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Hoops Notes

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With all that is going on with the football team we haven't really looked at the hoops program and there is some news to report.

A couple of weeks ago Daniel Hackett had his jaw broken by an errant elbow from O. J. Mayo in a pick up game that has forced Hackett to have his Jaw wired and on the sidelines instead of on the court.

USC sophomore point guard Daniel Hackett will be sidelined at least six weeks after suffering multiple fractures of his jaw Thursday afternoon when he was struck by the elbow of teammate O.J. Mayo during a pickup game at the Galen Center.

Hackett said Mayo grabbed a rebound and turned to pass before smacking Hackett on the left side of his jaw. Hackett was taken to a hospital and had surgery Friday to wire shut his jaw, which was broken in three places.

Since this incident was first reported it has now been reported that the elbow in question might not have been errant.

Although the incident occurred Sept. 28, Floyd has been out of town for several weeks and did not speak to Mayo about it until Sunday. Several sources, including a member of the basketball team, said Mayo punched Hackett during the game. No coaches were present.

"Yeah, he punched him," a player said. "They changed the story for the media."

Hackett and Mayo denied any punches were thrown.

"No, I didn't punch him," Mayo said.

Said Hackett: "It was a hard elbow."

It would not be the first time Hackett has drawn the ire of a teammate. Hackett got into an altercation with guard Dwight Lewis during practice last season, and had a couple altercations with teammates during pickup games last fall.

Who knows what happened and I wasn't there so I won't speculate what happened either.

There is a lot of pressure to do as well or better than what we did last year and those expectations are even higher with the arrival of O. J. Mayo. These guys will play hard no doubt about it and hard elbows will be thrown

This is probably no big deal and until the "unnamed" player identifies himself I will take those remarks with a grain of salt. I have been tempered enough not jump to conclusions until all the facts are in and we all know that there are some have other motives so I'll wait until the other shoe drops...if it ever does.

This is new for us, as we have not had a long "tradition" in hoops so there a bound to be some fits and starts. That was evident with USC's first Midnight Madness in five years. With some of the injuries we have on the basketball team midnight madness was a bit subdued.

Sophomore guard Ryan Wetherell was the latest to be injured after a collision with teammate Taj Gibson on Monday left a nasty gash above his left eye. Wetherell said the cut would require stitches.

Wetherell became the fifth Trojan to be injured either in practice or a pickup game over the last couple of weeks, leaving the team so depleted that Floyd had to curtail Monday's practice for fear of losing more bodies.

"We couldn't even practice if we had another injury," Floyd said. "We had basically 10 guys out there."

USC is missing four potential starters in sophomore guards Daniel Hackett (broken jaw) and Dwight Lewis (bruised quadriceps), freshman guard Marcus Simmons (sprained ankle) and freshman forward Davon Jefferson (sprained knee).

Our guys play hard so it is bound to happen I'm just surprised that it happened before practice even started.

I think it is safe to say that we are all playing for second place in the Pac 10 with the strong roster ucla has across town. My goals are simple, I just want us to be competitive and as this team comes together I would prefer us to be under the radar while they get all the attention, bright lights, notoriety and pressure that comes with it across town. There has been a lot of complaining about not getting the recognition they feel they deserve across town from the MSM so they will get the attention they rightly deserve. If I read Coach Ben Howland correctly he too likes to keep his guys under the radar so this year he has the added pressure to deal with.

Defense will be the key to SC's success this season and that starts at center with Mamadou Diarra. SC has not had a true center in quite sometime and while Diarra has the size he has some work to do on his skills. And that will just take time.

When it comes to the freshman center's fledgling skills, there's still plenty of room for growth. Even though Diarra scored a game-high 18 points to lead the Cardinal to a 78-51 victory over the White on Friday night in a scrimmage at the Galen Center, he didn't exactly face a stout defense.

Most of Diarra's points came on uncontested dunks, which will be a rare occurrence against the likes of UCLA's Kevin Love and Stanford's Brook and Robin Lopez.

"One day, it will happen for him," USC Coach Tim Floyd said of Diarra. "I don't know when. He's got a lot of God-given ability in terms of the ability to run, jump, block shots. He's just learning how to play the game right now."

He is a work in progress so we will just have to be patient.

Chemistry will also play a role in the make-up of this team. All the speculation of Mayo leaving after his first year could make it tough for this team to gel and find a leader. I'm not going to worry about what ifs and such. This is the team we have and they need to come together if they want to be successful. Feel good stories like Keith Wilkinson go a long way to bring a team together, as they look out for their own and embrace the type of hard work that WIlikinson has displayed.

So this season has a lot of high expectations but I don't expect it to be a smooth ride. We will have our bumps in the road and we will see some frustration but we will support this team no matter what.