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14 USC
Phil Taylor
November 19, 2001
After facing their critical coach, the Trojans will find playing their games easy
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November 19, 2001

14 Usc

After facing their critical coach, the Trojans will find playing their games easy

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STARTING LINEUP

POS.

PLAYER

HT.

CL.

KEY STAT

SF

David Bluthenthal#

6'7"

Sr.

13.5 ppg

PF

Sam Clancy#

6'7"

Sr.

17.3 ppg

C

Rory O'Neil

6'11"

Fr.

25.1 ppg?

SG

Desmon Farmer

6'4"

So

6.4 ppg

PG

Brandon Granville#

5'9"

Sr.

6.1 apg

2000-01 record: 24-10
Final rank (coaches' poll): No. 14
#Returning starter
*As high school senior

To help the players bond during last year's NCAA tournament, coach Henry Bibby asked each Trojan to sacrifice something he enjoyed. Power forward Sam Clancy gave up video games. Point guard Brandon Granville swore off orange juice. Shooting guard Jeff Trepagnier eschewed junk food. However, Bibby himself declined to give up what is apparently one of his favorite things—finding fault with his team.

USC made a surprising trip to the East Regional final last March, losing to eventual champion Duke and impressing everyone but the curmudgeonly Bibby in the process. He's likely to be just as difficult to please this season, which is exactly the way his players want it. "If he was constantly pumping us up and telling us nothing but how great we are, he wouldn't be Coach Bibby," says Granville, "and we wouldn't be as good."

Bibby lamented the Trojans' supposed lack of toughness to anyone who would listen last year, even as they went 21-9 in the regular season and advanced through the first three rounds of the NCAAs. His postgame assessments of his squad, even after wins, were unfailingly harsh. "I don't have anybody on this team who will grab us by the scruff of our necks and won't let us lose," he said after USC had reached the Sweet 16 by knocking off third-seeded Boston College. "I have to be that person."

He may not have to be that person this season, because Southern Cal will start a trio of seniors—Granville, Clancy and small forward David Bluthenthal—who seem ready to grab the scruff of whatever necks might need it. They have been toughened not only by last season's tournament run but also by the physical and emotional rigor of Bibby's practices. "Coach puts the pressure on you," says Clancy. "He runs you, then he points out all the things you're doing wrong, then he runs you some more. Once you've handled that, the games seem easy."

Even Bibby admits that USC has the talent to put together another lengthy postseason. "The expectations are high, and they should be," he says. "The players are here. They just need to be motivated and pushed. That's my job."

The Trojans will miss the acrobatic Trepagnier, who left early to go to the NBA, but they have several alley-oop-loving young players, including 6'2" twin freshman guards Errick and Derrick Craven and 6'7" junior college transfer Jerry Dupree, to lessen the impact of his departure. Clancy, 6'7" and 240 pounds, also declared himself eligible for the draft last spring but withdrew his name and returns to give USC a powerful inside force. "Sam's big and strong," Bibby says, "which is good because we're going to ride him." The Trojans are hoping Clancy will get help inside from 6'11", 250-pound Kostas Charissis, a steadily improving junior center from Greece who played sparingly last season.

The Trojans will also need consistency at the point guard position from Granville, who is talented but streaky. If they get that consistency, an extended stay in the tournament won't be nearly as much of a surprise as it was last March. "We can stand up to any team in the country," says Granville. "We've been through the fire."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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