USC Opens Season
Battle Longtime Local Foe Long Beach State
LOS ANGLES -- The USC women's basketball team, under first-year head coach Chris Gobrecht and coming off a 20-9 season last year that took it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, opens the regular season by hosting Long Beach State (2-0) on Tuesday (Nov. 25) at 5:45 p.m. at the Sports Arena. The game is part of a doubleheader with the men's team, which faces UC Santa Barbara at 8 p.m. USC is 18-3 in season openers, including a win last year at San Diego State, 71-60. USC's game at the Sports Arena is the only contest the Women of Troy will play there this year. All remaining home games will be played at the Lyon Center.
RANKINGS -- Neither USC or Long Beach State is ranked.
LONG BEACH STATE -- The 49ers are coming off an 11-17 season but but opened the new campaign with a pair of home victories against San Diego (61-53) and UNLV (60-46). Head coach Dallas Boychuck is in her third season with the 49ers. Long Beach State, which has shot just 33.9 percent in its first 2 games, is led by sophomore Kesha Wade, a 5-9 guard who is the 49ers' leading returning scorer (12.1). Like USC, Long Beach State is replacing a lot of production from last year and features 7 newcomers. The 49ers lead the all-time series against the Women of Troy, 26-17 (dating back to the 1976-77 season). In the last meeting, USC defeated Long Beach State, 91-61, on Dec. 21, 1996, also at the Sports Arena. USC has won 4 consecutive games against the 49ers.
NOTES -- The Women of Troy have been shorthanded all preseason, for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, USC has had to deal with the injury bug. Three projected starters -- junior forward/center Adrain Williams, junior forward Jodi Parriott and sophomore guard Erica Mashia -- were the biggest blows. Williams missed almost all of the preseason with a foot injury before getting in a few minutes in USC's final exhibition game. She will play in USC's opener Tuesday. Parriott has been inactive since having knee surgery during the summer and won't be available until at least the end of December. Mashia, who missed all of last season with a hip injury, will miss the 1997-98 season as well with the same injury. Also banged up but playing through the pain is starting junior guard Kristin Clark. She suffered a broken toe before USC's exhibition opener and broke her nose in practice. She will be playing with a face guard for at least another week. Her twin sister and 2-sport athlete Kim Clark, a sophomore guard, only recently began practicing with the basketball team. One of the top women's soccer players on the West Coast, Clark recently finished soccer season and is just now getting acclimated to her new sport. Ironically, it was Kim, in her first basketball practice back, who broke Kristin's nose during a scrimmage. Fellow 2-sport athlete Antoinette Polk, a starter on the USC women's volleyball team who was a reserve guard last year, has decided to give up basketball to concentrate on volleyball. Guard Shannon Kartz, the only senior on the team who did not play last year, recently suffered a stress fracture, but is not expected to miss any time.
CHRIS GOBRECHT -- Twenty years after graduating from USC in 1977 to embark on a coaching career, Chris Gobrecht has returned to campus to take the helm of the Women of Troy basketball program. Gobrecht, 42, who played basketball and volleyball while at USC, has been a head coach at the Division I level for 18 years, having guided programs at Cal State Fullerton (6 years), Washington (11) and Florida State (1). She was a 2-time Pacific-10 Coach of the Year (1987-88) with the Huskies and has amassed a 332-208 career mark. She reached the 300-victory plateau on Jan. 19, 1995, at the age of 39, making her one of the youngest coaches to do so in America. During her 11 years (1986-96) at Washington, she compiled a 243-89 (.732) record. Gobrecht, the winningest coach in Washington history, led the Huskies to 9 NCAA Tournament berths (including advancing to the regionals 4 times), 3 conference championships (1986-88-90) and 4 second-place league finishes. Her teams won at least 16 games each season (including getting 20 wins 8 times). Gobrecht comes to USC after spending the 1997 season at Florida State. She began the process of reconstructing a downtrodden Seminole program and finished with a 5-22 record.
NEW STAFF -- 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).
EXHIBITION SEASON -- USC dropped its pair of exhibition games, falling to SAM Myjava (Slovakia), 81-58, on Nov. 9, and losing to Kilsyth (Australia), 72-65, in overtime on Nov. 15. Against SAM Myjava, USC was led by junior guard Kristin Clark's game-high 21 points (5 three-pointers) and sophomore forward Tiffany Washington's 12 points. Against Kilsyth, Clark again led USC with 16 points and 8 assists while Washington had 12 points and 9 rebounds and freshman forward Tashara Carter had 11 points.
KRISTIN CLARK -- A feisty guard who can change the face of a game with her intense play, 1997-98 junior Kristin Clark (identical twin of USC guard Kim Clark) returns as a starting guard for the Women of Troy. A solid ball-handler and outside shooter who is USC's leading returning scorer (11.4), Clark is equally deft at penetrating and dishing or pulling up for a 3-pointer. She is also valuable defensively as she is one of the quickest players on the team and can cause havoc in the backcourt. She earned 1997 All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors last year, leading USC in steals (2.6) and tying for third in the Pac-10 in that category. Clark scored a career-high 25 points at Arizona (1/16), making 5-of-6 3-pointers in the process. Clark bettered her trey marksmanship record with a 6-of-7 effort from behind the 3-point line against Washington State (3/6), scoring all of her 18 points on 3-pointers. She finished the season tied with teammate Tina Thompson with 41 3-pointers and led the team with 36.0% shooting from behind the arc (tied for seventh in the Pac-10). In conference games, she hit 41.9% of her 3-pointers (31-of-74).
ADRAIN WILLIAMS -- Adrain Williams, a junior forward/center, will see her role expand as a 1997-98 starter. The talented Williams can run the court like a guard and finish as well as anyone in the Pac-10. But she will be most valuable to the Women of Troy in the paint where her rebounding and scoring will have to help make up much of the slack left by departed seniors Tina Thompson and Michelle Campbell. She spent most of the preseason recovering from a foot injury, but is close to full strength. As a 1996-97 sophomore, Williams started 9 games for the Women of Troy before finishing the season as a valuable reserve. She finished fifth on the team in scoring (8.1) and third in rebounding (5.6) and blocked shots (0.7) in only 21.1 minutes per game. She posted the best game of her USC career against Colorado State (12/13) with 21 points and 14 rebounds. It was one of 4 double-doubles she had on the year.
JODI PARRIOTT -- A versatile forward, 1997-98 junior Jodi Parriott is USC's second-leading returning scorer (8.5 points). After starting for most of the 1996-97 season, Parriott, who also create mismatches for defenses, was to start at either forward positions. She will, however, be forced to miss the first 2 months of the season while rehabilitating from summer knee surgery. She is expected back near the end of December. USC's fourth-leading scorer in 1997, she started at small forward every game during the Pac-10 season and became a valuable contributor offensively and defensively for USC. She finished tied for third on the team with 14 3-pointers, but her 35.0% on treys (14-of-40) was good for second. Her 46.4 field goal percentage was third on the team (of those that attempted at least 100 shots) and she finished fourth in steals (1.0) and blocked shots (0.6).
TIFFANY WASHINGTON -- One of the top young rebounders in the Pac-10, 1997-98 sophomore forward Tiffany Washington will see her role increase as a force in the paint at both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. Washington was named a 1996-97 Pac-10 All-Freshman honorable mention selection as a forward/center last season, averaging 3.3 points and 3.2 rebounds in 11.2 minutes per game. Playing in 28 games off the bench at either the power forward or center positions, Washington made 31-of-60 field goal attempts (51.7%) on the season and her 40 offensive rebounds were fourth best on the team.
KIYOKO MILLER -- A fine outside shooter and all-around player, Kiyoko Miller will compete for time at both guard positions as a 1997-98 sophomore. Miller played in every game as a 1996-97 freshman guard, starting once at Arizona (1/16). Playing an average of 13.3 minutes per game as a back-up at both the point and shooting guard, Miller averaged 2.6 points and 1.1 assists per game. She scored a season-high 7 points vs. Utah (12/14) and had a season-high 5 rebounds vs. New Orleans (12/28).
KIM CLARK -- A scrappy player who brings darting quickness and aggressive play to every game, 1997-98 sophomore guard Kim Clark fits well into Coach Chris Gobrecht's defense-oriented style of play and will see her time increase this year. Clark (identical twin of USC guard Kristin Clark) added speed and depth to USC as a reserve in 1996-97. She came on toward the end of the season as a defensive catalyst and as a back-up ball-handler. A lower back injury kept her out of early action, but Clark played in 17 games on the season, averaging 8.4 minutes per game. She made her season debut against Long Beach State (12/21) and less than a month later, she set a career high with 11 points vs. California (1/10) on 5-of-6 shooting in only 8 minutes. A 2-sport athlete, Clark an All-Pac-10 first team selection on the USC soccer team as a midfielder in 1997. She was USC's leading scorer with 43 points (13 goals, 17 assists) and is considered one of the West Coast's top players.
SHANNON KARTZ -- The only senior for the 1997-98 Women of Troy, Shannon Kartz will add depth at the 2-guard and a lot of hustle all over the court. She returns to the team after a year off spent concentrating on academics.
TASHARA CARTER -- Tashara Carter, a 1997-98 freshman, will add depth at the small forward position but her excellent ball-handling skills may earn her time at guard as well. A fine athlete with the ability to shoot outside, Carter, who will challenge for starting time, will give the Women of Troy's offense another potent option. As a prep senior in 1996-97, Carter was a 1997 USA Today Honorable Mention All-American, 1996-97 Street & Smith preseason All-American honorable mention, 1997 All-CIF Southern Section Division III Player of the Year and first-team selection and the 1997 South Bay Daily Breeze Player of the Year.
WHITNEY HOUSER -- Whitney Houser, a forward, will add depth to the USC rebounding corps as a 1997-98 freshman. 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 pick. She helped lead Laguna Hills High to the 1997 state and Southern Section Division II titles.
ADRIA SNEED -- Adria Sneed, a forward who transferred from Ventura (Calif.) College, adds another legitimate rebounding force to the Women of Troy ranks and will compete for time at the small and power forward positions as a 1997-98 junior. Sneed, a 1996-97 J.C. All-State first team selection, averaged 15.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per game as a 1997 sophomore at Ventura (Calif.) College, leading the Pirates to their second consecutive California J.C. State Championship. A 2-time Western State Conference (1996-1997) first team selection, she also was a 1996 J.C. All-State second team pick as a freshman.
ERICA MASHIA -- Erica Mashia, a redshirt sophomore who was forced to miss the entire 1996-97 season with a hip injury, hoped to back as a starting guard in 1997-98. But Mashia, who established herself as one of the top guards in the conference as a freshman in 1995-96, will be forced to miss this year as well with the same injury.
WALK-ON ADDED -- There is one addition to the USC roster which is not in the media guide. Walk-on Rachel Whitlow, a 5-10 sophomore guard, has been added to the team. Whitlow prepped at Hueneme High School in Oxnard, Calif., where she was a 2-time All-Channel League performer. She will wear No. 21.
SCHEDULE -- USC will face 5 schools that were either ranked or received votes in the Preseason AP Top 25. They are Stanford, Arizona, Oregon, UCLA and Washington. Kansas, which USC may face in the Dial Soap Classic (Dec. 6-7), would be a sixth team.
GOBRECHT SAYS -- "I believe we were a team that learned as much from our exhibition games as just about any team that I've had because it was pretty obvious what our problems were. We had people we might not normally count on as much having to step up and produce and they did that and now they're learning what it's going to take. I'm excited to be playing a game that counts. I have a tendency to be impatient because we're nothing compared to how we will be when we put everything together in January. But what people who follow us will learn is that what is most enjoyable about watching this team is watching the process of development."
NEXT YEAR -- USC and the Sports Arena will play host to the NCAA Tournament West Regional next season (1999). Games will be played on March 20 and 22.
Pac 10 Standings Team Pac-10 Overall Arizona 0-0 1-0 California 0-0 1-0 Oregon 0-0 1-0 Oregon State 0-0 2-1 Washington State 0-0 1-1 USC 0-0 0-0 Washington 0-0 0-0 Arizona State 0-0 0-1 UCLA 0-0 0-1 Stanford 0-0 0-2