No. 23 USC Women Set To Kick Off 2011-12 Campaign
Season opener comes Friday at 5 p.m. at Galen Center in a doubleheader with the USC men.
Nov. 8, 2011
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COMING UP NEXT
USC is set to start up the 2011-12 campaign with two home stands at the Galen Center. First up, the No. 23 Women of Troy will set up for an exhibition game against Westmont on Monday (Nov. 7) at 7 p.m. With that early tune-up under their belts, the Trojans host their official season opener in a double-header with the USC men on Friday (Nov. 11). The Women of Troy take the floor first at 5 p.m. to face Fresno State as the kick-off to the 2011-12 season.
Monday's exhibition game will have live audio and live stats available. Friday's official opener will be broadcast live online through SCTV at usctrojans.com with live video along with audio provided by Jason Schwartz. Live stats through GameTracker for both games also will be available online through the women's basketball page at usctrojans.com.
IN THE NATION
USC opens the year with a spot in the national rankings for the first time since 2006. The 2011-12 Women of Troy are ranked No. 23 in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN preseason polls. Westmont and Fresno State both are unranked.
GET TO GALEN!
USC students receive FREE ADMISSION to all home games! For Friday's doubleheader on Nov. 11, for $11 you get tickets to both the women's and men's games, plus a hot dog and drink! CLICK HERE for more info on promos and tickets.
SCOUTING FRESNO STATE
The Bulldogs enter their season opener with the Trojans after posting a 122-49 exhibition win over Fresno Pacific last week. Fresno State is coached by Adrian Wiggins, who is in his eighth season as head coach of the Bulldogs. Fresno State returns two starters from last year's team, which reached the NCAA First Round and finished with a 25-8 overall record after a 14-2 conference record. The Bulldogs' top returning scorer is Rosie Moult, who provided 12.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game last season. USC is 4-4 all-time against Fresno State with a four-game win streak against the Bulldogs. USC beat Fresno State 82-78 last season in Fresno and 68-63 at Galen Center in 2009-10.
A road-tested and decorated USC women's basketball roster is back for more this season. The Women of Troy played in 11 different states in amassing a program record of 18 road games last season. This year, USC opens the year with another busy travel schedule. The Women of Troy will visit five different U.S. states during their nonconference stretch, which includes face-offs against six NCAA tournament teams, including road tilts against 2011 NCAA finalist Notre Dame and champion Texas A&M.
Multiple knee injuries have kept both Jacki Gemelos and Stefanie Gilbreath off the court far too long, but the grad student and fifth-year senior are now enjoying "Super Senior" status. Sidelined for a collective six-and-a-half seasons, Gemelos and Gilbreath both had breakout seasons last year. The top recruit as a freshman in 2006, Gemelos was USC's third leading scorer last season in her first full season of action and picked up All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention. Stefanie Gilbreath stepped on the court for the first time last season and was a contributor in all 13 games for which she was healthy.
Compared to the 14 years of combined time at USC among those four guards, returning starters Cassie Harberts and Christina Marinacci are relative newbies. That is, until one takes a look at the minutes they've logged during their time as Trojans. Junior forward Marinacci has played in every game since coming to Troy, and was fifth on the team in scoring last year with 8.2 points to go along with the second-best mark of 6.8 rebounds per game. Sophomore forward Harberts was the only Trojan to start every single game last season, and was one of four Trojans averaging in double digits last year with her 10.2 points per game that she paired with 6.2 rebounds per game. She secured a spot on the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team and was on the Pac-10 All-Tournament Team after posting a 30-point game during the tourney.
Michael Cooper and his coaching staff have added a premier class of incoming talent, with a group of athletes that rank as the No. 8 class in the nation. Guard Ariya Crook and forward Alexyz Vaioletama are projected to be impact players in their first seasons as Trojans. Their fellow freshmen Deanna Calhoun and Kiki Alofaituli, meanwhile, will sit out the season along with junior transfer Kate Oliver, who comes to Troy from Australia by way of two years at Marist. Calhoun is coming back from a high school-sustained knee injury, and Alofaituli will sit out per NCAA rules.
The USC roster is loaded up with eight All-American honorees. Five returning players were McDonald's All-Americans on their way into Troy: Ashley Corral, Jacki Gemelos, Briana Gilbreath, Stefanie Gilbreath and Christina Marinacci. Also holding high school All-American accolades is WBCA honoree Cassie Harberts, now a sophomore with the Trojans. That core of six returners have two new McDonald's All-Americans also lined up for action in freshmen Ariya Crook and Alexyz Vaioletama.
USC has two players sidelined for the season to rehab from offseason surgeries. Freshman Deanna Calhoun (knee) will redshirt her first year at USC, and Kate Oliver (ankle) will sit out the season after transferring from Marist.
In head coach Michael Cooper's second season at Troy, the Women of Troy experienced a successful postseason that saw USC make a run to the WNIT title match. The 2011 Women of Troy finished the year with a 24-13 overall record after a 10-8 mark in Pac-10 play. The 24 wins was the most by a USC team since 1993-94, and USC's 18 road games in the season the Trojans set another program record. Juniors Ashley Corral and Briana Gilbreath both earned All-Pac-10 Team honors for the second straight season, with Jacki Gemelos picking up her first conference honors with All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention. Newcomer Cassie Harberts was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team and also had a spot on the Pac-10 All-Tournament Team alongside Corral. Corral and Gilbreath would also garner WNIT All-Tournament Team accolades, and Gilbreath became the first Trojan since 1997 to earn an AP All-American selection with an Honorable Mention pick after standing out as USC's leader in scoring, rebounds, blocks and steals in her junior season. Corral and Gilbreath made more Trojan history in both scoring their 1,000th career points last season. Gilbreath hit the mark on Jan. 22, 2011, and Corral followed suit on Feb. 10, 2011. Corral also took over as USC's all-time leader in career 3-pointers on that same day.