Oct. 14, 1997
USC Women's Basketball, with New Head Coach Chris Gobrecht, Prepares for Opening of PracticeLOS ANGELES -- The USC women's basketball team, under new head coach Chris Gobrecht and coming off an appearance in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year, will begin its quest for a return to the postseason when it opens practice on Saturday (Oct. 18). USC finished 20-9 overall in 1996-97, 13-5 in the Pac-10, good for third place. But the bulk of the team, which included All-American and WNBA-bound Tina Thompson, All-Pac-10 and ABL-bound Michelle Campbell as well as 3-year starting guard Erica Jackson, is gone. In addition, 2-sport star Antoinette Polk, a would-be sophomore guard, has decided to concentrate on volleyball. That means that Gobrecht will be relying on a new base of players as she begins the process of turning the Women of Troy into one of her patented defense-oriented, up-tempo style squads. Joining Gobrecht on the new staff are first-year coaches Stacy McIntyre (Kentucky '94), Erika Lang (Florida '95) and Traci Nemechek (Metropolitan State College at Denver '87).
OUTLOOK -- In Chris Gobrecht, USC welcomes back as head coach one of its trailblazing alumni who played basketball for the Women of Troy in the 1970s and has returned to lead USC into the 21st century. A 2-time Pacific-10 Conference Coach of the Year at Washington (she led the Huskies to 9 NCAA tournament berths in her 11 years there), Gobrecht spent last season at Florida State. She inherits a team that was dominated by a senior class last year and will have to make a new name for itself in 1997-98, built around a group of young -- but talented -- players.
A team that once relied on its post players for the bulk of its scoring -- and leadership -- will now look for more balance, namely from junior guard Kristin Clark and returning junior forwards Adrain Williams and Jodi Parriott. Clark is a returning starter and Williams and Parriott split the starting chores at the 3-position last year. Parriott and Williams, however, will miss the first part of the season recovering from ankle and knee surgeries, respectively. In addition to the absence of Williams and Parriott, USC will have to make do without redshirt sophomore guard Erica Mashia, who missed last season recovering from a hip injury. She is still bothered by the injury and will be out indefinitely.
That leaves the onus on Clark and a young cast of players to hold the fort down until Parriott and Williams return. Between the change in staff, the change in personnel and a flurry of injuries, Gobrecht and the Women of Troy have a stiff challenge at hand, but one that the coach is looking forward to.
"The big issue for us as a program is dealing with an entirely new coaching style," said Gobrecht, who took over for Fred Williams. "Our players have to step up and take over. They've leaned for so long on Tina Thompson, Michelle Campbell and Erica Jackson. It's one thing to be out of their shadow but it's another to carry the burden that goes with that.
"Our overall size concerns me. I am worried about our ability to rebound. But the positives far outweigh the negatives. It is an athletic team, a team that will play with a lot of energy, how I like to play. They are capable of the work ethic and team attitude that is necessary for that. I really like them."
Clark may be the best player suited to Gobrecht's style of play. The 5-7 guard is USC's leading returning scorer (11.4) and is coming off a breakout season in which she earned 1997 All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors.
She led USC in steals (2.6) and had at least 2 nabs in 23 of 29 games last year. She led the team in 3-point percentage (41-of-114, 36.0%) and tied for team-high in 3-pointers made (41), canning 6 treys in one game and 5 in another.
Said Gobrecht: "Kristin is a player who really came into her own as a sophomore. I give her a lot of credit for finding her place among all of those older players who had been there for so long. It's exciting to have a player like Kristin who won't back down from a challenge, who is fighting for time. Kristin will fit great with how I do things. I love her ability to shoot the ball and her hard-nosed, tenacious play."
Gobrecht had hoped Mashia would be the complement to Clark. A Pac-10 All-Freshman team selection in 1996, Mashia averaged 11.8 points per game her first year, making 38-of-87 3-point attempts for a 43.7% clip, the best season mark ever at USC. She also set the standard for free throw accuracy, making a record 84.4% (65-of-77) of her foul shots (including a Pac-10 record 33 in a row).
Gobrecht sees a tremendous future for Williams, who at 6-4 can play either forward position or center. She has started a combined 29 games in her first 2 seasons, posting career averages of 8.8 points and 5.7 rebounds in only 21 minutes per game. A future starter when healthy, Gobrecht expects Williams to grow into a more dominant role on the team once she returns to playing condition.
Said Gobrecht: "Adrain is a terrific talent. She's intelligent and graceful and has excellent size, speed and quickness. I believe she is a player who more than any other on our team can dominate. But I think it is our job to help her grow into that role. More than anything else out of Adrain, we want to see the determination to make these next 2 years be everything they should be for a player of her ability. It's a shame we lose her for the preseason and we will have to play that much harder to make up for her absence."
In addition to Clark, a trio of guards will get plenty of opportunities to contribute in Gobrecht's aggressive style of play: sophomores Kiyoko Miller and Kim Clark and senior Shannon Kartz.
Of the 3, the 5-8 Miller saw the most time last year, playing 13.3 minutes per game as a reserve guard. She figures to serve in the same capacity again. Miller, as fundamentally sound as any player on the team, averaged 2.6 points and 1.2 rebounds last year but will likely add to those totals as her role expands.
Said Gobrecht: "Kiyoko will represent another dimension for us. She plays a lot tighter to the vest. She's solid. She comes from a great program and has an excellent base of fundamentals and will be a good player for us."
Kim Clark, the twin sister of Kristin, is, like her sister, an excellent athlete and an aggressive player. Kim, also 5-7, is a 2-sport athlete at USC who will join the basketball team after soccer season is over (she is a starter on the soccer team and is one of the top players on the west region). After joining the basketball team last year, she played in 17 games, averaging 1.4 points and 8.4 minutes of action an outing and providing a defensive spark every time she was on the court.
Said Gobrecht: "I have high expectations for Kim. She is such an exceptional soccer player, it's easy to defer to her soccer. We need to challenge her to be a basketball player of the highest quality. She is capable of that. The expectation shouldn't falter because she is a great soccer player. She's a fighter and I really want that on the floor."
The return of Kartz, 5-8, will add needed depth at the guard spot, especially while Kim Clark finishes out soccer season. Kartz missed her junior season while concentrating on academics and is expected to resume her role as a defensive stopper who always brings hustle to the floor.
Said Gobrecht: "If Shannon makes a commitment to the team and her studies, it will be good to have her back. She's a player who will get in your face."
The Women of Troy have the potential to be strong in the frontcourt, but will have to rely on a host of newcomers in addition to the returning group of post players.
With Parriott and Williams out, 6-2 sophomore forward Tiffany Washington will get an opportunity to start. A top reserve off the bench last season, Washington averaged 3.3 points and 3.2 rebounds in only 11.2 minutes per game. A strong player with a knack for tough rebounds and loose balls, Washington adds an intimidating presence to the court as well as an ability to score.
Said Gobrecht: "I anticipate some really great things from Tiffany. There's always a place on my team for an aggressive rebounder. She moves great and she'll do really well in my system. She's aggressive and plays hard and is a good athlete. I have big expectations for her. We'll need her a lot."
USC also needs Parriott, but will have to do without her at least through the end of December. The 6-2 forward was USC's fourth-leading scorer (8.5) last year and is the only returning player besides Kristin Clark who reached double figures in 3-point baskets (14). Parriott is the model small forward who lends an excellent shooting touch with an ability to rebound. She will be missed in the early going at both ends of the court.
Said Gobrecht: "Jodi's great quality is that she believes she should be out there playing. I really like her confidence and the never-back-down attitude on the floor. Her injury, plus Williams', will set us back. We don't have a lot of size and she'll miss the preseason."
USC will get some frontline help, however, from a recruiting class of 3 forwards: freshmen Tashara Carter and Whitney Houser and junior Adria Sneed, a junior college transfer. The injuries to Parriott and Williams make the trio's quick development that much more important.
Carter was a 1997 USA Today Honorable Mention All-American, All-CIF Southern Section Division III Player of the Year and first-team selection and the Daily Breeze Player of the Year as a senior at Bishop Montgomery High in Torrance, Calif. A former prep teammate of Washington's, the 6-0 Carter, who averaged 17.0 points and 10.0 rebounds as a prep senior, provides athleticism and solid 3-point marksmanship.
Said Gobrecht: "Tashara can be a great one. She has the potential to develop into not only a great open-court offensive player, but she might also be able to develop into something my best teams have had -- a defensive stopper who has good size. They can be an intimidating presence and it wouldn't surprise me if she could have a future in that kind of critical role. I hope she can help out on the boards, too."
Sneed comes to USC as an established rebounder from the junior college ranks. A 1997 J.C. All-State first team selection, Sneed averaged 15.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per game as a 6-1 sophomore at Ventura (Calif.) College and led the Pirates to their second consecutive California J.C. State Championship. She prepped at Juanita High School in Kirkland, Wash.
Said Gobrecht: "Adria is a late bloomer. She came into her own at Ventura College. I'm glad she was brought on board. Every post player on the team is important."
The 6-0 Houser, who prepped at Laguna Hills (Calif.) High, is a 2-time All-Pacific Coast League (1996-1997) first team selection and a 1997 All-CIF Division II second team selection. She helped lead Laguna Hills to the 1997 CIF State and Southern Section Division II titles. She will add depth at the forward position but can also play at guard.
Said Gobrecht: "You've got to like a player like Whitney who can play the guard spot with her size. She strikes me as a winner. She finds a way to win."
So does Gobrecht, who is looking forward to her return to the Pac-10 after a year in the ACC. She returns to a conference whose landscape has shifted in the short time she has been gone.
"Some new faces will emerge in the Pac-10," Gobrecht said. "In some ways, the overall strength will be better and the balance will be better. You won't have a seasoned, veteran team like Stanford that was together for a few years. But you'll have a lot of teams that will play at a high level.
"I don't think the gap will be that great between the top 3 teams and the bottom 3 teams. It will be a very short distance. Who shows up to play every night will decide games."
USC opens play with exhibition home games on Nov. 9 and 15 before beginning the regular season on Nov. 25 with Long Beach State at the Sports Arena.
Included in the non-conference schedule for the Women of Troy are trips to Lawrence, Kan., and Boise, Idaho, for tournaments and the Pac-10/Big East Challenge (featuring Seton Hall and Rutgers) hosted by UCLA.
USC opens the Pac-10 season with home games against Arizona State and Arizona on Jan. 2 and 4 at the Lyon Center.
Comments from USC women's basketball coach Chris Gobrecht
"We're a little hurt right now and we're short on numbers and there's a temptation to have lower expectations. The reality is, the expectations never change. The degree of difficulty is much harder and right now it's about an 8.7. The expectations are to win and the reality is that we're hurting, but that doesn't change the expectations.
"We started off with a roster of about 12 and it's been thinning ever since. Erica Mashia is not in a position to play. She has a really serious condition with her hip. The question you've got to ask is, 'Is it good for her long-term health?' So right now, it doesn't look like she'll be a part of this team.
"Jodi Parriott is recovering from a knee injury. She's doing fine, but we're not going to have her until at least December. Adrain Williams is doing well and hopefully she'll start her rehab soon. Antoinette Polk is someone else we'll miss. She's doing really well with volleyball and right now has decided to stick with volleyball and concentrate on academics. Kim Clark is another 2-sport player and she's doing really well with the soccer team and we won't get her back until soccer season is through. Both of them are doing really well with their teams. I'm so proud of our top 10 USC teams. But we're going to need Kim after she gets back. That's where we are right now. Watch us grow in numbers and watch us get better.
"But this team is tough. They've done a good job with the conditioning program. They've yet to find their limits. They might think they have, but they haven't. Conditioning is a huge part of what I believe in and they all have a great attitude about that. I really enjoy this group. They believe in USC and what they're capable of doing. They've worked really hard. We're trying to go from a blister to a callous. You've got to work past the blister to become a callous and we're still trying to become the callous. It's a team that's got a long way to go in finding itself. It's also not very big and we are still trying to find out about the intangibles.
"If we were healthy, I think we could take a run at the title. We've got the basic makeup to be good. There's no shortage of aggressiveness and competition.
(On Pac-10) "Stanford has really had a chokehold on the conference and the other teams have got to quit rolling over and dying when they get on the court. The biggest loss for them is losing Jamila Wideman. Arizona has its entire starting lineup back. There's a big difference between making the tournament for the first time in a while and going far in it. But they have a lot of seniors and there is nothing like having a bunch of seniors. Washington will be very good. There are a lot of good players out of my last recruiting class there like Jamie Redd and Amber Hall and Gena Pelz. They're very good and there's a lot of tradition there. UCLA is also immensely talented. They've got a whole lot of horsepower. Oregon is also mean and tough.
(On filling void of 3 departed senior) "That's something we as coaches need to take account for to help this team learn how to do it. Those seniors were not only great players, but dominant personalities. That's why I give Kristin Clark so much credit for finding her niche. She knew that she had to step it up and she did.
(On recruiting) "We think we're doing well. We've got one verbal so far and have some really good players coming in. But our players have also been great recruiters for us. They love this school and believe in this school and they have to believe in USC to do such a great job."
1996-97 USC Women of Troy Stats 1996-97 Cumulative PLAYER G/GS FG/FGA FG% 3P/3PA 3P% FT/FTA FT% PTS AVG ORB DRB REB AVG PF/D AST TO BLK STL MIN Thompson 29/28 222/445 .499 41/121 .339 168/215 .781 653 22.5 132 174 306 10.6 93/1 59 127 28 56 956 Campbell 28/28 130/252 .516 0/3 .000 65/97 .670 325 11.6 74 127 201 7.2 45/0 34 75 59 24 850 Clark, Kristin 29/29 121/295 .410 41/114 .360 46/83 .554 329 11.4 26 53 79 2.7 64/0 85 82 0 78 923 Parriott 29/20 103/222 .464 14/40 .350 27/45 .600 247 8.5 36 72 108 3.7 64/0 45 60 16 30 690 Williams 29/9 88/220 .400 4/24 .167 55/89 .618 235 8.1 50 111 161 5.6 53/2 23 60 20 23 611 Jeffery 2/1 8/11 .727 0/0 .000 0/2 .000 16 8.0 5 13 18 9.0 4/0 3 7 1 0 40 Jackson 29/29 58/173 .335 14/47 .298 59/95 .621 189 6.5 23 62 85 2.9 44/0 122 104 3 31 877 Washington 28/0 31/60 .517 0/0 .000 31/54 .574 93 3.3 40 49 89 3.2 72/3 4 18 2 16 314 Miller 29/1 29/81 .358 2/12 .167 15/28 .536 75 2.6 11 23 34 1.2 45/2 31 34 2 20 386 Polk 9/0 8/16 .500 0/4 .000 3/3 1.000 19 2.1 3 4 7 0.8 4/0 1 4 0 1 33 Clark, Kim 17/0 9/30 .300 1/8 .125 5/13 .385 24 1.4 4 10 14 0.8 16/0 13 15 0 10 143 Lewis 11/0 5/15 .333 0/3 .000 4/9 .444 14 1.3 3 2 5 0.5 3/0 7 14 1 6 50 Team Rebounds/Turnovers 136 13 USC 29/29 812/1820 .446 117/376 .311 478/733 .652 2219 76.5 407 700 1243 42.9 507/8 427 613 132 295 -- Opponent Team Rebounds 154 Opponent 29/29 721/1883 .383 143/462 .310 397/578 .687 1982 68.4 394 642 1190 41.0 600/21 433 657 51 262 --
Overall Record 20-9
Pacific-10 Record 13-5
Dial Soap Classic 1-1
UC Irvine Tournament 1-1
Pac-10/Sun Belt Challenge 1-1
Home Record 9-4
Away Record 8-4
Neutral Record 3-1