USC Hosts Point Loma Nazarene In Exhibition Game At Galen Saturday
Nov. 5, 2010
LOS ANGELES -- The USC Trojans will host the Point Loma Sea Lions in an exhibition game at the Galen Center on Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. This will be the final tune-up before opening the regular season on Nov. 13 vs. UC Irvine.
BREAKING DOWN THE SEA LIONS -- PLNU is a Christian liberal arts university located in San Diego, Calif., with approximately 2,400 undergraduates and 1,100 graduate students. The Sea Lions return 10 players from a squad that went 8-21 during the 2009-10 season. They are coached by Ethan Hamilton. PNLU has already played two exhibition games (0-2) this season. Forwards James Hancock (17.0 ppg) and Todd Campbell (14.0 ppg) have led the Sea Lions in scoring in the first two contest.
THE 2010-11 TROJANS -- USC returns two starters from last year's team which went 16-14 and tied for fifth in the Pac-10. Leading the way are forwards Nikola Vucevic (10.7 ppg, 9.4 rpg) and Alex Stepheson (8.4 ppg., 7.2 rpg), the top two returning rebounders in the conference. Veteran guards Donte Smith and Marcus Simmons will be joined in the backcourt by transfer Jio Fontan (eligible after 1st semester) and freshmen Maurice Jones and Bryce Jones. Freshmen Garrett Jackson and Curtis Washington, along with sophomore Evan Smith are expected to provide depth and fight for playing time at the forward position.
ROSTER BREAKDOWN -- There are 15 players on the 2010-11 USC men's basketball roster, including four walk-ons (James Dunleavy, Daniel Munoz, Eric Strangis and Tyler Sugiyama) and one player (Aaron Fuller) who will not be eligible until the 2011-12 season due to transer rules. The Trojan team by class: Seniors (4): Dunleavy (Rs. Jr.-eligibility), Donte Smith, Marcus Simmons, Alex Stepheson, Juniors (4): Jio Fontan, Nikola Vucevic, Fuller, Strangis, Sophomores (3): Evan Smith, Daniel Munoz, Tyler Sugiyama (Rs. Fr.--eligibility), Freshmen (4): Garrett Jackson, Bryce Jones, Maurice Jones, Curtis Washington.
SEASON AND HOME OPENER VS. UC IRVINE -- The Trojans will play their season and home opener on Nov. 13 vs. UC Irvine at the Galen Center at 1:00 p.m. UC Irvine went 14-18 in 2009-10 and tied for seventh in the Big West conference. New head coach Russell Turner inherits a club which features 12 returning lettermen, including All-Big West second team forward Eric Wise. Wise was fourth in scoring (16.3) and eighth in rebounding (6.5) among Big West players. The Trojans lead the all-time series vs. the Anteaters, 5-1. The leams last met in the season-opener on Nov. 15, 2008 and USC won 78-55.
VUCEVIC SELECTED TO WOODEN WATCH LIST -- USC junior forward Nikola Vucevic was one of 50 players named to the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 List, it was announced on Oct. 4 by the Los Angeles Athletic Club. The list is comprised of 50 student-athletes who, based on last year's individual performance and team records, are the early frontrunners for college basketball's most prestigious individual honor. Vucevic had a breakout 2009-10 season scoring 10.7 points and grabbing 9.4 rebounds per game to earn the Pac-10 Most Improved Player Award. He led the Pac-10 with 283 rebounds and became the first Trojan to lead the conference in rebounding since Jaha Wilson in 1995.
FACING THE BEST -- USC's 2010-11 schedule features 21 of 31 games against teams which finished the 2009-10 season with a record of .500 or better. Among the nonconference highlights are games against perennial national powers: at Kansas on Dec. 18, at Tennessee on Dec. 21 and a home game vs. Texas on Dec. 5.
CARDINAL & GOLD RECAP -- Nikola Vucevic scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Cardinal team to a 39-29 victory in the annual Cardinal & Gold scrimmage held at the Galen Center on Oct. 23. The short scrimmage was broken up into four 4-minute quarters. Guard Donte Smith of the Gold team was high scorer, pouring in 20 points on 5-for-12 shooting, including hitting 4-for-8 from three-point range. Guard Marcus Simmons was second in scoring on the Cardinal team with eight points. He also had three assists, two rebounds and zero turnovers. He was followed in scoring by forward Alex Stepheson (7 points, 5 rebounds), freshman guard Maurice Jones (6 points, 3 assists, 0 turnovers) and freshman guard Bryce Jones (5 points, 1 assist).
IN K.O.'S CORNER -- Kevin O'Neill was named the USC head coach on June 20, 2009 and brought with him a tireless energy and a vast depth of experience at both the collegiate and NBA levels. In his first season in 2009-10, O'Neill led USC to a 16-14 record and a fifth-place tie in the Pac-10 Conference. He was named the 2010 Pac-10 Coach of the Year by CollegeInsiders.com. USC was in the hunt for the conference title until the final two weeks of the season, despite playing the second half of the year under the knowledge that self-imposed sactions would prohibit them from postseason play. O'Neill brings 14 years of collegiate and NBA head coaching experience and has worked in the coaching ranks for 31 years. During the 2008-09 season, he served as an assistant coach and special assistant to the general manager of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies. He has served as a collegiate head coach at Marycrest (1983), Marquette (1990-94), Tennessee (1995-97), Northwestern (1998-00), Arizona (2008) and USC (16-14). He also was the NBA's Toronto Raptors' head coach in 2004. O'Neill has compiled a 204-208 career mark as a collegiate head coach, despite for the most part taking over programs that were rebuilding. When he served as an assistant at Arizona under Lute Olson from 1987-89, the Wildcats went 82-19 and went to the Final Four one season. He was named Olson's successor for the 2008 season and guided Arizona to a 19-15 record and into the NCAA Tournament despite four of its top five players being freshmen or sophomores. In six of his 13 seasons as a head coach of a Division I program, he has guided his teams into the postseason. USC's victory in his first game on Nov. 17, 2009 vs. UCR was the first by a USC head basketball coach in his debut since Stan Morrison won in 1979.
NEW VOICE OF THE TROJANS -- Chris Fisher, 25, begins his first season of broadcasting USC men's basketball games on flagship station KSPN (ESPN Radio 710). He teams with 14-year USC color analyst Jim Hefner to call every USC men's basketball game. Fisher, a USC graduate, has spent the past three years broadcasting minor league baseball and also has called sporting events on USC's website and campus radio station. Fisher will be taking over for the late Rory Markas who called Trojan basketball games for the previous 12 seasons.
PAC-10 PREDICTIONS -- USC was picked to finish 6th in 2010-11 in the Pac-10 Conference in a vote by the league media. Washington was picked 1st, Arizona 2nd, UCLA 3rd, Arizona State 4th, Washington State 5th, California 7th, Oregon State 8th, Stanford 9th and Oregon 10th.
A HISTORY OF WINNING -- USC has compiled a record of 1,475-1,056* in its 104 years of intercollegiate basketball competition. USC has had a .500 or better record in 75* of the first 104 seasons.
TROJANS IN THE RANKINGS -- USC enters the season unranked in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll, the AP poll and the CBSSportsline poll.
THE GALEN ADVANTAGE -- USC was 11-5 in home games last season and is 51-15 in the first four seasons of the Galen Center's existence.
SOMETHINGS ARE WORTH WAITING FOR...-- The Trojans have two outstanding transfer players in guard Jio Fontan (Fordham) and Aaron Fuller (Iowa) who will not be available for action right away. Fontan transfered to USC last January and is expected to be eligible for competion for the game at Kansas on Dec. 18. Fuller transfered to USC this year and will have to sit out the entire season due to transfer rules. Fontan is expected to be a key member of this season's team once he is eligible as he made the A-10 All-Rookie team as a freshman in 2009 and averaged 15.0 points per game in five games last season at Fordham. Fuller was named honorable mention All-Big Ten in 2010 as he averaged 9.7 points & a team-leading 6.2 rebounds per game.
PAC-10 RETURNS -- USC will have to replace a lot of scoring production from last season as they rank 9th in the conference in returning scoring at 42.8 percent. In career production, Nikola Vucevic enters the season as the sixth-leading rebounder with 344, second among juniors just two behind DeAngelo Casto of Washington State. Vucevic (48) and Alex Stepheson (44) rank sixth and seventh respectively in active career blocks in the conference.
* 21 wins and 1 loss in 2007-08 later vacated due to NCAA penalty (revised all-time record 1,454-1,055; USC now 74 seasons .500 or better