Women of Troy look to get back on track at Colorado

first_imgFollowing a narrow overtime loss on Sunday, the USC women’s basketball team is looking to rebound with a visit to Boulder, Colo., where they will take on the Buffaloes.Fast start · Beginning the season ranked No. 23 in the AP poll, USC has opened Pac-12 play with five wins through seven games. – Chris Pham | Daily TrojanAlthough the 65-61 loss to Oregon State snapped the Women of Troy’s five-game winning streak and left them 2-2 at home in conference play, the Women of Troy (10-7, 5-2) remain 3-0 on the road against Pac-12 opponents.On the other hand, Colorado (14-4, 3-4) has yet to win a home game against a conference opponent. It began the season with 12 straight wins, but has gone just 3-4 over the course of Pac-12 play.The game against the Buffaloes will be USC’s first of a two-game road swing, ending with a visit to Salt Lake City to face Utah (9-9, 2-5) on Saturday.“When we get out on the road, we get together as a team,” USC coach Michael Cooper said. “We get into our game plan, we know what we’re supposed to do and it’s us against the world.”The team’s three Pac-12 road wins came against Arizona State, Arizona and UCLA during USC’s season-high five-game win streak, which was ruined by Oregon State’s late push in overtime at the Galen Center.“It was a tough loss. We shouldn’t have lost that game and we know that,” USC junior forward Christina Marinacci said. “Now we just have to get it back, take each game one at a time and move forward.”The Women of Troy will get that chance to recover against a team led by versatile guard Chucky Jeffery. She leads the Buffaloes in points, rebounds and assists. She shoots 40 percent from behind the arc.Despite Jeffery’s impressive play, Cooper had a simple strategy to dispel her effectiveness.“Put Briana Gilbreath on her,” Cooper said. “She’s our team’s leader on defense.”Senior guard Gilbreath, who was a rebound shy of a triple-double in USC’s 92-73 win over Oregon last week, is No. 8 all-time in steals and No. 5 all-time in blocks. She scored eight points and pulled down nine rebounds against the Beavers.While Gilbreath has headed the team’s defensive efforts, senior guard Ashley Corral has stepped it up on the other end of the court.Along with being No. 4 all-time in assists, Corral has scored 20 or more points in three conference games so far, including her 20-point effort against Oregon State on Sunday.The last time Colorado and USC met, Corral dropped seven out of eight 3-pointers en route to a career-high 32 points, giving the Women of Troy an 87-70 win over the Buffaloes in the NIT quarterfinals last March.This is Colorado’s first season in the Pac-12 after previously competing in the Big-12 conference.Marinacci and sophomore forward Cassie Harberts have also maintained a well-rounded presence on the floor, combining for 22.4 points and 13.6 rebounds in Pac-12 conference play.After losing to Oregon State, USC stands at third in the Pac-12 behind No. 1 Stanford (17-1, 8-0) and California (15-5, 6-2). The Golden Bears, however, will be facing the Cardinal on Saturday, which could give the Women of Troy a chance to rise in the standings with a win against the Utes on the same day.Nevertheless, Cooper insists that the team cannot be distracted by the conference leaders’ clash up in Palo Alto.“We’ve got to take care of our own business,” Cooper said. “We’re going to go to Colorado, get that win [and] then we’re going to go to Utah and get that one. Then we’ll look at the standings and see where we sit.”The Women of Troy are currently sitting in third place in the conference, while Stanford, at 8-0, remains in first place, followed closely by California at 6-2. The Women of Troy will take on Colorado at 6 p.m.last_img read more

USC’s brand remains strong

first_imgWhile USC’s latest ranking at No. 13 in the College Football Playoff is impressive, there are two things that are still quite frustrating about the whole situation. First of all, and most importantly, the Trojans don’t control their own destiny. Second, the CFP rankings are already inconsistent and filled with human bias.Despite the hand of redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Darnold that has saved their season, the early season losses destroyed any hope that this surging team could be in the conversation for a playoff spot. Of course, in hindsight, we can speculate that had Darnold been named the starter from the beginning of the year, it’s quite possible that USC would be just a one- or two-loss team, but the blame can’t squarely be placed on redshirt junior quarterback Max Browne or head coach Clay Helton.Since both quarterbacks wear the non-contact jersey in practice, how could Helton have known of Darnold’s exquisite ability to connect with receivers when under pressure while Browne struggled so much in similar situations? Changing quarterbacks undoubtedly saved USC’s season, but no one knew how great the transformation would be. As in life though, everything comes with a price. A mistake made at the beginning of the season is still a mistake, and still haunting the Trojans who need a lot of help the next two weeks if they want to make it to the Pac-12 Championship game. Granted, probably no one thought we would be having this conversation after week four when the team was strapped with a 1-3 record; but now we are. In college football more so than in other sports, every single game matters because you only play each team once. There will be no chance of redemption against Stanford with a new quarterback or Utah in a game that isn’t Darnold’s debut. These things hurt.However, the CFP committee has looked upon the Trojans with great favor and it is reflected in their ranking. Thirteen is a lot higher than anyone thought USC could be ranked after week four, but how much does the committee’s own bias contribute to this? Is it possible that a small factor in their decision — whether conscious or unconscious — is based on USC’s reputation and brand as a football team?If the argument is that USC is a completely different team and has turned their season around from their early woes, then that’s fine. But why is Washington State still ranked so low? The Cougars’ record has undergone just as dramatic a transition as the Trojans, if not more so since they are undefeated in conference play. With two tough games coming up against a ranked Colorado and a ranked Washington, they will have a terrific chance to prove their worth, but shouldn’t they be getting more respect as it is?USC is the highest ranked team with three losses, and maybe part of that is because the Trojans lost at the beginning of the year, to ranked opponents and away from home. The committee has placed an immense emphasis on strength of schedule, but doesn’t seem to consider quality of win or loss in their calculations.For example, sure Clemson has a great record, but they don’t have to play as tough a schedule as other teams, and they are barely escaping with wins. Three of their last four games have been decided by a touchdown or less. They beat NC State in overtime by 7, Florida State by 3 and lost to Pitt by 1. This doesn’t make for an impressive resume. Of last week’s top four teams, three of them — Michigan, Clemson and Washington — lost last Saturday. Washington was the only one who lost to a ranked opponent, but they dropped the furthest, falling from No. 4 to No. 6 while Michigan and Clemson remained in the top four sitting at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively.Human bias is there, and that is why the playoff committee consists of people who have the capacity to think instead of computer algorithms. But they aren’t being consistent in their job and are letting their biases affect the rankings.Surely anyone who has watched a lot of Pac-12 football this season knows that no one would want to face this current USC team, but the Trojans are the fourth-highest Pac-12 team. No, there is never a clear-cut answer, and nothing will ever satisfy everyone, but in an attempt to not only make the playoff as fair as possible,  but also including the best teams in the country at the time, human judgment needs to be put at a higher priority instead of the reputations and egos that are on the line.The Trojans blew their chance to be included in this conversation. No matter how well they are playing at the end of the year, with three losses they won’t make the playoff. However, with a little help, they could still find their way into a great bowl game, and maybe next year, when they can hit the ground running, they too will be in the conversation for the top four spots in the land.Hailey Tucker is a junior majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. She is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Tucker Talks,” runs Thursdays.last_img read more