Joey will be along later with a look at Western Michigan but I wanted to put two quick things up...
USC junior forward Alex Stepheson was today named the Pac-10 men’s basketball player of the week for Dec. 14-20.
It is the first such honor for Stepheson, a transfer from North Carolina and a Harvard Westlake alum who recorded his fourth double-double in the Trojans’ 77-55 upset of Tennessee with 19 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.
Playing 40 minutes for the first time in his career, he shot eight of 11 from the floor and was three of four from the free-throw line.
USC Coach Kevin O’Neill said after the game that Stepheson has greatly improved this season, and a big part of that is that he’s finally getting back in game shape after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.
"After about 15 minutes in the first game he played, he couldn’t even walk," O’Neill said. "I mean, he was dying. He’s getting better and better. He’s done a lot of extra work. Our trainer and strength guy have done a great job of getting him in there for extra cardio and lifting and stuff. He’s catching the ball better. He’s rebounding the ball. He’s got to keep making strides. He’s obviously not a finished product."
Alex played an awesome game against Tennessee. I am really impressed with how this team has come together with so much controversy surrounding the program.
We still have a long long way to go but Kevin O'Neill is starting to win some of over...
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The Rest Of The Rotation
Alex Stepheson, F, Jr., USC: Stepheson was hurt for the first two games, including the Trojans' home loss to Loyola Marymount. But the North Carolina transfer has delivered in nearly every game since, save a one-point showing at Texas. Stepheson was the dominant big man in the upset of Tennessee on Saturday, scoring 19 points, grabbing 15 boards and making an efficient 8-of-11 shots. If Stepheson can be a major factor, why not give the Trojans a shot in the Pac-10?
• Mike Gerrity, Sr., G, USC: USC picked up Gerrity as a transfer from Charlotte by way of Pepperdine. The Trojans desperately needed a point and were lost without one in the first eight games. Gerrity made quite a difference, outplaying his more hyped counterparts on the Vols in 37 minutes. Sure, he was 1-of-7 from the field, but he got to the free throw line, making 10 of 11 and scoring 12 points. He also dished out 10 assists. His savvy veteran play will help the Trojans be a factor in the Pac-10.
The spark that Gerrity supplied the team against UT was incredible. It is still early yet, there is always a newness when a new player rotates in, but you can't deny that it looks like Gerrity has been on this team since day one. He really commanded the floor and you could see how the other players fed off of his energy.
It sure is nice to see a bright a spot on the basketball team after all they have through the past 6-7 months. We are hardly out of the woods on this but at least there are some fun things to watch right now.