Oct. 7, 1997
USC Hosts Cal SundayTHIS WEEK - The No. 3 USC men's water polo team (7-2 overall, 1-1 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) hosts California on Sunday (Oct. 12) at noon at the McDonald's Swim Stadium. It is a non-conference game.
NEWS & NOTES - The Trojans are off to a good start, including a second-place finish at their own Southern California Tournament, despite missing four likely starters from the lineup and having only one returning starter. Those missing have been: Luke Daniels (wrist), Mateo Juric (wrist), Bjorn Nordstrom (Mormon mission) and Stever O'Rourke (broken arm). As a two-time third team All-American who scored 47 points in 1996, Juric has been the player most missed, though he returned to play a bit against UCLA.
RANKINGS - USC was ranked No. 3 and California was No. 2 in the Sept. 30 American Water Polo Coaches Association Top 20 Poll.
OPPONENT - California (8-1, 3-0 - plays Pepperdine on Saturday, Oct. 11) is led by senior 2-meter man Brent Albright's 19 points. On Sept. 27, the Golden Bears defeated the Trojans, 9-8, in an MPSF game. USC was led by Allen Basso's three points, while Cal got three goals from Albright. Cal holds a 42-19-2 edge over USC since 1979.
LAST WEEK - USC scored five of the first six points in a game at No. 6 UCLA on Friday (Oct. 3) and went on to an easy 12-7 victory in the first meeting between the two schools since last December's NCAA championship game. Marko Pintaric continued his impressive play with five points, while James Castle and Sean Hylton each scored two goals.
JOHN WILLIAMS & JOVAN VAVIC - Co-head coaches John Williams and Jovan Vavic shared MPSF Coach of the Year honors in 1996 after leading USC to the conference championship as well as an overall record of 23-3 and a second-place national finish. Williams, a former USC All-American, entered his 25th year as head coach of the Trojans with a record of 403-243-7 (.623). Vavic was promoted to co-head coach prior to 1995, and in the last two seasons, USC went 43-8 (.843).
MARKO PINTARIC - USC's newest addition from Croatia, junior driver Marko Pintaric has had little trouble adjusting to collegiate water polo. Through nine games, he's been the Trojans' leading scorer with 26 goals and 28 points. He was named MPSF Player of the Week on Monday (Oct. 5) after scoring five points in a win against UCLA (Oct. 3). He scored five goals against UC Davis (Sept. 26) and five points against Long Beach State (Sept. 16). Pintaric was named to the All-Southern California Tournament first team after leading the Trojans in scoring with nine goals. Pintaric is a former member of the Croatian Junior National team.
SIMUN CIMERMAN - A second team All-American in 1996 and an honorable mention All-American in 1995, Simun Cimerman will be in line for first team honors with another strong campaign in 1997. The senior driver, who has one of the best shots in the NCAA, has scored 14 points so far. He was named to the All-Southern California Tournament first team. A native of Zagreb, Croatia, he has also played on the Croatian Junior National team.
JAMES CASTLE - A starter on the U.S. Junior National Team the last two years, sophomore James Castle (Hacienda Heights, Wilson HS) will be one of USC's standouts in 1997. He's off to a great start with 18 points, including a career-high four goals against UC Davis (Sept. 26). Castle surpassed his 1996 total of 17 points after just nine games. He was named to the All-Southern California Tournament second team.
COACH WILLIAMS SAYS - "This game is very important because of our loss to Cal up north. With Pepperdine, Cal and USC emerging as the top three teams, we need this win to be in a position to challenge for the No. 1 ranking later on. Marko Pintaric has done absolutely a great job so far. He has great water polo instincts, is a great counter-attack player and is a wonderful young man."