett made a sure open-field tackle on Morgan.
- Again, the defensive line disrupted most of the scrimmage session by penetrating through the "A gap." Redshirt freshman DT George Uko is trying to make an impression now that Jurrell Casey has moved to the NFL. "I was the person playing behind him, so I know it's my time to step up and contribute on this team," Uko said.
- Of course, when he makes a mistake playing for Ed Orgeron, the entire practice field (and sometimes campus) can hear Coach O taking him to task. Uko knows he needs to have a thick skin. "He'll try to get to you," the 300-pounder said. "He's just trying to make me better. His job is to get the best out of everyone."
- The most bizarre moment of practice came early when stray pitbulls found their way onto the practice field during defensive line drills. I'm sure Coach O wants his guys to play with a pitbull mentality, but the intrusion was not planned.
- Here is Lane Kiffin on the day's practice...
Click here for the game story!
USC's postseason road trip continues Wednesday at Illinois State.
Here is head coach Michael Cooper on the galvanizing effect this tournament success could have on the program...
Oropesa went 9-for-17 over the week's four games and earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors for his effort.
The baseball team hosts former head coach Mike Gillespie and #15 UC-Irvine Tuesday afternoon (3 p.m. first pitch) at Dedeaux Field before a weekend road trip to Berkeley to play the Cal Bears in the final year before their program shuts down.
The PIT takes place April 6 to April 9.
Both showcase events are opportunities for Stepheson to improve his NBA draft stock in front of legions of scouts and team personnel.
Here's the list:
# POS Name Hometown Height Weight
#8 WR Reed Semcken (San Marino, CA) 6'2" 180
#19 WR Chidozie Uche (London, England) 5'10" 180
#24 WR Cody Gifford (Greenwich, CT) 6'4" 205
#27 RB Kameron Germany (Covina, CA) 6'0" 175
#29 TE Michael Cox (Bainbridge Island, WA) 6'4" 230
#36 PK Jay Levin (Newbort Beach, CA) 5'8" 145
#37 DB Samuel Sulam (Glendale, CA) 5'10" 185
#38 WR Cody Skene (Oak Park, CA) 5'9" 165
#40 DB John Auran (Phoenix, AZ) 5'11" 190
#44 WR Walter Calistro Jr. (Kailua, HI) 5'9" 170
#45 P Ryan Zaragoza (Redondo Beach, CA) 5'9" 190
#47 TE Kevin Downey Jr. (West Hills, CA) 6'3" 210
Click here for the full updated roster!
Of note, Cody Gifford is the son of former USC and NFL Hall of Famer Frank Gifford and television host Kathie Lee Gifford.
Here's what it looked like courtesy of John McGillen...
- WR Robert Woods was added to the limited list today with a tight hamstring.
- RB D.J. Morgan looked like the most dangerous weapon on the field before tweaking his surgically repaired knee. "His knee started bothering him a little bit," said Lane Kiffin, who attributed the problem to the wet grass. "Nothing major."
- The sidelines were packed today with media, family and future Trojans. The spectators were delighted by the first round of live tackling during the spring sessions. In the group closest to me, Tony Burnett and Nickell Robey were the surest tacklers.
- The scariest moment came when WR Markeith Ambles ran over DB Allen Noble, who needed a few moments to gather his senses. Ambles is really starting to fill out his 6'2" frame. "I have just been working out and going through the program," the receiver said.
- Ambles has flown under the radar since rejoining the team, but he still flashes that five-star talent. "I learned that you have to come in and work hard every day," he said about his tumultuous freshman campaign. "I'm just trying to get better every day, so by the time we get to fall, I'll be ready to go."
- The Georgia native is now fully committed to being a Trojan. "I don't want to go anywhere but here. It's the best place ever!"
- On the other side of the ball, redshirt freshman corner Anthony Brown stood out during coverage drills and picked off Jesse Scroggins. "He's really worked extremely hard since the day he got here," Kiffin said. "He's not a great paper guy (size and speed), but he made a bunch of plays in high school."
- The 11-on-11 battles were controlled by the defensive front four. It's hard for the skill guys to stand out when the quarterbacks are running for their lives. With 20 injured players and 25 recruits arriving in the fall, the Trojans are literally playing without half their team. "We have so many holes to work on," a frustrated Kiffin said. "We're kind of spinning our wheels."
- However, RB Curtis McNeal and WR De'Von Flournoy made some plays when they were given opportunities.
- Practice concluded on a James Harbin interception. The senior walk-on worked a graveyard shift at a warehouse last night to make time for spring practice, so it was pretty cool to have his pick ring in the three horns (signals the end of practice).
- Click here to watch Lane Kiffin's post-practice media scrum.
- Here's your chance to meet true freshman QB Max Wittek (as I did), who is just trying to get his feet under him as he transitions from Mater Dei to USC.
Click here for the game story!
Pierson Clair documented the win against the strange backdrop of the set preparations for the Kids Choice Awards.
"It's been a tough decision for me," he said. "I feel like home here. I'm proud that I'll always be a Trojan."
Head coach Kevin O'Neill stressed that he fully supports Vucevic in his decision and advised him to fully commit himself to the process.
"He has set a standard for what we want to have here going forward as far as people or players," said O'Neill, who attributes the Trojans' ability to come through sanctions in part to Vucevic's rapid improvement. "He was forced to grow up and be a man in that two year period. I can't thank him enough."
Scouts differ on his draft stock plus there is a possibility of an NBA lockout next season. However, the Montenegro native is not worried in either case because he can fall back on playing professionally in Europe.
"I know I can't stay here forever," said Vucevic, who expressed gratitude to the entire Trojan Family. "I think this is the best time for me to leave."
O'Neill, a former NBA head coach with the Toronto Raptors, believes Vucevic's ability to guard both power forwards and centers will make him a valuable asset at the next level.
"His potential to get better is definitely there," the head coach explained that Vucevic is still just 20. "We wish Nik on this day every bit of luck for success and a long NBA career."
The 2011-12 Trojans will see new starters at the four and five positions. However, they have ready-made replacements in transfers Aaron Fuller and DeWayne Dedmon plus freshman Curtis Washington.
"All three of them will do a great job of replacing me," Vucevic said.
Here is the full press conference...
During spring ball, he energizes the troops by creating a USC football version of the CBS reality show Survivor.
The participating players are broken up into four tribes, each with their own flag, competing in different football-related events throughout spring for the right to be the last flag flying (the others are ceremoniously set ablaze).
Here are the four tribes and tribal leaders:
The Kracken - LB Chris Galippo
Perseus - DB T.J. McDonald
Achilles - LB Ross Cumming
Thracians - TE Rhett Ellison
Here is the video John Baxter showed the team to kick off the competition...
The game can be heard LIVE on USCTrojans.com with Jason Schwartz on the mic. If you want to watch a webcast of the contest, CUBuffs.com will be broadcasting the game online.
The Trojans beat the Buffaloes earlier this season at Galen Center as part of the Women of Troy tournament.
CU is led by Brittany Spears, not the pop star, and they used to have a point guard named Whitney Houston, again not the singer. I just thought you'd want to know this information.
Take a look...
Robey (photo by John McGillen), who looks bigger after an offseason workout regime, tested as the fastest player on the team, Lane Kiffin told ESPNLA.com, and could break out as a star this season.
On the opposite side, the revolving door that was the nickel corner spot in 2010 is now in the mix for the second starter in 2011. Torin Harris, Brian Baucham and T.J. Bryant all bring various degrees of experience and will likely work into the rotation at some point.
Redshirt freshman Anthony Brown gained some buzz during the voluntary player workouts, but at the moment, former walk-on Tony Burnett is the lead dog in the race.
The man they call "Red Dread," due to his cardinal locks, has gone from a feel good story to a defensive stalwart.
Burnett moved to the top of the depth chart at safety last season when T.J. McDonald went down with a shoulder injury and now the coaching staff is trying out his length, speed and tackling talents at corner.
Here he is after practice today talking about his Cinderella rise and the swagger it's going to take to keep his spot.
On March 26, 1951, Rod Dedeaux lined his Trojans up against the legendary Bronx Bombers at Bovard Field in an exhibition, which the Yanks took 15-1.
While the name Mantle is synonymous with baseball history, he was just a 19-year-old rookie that day trying to live up to the hype as the next great Yankee. He did more than that.
"The Mick" was a one-man show, launching two homeruns as part of his four-hit performance. The mightiest blast of the day is considered one of the longest of his career and the reports of where it actually landed live in Trojan baseball mythology.
While you are at the games this weekend, you can see an overhead picture of Bovard Field that day featuring a capacity crowd of 3,000 with Mickey Mantle's iconic signature scrawled across.
Friday and Saturday's games are at 6 p.m., while Sunday is scheduled for a 1 o'clock start. We'll pay tribute to the Mantle game on Saturday evening at Dedeaux Field.
- No new injuries to report other than Marc Tyler is out indefinitely with a hamstring problem. He said that he has never had a similar injury, so it is tough for him to gauge how long it will take to heal.
- Practice sighting: Former Trojan great and Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio was stalking the sidelines. He embraced Monte Kiffin and longtime assistant Kennedy Pola after practice.
- Today's session was defense dominated. They are "extremely focused" on eliminating big plays, which was a real weakness last year, according to Lane Kiffin.
- The secondary looks like the most improved unit led by CB Nickell Robey and S T.J. McDonald. They have made life difficult on the young quarterbacks so far by jumping in front of passes.
- Robey and Robert Woods are the all-star match-up to watch during individual drills. "It's good work," Woods described the battle. "Nickell is one of the best cornerbacks we have out here. It's great competition. He got me out here today."
- Some of the defensive backs' success can be attributed to the inexperience at the QB position save for Matt Barkley. "We've got a lot of work to do with these three freshmen quarterbacks," Kiffin said. From an amateur scout's eye, Max Wittek appears to spin the ball the best out of his hand.
- While the young talents need molding at every position, there is no shortage of athleticism. "It's an exciting freshmen group," said the head coach. "When we go to our testing, skill stuff and speed work...the top four guys were all freshmen."
- More athletes are on the way, especially at the receiver position with Serra stars George Farmer and Marqise Lee set to flank high school teammate Robert Woods at USC. "They both ask me questions about the playbook every time, so that's good," said Woods, who speaks with both frequently.
- Kiffin was asked at the end of the post-practice media scrum if he's anxious to hear the verdict on the NCAA appeal. "If we're winning, yeah I'd like it to be over!" he joked. "The bowl game, possibly games, it's extremely unfortunate for these guys who weren't even here and had nothing to do with it."
"You have to do everything fast. You have to think fast," said the freshman swimming prodigy.
The Russian torpedo will swim the 50- and 100-yard free for USC at this weekend's NCAA championships in Minneapolis. The sprints will last approximately 20 and 40 seconds respectively, but first place glory and runner-up agony can be decided by a hundredth of a second.
"Any mistake you make, you lose .1, which is pretty significant," said Morozov, who lost Pac-10's because he touched the wall with his arm bent instead of fully extended.
Vlad's craving for speed starts weeks before a race. He'll change his diet, hydrate and watch past races.
He trains his body to act in explosive bursts. He works on controlling his breathing. And, he gets the adrenaline coursing through his veins by visualizing his competition.
He is a finely tuned speed machine, so that when he steps up on the block, "You can't think about anything. The mind goes blank."
The clock starts on the gun, which means the tenths of a second are counted from a swimmer's first reaction.
"It's kind of a given. Either you have it or you don't," he said about a fast start. "I have a faster reaction than most of the guys because I'm smaller."
And then he hits the water...
"The muscle memory is taking over," he describes. "The only thing I'm thinking about is how I can go faster."
"I don't take a breath. Don't lift my head. I just go as fast as I can."
Morozov pulls at the water, while maintaining stroke discipline. He knows the wall is coming, but he cannot see it.
He has to make the most important decision of the race acting on instinct, while working in the dark.
"Extend into the wall or take an extra stroke. You kind of have to think about that," he admitted. "You glide into the wall and hope that it's there."
Morozov is the USC record-holder at both distances, but he struggles explaining the technical difference between a great sprinter and a good one.
Instead, he favors the inner game of swimming.
"Competitiveness. It just depends what kind of a sportsman you are."
We are giving you a chance to prove it and win a pair of VIP SEASON TICKETS!
Click this link and enter the contest on the new EXCLUSIVE tab on our official Facebook page.
In the field below the video, fill out your information and name as many of the featured Trojans in the commercial as you can.
Whoever names the most Trojans correctly will win two great seats to every 2011 USC home football game. If there is a tie, we'll have a random drawing between the best contestants.
The competition starts today and ends Saturday, April 16!
Even if you don't win, we'll give out FREE spring game tickets to the top five, so take your shot!
Rules and Regulations
1.) Name as many FEATURED Trojans as you can.
2.) You must input your answers through the Exclusive tab on the Facebook page.
3.) You DO NOT need to put the players/coaches in order. Just name as many as you can...
4.) Do not name the same person twice.
5.) Entries must be in by Saturday, April 16.
Does he test the NBA waters in the hopes of being selected in the first round? Or, does he return to USC and lead the program into the 2011-12 season?
The junior sat down with me on SC TV to discuss his thought process and timeline. Also, in the bottom video, head coach Kevin O'Neill explains how he is advising Vucevic and how good the team can be if Nik comes back.
You can listen to the game for FREE on USCTrojans.com. Our man Jason Schwartz will have the call.
The Cougars website is also broadcasting the game live for FREE.
You can also find live stat links through the women's basketball page on USCTrojans.com.
- Gary Klein looks at the key questions facing USC football this spring.
- Scott Wolf notes subtle defensive changes that the coaching staff is toying with.
- Michael Lev breaks down how Matt Barkley can go from good to great.
- ESPN writer KC Joyner (need Insider account) thinks Barkley could surpass Andrew Luck.
- Pedro Moura sized up the linebacker positions.
- Former Trojan Mark McGwire is enjoying life as the St. Louis Cardinals hitting instructor.
- After her incredible performance at NCAAs last week, USC swimmer Katinka Hosszu was nominated for the prestigious Honda Award.
- Women's swimming and diving also banked valuable points in the race for the Capital One Cup. The Women of Troy currently sit 4th in the nation.
- We'll have our own story on USC's male sprinting phenom Vladimir Morozov later today, but the Pac-10 profiled the swimmer as well.
- Hoops coach Kevin O'Neill will join Virginia Tech head man Seth Greenberg on FSN's State Farm Coaches Tournament Show all month long. Check your local listings!
Here's a look at the action through the lens of John McGillen.
Marc Tyler (photo by John McGillen) enters spring as the presumed starter, although a hamstring injury on day one could open up reps for the young contenders. The senior totaled a team-leading 913 yards on the ground and 9 rushing TDs last season.
After Tyler, Dillon Baxter is the only returning back who carried the ball in 2010. The soon-to-be sophomore is the most natural receiver of the bunch.
If Curtis McNeal can straighten himself out academically, he will contribute to this year's team as a versatile piece out of the backfield and on special teams. He looked sharp and explosive in practice today.
D.J. Morgan is the wild card. He has what Lane Kiffin calls "long speed," which means he does not get caught from behind often.
The Trojans had just 16 runs of 20+ yards last season (down from 21 in 2009), so Morgan brings the element of speed that could take USC's running game from methodical to explosive.
Here's what the redshirt freshman had to say after day one...
To make matters worse, starting RB Marc Tyler pulled up with a hamstring injury during the team portion.
Here are some other notable players notably absent from live action or rehabbing on Muscle Beach...
DL Armond Armstead
WR Kyle Prater (photo)
LB Shane Horton
LB Devon Kennard
LB Chris Galippo
OL Khaled Holmes
OL Abe Markowitz
OL Kevin Graf
DB Torin Harris
Click here to renew!!!
The Trojans play a loaded seven-game Coliseum schedule featuring a potential Heisman showcase against Stanford, Utah's Pac-12 debut and the annual crosstown rivalry versus the Bruins.
As even more incentive to renew, you receive four FREE spring game tickets, $35 savings off buying individual tickets and the option to purchase individual game tickets before they go on sale to the general public.
Click here to renew or call (213) 740-GO SC!
- The list of injuries is so long (19 no-contact players) that we'll have a dedicated post to health issues alone on the blog.
- The early wake-up call was the first story of the day. Players hit the training room as early as 5:30 a.m. to get taped and ready. "It's something that I just wanted to look at for spring that could be a possibility for the fall," head coach Lane Kiffin said. "It starts their day earlier and gets them going."
- The numbers crunch hit the offensive line particularly hard with only six available players and just one healthy returning starter, LT Matt Kalil. "Our effort was really there, but there was some confusion with the new guys," Kalil said. "It's hard to transition from one offense to another, but they'll get it down. They're hard workers."
- Given the lack of offensive line depth, the team portion of practice is a combination of 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 because there are no back-ups to rotate in.
- Khaled Holmes is not cleared for contact, but he played center during 7-on-7. In the physical portion, John Martinez and Giovanni Di Poalo took turns on the football.
- The back-up quarterback competition is wide open with freshmen Jesse Scroggins (redshirt), Cody Kessler and Max Wittek. Every QB threw a pick today save for Wittek, but Kiffin's focus is on the mental side of the game. "It's going to be mostly about decision-making and managing the offense," the head coach said.
- As for the starting quarterback, Kiffin acknowledged that Matt Barkley could be entering his last year at USC. "He needs to make the next step from being a really good quarterback to a great quarterback," Kiffin said. "He's competing against the best guys around the country."
- On the other side of the ball, converted LB Dion Bailey stood out in coverage drills. His ability to turn his hips in space is noticeably better than most of the other backers.
- Former walk-on Tony Burnett looks like the early favorite to start at corner opposite Nickell Robey. Kiffin described Burnett as "long" and "one of our fastest players." He intercepted a Barkley pass during 7-on-7.
- Anthony Brown is another player who will get a good look at corner. Veteran WR Brandon Carswell wrestled away a diving deep ball from the redshirt freshman for one of the best plays of the day.
- Good news on the kicking front! Freshman Andre Heidari split the uprights on all three live attempts, including a 50-yarder. He has more than enough leg.
- Later today on the blog, we'll take a look at the running back position, which took a blow when presumed starter Marc Tyler pulled up with a hamstring injury late in practice.
- Here is Lane Kiffin on day one...
Here is Coach Kiffin interviewed by Paul Goldberg...
The Trojans will be training bright and early this spring with weekday practices starting at 7:30 a.m. and Saturday sessions at 11 in the morning.
The team will spread their 15 practices over five weeks, working every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday culminating in the April 23 spring game at the Coliseum.
During the Pac-10 tournament, we had a chance to catch up with women's basketball icon and Trojan legend Lisa Leslie whose resume is unparalleled in women's hoops. She won four Olympic gold medals, three WNBA MVPs, two WNBA titles and the 1994 National Player of the Year at USC.
She talked to me about the state of the women's game, returning the Trojans to past glories and playing for Michael Cooper.
Hosszu became just the second Trojan woman to win three races at the NCAA's. The LA Times' Gary Klein recapped the event and Katinka's effort.
Now, the men take center stage as they head to nationals in Minneapolis, MN, this weekend.
Here is head coach Dave Salo breaking down his squad and their expectations...
Both games of tomorrow's doubleheader will be broadcast live on USCTrojans.com.
In common terms, only family of the players and those with a working purpose will be admitted into the practice facility.
In NCAA terms, "Football team practices shall be strictly limited to men's football team student-athletes and coaching staff, necessary Athletic Department personnel and guests pre-approved by the Vice President or Associate Vice President of Athletic Compliance. Media, immediate family members of student-athletes (i.e., parents, legal guardians, grandparents, siblings, spouses and children of student-athletes), USC Executive Employees (as defined below) and their escorted pre-approved guests, high school, two- and four-year college coaches and other pre-approved guests may attend practice by requesting and receiving permission to do so from the Office of Athletic Compliance, at least 48 hours in advance of a practice."
Click the PDF for the official practice policy.
Football Spring Practice Policy.pdf
We know how much many of you enjoy supporting the Trojans on the practice field and we appreciate your patience as we comply with NCAA probation.
Twenty-five track and field athletes from Japan's Nippon Sport Science University--who left their country just 2 days after the devastating 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami--will compete in Saturday's (March 19) Trojan Invitational track meet at USC's Loker Stadium. The meet begins at 9 a.m.
The 25 NSSU athletes (19 men, 6 women) departed from Tokyo on March 13 for 2 weeks of training and competing in Southern California.
The Trojan Invitational will feature athletes from USC, Washington State, Fresno State, UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Los Angeles, Cal State Dominguez Hills, Cal State Bakersfield, Cal Poly Pomona, Occidental, La Verne, Augsburg and Williams, along with NSSU.
NSSU, founded in 1891, has produced athletes who have won 108 Olympic medals (including 33 gold) since the 1928 Amsterdam Games.
Now, he's showing his fans how much he appreciates them by vowing to give out an autographed piece of memorabilia every day the NFL lockout lingers.
Like his page and you will be included in the daily giveaways!
Johnette Howard contrasts how Haden and USC handled the recent Kevin O'Neill incident to the problems in Columbus for Ohio State and Jim Tressel.
The Trojan Basketball Awards Dinner will begin at 6 p.m. (reception) and seat at 7 p.m..
We will be honoring the USC senior class featuring Alex Stepheson, Donte Smith, Marcus Simmons and James Dunleavy, who all helped build the bridge over the NCAA sanctions and into a run to March Madness.
The entire team will be in attendance.
You can make reservations over the phone by calling (213) 740-4164. Dinner reservations are $85 per person plus you can sponsor a dinner for a player. Preferred Patron reservations are also available upon request.
- Nikola Vucevic's decision to stay or go may control the fate of the 2011-12 Trojans writes Baxter Holmes.
- Michael Lev answers questions about Kevin O'Neill's end of game strategy.
- Pedro Moura revisits the VCU game for ESPNLA.com.
- Scott Wolf looks ahead to USC hoops in year three of the KO era.
- As we switch gears to spring football, Ted Miller discusses two freshmen offensive linemen who could have an instant impact.
- Unfortunately, the Trojans are not particularly healthy heading into spring practice.
- If you are looking for a Trojan team with title aspirations, check out men's volleyball, feature by WeAreSC.com.
- Lindsey Munday tossed out the first pitch at Dedeaux Field the other day using a lacrosse stick (maybe sparking their recent three-game winning streak). Check out this recent interview she did.
- While it is not sports related, USC received the largest donation in school history last week. Dana and David Dornsife contributed $200 million to the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
The game tips off at 7 p.m. and you can purchase tickets just by walking up to the box office.
Here is a new intro video to celebrate the great USC women's hoops tradition and motivate the Women of Troy to reach tournament glory...
- Stats! VCU took 21 more shots than USC. The Rams had 12 more offensive rebounds. They made eight more threes. The Trojans had 15 turnovers to just four assists. "We never turn the ball over," head coach Kevin O'Neill said. "We had a lot of things that were uncharacteristic of us. We just didn't have it tonight." While O'Neill did not question his team's effort, Jio Fontan was a bit more harsh. "They performed like they wanted it more," he said. "I don't have a good taste in my mouth about this performance."
- Nikola Vucevic was supposed to be USC's big advantage in the paint, but the Rams kept him from getting enough inside touches to make a difference in the contest. "They took me out of the game," Vucevic admitted. "They didn't let me get in my comfort zone. You have to give them credit for that." The big man took just five shots all night long. Now, the program waits to find out if the All-Pac-10 performer will return for his senior year or declare for the NBA draft.
- While Fontan was tough on himself after the game, his leadership and will kept the Trojans' alive tonight as most of his teammates struggled with nerves and big game anxiety. "They've never been here before," O'Neill said of his team. "They are virgin NCAA players. Experience makes us all better at everything." With Fontan, Maurice Jones and Garrett Jackson definitely returning, O'Neill expects USC to learn lessons from tonight's disappointment. "We are hoping to make a big jump as a team next year."
- Quote of the night: "I am really proud of my team. They have played hard and got us into the NCAA tournament under almost impossible circumstances," O'Neill summed up the season and the adversity this group has overcome.
Click here to view the spring football prospectus!
Conference: Colonial Athletic Association (Finished 4th)
Record: 23-11 (12-6 in the CAA)
Coach: Shaka Smart (2nd season)
The 33-year old is one of the youngest coaches in college basketball, but he has won 50 games in his first two seasons at VCU. Smart worked for Oliver Purnell at Dayton and Clemson, which explains his full-court press style.
Inside-Out: PF Jamie Skeen and PG Joey Rodriguez (photo)
The 6'9" Skeen leads the Rams in scoring (15.3 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg). While he represents their best threat in the paint, he can also draw his man out to the perimeter (38% from three).
Rodriguez runs the show for the fast-paced VCU attack with a controlled 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Poor Form: 3-5 in the final 8 games of the season
Common Opponents: Tennessee (L 72-77) and UCLA (W 89-85)
Style: Pace, Depth and Distance
As opposed to the Trojans, the Rams give double-digit minutes to 10 players. USC's rotation has been limited to seven guys, so expect VCU to press early and often in the hopes that they can wear the Trojans down. They will likely play small against USC and fire at will from three-point range (23 attempts per game).
1.) Marcus vs. - ...probably point guard Joey Rodriguez. Simmons usually terrorizes the opponent's best wing scorer, but the Rams don't have a typical go-to guard. Instead, the Trojans' coaching staff may opt to chop the head off the monster by having their defensive specialist lock-up VCU's leader when the Rams go small.
2.) Tempo - "They are definitely a team that is going to try to speed the game up. We need to slow ourselves down offensively and get it to the player of the year in our conference Nik Vucevic and feed off him." - Jio Fontan
3.) Turnovers - The Rams should have no answer for the Trojan Towers, Vucevic and Alex Stepheson. So, they'll hope to deny the supply line by pressing Jio Fontan and Maurice Jones. On the season, they forced 15 turnovers per game, while USC coughed it up just 11 times per contest.
VCU made a name for their program in the 2007 tournament when Eric Maynor stuck the final dagger in the Dukies.
Dillon recorded nine sacks as a senior in high school and earned regional postseason honors.
He is a great addition to an already loaded defensive line class featuring Greg Townsend Jr., DeVante Wilson, Antwaun Woods, J.R. Tavai and Christian Heyward.
While most conferences would just show you the logo, the
So, click here to see the new logo revealed via music video!!!
"With so many of our fans active on social media outlets like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, we wanted to create something that could easily be shared and we felt this would be a fun and natural way for us to launch the new Pac-12 mark," Chief Marketing Officer Danette Leighton said. "We wanted to do something creative that allowed some of our student-athletes and fans to give the new logo life. We also wanted to reflect the enthusiasm that all of our institutions have for the Pac-12 becoming a reality this summer."
USC junior swimmer Katinka Hosszu is a world champion, an eight-time All-American and an Olympian. With that resume, the NCAA Championships this week in Austin should be a breeze.
Guess again. At nationals, Hosszu will be tackling a Michael Phelpsian-type schedule as the top seed in three different races (200 fly, 200 and 400 individual medley) over an exhaustive three-day stretch.
"Every single session must be almost perfect," said the Hungarian import. "It is going to be an intense three days."
Hosszu will swim twice in each of the six sessions, if everything goes according to plan, but unlike the world championships, where she pushed for her best time once a day, the NCAA's are far less forgiving in the preliminary rounds.
The junior is forced to empty her gas tank each day, which means refueling is a must. "At the end of each day, I eat two big bowls of pasta. And when the meet is over, I sleep for like two days."
Hosszu is swimming for more than herself. If she can bank top points by winning three races, the Trojans could fulfill expectations as one of the favorites to take home the national title.
"It's really exciting," said Hosszu about the lofty team goals. "With these girls, I can say that we have really close friendships. It is has been so much fun to prepare together."
The #6 Trojans will begin their quest for glory Thursday and the Friday and Saturday finals will be streamed LIVE on ESPN3.com. Click here for more information on the Swimming and Diving Championships!
If you have never found truTV on your cable or satellite box, here's a helpful guide.
DirecTV - Channel 246
Dish Network - Channel 204
Time Warner Cable (City of LA) - Channel 74
Time Warner Cable (South LA) - Channel 68
Time Warner Cable (West Hollywood) - Channel 74
Time Warner Cable (Hollywood - Westchester) - Channel 68
AT&T Fios - Channel 164-165
And if none of this works for you, Chris Fisher and Jim Hefner will have the call on ESPN Radio 710 with extended pregame at 5:30 p.m. pacific time.
So, we gave walk-on Tyler Sugiyama (@TrojanTyler) our FlipCam to find out how the players are biding their time.
Here's a sampling as Alex Stepheson shows off his rap stylings...
If you are not familiar with Gus Johnson, he has become almost a cult figure in college basketball. "The Gus Effect" refers to the seemingly abnormal number of close games and buzzer-beaters that coincide with his broadcasting assignments.
If you believe in that sort of thing, we could be in for a fun one tomorrow night like the Pac-10 Tournament Final on which Johnson put his exuberant signature.
As for his broadcast partner, Elmore was one of the greatest players in ACC history at Maryland.
I spoke to him earlier today about the mentality of the two teams and got his opinion on USC's star Nikola Vucevic.
- If the field were not expanded this season, USC would likely be preparing for the NIT right now. Now that they are in though, they plan to make it count. "We are not just happy to be here," senior Donte Smith said. "We feel like we can make some noise in this tournament." Jio Fontan took it one step further saying. "We feel that we have a great shot at winning this tournament."
- As for the First Four match-up, VCU wants the game played at a much faster pace than Kevin O'Neill's team. "We know that we'll have to play our tempo, which isn't crawling," O'Neill compared the Rams to Washington. "We have a formula for winning. We have to impose our will on them." As for the formula, it revolves around defense, rebounding and getting the ball inside offensively.
- O'Neill began the press conference apologizing again to the Trojan Family for the incident that led to his suspension from the Pac-10 Tournament loss to Arizona. While the head coach has shown his true character by taking accountability for his actions, he commends his players for persevering and bonding when faced with adversity. "You guys are now a team of men," O'Neill relayed what he told the team after last Friday's loss. "We know we can count on you and you can count on each other."
- The Dayton Arena holds just over 13,000 fans and they are expecting a sell-out. We'll be sitting on press row Tweeting away. If you don't follow @USC_Athletics, now is the time!
The program has risen to near-favorite status as they enter nationals as the top seed in five events led by junior Katinka Hosszu who is tipped to win three races.
Here is Salo breaking down his squad and their chances to bring home a championship from Texas...
Here is Pierson Clair's look at the big win...
Now, they understand the spoils of victory include NCAA chartered flights from private terminals to local destinations.
The Trojans' team, staffers, Song Girls and Spirit of Troy basketball band arrived in Dayton yesterday like conquering heroes.
The farther they advance in the tournament, the nicer the planes get, according to associate head coach Bob Cantu, who was an assistant on Elite Eight and Sweet 16 teams.
Of course, every great journey begins with an initial step. A metaphor the NCAA folks must have understood when they laid down this welcome mat for the Trojans' arrival.
"I remember we lost to Oregon at home and everybody was really, really down," head coach Kevin O'Neill recalled the season's turning point. "This team picked it up and played championship caliber basketball the rest of the way."
The strategists will point to O'Neill tweaking the rotation by putting Jio Fontan at his natural point guard spot and freeing Maurice Jones to attack offensively off the bench. The head coach deflects the credit to his players.
"We are so far ahead of everybody else because we have a team of men who have great character," he said Sunday about overcoming sanctions.
A year after the USC program was denied the right to postseason play by self-imposed NCAA probation, they refused to be denied again.
Click play below and experience the range of emotions as the Trojans rode the bubble roller-coaster that is March Madness!
Senior right-hander Logan Odom carried the Trojans with 7.1 shutout innings and earned Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors for his effort.
The winning weekend came at just the right time and provided memories that the USC student-athletes will take with them forever.
Here is catcher Kevin Roundtree talking about the big win in the historic atmosphere:
And here is Chad Smith who picked up the save:
Take a glimpse at the action courtesy of Pierson Clair...
The Trojans are officially an 11 seed, but they will play fellow #11 VCU as part of the First Four in Dayton, OH, Wednesday night at 6:00 p.m. pacific time for the right to take on #6 Georgetown Friday in Chicago.
We'll have blanket coverage on the blog/Facebook/Twitter, including exclusive videos and features, as we join the team on their journey to the Midwest and (hopefully) beyond.
Click here to watch the post-celebration press conference!
Even more fun, click play below to see the explosion of emotion as the Trojans found out their fate!
Here's what athletic director Pat Haden said about restoring O'Neill as head coach:
"Effective immediately, I am reinstating Kevin O'Neill as our men's basketball head coach.
"Coach O'Neill and I have talked numerous times these past few days. He has continued to express his regret and embarrassment over the incident that led to his suspension from any remaining games of the Pac-10 Conference Tournament. He understands that his inappropriate actions and resulting suspension from the tournament's semifinal game and potential championship game put his team in an extremely difficult position. Further, he understands that he let them down as their role model and leader. He has apologized to his team, as well as to me, our administration, our fans and the Pac-10.
"It was a difficult lesson for Coach O'Neill. I believe the suspension served its purpose and will eliminate any such inappropriate behavior by Coach O'Neill in the future. Although he has been reinstated, Coach O'Neill knows that he still faces additional institutional discipline and a fine.
"Our players were the innocent victims in all this. I was proud of how well they and our assistant coaches responded in our Pac-10 semifinal game. We now need to provide our players with the best chance of moving forward through post-season play. Having their head coach back gives them that opportunity.
"I said this before: Kevin O'Neill is a good person and a very good basketball coach. He made a mistake and paid the price. I look forward to working past this issue with him. I am confident in his ability to produce winning basketball teams at USC. He has my support."
Here's what Kevin O'Neill said today:
"I'm excited to be back coaching the Trojans and I am looking forward to the post-season. This is a special team and we have shown that we can compete with anyone in the country.
"But I temper my excitement of being reinstated with the realization that I made a serious error in judgment the other night. The disciplinary measures that Pat Haden took, including the suspension, were absolutely the right call. My wife, Roberta, and I are both very apologetic for the embarrassment we caused the Trojan Family. We vow to move forward in a positive manner.
"I appreciate the support I received from our administration, the Pac-10, my coaches and players and our fans. I cannot apologize enough to them.
"I was really proud of the effort our team put forth in Friday's game against Arizona. I know I let them down and put them in a very challenging situation. But because our players are high-character young men, they were able to put that aside and compete extremely well."
Needless to say, it is a fluid situation, but all hope is not lost.
Here are the photos from last night as the Trojans battled the 'Cats, but came up short...
(Photos by Pierson Clair/Pac-10)
Playing for associate head coach Bob Cantu with head coach Kevin O'Neill suspended, USC senior leader Marcus Simmons pitched in a career-high 20 points, while Nikola Vucevic posted yet another double-double (16 points and 12 rebounds).
Click here to watch Marcus Simmons' post-game interview!
The post-script to USC's Pac-10 tourney ousting loss has two glaring headlines.
Will the tournament resume hold up on Selection Sunday? How did the team handle playing without Kevin O'Neill?
Here is the post-game press conference:
Here is Pat Haden's statement:
"I have talked to Coach Kevin O'Neill and expressed my disappointment in his involvement in an incident last night in which he and his wife engaged in an argument with a supporter of another school.
"We have met with various parties who have knowledge of the incident. Based on the information we have gathered, I am immediately suspending Coach O'Neill for the balance of the Pac-10 Conference Tournament. We also have set forth additional discipline that will remain private.
"Coach O'Neill was remorseful and apologetic and accepted responsibility for his actions. He understood that his actions were unacceptable and that they reflect poorly on him, his team and USC. We hold our coaches to very high standards, as they are role models to the student-athletes they lead. Clearly, Coach O'Neill used poor judgment and failed in this situation.
"Coach O'Neill is a good man and an outstanding basketball coach. He made a bad decision in this instance and is now suffering the consequences.
"Assistant coach Bob Cantu will coach the Trojans for the remainder of the Pac-10 Tournament."
Kevin O'Neill's statement:
"I want to apologize to my team, our university and our fans for my involvement last night in an incident with a fan.
"I understand my behavior as the leader of our team was unacceptable. I used poor judgment and put myself, my team and USC in a bad light. I regret that I have let them down.
"I respect and accept the disciplinary actions imposed on me by USC. It is something that I will have to live with. I look forward to learning from this, moving forward and coaching the Trojans well into the future.
"I know that Coach Cantu and the rest of the staff will do a great job in my absence, and that my players will continue to give a great effort on the court."
Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott statement:
"It is an unfortunate circumstance, but we are in complete agreement with Athletics Director Pat Haden's decision.
"It's our highest obligation and responsibility to set a good example for our student-athletes as we prepare them for productive lives beyond college athletics. We commend USC for its actions."
The most important bracketologists, currently filling out the Dance invites in Indianapolis, will not reveal their verdict until Sunday evening, but the big websites have gotten good at predicting the field.
As we speak, ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi has USC as the second team OUT of the tournament.
The bad news for the Trojans is that many of the other bubblers have yet to burst in their conference tournaments. Yesterday, Colorado, Michigan State, Georgia, Boston College, Memphis and New Mexico took care of business.
As you know, upsets tend to happen this time of year (see Oregon shellacking UCLA last night for evidence), which could take up spots in the field.
Here's the good news: USC controls its own destiny.
Three weeks ago, the Trojans were not even on the radar. Now, they are in the thick of the discussion.
They changed their fate by beating quality teams (five wins against the RPI top 50) and finishing strong (6-1 in the last 7 games). If USC can stay hot tonight and knock off another top team in Arizona (RPI #18), they will move to the better side of the bubble.
Even more, they'll be one win away from the Pac-10's automatic berth and the peace of mind to rest easy on Selection Sunday.
Click here to view it!
Catching the Greats
Lane Kiffin made a statement last year by taking the #1 out of circulation until a wide receiver fit the mold and earned the digit. While Robert Woods had that kind of impact, he is more of a Steve Smith type, so he'll be donning #2 going forward (he wore #13 as a freshman). There still is no #1 on offense or defense.
Freshman signal-caller Cody Kessler will take over Mark Sanchez's #6 jersey, while Max Wittek will wear the now vacant #13.
With a deep group returning at safety, #18 Dion Bailey is now listed as a linebacker. The coaches hope he can inject some more speed into the unit. The redshirt freshman is currently listed at 6'1", 195 lbs., so he will likely add some more bulk if the switch becomes permanent.
Florida native Nickell Robey may be too young to have seen Deion Sanders star at Florida State, but he'll rock his famed NFL #21 in 2011.
After an injury plagued freshman year, Kyle Prater was looking forward to a big spring, but then he broke his foot during offseason workouts. Maybe with a change in luck in mind, he's switching from #85 to #21.
Newcomer Soma Vainuku is expected to fill Stanley Havili's shoes this season, so he will wear #31 like his predecessor.
More Notable Changes
DB Demetrius Wright (#14 to #24), LB Hayes Pullard (#35 to #10), DT George Uko (#95 to #90) and WR Markeith Ambles (#8 to #84).
PK Andre Heidari (#48), LB Dallas Kelley (#52), LS Peter McBride (#61), OT David Garness (#73) and OT/OG Jeremy Galten (#74).
Smith has displayed more than improved shooting this season. He has become the emotional leader of an otherwise stoic squad.
Pierson Clair has been kind enough to provide the blog with hoops photos all season long and he dropped us a note to say that this shot of Smith from yesterday's win is his personal favorite.
The general consensus is that USC needs one more quality win tonight against Arizona, the Pac-10's best, to feel secure about their spot in the field of 68.
While you surf the internet to scoop up tickets for tonight's 6 p.m. semifinal at STAPLES Center, enjoy the pics of yesterday's W courtesy of Pierson Clair and the Pac-10.
While the Trojans outrebounded the Wildcats led by Christina Marinacci's 13 boards, they could not defend the three-point line.
As we await their postseason fate, check out this slideshow courtesy of Pierson Clair and the Pac-10.
"We have received some information tonight about an incident involving coach Kevin O'Neill, his wife and a fan from another school that occurred following our men's basketball game today.
"We are looking into this and gathering facts. We will determine what appropriate action is necessary."
The 11-point loss completes the Trojans resume for the 2010-11 season, which now sits in the hands of the NCAA tournament selection committee.
Speaking plainly after the game, head coach Michael Cooper believes USC did not do enough to warrant a bid, but he will wait and watch as the Trojans' fate is unveiled Monday.
Here is Coach Cooper summing it all up...
- USC's leading scorer Nikola Vucevic managed just seven points on a night when he was saddled with foul trouble from the start. Several Trojans stepped up to fill the offensive void, while the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year covered up the loss in the interior D. Marcus Simmons held Cal's bruising power forward Harper Kamp to just six points (averaged 14.6 ppg this season). "Marcus does a great job defending anyone of any size," said head coach Kevin O'Neill. "It helped us today for being sized down." O'Neill joked that he actually thanked the refs for putting Vucevic in foul trouble.
- On both ends, Alex Stepheson played his best game of the season. In 39 minutes, he filled up the stat sheet with 14 points, 16 rebounds and dominant post defense. "He anchored our whole team tonight," O'Neill declared. Despite a slow start as a team (three points in the first 8:46), Stepheson was a calming presence. "We've been there before. We're a veteran team," the senior captain said. Before Friday's big game, Big Al said he has a date with the cold tub.
- Since changing the starting lineup, USC has won six out of seven. Without the physical and mental burden of being the starting point guard, Maurice Jones has unlocked his offensive talents. Today, he conducted an offensive symphony with darting drives, no-look dishes and the occasional sweet jumper. "It helped Mo," said O'Neill about the change. "It made Mo more effective on the second side of the court with his quickness." The Bears simply had no one who could stay in front of him.
- Are the Trojans now IN the Big Dance? "I have no idea," said O'Neill, who defers to the selection committee. One thing is for sure, two more wins and USC is guaranteed a spot in the field of 68.
You can spin the wheel for bobbleheads, backpacks, sunglasses and wristbands.
Plus, guess USC's score and whoever is closest without going over wins 4 tickets to the football spring game and 4 tickets to the men's basketball home opener next season.
I'm not eligible to win, but my guess is 66, so don't pick that because I'm most definitely wrong.
USC freshman Cassie Harberts played more like a senior yesterday carrying the Women of Troy to an indispensable victory over Washington State in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament.
Harberts dropped a career-high 31 points (the most by a USC women's basketball player since 2006) and 14 rebounds on the Cougs.
Next up, the Trojans can likely seal a berth in the Big Dance by beating Arizona for the third time this season. The game tips off at 5:15 p.m. at Galen Center.
(Photos by Pierson Clair/Pac-10)
Jones found his mojo in the second half of USC's win over Cal during an eight minute stretch when he hit five consecutive threes.
Many more of you saw Donte Smith's three-point barrage at Galen Center earlier in the conference calendar. The senior stroked a near record-tying eight three-pointers in a two-point loss.
Is it a trend? Jio Fontan hopes so.
"I don't know. I think we are just getting lucky," the junior point guard said. "Hopefully, someone else gets lucky again this game."
In all fairness, Fontan is the next guard due to dine on the Bears.
"I hope so. I'll take it," he laughed.
From a strategic standpoint, Cal is expected to play mostly zone against USC to neutralize Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson in the paint, which means the Trojan guards will have their chances to get hot.
Smith is the most likely candidate to repeat the feat. The senior marksman is desperate to extend his college career.
"Donte is due to have a big game shooting the ball," said O'Neill. "His confidence looks like its a little bit shaky right now, but once he knocks down two threes at STAPLES Thursday, hopefully it will be right back."
If recent history teaches us anything, USC's guard trio will get their chances to triple.
In the meantime, the Trojans continue to push themselves under the guidance of the strength and conditioning staff.
Take a look...
USC - 50
UCLA - 22.5
The Trojans and Bruins meet on the hallowed diamond at Chavez Ravine as part of this Sunday's Dodgertown Classic. First pitch is at 2:30 p.m. and you can still buy tickets at the USC ticket office!
Just ask Blake Griffin...
- The inevitable question was posed to all takers at the post-practice media scrum. How many wins do the Trojans need to make the Big Dance? "We're going for the whole thing and trying to win the tournament, but maybe we can get in with two wins," Nikola Vucevic summed it up.
- The combined score between the Trojans and Bears two regular season games was 144-143 in USC's favor. They both finished with 13 losses overall and 10-8 conference records. When sizing up the contest, it looks like another one possession game will enliven STAPLES on Thursday afternoon. "There's no real trends," said head coach Kevin O'Neill. "There's no real thing that either Cal or us can hang their hats on. Probably whoever plays well and shoots well will have a chance to win."
- O'Neill championed Marcus Simmons all season long as one of the elite defensive stoppers in the country, so he was naturally pleased that the conference recognized him as the Defensive Player of the Year. "I think he deserved it," O'Neill said. "Marcus has done an unbelievable job for us defensively." On Thursday, he will be assigned to either Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Allen Crabbe or Jorge Gutierrez. "They are both very, very effective, impactful players for their team. Both of them really make them go."
- Maurice Jones was a maestro in practice today, displaying his uncanny ability to drive and dish. "He's definitely capable of doing some crazy things," said teammate Jio Fontan. MoJo is just scratching the surface of his talent.
"I'm very happy to report that Armond was released from the hospital today," said head coach Lane Kiffin. "He is back with us, but he will not resume conditioning workouts until the results of all his medical tests are completed."
Armstead will return to class this week.
"My family and I want to thank everybody for their thoughts and prayers," said the junior. "I heard from so many people and I really appreciate their support. I also want to thank the USC doctors for their great medical care. These past few days, I really experienced the power of the Trojan Family."
Kiffin seconded his thanks to the doctors and staff.
"The doctors and staff at USC University Hospital and our team doctors and athletic trainers have been exceptional and I want to thank them for that," said the head coach.
We'll keep you updated on Armstead's health and availability as we near spring practice, which begins two weeks from today.
With two days until their Noon showdown against Cal, we have nothing but time to break down USC's chances.
Record: 18-13 (10-8 in conference)
RPI Ranking: 69
Strength of Schedule: 50
Quality Wins (RPI): Texas (14), @Tennessee (35), UCLA (34), Arizona (17) and @Washington (47)
Bad Losses (RPI): @TCU (207), @Oregon St. (231) and Bradley (232)
Bracketology: "First four out"
Root Against: Fellow bubblers Michigan St., Boston College, Virginia Tech, Colorado, Alabama and Georgia.
Work to do...
The Trojans would benefit from an upset-free Championship Week, but they always control their own destiny at STAPLES this weekend.
On Thursday at Noon (click for tickets!), #4 USC will play #5 Cal in a must-win game. If they do beat the Bears, the Trojans will likely square off with Arizona again in a classic semifinal.
If the Trojans make Saturday's final, they should be assured a bid win or lose.
Here's what the selection committee will take into consideration:
Record: 18-11 (10-8 in conference)
RPI Ranking: 39
Strength of Schedule: 15th toughest in the nation
Quality Wins (RPI): Gonzaga (46) and Georgia (34).
Bad Losses (RPI): None. All losses to top 100 teams.
Bracketology: #12 seed (Last four in as of today)
Root Against: Fellow bubblers LSU, Texas, Michigan, Duquesne, TCU, Boston College and Dayton.
Work to do...
#5 USC must beat #8 Washington State at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Galen Center in the first round. If the Women of Troy defeat the Cougars, they'll likely face a virtual play-in game against #4 Arizona on Thursday at 5:15 p.m. also at Galen.
Photo Gallery: USC vs. Washington on Senior Day
(Photos by Pierson Clair)
Briana Gilbreath and Ashley Corral made first team All-Conference for the second straight year, while Jacki Gemelos was honorable mention and Cassie Harberts earned All-Freshman status.
Gilbreath was the 2009-10 Defensive Player of the Year and she was recognized on the All-Defense team again this season.
Click here for the full story and more information!
(Photo by Pierson Clair)
- Marcus Simmons was named one of the five best defensive players in the nation by FoxSports.com, which also recognized Nikola Vucevic as a 4th team All-American.
- Vucevic's national respect party continued with Yahoo! Sports naming him an honorable mention All-American.
- Baxter Holmes tells the story of Vucevic following in his father's footsteps.
- Jerry Crowe caught up with Harold "Baby Jordan" Miner.
- While the Trojans sit squarely on the bubble, four of ESPN.com's 10 experts pick USC to take the conference's automatic bid by winning this week's tournament at STAPLES.
- As for the Women of Troy, here's a great story on Cynthia Cooper having her jersey retired at Galen.
- Speaking of Galen Center, KCAL/KCBS did a story on the Artletics exhibit.
- Michael Lev picks out RB D.J. Morgan as a player to watch this spring.
- Pedro Moura projects the defensive line group with the new freshmen.
- After several knee surgeries, women's basketball guard Jacki Gemelos has fought back this year and is nominated for the V Foundation Comeback Award.
2011 V Foundation Comeback Award Finalists Announced.pdf
For his efforts in dramatic wins over #2 BYU, the senior outside hitter earned MPSF Player of the Week honors for the third time this season and seventh time in his career.
Click here for the full story!
If you want more volley news, check out The Net Live radio show from Galen Center hosted by Kevin Barnett and Chris McGee featuring interviews with Bill Ferguson, Murphy Troy, Tim Hovland, Dusty Dvorak and Luke Morris.
The hall of famer and WNBA pioneer won two national championships as a Trojan and is now the head coach at UNC-Wilmington.
SC TV's Rob McPherson caught up with Cooper at Galen Center yesterday to get her reflections on her USC career and seeing her jersey raised to the rafters.
PG Maurice Jones was recognized on the All-Freshman team.
"He is the best one-on-one defender in the whole country," head coach Kevin O'Neill said earlier this season about Simmons (photo right), who is the first Trojan to win the award since Taj Gibson.
As for Vucevic, he has been the offensive centerpiece all season. He finished third in the league in scoring (17.7 ppg) despite constant double teams, while leading the conference in rebounding (10.3 rpg).
Jones carried as much responsibility as any freshman in the Pac-10 this year. Before Jio Fontan joined the team, he was the starting point guard playing nearly 40 minutes per game.
Despite the burden on his undersized frame, MoJo finished third in the league in steals (2.1 spg) and led all Pac-10 freshmen in assists (3.3 apg).
Former USC commit Derrick Williams was named Pac-10 Player of the Year.
Click here for all the award winners!
While they still have postseason work to do with the Pac-10 tournament coming up this week at Galen Center and STAPLES Center, SC TV put together a career tribute.
USC women's basketball completes the regular season with a sweep of the Washington schools to finish 18-11 overall and 10-8 in the Pac-10.
- Just before tip-off, this year's seniors, Kari LaPlante and Michelle Franco, were honored for Senior Day. The two Trojans and their parents took a stroll on the hardcourt where they received plaques of their jerseys. In her junior year, LaPlante won Pac-10 All-Defensive Honorable Mention. Franco joined the team as a walk-on in 2007 and appeared in eight games last season.
- Joining the ranks of female Trojan basketball greats Cheryl Miller and Lisa Leslie, Cynthia Cooper saw her No. 44 jersey hung up on the Galen Center rafters today. UNC-Wilmington's head coach was a two-time national champion at USC in 1983 and 1984. She said the honor meant a great deal to her, and she got "emotional because, had it not been for the opportunities that USC gave me, I would have never been a coach or a hall of famer."
- The Trojans came out cold until guard Jacki Gemelos lit it up beyond the arc, and the Women of Troy ran with the momentum heading into the second half. The unit, which was without starting guard Ashley Corral because of a two-game suspension for a rules violation, locked down defensively and increased the lead to double digits in the second half, but that margin slowly whittled down to four thanks to silly turnovers, careless fouls and shaky low-post play. Eventually, the Huskies grabbed a 49-48 lead, until a huge Gemelos' three-pointer led the Trojans into overtime tied at 53. In the extra period, it was a possession-for-possession battle, but USC made more shots when it counted most. Gemelos led the Women of Troy with 15 points and Briana Gilbreath posted 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks and a steal.
- Michael Cooper on the ladies' biggest improvement heading into the Pac-10 tournament: "Our team. The chemistry of our team is coming around. I think people are finally starting to identify and realize what one another can do. And trust, I think that's the biggest thing. We're starting to trust each other now."
On Saturday, the best men's volleyball program in the country paid tribute to two legends on which the tradition was built at Troy.
Here's what Kiffin had to report:
"Armond Armstead was admitted to USC University Hospital yesterday to undergo tests for a medical condition. His situation is being evaluated and tests are continuing. USC's outstanding team of doctors is providing him with excellent medical care.
"I saw Armond and his family this morning. He is in great spirits and in stable condition. He is looking forward to getting back with his teammates soon.
"He and his family asked that no further information be released at this point."
Click here to check it out!
As you will see, you can click on a LIVE webcam which provides a new picture of the construction site every 10 seconds. (Note: If you are having trouble viewing the camera, download the latest version of Java.)
The site also features videos of the groundbreaking and renderings of the new building, which will spring USC athletics ahead of the competition in terms of facilities for athletic and academic training.
Plus, we offer you the opportunity to make small and large gifts to help see the project through to completion and put your stamp on the future of USC athletics.
The redshirt junior was granted a scholarship this week by head coach Lane Kiffin.
Burnett will compete for playing time this spring at both safety and corner, while also contributing to USC's track and field team in the long and triple jump.
He was also honored with the Joe Collins Walk-on Award at the year end football banquet, but he'll happily be out of contention for that prize this season.
If you come out to the game, you will be entered into a random free drawing for an iPad and iTunes gift cards!
Students are admitted for FREE with ID plus they get two FREE tacos, while supplies last.
Frank Cruz's squad begins a three game series with the Titans Friday and Saturday at Goodwin Field in Fullerton before returning home for Sunday's clash.
In a change from the recent schedule, the Trojans' spring weekday practices will get started at 7:25 a.m., while the weekend sessions will begin at 10:30 in the morning.
During the bye week last fall, head coach Lane Kiffin employed a similar strategy, which he now plans to implement temporarily for spring practice and permanently for the fall if he likes the results.
While we enter a new campaign, the practice attendance rules are the same. Unfortunately because of the NCAA sanctions, fans cannot attend. Only the players' families and those with a working purpose are admitted inside Howard Jones and Brian Kennedy Fields, per the NCAA penalty.
USC Pro Day is March 30 at Cromwell Field, but that must be closed to the public as well. Media will need to be credentialed for the event.
However, we look forward to seeing all the fans at the annual spring game on April 23 at the Coliseum.
Also, stay locked into the blog and our Facebook page as we will launch an exciting contest with a huge grand prize on the first day of spring practice (March 22).
Now, she is being honored as the third women's hoops jersey to be retired at Galen Center.
At USC's final home game this Sunday, March 6, Cooper-Dyke will see her number raised to the rafters during a halftime ceremony, while the current Trojans make their final push towards an NCAA tournament berth and honor seniors Kari LaPlante and Michelle Franco.
Cynthia Cooper won championships at Troy in 1983 and 1984 and then went on to be the WNBA's first superstar, which landed her in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Click here more on Cooper-Dyke!
Her #44 will hang next to fellow legends Cheryl Miller and Lisa Leslie.
Meanwhile, the current Women of Troy desperately need two wins this weekend, as they host Washington State tonight at 7 p.m. and Washington Sunday at 12:30 p.m., if they are going to secure an NCAA at-large bid.
As it stands, Michael Cooper's squad sits at 16-11 overall and 8-8 in conference, but they have a healthy 31 RPI thanks to their strong schedule.
Senior center Kari LaPlante will say goodbye to Galen Sunday.
For most of the student body, the task of completing schoolwork and having a social life is tough enough without participating in varsity athletics. For freshman pole-vaulter Kevin Schwindt, schoolwork and sports are only the tip of the iceberg.
Kevin, an electrical engineering major, is also a first year cadet in USC's Air Force ROTC program. His ambition is to be a fighter pilot like his father and he relishes his leadership position in the student body.
"I want to follow in my dad's footsteps, but I've kind of developed my own vision now," Kevin said referring to his ambitions as a fighter pilot.
He was accepted to the Air Force Academy but said that he wanted to enjoy the college experience at USC.
He'll have no trouble keeping busy. Besides ROTC and track and field, Schwindt founded a USC chapter of the National Organization of Business and Engineering (NOBE).
On the track team, Kevin has begun to feel the spirit of Troy. "Everyone is pumped on the team and the coaches are really enthusiastic. The team spirit is incredible."
In his first meet at Claremont McKenna on February 26, Kevin equaled his career best, "I was really confident during the meet and I've set a goal to make the Pac 10's this year."
Kevin is scheduled to compete at Cal State Fullerton this week but will have to miss one of Air Force ROTC's biggest spring events, the Southern California Invitational Drill Meet. "Saturday's used to be my day off during the season but now it just means less fun time."
With so many things to juggle, some of the most basic needs can be hard to squeeze in, "I'm usually late to my math class because it's the only time I can eat."
Here's a video cut together by blog contributor Ben Weiss that includes appearances by USC's Shareece Wright, Allen Bradford and Jurrell Casey, among other notable Combine participants.
L.J. was kind enough to spend some time with us at SC TV to talk about his great career at Troy, being drafted in the first round by Seattle and Pete Carroll trading him away before his big 2011 season.
If you want to stay locked in to LoJack, follow him on Twitter (@LoJackson94).
If you missed our interviews with former USC greats LB Keith Rivers and LB Thomas Williams, we now have a "Projan Interviews" tab on USCTrojans.com.
Click play below to watch the Lawrence Jackson interview!
Here's all the info for the week's men's tennis showdown:
The Trojans will actually take on the Cougars in back-to-back home games Friday and Saturday this week to kick off a six-game homestand. Click here for tickets (Admission is FREE Saturday)!
Kalache, a two-time Olympian for Brazil in 1972 and 1976, was a high-leaping outside hitter whose MVP performance led USC to its first ever first-ever NCAA title in 1977.
Dvorak (pictured right) was the setter on the '77 and '80 championship teams, including taking home MVP honors with his second ring. Four years later, he led the U.S. to Olympic gold in the 1984 games in Los Angeles.
Kalache and Dvorak will join Tim Hovland and Bob Yoder as the four men's volleyball retired jerseys.
The ceremony will take place after the Saturday, March 5, game against #2 BYU at Galen Center. Remember, admission is FREE!
Finally, USC big man Nikola Vucevic was recognized for his outstanding play this season as the Pac-10 Player of the Week.
The junior led the Trojans to a huge sweep of the Arizona schools with his 17th and 18th double-doubles of the season.
He dropped 25 points and 12 rebounds on then #10 Arizona and conference player of the year favorite Derrick Williams. In what could be his last home game if the junior departs early for the NBA, Vucevic capped his 2010-11 Galen campaign with 20 points and 10 boards.
Vucevic leads the Pac-10 in rebounding, but this was the first time in his career that he's taken home player of the week honors.
Even more special, his father flew in from Europe this past week to see his son play basketball for the first time since he was 16. He did not disappoint.
And in another world...
Former USC basketball player Percy "Romeo" Miller was named to the newest cast of ABC's Dancing with the Stars.
Miller played for the Trojans the previous two seasons.
He joins former USC WR Grant Mattos, who is on the latest cast of Survivor, as Trojan athletes hitting the reality TV scene.