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Hitting the Big Time

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No. 1 USC women's golf will be without its top gun this weekend at the Liz Murphey Invitational in Athens, Georgia, as NCAA champion Annie Park will tee it up at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first LPGA major tournament of the year.  Park, who is the No. 3 ranked collegiate player and No. 2 ranked amateur in the world, will compete as an amateur this weekend in Rancho Mirage (Mission Hills Country Club).

Click here for more.

Park is paired with LPGA superstar Natalie Gulbis for the first two rounds as the sophomore competes against a field of the world's elite including former USC four-time All-American Lizette Salas.  The tournament will be covered live by The Golf Channel or you can follow it online.

Meanwhile, the Women of Troy are trying to make it eight wins in nine tries this season.  USC should feel very comfortable in Athens, which was the site of last year's national championship triumph.

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Yogi in the Sand

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USC vs. UCLA women's sand volleyball will be broadcast live on Pac-12 Networks at 4:30 p.m. PT today.  The first ever Crosstown Rivalry in the sand pits No. 1 against No. 6 and provides the perfect backdrop for the Women of Troy seniors final home match at Merle Norman Stadium.

Click here for a preview.

In preparation for the television broadcast, Pac-12 Networks reporter Yogi Roth got a beach lesson from some of the Trojans. 


Enjoying the View

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For the first time in program history, USC women's sand volleyball is ranked No. 1 in the nation.  The Women of Troy are riding a nine-match winning streak into Thursday's first ever Crosstown Rivalry dual with No. 6 UCLA at Merle Norman Stadium (4:30 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks).

The Trojans have just one loss this season coming all the way back on opening day (March 8) to Pepperdine.  USC avenged that defeat by blasting the Waves 4-1 last week to earn the top spot in the national rankings.

Thursday's action will  begin with USC vs. Loyola Marymount at 1:30 p.m. before UCLA battles LMU at 3 p.m.  Then, the rivals will meet in the showcase dual match at 4:30 p.m.


34th Annual Swim With Mike

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Swim With Mike, one of the proud traditions of USC athletics, returns Saturday, April 5, at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. as we raise money for advanced education that paves the way for physically challenged athletes to overcome their tragedies and realize their full potential.

The annual swim-a-thon includes a silent auction and raffle, a "treasure chest" merchandise area, a barbecue (starting at Noon), live musical entertainment, celebrity and special guest appearances, the Song Girls and student-athletes relay race, belly flop contest and much more. 

The main ceremony and presentation begin at 11 a.m. Admission and parking are free.

Click here for more.

Throughout the day, participants that meet the donation and eligibility requirements will get swim lessons from the masters including coaches Peter Daland and Dave Salo as well as Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans. Other participant incentives include goodie bags and pool swag.

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Gotta Be The Shoes

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USC alum Nick Young scored a game-high 40 points on 15/26 shooting including six made threes for the Los Angeles Lakers last night.  Known for his eccentric fashion choices, "Swaggy P" put on a show in his new Nike Air Zoom Generation LeBron James 1 Wheat sneakers.

"Had to be the shoes," Young said of his eye-catching footwear. "You were all talking about my LeBron's, it had to have been the shoes. Man, I told you. They might not look right, but, hey, let me retire these."

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All the Trojans in the NBA are thriving at the moment.  Nikola Vucevic was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week after averaging 22.7 points and 14.3 rebounds in the last three games.

DeMar DeRozan is heading to the postseason for the first time in his career as the Toronto Raptors clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2008.  Taj Gibson has never missed the postseason in his four years in the league, and he will make it five-for-five as the Chicago Bulls are tied for the third best record in the Eastern Conference.

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Meet Steven Mitchell

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

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Name: Steven Mitchell

Position: Wide Receiver

Class: Redshirt Freshman

Size: 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds

Age: 19

High School: Bishop Alemany HS (Pasadena, Calif.)

Scouting Report: The Trojans could have used Mitchell last year.  He was supposed to fill a versatile role as a dangerous return man and speedy third receiver to complement Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor.  Unfortunately, Mitchell blew his knee out during voluntary summer workouts. Now, the redshirt freshman is working to regain his blazing speed and provide a new element to the USC wide receiving corps.

Prep Career: Playing both wide receiver and defensive back, Mitchell displayed his explosive speed on both sides of the ball at Bishop Alemnay High School. As a senior, he had 62 receptions for 1,100 yards (17.7 avg.) and 13 TDs while also running for 202 yards and 5 TDs in his senior season. At the conclusion of his senior season in 2012, he was voted to the All-CIF Pac-5 team, Prep Star All-American Dream Team, ESPN 150 and was named All-Serra League Co-MVP. 

Spring Ball: Head coach Steve Sarkisian has preached the importance of mental reps all spring with a program emphasis on walk-thrus and team meetings. Arguably no one on this Trojan team will benefit more from this mental practice than Mitchell who is using the spring ball period to continue to rehabilitate the knee he injured last summer. The coaching staff is bringing him along slowly saying the "goal is for him to be 100 percent come August."

To Quote Mitchell: "It's a great new offense, I'm getting the hang of it. We get the defense tired a lot and we get open easily. I'm really excited to be back out here."

Here is Mitchell with our Sarah Bergstrom...

Staying Resilient

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In recent years, when things got bad for USC baseball, they got really bad.  In 2013, the Trojans had two five-game losing streaks, and the previous year, USC ended the season losing 15 of 16 including a nine-game skid.

The 2014 Trojans have done a better job of stopping the bleeding before it is too late.  USC responded to a four-game skid in March with back-to-back wins.  The Trojans lost three straight amid a tough Oregon trip, but rebounded to win three-of-four including a series win at Stanford.

After a rough weekend sweep at the hands of Washington, USC came through in the clutch last night to beat Long Beach State 4-3.  Senior Jake Hernandez (pictured) delivered the winning run with an 8th inning double to plate Timmy Robinson.

Click here for the recap.

Back above .500 at 14-13, the trick for the Trojans will be building on the victory with a three-game trip to Arizona State due up this weekend. 

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2014 Spring Practice #7: Notes

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom and Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributors

Tuesday's practice may not have been what the coaching staff was looking for as they all acknowledged a sense of sloppiness but head coach Steve Sarkisian assured that it's just part of what spring football is all about.
  • The Trojans continued to improve as they try to hone in on the technicalities of this system. This is especially true for players who are making a quick adjustment to playing with the starters like offensive lineman Zach Banner. "We're still catching up to the pace but it's for sure a lot better," said the redshirt sophomore. "There are new things every week so it's more about the technical stuff. We aren't making the same mistakes over and over again so we are moving onto new little things. We're getting better and better every day."
  • The coaching staff also noted the importance of improvement at the positions where the starters are uncertain. Quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Browne were challenged today when forced to call plays at the line of scrimmage. "Their comfort level within the overall scheme is really improving. Right now we're focusing on getting these two guys really prepared to play at a championship level regardless of the situation," said the head coach. 
  • While the fall starter remains in question, both Kessler and Browne have seen improvement in their play through the first three weeks of spring ball. "At the end of the day I feel like each and every day I'm improving and each and every day I'm throwing the ball better," said Browne.
  • With much of the running back corps sidelined with minor injuries, Jahleel Pinner has taken advantage of an opportunity to play the position he's wanted to play since day one. "I've always wanted to play running back ever since I came here but I was at the fullback position for two years. This is the final destination of where I wanted to be so I'm happy where I'm at now." 
  • Pinner is looking to break into the running back rotation which will be used quite frequently in this new run-heavy offense. "WIth this offense there are going to be a lot of plays and they're not going to just play one running back for all 120 plays you run in a game," explained Pinner. "We are going to be rotating backs just like we did last year and so as long as I keep doing what I'm doing, grinding and playing hard, I'm going to get a shot in the games."
  • Coach Sark praised Pinner's strong ability and skill at the running back position that fans witnessed on Saturday during the live scrimmage segments. "He's a very smart football player, he's got a high football IQ," said the head coach. "He's a versatile guy. I don't know if he will ever be a feature back for us, but he's a guy that we know we can put in whether it's a short yardage situation, a goal line situation or late in the game to close out a football game. He's a guy that we can have trust in to go out and execute the offense from that position." 
  • The other healthy running back, Tre Madden, who has recovered from an injury that sidelined him after a terrific start to the 2013 season, is focusing this spring on improving his pass blocking and pass protection while also learning to read defenses and understand the overall concept of the offense. "I can't be out here telling guys what to do when I don't know my stuff so I've got to get my playbook done and do things right on the field."
  • Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the ball, Quinton Powell and Kevon Seymour both came up with big interceptions today proving that the defense's learning curve is on the right track as these young players gain more experience and with that more confidence. 
  • On hand to watch as the Trojans entered the third week of spring ball were former USC DB Terrell Thomas and ESPN college football analyst Jesse Palmer.
  • Here is Coach Sarkisian's complete presser: 

Silent at the Top

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Yannick Hanfmann is the No.1 player for the No. 1 team in the country, but he has managed to stay under the radar. 

The German import burst onto the college scene by clinching the 2012 national championship for USC as a freshman.  Since then, Hanfmann has remained a steady force grabbing All-American honors as a sophomore.

The junior is at his best in the team format. He went a remarkable 21-1 in dual match singles play as a freshman.  Over his two plus years, he has won 84% of his singles matches in team competitions. 

Hanfmann started this season as the No. 2 player behind Ray Sarmiento, but after starting 7-1 in that spot, Peter Smith made the call to move him to the top of the lineup.  Hanfmann looked comfortable on the spotlight court last week brushing aside opponents from Oregon and Washington in straight sets.

The Trojans have five more matches before postseason play starting this week with Stanford (Friday at 1:30 p.m.) and Cal (Saturday at 1 p.m.) at Marks Stadium. Hanfmann will be leading the line as USC makes another push towards a national championship.

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USC: An Olympic Heritage

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"No other university can match USC in its rich Olympic heritage."

That's the tagline for a new book documenting the University of Southern California's 108 years of athletic greatness on the world stage.  USC has produced more Olympians, overall medalists and gold medalists than any other university, and a Trojan has taken home gold from every Summer Games since 1916.

Click here to buy the book!

From 1904, when USC student Emil Breitkreutz won bronze in the 800m, to 2012, when Trojans accounted for 25 medals including 12 golds, every bit of USC's Olympic heritage is covered.

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