Hart Attack

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No. 9 USC baseball opened the Pac-12 schedule by taking two out of three from Washington State at Dedeaux Field. While the first two games were split, the rubber match was dominated by freshman hurler Mitch Hart, who tossed a two-hit shutout, and the lively Trojans' bats, highlighted by three solo homers, en route to an 11-0 victory.

Click here for the recap.

USC is now 17-3 on the season, and Hart has accounted for three wins in three starts, sporting a 3.32 ERA. On Sunday, he tossed the school's first two-hitter since 2009 (Anthony Vasquez), allowing only one walk and striking out five.

A single run would have been enough to support Hart, but the Trojans tallied 11, including a long blast by Dante Flores, the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week. Here is Flores on Pac-12 Networks recapping the game...

2015 Spring Practice #6: Notes

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On a steamy Saturday afternoon, the Trojans closed the first phase of Spring Football with a competitive session at the Coliseum.

Click here for the Rapid Reaction with QB coach Clay Helton, QB Max Browne and TE Connor Spears.
  • This was not an official scrimmage, but there was some live tackling, culminating in a short yardage challenge, which the defense won 3-2.
  • The defense also forced a handful of turnovers, including an interception by freshman LB Cameron Smith who has made an immediate impression on the coaching staff. "First of all, he's a physical guy. He's exactly what we were looking for," head coach Steve Sarkisian said about the rugged freshman. "All in all, Cam's had a good first two weeks. It has not been too big for him at all."
  • CB Lamont Simmons, who redshirted his first season, also made an impressive interception. "Lamont is a guy who is a really cool fit if you want to play a lot of man-to-man because he's got length [and] speed," said Sarkisian, who wants the youngster to be more confident and assertive.
  • Offensively, WR Steven Mitchell is starting to show off the game-breaking speed that made him such a talented player in high school before injuring his knee. "I'm definitely feeling good," said Mitchell, who is confident in his knee again. "I've always been explosive. My quickness, my shiftiness is the main part of my game. I just have to be more physical when the ball is not coming towards me."
  • The Trojans are desperately thin at tight end at the moment, prompting not one, but two media questions about walk-on Connor Spears. Sarkisian called him "a good system fit" and likes his "long levers" for blocking purposes.
  • While the defense was praised for forcing turnovers, the flip side is that the offense gave the ball away too easily, but Sarkisian noted that it is "tough to grade your team" when they only play each other.
  • The Trojans now have a week off for spring break, which gives the coaches time to assess their progress, and the players time to heal up. WR Ajene Harris is dealing with a hamstring injury.
  • Here is Sarkisian's post-practice press conference...

Backhand the Bruins

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No. 5 USC men's tennis, winners of five of the last six national championships, will battle No. 14 UCLA under the Saturday sun at Marks Stadium (tomorrow at 11 a.m.).  The Trojans are off to another stellar start this season at 11-2 led by senior Yannick Hanfmann, a Top 10 player nationally, and captain Eric Johnson, who is 10-1 in dual match singles play.

Click here for a preview.

The students are on spring break, so men's tennis needs the Trojan Family to pack the house and support the cause. Admission is complimentary and the first 200 fans in USC gear will receive free lunch from the Amazebowls truck.

Max de Vroome, who clinched last year's national title, has enjoyed success against UCLA as well.

Ready or Not, Here They Come

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

After a phenomenal 15-2 start in non-conference play, No. 9 USC Baseball turns its attention to the Pac-12 as it hosts Washington State for its first, conference three-game series of the season this weekend. The Trojans knocked off No. 7 TCU, No. 1 Vanderbilt and No. 6 UCLA at the Dodger Stadium Classic several weeks ago, and are looking to keep up their momentum against the Cougars.

For a full preview of this weekend's action, click here.

The first game starts at 6 p.m. PT on Friday at Dedeaux Field. USC and Washington State play again on Saturday, March 14 at 6 p.m. PT and Sunday March 15 at 3 p.m. PT, and both of these games will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks.


2015 Spring Practice #5: Notes

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The Trojans are looking forward to Saturday's practice at the Coliseum (closed to the public), which will feature some scrimmage portions, before spring break.

Click here for the Rapid Reaction with John Plattenburg and Leon McQuay!
  • It was a scorcher in the Southland today, giving the Trojans a chance to battle the elements and test their fitness levels.
  • The secondary was the hottest topic of conversation as the coaches continue to challenge young corners Chris Hawkins and Jonathan Lockett at safety. Head coach Steve Sarkisian would like to be more aggressive defensively this season, and this move could help. "We really have to rely on our safeties to cover, so we can play more man-to-man coverage," he said. "That's why we are experimenting with some of the guys on our current roster at that position."
  • Having to face so many spread offenses with four wide receiver formations, the coaching staff wants versatile defensive backs, and Sarkisian made that a priority in recruiting, using Marvell Tell and Ykili Ross as examples.
  • Defensive backs coach Keith Heyward explained that the cornerbacks have to understand the game schematically better at safety, which will be another added benefit no matter where they line up. "This is about developing skills, the more you can do, whether it's at corner, safety, or nickel, the better. You want to get guys exposed to playing that position and developing skills for whatever position it is," said Heyward. "I think that it is going to make their game better because it will help them with their football IQ and their knowledge."
  • As for returning safeties, John Plattenburg appears to be a rising star in this program. "He is smart, and he cares, and it matters to him," said Heyward about the sophomore. "When he makes a mistake, he learns from it really quick. And he is pretty physical. He is a nasty little dude."
  • Senior CB Kevon Seymour is the elder statesman in the defensive back room, but he is developing his game just like everyone else. In his case, the coaches want him to be more physical and aggressive, and he has responded this spring so far.
  • The secondary was tested by one of its own as Adoree' Jackson played wide receiver and made another remarkable catch, which Sarkisian said is "becoming commonplace." The head coach explained that Jackson is "used to being in the air," so he knows how to contort and control his body to make tough grabs.
  • Leonard Williams was the central focus of USC Pro Day, and the Trojans know replacing the likely Top 5 pick will be difficult. Sarkisian emphasized that they will have to do it as a team, including seniors Delvon Simmons and Claude Pelon. "We need them to be really good players if we want to be the type of defense that we think we can be," Sarkisian said. "We need them to be really physical [and] to play disciplined. I think we've seen flashes of that from each of them, [but] what we're looking for here for the remainder of spring is that consistency."
  • Here is Sarkisian's post-practice press conference...

3-Points: UCLA 96, USC 70

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The Trojans finish the season 12-20 after getting blown out in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals.

Click here for the recap and box score.

Due Credit

In the first two match-ups with UCLA this season, the Trojans were burned by Bryce Alford, Norman Powell, Tony Parker and Kevon Looney, so Isaac Hamilton was not at the top of the scouting report, but he became the story of the game, scoring 36 points on 13/17 shooting. "I think he did get lost in the shuffle a bit," assistant coach Jason Hart said about the game plan on Hamilton. The coaching staff tried to make a mid-game adjustment, but it was too late. "He just got into a rhythm. Once he gets going, he's that type of scorer where he just keeps on doing it. Hats off to him."

Breed Competition

USC's back court has provided real optimism for the future with Elijah Stewart and Julian Jacobs coming on strong in the season's final month, and Jordan McLaughlin making the Pac-12's All-Freshman Team. Today, Katin Reinhardt led the Trojans with 20 points on 5/9 threes. Next year, the front line will get a talent injection with highly touted big men Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu ready to put some playing time pressure on the returning players. "Competition makes you have a sense of urgency," said Hart about the future of this roster. "With no competition, your urgency is slow, so that's the only way that you get better." The two new bigs also have unique skill-sets, which fill needs. Boatwright is a "high-major shooter" and Metu is a "freak athlete, only 17-years-old," per Hart.

To Be Continued

While the coaching staff was frustrated that the team did not win more games this season, the future is bright as can be with the entire roster eligible to return. First things first, the Trojans, who were bullied by the three biggest teams in the conference (UCLA, Arizona and Utah), need to get bigger and think bigger. "Physicality is a mindset," said Hart. "Every one of us has to come back and get our bodies correct. Once you change your body, your mind changes along with it because you feel you are a little bit tougher." Once the Trojans are physically prepared, they can capitalize on all the hard lessons of this season, making this frustrating rebuild worth it in the end. "We can't take the elevator. We have to take the steps," Hart said about the long term plan for this program. "Unfortunately, we got our butts kicked tonight, but this should trigger an offseason program that they've never seen before."

Here are the highlights from the final game of the season:

2015 USC Pro Day Reaction

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By most accounts, the Trojans aced Pro Day, but we checked in with the experts to get the final verdict on USC's top prospects.

USC's Next Great Olympian?

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The Trojans have an unparalleled Olympic history, and senior swimmer Cristian Quintero appears ready to carry the torch for his native Venezuela next summer. But before realizing those massive expectations, he still has one more meet left in his USC career, the NCAA Championships (March 26-28 in Iowa City, Iowa).

Quintero hopes to lead the Trojans as he did at the Pac-12 Championships, winning six races, including becoming the first conference swimmer to sweep the 100y, 200y and 500y freestyle individual titles. His monumental effort helped USC win its first conference title since 1979.

Quintero sat down with Pac-12 Networks to talk NCAAs, Olympics and more:

Rapid Reaction: Pac-12 Tourney Comeback

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USC men's basketball became the first ever 12-seed to win a game in the Pac-12 Tournament by using a late 19-2 run to stun No. 5 Arizona State. The Trojans will now play rival UCLA this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. PT in the quarterfinals (Pac-12 Networks and FREE on Pac-12 NOW app).

Here is the team's exuberant reaction to the win:

#USCtotheNFL: 2015 USC Pro Day Recap

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

A large group of Trojans are now one step closer to their dreams after wowing NFL scouts from all 32 franchises at USC Pro Day on Wednesday. Fourteen Trojans who played in USC's 2014 season and a host of former players participated in a variety of drills ranging from the vertical jump to the 40 yard dash in hopes of impressing scouts on their home campus.

DL Leonard Williams stole the show, capturing the attention of every scout during his performance in assorted defensive line position drills. WR Nelson Agholor and RB Buck Allen flashed their versatility and pass-catching ability in their throwing session, while WR George Farmer clocked a blazing 4.35 in the 40.

For a full list of times and measurements, click here.

Here is the complete recap of the day hosted by Caroline Deisley and Robby Kolanz...