(Flickr/Creative Commons/ Klaus M)
OK, so it's been a couple of weeks since I last wrote a non-revenue sports update. Election Day coverage and research papers have kept me away from CC for a while. But to make it up to you, here is a super-sized TROY WEEK EDITION of the USC Non-Revenue Sports Update, covering all the sports teams around USC Athletics.
Men's Water Polo: The Trojans' quest for a fifth consecutive national title has gone according to schedule so far this season. The team began the season as the top team in the nation and has stayed there, going undefeated through 23 games. This Saturday, after the big football game, is the Crosstown Splashdown between #1 USC and #2 UCLA. Nikola Vavic, son of Coach Jovan, has been on fire this season, scoring 72 goals total including a school-record nine goals against Concordia last week. After the game against UCLA, the Trojans will host the MPSF and NCAA tournaments at McDonald Swim Stadium. Without a doubt, men's water polo is the hottest team in USC Athletics, and they are ready to continue the Vavic Dynasty.
Men's Basketball: After recording the worst record in program history last season, the men's hoops team begins the recovery with a batch of transfer players and with their team captain, Jio Fontan, back to active duty after tearing his ACL last preseason. The Trojans are off to a good start, winning the first two games of the season. It is only the third time since 2001 that USC Basketball has gone 2-0 to start the season.
The season opened against the Coppin St. Eagles, and the Trojans rolled to a 87-73 victory. Immediately, there were signs that this team is going to be much better than last year's. Three players scored in the double digits, with Byron Wesley and J.T. Terrell scoring 17 points and Omar Oraby scoring 13. USC also used 15 players in the game, the most players used by the team in seven years. Most importantly, the Trojans scored more points in this game than any other game since January 23, 2010.
Four days later, the Trojans pulled off another victory against Long Beach State, 62-44. Though it was a lower-scoring affair, it allowed the Trojans to demonstrate a quality they have not had in years: DEPTH. USC scored 23 points from the bench, with Ari Stewart getting ten of those points. In the second half, after LBSU tied the game at 35, the Trojans went on a 23-4 run to put the game away.
The Trojans will now head to Lahaina (lucky), to take part in the 2012 Maui Invitational. Their opening game will be against Illinois on Monday at 9 PM PT on ESPN2.
Women's Basketball: The women's team, on the other hand, had a much rougher time of it when they lost their season opener on Sunday to Gonzaga 63-52. With the departure of the Gilbreath sisters and Jacki Gemelos, the Women of Troy had to send in two freshmen and a transfer as starters. As a result, the new starting lineup struggled in the first half while Gonzaga pulled away to a fifteen-point lead at the half. USC improved in the second half, but the damage had already been done. USC made 24 turnovers in the game and only shot 37% from the floor. Junior Cassie Harberts was USC's top scorer, with 18 points and ten rebounds. USC plays Pepperdine at Galen on Sunday.
Women's Volleyball: #8 USC remains in the middle of a tightly contested and highly competitive Pac-12 volleyball race. They are currently tied for third in the conference with UCLA with a record of 24-4 (12-4). The Women of Troy have also won eight of their last nine games, the one defeat coming from a stunning upset by Arizona State on a day that saw four nationally-ranked Pac-12 teams fall to conference foes in the lower half of the standings.
USC now enters the final stage of the season, beginning tonight with the final home games. They will take on #1 Stanford, who is undefeated against Pac-12 opponents this season and who has not lost a game since falling in four sets to Penn State in August. On Friday, USC will play their senior night game against Cal, who has a record of 14-12 (8-8). Three SC seniors will be honored, including outside hitter Katie Fuller, who is averaging 3.27 kills per set. USC will then wrap up their season with road games against Oregon State and #5 UCLA before moving on to the NCAA tournament.
Women's Soccer: Two weeks ago, Trojan Futbol finished a tough season with an upset victory over #2 UCLA thanks to an overtime goal. It was USC's ninth overtime goal on the season, which shatters the program record. USC went ahead in regulation with ten minutes to go, but UCLA forward Zakiya Bywaters knocked in the game-tying goal that sent the rivalry game into extra minutes.
USC had been 1-4-3 in overtime games entering the finale, but this time victory would favor them. With ten seconds remaining in the first OT period, freshman Marlee Carrillo launched a deep throw that got bounced off a header to the feet of junior Jordan Mirada. With four seconds left, Mirada launched the shot past Rowland, giving USC the upset victory.
USC ends the season with a record of 6-10-3 (3-6-2) and finishes in 8th place in the Pac-12. It has not been an easy season, as USC continued the struggles they faced in 2011. However, with strong underclassmen waiting in the wings, there is hope that the team can return to the championship form they had five years ago.
Women's Swimming & Diving: Let's end this with the S&D teams, who have gotten off to a great start this season. The women's team is currently ranked #1, with victories over Utah, San Diego, Washington State, Arizona, and ASU, as well as a first place finish at the SMU Classic. The top swimmer on the team is unquestionably their senior long distance swimmer Haley Anderson, who won the silver medal at the London Olympics in the 10K open water swim. She has won multiple races at every meet she has competed in so far this season. Her best event is the 1000y freestyle, in which she holds the school record at 9:31.5. The biggest meet of the year for the team will be on February 1, when they take on the defending NCAA champion Cal Bears on the Pac-12 Network.
It is Troy Week, people. Failure is not an option.
BEAT THE BRUINS!