The energy was high as USC prepares for a big week down Figueroa.
- 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.
Jones is capable of the spectacular. (Photo by Pierson Clair)