Women's Basketball
    USC Women Take On No. 23 Texas A&M
    The Trojans return home for the holiday season! Join the fun at Galen Center on Saturday.
    The Trojans return home for the holiday season! Join the fun at Galen Center on Saturday.

    Dec. 11, 2012

    USC WBB ReleaseGet Acrobat Reader

    THIS WEEK
    The USC women's basketball team takes aim at another ranked opponent this week when No. 23 Texas A&M (5-3) pays its first visit to Galen Center for a 12 p.m clash with the Women of Troy (3-4) on Saturday (Dec. 15). The game is part of a doubleheader with the USC men, who face UC Riverside at 4 p.m. following the noon Trojan-Aggie women's showdown.

    FOLLOW ALONG
    Saturday's game will be STREAMED ONLINE with Jason Schwartz on the call. Live stats through GameTracker will also be available online through the women's basketball page at usctrojans.com

    RADIO DISNEY COMES TO GALEN!
    Saturday's game will be an even more special event at Galen Center! Following the USC women's game, there will be a Meet & Greet with Disney's Caroline Sunshine, along with music, games and prizes! Trojan and Disney fans are invited to join the fun in the Galen Center Hall of Fame from 2-4 p.m. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS

    IN THE NATION
    USC opened the year receiving votes in the national polls but is now unranked. Texas A&M is ranked highest at No. 23 in this week's Associated Press poll, and is No. 25 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

    LAST WEEK
    USC made a difficult road for itself before a late rallying cry made for a wild final few minutes in Fresno last week, but host Fresno State's big second-half lead kept enough padding for the Bulldogs to pull off the 65-60 win over the visiting Women of Troy. A 6-0 run in the first half gave USC its first lead of the game, up 20-19, but the Trojans would finish out the half 0-for-15 from the floor as Fresno State took a 33-20 halftime lead. That would be the only lead of the night for the Trojans, although they did make it interesting down the stretch. Fresno State built as large as a 25-point lead midway through the second half, prompting USC to regroup. The Trojans reeled off a 17-0 point run to get back in the game in the final minutes, and cut it to three in the final 15 seconds, only to have the Bulldogs hang on for the win. USC received a double-double from Cassie Harberts - her fourth of the year - with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Ariya Crook, too, kept up her double-figure streak in finishing with 15 for the Trojans, who shot 32 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Bulldogs 49-42. The teams finished even on turnovers at 22 apiece. Fresno State got a game-high 20 points from Taylor Thompson and 15 from Ki-Ki Moore, while Alex Sheedy added 11 rebounds to the Bulldog tally.

    SCOUTING TEXAS A&M
    The No. 23 Aggies are 5-3 overall and on a five-game win streak that includes last week's 77-26 win over Louisiana Tech and a 68-47 win over TCU. Kelsey Bone leads Texas A&M with 14.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Head coach Gary Blair is in his 10th season as head coach of the Aggies, who went 24-11 overall in reaching the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. USC is 2-1 all-time against Texas A&M. USC picked up wins back in the 1979-80 and 1980-81 seasons, and didn't face the Aggies again until last year's visit to College Station. There, host Texas A&M was ranked No. 10 in the nation and managed a late basket to tally a 71-70 win over the Trojans on Dec. 18, 2011. This will be the Aggies' first game at Galen Center.

    BACK FOR MORE
    USC returns 52 percent of its scoring and 52 percent of its rebounding from the 2011-12 roster. Cassie Harberts is the top returning scorer (357 points, 11.9 per game) and Christina Marinacci is back as USC's leader on the boards (215 rebounds, 7.4 per game). That pair, along with junior Desireé Bradley, are USC's most experienced returners with a combined 217 games played entering the 2012-13 season. From there, USC's roster is filled with players with no more than one season of experience, including sophomores Ariya Crook and Alexyz Vaioletama, who provided 5.2 and 4.5 points per game, respectively, as freshmen. Outside of those five players, returner Thaddesia Southall has played six games around injury, with eight Trojans in line to play their first-ever career games as Women of Troy this season.

    VETERAN STATUS
    Forward Christina Marinacci is the lone senior on the roster this season as she enters her second year as a captain for the Women of Troy. Although awarded with Pac-10 All-Freshman Honorable Mention in her first season and selected to the Vanderbilt Thanksgiving All-Tournament Team as a sophomore, Marinacci went even bigger for USC as a junior. The team's leading rebounder overall last season (7.4 rpg), Marinacci really hit her stride during Pac-12 play. There, the junior hauled in 8.2 rebounds per game and averaged 10.6 points per game. For her standout efforts as a leader in all realms, Marinacci picked up All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention and Pac-12 All-Defensive Honorable Mention. She also hits the books as hard as she does the boards, having earned Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention and standing tall as USC's Lowe's Senior CLASS candidate for 2012-13. Against Arkansas State on Nov. 21, Marinacci tallied her first double-double of the year with 12 points and 11 rebounds, notching her sixth career double day overall.

    POWER IN THE PAINT
    Forward Cassie Harberts is USC's top returning scorer from last season, having stood as the Trojans' No. 2 scorer in 2011-12 as a sophomore. Now a junior, Harberts is tabbed to shoulder the load for the Women of Troy. So far, she's proven wholly capable of that challenge, as she opened her junior season with three consecutive double-doubles, and has scored in double figures in every game to date. That start has Harberts now holding 10 career double-doubles, going along with career highs of 31 points as a freshman vs. WSU along with 18 rebounds also as a freshman vs. Oregon. She has started every game of her career since setting foot at Troy.

    THE NEW KIDS
    USC head coach Michael Cooper and his staff have added a class of freshmen that ranks No. 14 in the nation on the recruiting charts. With 2012 McDonald's All-American Jordan Adams standing tall as a highly touted guard, USC's talented class also includes guards Brianna Barrett and Destinie Gibbs. Adams and Gibbs have been in the starting lineup for every game to date, and Barrett has been an early sub for the backcourt as the trio has factored in heavily to the Trojan gameplan. The three true freshman have combined to provide 12.6 points per game so far.

    READY TO GO
    Last season, USC had four players waiting in the wings for their chance to hit the courts for the Trojans. Thaddesia Southall actually started out the year, but was sidelined by a knee injury that kept her on the bench the remainder of the season. She's almost ready to go this year as a redshirt sophomore coming back from injury. Redshirt freshman Deanna Calhoun, who was out with a knee injury also last season, saw her first action as a Trojan on Nov. 30 at San Diego State. The Women of Troy also welcome the additions of sophomore Kiki Alofaituli and junior Kate Oliver, who were unable to compete last season due to NCAA transfer rules. All standing over 6-feet tall, add them up, and that's a good 25 feet of basketball talent to factor into the 2012-13 USC gameplan. Alofaituli and Oliver have both picked up a start apiece, and are averaging 4.3 and 4.1 points per game, respectively.

    FRESH FACES
    The 2012-13 USC roster has been rounded out by two walk-ons -- freshman Franceska Regnier and sophomore Rachel Totten, who studied for a year at UC Santa Barbara -- and a transfer from Hawai'i, Malia Cravens. Cravens will sit out the 2012-13 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Regnier is yet to play due to her eligibility status, and Totten saw her first playing time as a Trojan on Nov. 30 at San Diego State.

    COOP'S TROOPS
    Head coach Michael Cooper has a new staff on hand this season, having added associate head coach Daron Park and assistants Tai Dillard and Evan Unrau to his coaching crew. Daron Park comes to USC after a season at California, with a resume replete with success in eight seasons of collegiate coaching and seven NCAA Tournament appearances. Before his stint in Berkeley, where he helped the Bears to an NCAA appearance in 2012, Parks served as associate head coach at Louisiana Tech for five seasons. Park and the Techsters made back-to-back NCAA appearances in 2010 and 2011. His collegiate career began in Maryland, where he and the Terps won a preseason WNIT championship and earned two No. 1 seeds with two trips to the NCAA Elite Eight. Park had come to Maryland after serving as an assistant coach at Utah from 2004-07, where he began to gather his NCAA Tournament prowess in reaching two tournaments, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2006. Assistant coach Tai Dillard comes to USC after five seasons as an assistant coach at UTSA. Prior to that, Dillard has an accomplished collegiate and pro resume as a player, having played at Texas before starring in 57 games as a guard for the WNBA's San Antonio Silver Stars. While coaching at UTSA, Dillard helped see the Roadrunners to back-to-back NCAA Tournament trips in 2008 and 2009. A four-year letterwinner with the Longhorns, Dillard also experienced four NCAA Tournaments as a player, including a visit to the 2003 NCAA Final Four. Assistant coach Evan Unrau also brings experience as a player to the Trojan coaching staff. An Honorable Mention All-American during her four years playing at Missouri, she also was drafted by the WNBA's Washington Mystics and also played professionally overseas. Her coaching career took her most recently to Santa Clara, where she was an assistant for three seasons. Prior to that, Unrau served as an assistant coach for one season at UC Santa Barbara, reaching the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Her collegiate staff experience began at Stanford, where she was video coordinator during the Cardinal's run to the 2008 NCAA title game.

    TROJANS ON TV
    The USC women's basketball team has a solid lineup of television appearances on tap for 2012-13, thanks to the development of the Pac-12 Networks, which are taking the Trojans live to the small screen for 10 games this coming season. USC's Pac-12 Network debut will come fast, with the Trojans' Nov. 23 clash against Nebraska set for national broadcast live from the Galen Center at 2 p.m. After that, USC has a bigtime clash with Duke set for TV on Dec. 22, followed by eight Pac-12 tilts to be televised by the Pac-12 Networks, including home-away series with California, Stanford and crosstown rival UCLA. That includes a wild stretch of three games in five days as the Trojans host Stanford on Feb. 15, California on Feb. 17 and UCLA on Feb. 19 for a television frenzy for the Women of Troy at Galen Center. Other televised conference tangles set for TV will be a Feb. 3 face-off with Colorado at the Galen Center and a March 1 matchup at Arizona.

    WHO'S NEXT?
    USC welcomes two acclaimed players to the roster for 2013-14 with the signing of Drew Edelman and Courtney Jaco to national letters of intent on Nov. 14, 2012. Head coach Michael Cooper is eager to add the two California talents to his crew for next season, as the pair offers up a well-balanced skill set for the Women of Troy. A 6-4 post player, Drew Edelman hails from Atherton, Calif., as a standout player from Menlo School under coach John Paye. Ranked No. 41 in the nation at her position, Edelman played club for East Bay Xplosion under coach Mark Anger. While Edelman controls the paint, Courtney Jaco will be called on to take charge in the back court. A 5-8 guard from Compton, Calif. who ranks No. 44 in the nation at her position, Jaco played at Windward School for coach Vanessa Nygaard and club for Elbert Kinnebrew's Cal Sparks team. Edelman and Jaco are all set to hit the floor for the Women of Troy in 2014. Stay tuned!

    LAST SEASON
    USC finished the 2011-12 season with an 18-12 overall record after finishing third at 12-6 in the Pac-12 conference. The Trojans had ended the regular season on a six-game winning streak before taking a devastating loss to No. 11 seeded Washington State in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament. That loss likely sealed the postseason fate of the Trojans, who had played a grueling nonconference schedule. USC's best wins of the year were an upset of Gonzaga on the road and a season sweep of California, including a heart-stopping overtime victory over the Bears in Berkeley. The Trojans also played defending NCAA champion Texas A&M down to the wire in College Station, where sixth-year senior Jacki Gemelos suffered her fifth season-ending knee injury of her career. USC would take a 71-70 loss to the Aggies in that one, to end a rough road trip that also saw the Trojans take an unexpected loss at Arkansas State in their first-ever trip to Arkansas. USC's tough nonconference schedule also put it up against No. 11 Georgia and No. 3 Notre Dame. At year's end USC seniors Ashley Corral and Briana Gilbreath would both pick up another spot on the All-Pac-12 Team, with Cassie Harberts and Christina Marinacci earning All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention and Ariya Crook on the Pac-12 All-Freshman Honorable Mention list.