USC eyes tough test in hosting Gonzaga

first_imgAfter a strong showing against Biola on Tuesday night, the Women of Troy officially kick off their season with a showdown against the Gonzaga Bulldogs (1-0) at the Galen Center today at 1 p.m.In control · Junior guard Briana Gilbreath will help lead USC against a Gonzaga team that went undefeated in conference play last season. – Courtney Sandlin | Daily Trojan “[Playing against Biola] was a good game for us considering what we’re trying to do,” USC coach Michael Cooper said. “We had our lulls, but we got it together and we were able to put them away.”The Women of Troy showed off a newly fortified and healthy lineup that saw five players hit double figures in the 93-66 win.One lingering issue from last season was missing during the exhibition game as the Women of Troy outrebounded Biola 41-26 as well.“I was pleased with our rebounding against a smaller team,” Cooper said. “I was happy with the effort we made since we’ve been working on that.”Two freshmen that are expected to make significant contributions this season started off their Trojan careers on a high note. Freshman forward Cassie Harberts scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds, while fellow freshman guard Len’Nique Brown scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds.Along with these two, the Women of Troy also received solid contributions from their returning core group of players.Senior center Kari LaPlante (20 points), sophomore forward Christina Marinacci (17 points), senior guard Jacki Gemelos (12 points) and junior guard Ashley Corral (six points, nine assists) continued their strong play from last season.Junior guard Briana Gilbreath came off the bench and saw limited action because of a lingering shoulder injury but is expected to be back in the starting lineup today.Defensively, the Women of Troy know they need to do a better job against the Bulldogs, who come into the Galen Center after a 115-51 beat down of Western Oregon University in their exhibition game last Saturday.Last season, the Bulldogs (29-5, 16-0) reeled off a perfect record in conference play on their way to the NCAA tournament, before falling in the regional semifinal game to Xavier.They return two of their four leading scorers from last year in guard Courtney Vandersloot and guard/forward Katelan Redmon and look poised to make another run at a West Coast Conference title.With these two returning, the Women of Troy know they will have their hands full.“Transition defense is big,” Corral said. “[Vandersloot] is one of the best point guards in the nation and we’ve got to get up on her early. And boxing out is always [key].”Despite a strong performance against Biola, the coaching staff believes there is room for improvement.“I was pleased with our performance in spots,” Cooper said. “I thought it was a good effort and a lot of people got to play, but there is still a long process to this.”last_img read more

Badgers hope to continue climb up Big Ten ladder

first_imgJared Berggren has an average of 10.6 points per game with a season total of 234 points, second on the Badgers, behind offensive star Jordan Taylor.[/media-credit]Where the Wisconsin men’s basketball team once peered up from near the bottom of the Big Ten standings, it now finds itself looking down on most of its peers after just three weeks’ time.The Badgers (17-5 overall) went from 1-3 in conference play to a 6-3 mark that leaves them tied for third place with Michigan and just one game outside first-place Ohio State.No. 20 Wisconsin has had the luxury of four full days of rest after pulling off a well-played 57-50 upset over then-No. 16 Indiana at the Kohl Center last Thursday.Mix that with a 3-1 conference road record, and don’t be surprised if you find a little spring in the step of Badger players as they prepare to meet with Penn State (10-12, 2-7) Tuesday.“We’re sitting pretty good,” guard Josh Gasser said. “We had a couple days off after the big win to kind of reenergize ourselves, rest our bodies a little bit.“We got a lot of time to regroup and stuff, and we know we have a big stretch coming up with traveling to Penn State and Ohio State later in the week. We just like where we’re at right now.”The Nittany Lions may find themselves at the very bottom of the Big Ten standings, but in what may be the nation’s deepest conference, a loss can emerge from anywhere. Both of Penn State’s two victories in the league came against teams with winning records, while one of them – Illinois – has consistently been ranked.Fans of either team may cringe at the thought of UW and PSU matching up again after the last time they met – in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament last year, the two teams battled it out in a game where the final tally read more like a halftime score.Penn State shot 33.3 percent from the field while Wisconsin managed 29.4 in a 36-34 decision.But much has changed for PSU’s men’s basketball team since. The Nittany Lions introduced a new head coach, Patrick Chambers, in the offseason and waved goodbye to four senior starters.The Badgers, meanwhile, also graduated three starters themselves.“They have pretty much a completely different team; they had a lot of seniors last year so they have a lot new faces now. We have some new faces as well,” center Jared Berggren said.But the lone PSU starting returnee just happens to be one of the Big Ten’s most impressive guards. Junior Tim Frazier – at 6-foot-1, 170 pounds – is second in the conference with 19 points per game in league play and first with 5.1 assists.His numbers have made quite a leap from last year, when he started 33 games and averaged 6.3 points per game.UW guard Jordan Taylor and associate head coach Greg Gard both said one reason for Frazier’s leap in production has to do with the fact that last year he was a sophomore starting along with four seniors, and the burden of scoring was placed more heavily on his teammates.With so much experience leaving, Gard believes that, in a way, Frazier had no choice but to step in and take charge. Either way, Gard praised Frazier’s development and nearly called him the conference’s most improved player.“They lost a lot, so [Frazier] had to take a jump or he has to stand out because he’s one of the few returning,” Gard said. “But … I don’t know if there’s anybody in the league that’s made the jump he has in what he’s added to his game.“He’s made himself a better shooter. Very similar to Jordan, when he came in, his shooting was not – you know, you’d like to have him shoot it from out there – and he was just a driver, just a penetrator. Now he’s added [shooting] to his game.”In all likelihood, it will be Gasser who will be assigned to defend Frazier Tuesday, as he did last season as well.But Gasser has already had success against some of the Big Ten’s best. More recently, against Illinois Jan. 22, he was primarily responsible for Brandon Paul, now currently the only person averaging more points per game (20) in Big Ten games than Frazier.Paul had a forgetful game, scoring 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting.But even last year, as a sophomore that didn’t pose much of a scoring threat, Frazier made so much of an impression on Gasser that he now calls the PSU guard one of the three toughest foes he’s ever had to defend.“He’s up there, top three for sure,” he said.last_img read more