USC To Host Azusa Pacific In Exhibition Game At The Galen Center
Nov. 2, 2008
The USC Trojans are playing an exhibition game vs. Azusa Pacific in the Galen Center on Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. It is the last tune-up for the Trojans before the season and home opener on Nov. 15 vs. UC Irvine at 12:30 p.m.
BREAKING DOWN THE COUGARS -- APU is the winningest team all-time in their conference and an NAIA power, going 24-11 last season and advancing to the Elite 8 for the eighth time in 11 seasons. The Cougars feature center Dave Burgess (6-10) and forward/center Brayden Bell (6-9) and have eight players that are 6-4 or taller.
SEASON AND HOME OPENER VS. UC IRVINE -- The Trojans will play their season and home opener on Nov. 15 vs. UC Irvine at the Galen Center at 12:30 p.m. The Anteaters return four starters from a team that went 18-16 a year ago. USC is 4-1 all-time against UC Irvine, winning the last meeting 90-70 on Nov. 22, 2004 which is also the last time USC won a season opener.
TROJANS IN HOME OPENERS -- USC has started at home the first three years that Tim Floyd has been the coach, but is looking for a different result. In the 2005-06 season, USC opened with CS Northridge and lost 81-76 in overtime, the 2006-07 season began with an 80-74 loss in overtime to South Carolina in the Galen Center opener and last year there was no overtime, but USC lost to Mercer 96-81. USC is 69-33 in season openers. USC had won 10 straight home openers before falling the last three seasons.
THE 2008-09 TROJANS -- USC returns three starters from last year's team which went 21-12, tied for third in the Pac-10 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Leading the way are junior All-Pac-10 forward Taj Gibson, junior guards Daniel Hackett and Dwight Lewis and senior forward Keith Wilkinson. Three other key members returning to health this season after injury-marred 2007-08 seasons are forwards Kasey Cunningham and Mamadou Diarra and guard Marcus Simmons. The other returning players are guards James Dunleavy (redshirted last season), Terence Green and Ryan Wetherell.
NEW FACES AND DIFFERENT PLACES -- The Trojans return 10 players from last season's squad and have added eight new players to the team. USC's incoming class ranked No. 7 by HoopScoop features consensus top five recruit DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan was named by CollegeHoops.net as a preseason All-America honorable mention. Another addition is small forward Marcus Johnson who transfered from UConn last spring and will be eligible after the first semester. Talented tranfer forward Alex Stepheson from North Carolina is on the team awaiting his appeal to the NCAA to be able to play this season due to family health concerns.
TROJANS IN THE RANKINGS -- Despite losing its top two scorers from a season ago, USC opens the season ranked No. 18 by the Associated Press and No. 21 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll. In addition, USC was picked to finish third in the Pac-10 Conference in a vote by the league media. UCLA was first first, Arizona State second, Arizona fourth, Washington fifth, Washington State sixth, Oregon seventh, California eighth, Stanford ninth and Oregon State 10th.
FACING THE BEST -- USC's 2008-09 schedule features a potential 23 games against teams that finished .500 or better in 2007-08, including 14 that won 20 or more games. Also, nine of the teams that USC is set to face in 2008-09 were in last year's tournament, including two games each with the five other Pac-10 teams which were in the NCAA Tournament. "We think we have put together a great schedule for the USC fans," said Floyd. "At the same time, as challenging as our schedule was last season with Kansas, Memphis and Oklahoma, if you look at the RPI from a year ago this non-conference slate is even tougher."
CARDINAL & GOLD RECAP -- DeMar DeRozan led all scorers with 29 points to lead the Gold team to a 90-74 win over the Cardinal team. Daniel Hackett added 18 and Taj Gibson 16 points for the Gold. Leonard Washington led the Cardinal team with 20 points.