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Looking Ahead...but not too far ahead

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The Here and Now

While it's great to look forward to the tournament and hopefully have a respectable showing that could be a jump-off point for things to come SC still has some work to do.

SC plays UW tomorrow and believe me they will be motivated to take a bite out of USC. UW is probably headed to the NIT, a far cry from where they have been in the past so it would not surprise me if they came out looking to take their frustration out on SC when they meet tomorrow night.

Washington is 15-2 at home so they won't heading for the corner to pout, they will come out looking for an upset. SC beat UW in December 86-79 to end a 5 game losing streak to the Huskies. I'm not a fan of a post I saw on Kredell's blog today:

A loss to Washington on Thursday would have no impact on USC's bid for second place in the Pacific-10 Conference. The Trojans will get second if Washington State loses to UCLA on Thursday and USC beats the Cougars on Saturday.

SC needs to go in with the attitude of Just Win Baby! Winning assures them of high seeds for both the Pac 10 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. Any other attitude is defeatist and will only he team. SC needs to do what has been their success, play an aggressive defense and play it fast. Converting turnovers and scoring in transition will also play a major role in keeping the huskies at bay.


Coming Home

Lodrick Stewart will have his own cheering section when the Trojans travel to Seattle on Thursday. The Seattle suburb of Rainer Beach is where Stewart calls home and there are about 50 family and friends, including his 2-year old son Jaylin, who will be attendance for the game.  

Stewart said Thursday's game, with his son Jaylin, 2, in attendance a long with his eighth-grade twin brothers Hakeem and Kadeem, will be another sad and exciting night like last Saturday's Senior Day against Cal.

He just needs to finish out strong and stay focused.


Hackett finding a role

Once Gabe Pruitt got back into the line-up Daniel Hackett's playing time has dwindled but that hasn't got in the way of Hackett having a prominent role on the team this year. Crunch-time seems to be where he has excelled, his intensity makes him a valuable asset in the game and on the practice court.

According to teammates, Hackett's intensity has become a factor in the chemistry that has put the Trojans on the brink of their first NCAA Tournament appearance in five years. Coach Tim Floyd said he likes having Hackett on the floor when the game is on the line.

"Daniel's got a lot of grit," Floyd said. "He's got a lot of understanding of game situations, he's a great competitor and he has the ability to drive the ball and make plays for others or get himself to the line."

Hackett is an 82.1 percent free-throw shooter, best on the team. He also has an aggressive, occasionally inflammatory style that sometimes draws the ire of opponents. In December, Wichita State forward Kyle Wilson shoved Hackett to the floor, prompting a technical-foul call.

`Grit' is something good to have!


Speaking of Pruitt

Gabe Pruitt sat out the first 11 games of the season due to academic issues. When he missed a couple of tutoring sessions Coach Floyd had him walk up and down the steps of the Galen Center as punishment. Pruitt should know better but I think this is one of the main reasons that he looking for and NBA draft analysis; he just has a hard time in school.

"My fault," Pruitt said after practice, owning up to the two missed meetings with tutors. After sitting out the first 11 games in the first semester this season on academic probation, "I should be the last guy to do that," Pruitt said.

Floyd had said only that Pruitt "missed a class" and that he'd told him "to sit up in the stands," that he'd be "participating differently" in practice.

"It was a different approach today," said Floyd, who indicated he planned no further discipline after Tuesday for the junior, who had what Floyd called his best all-around game of the season Saturday against Cal.

Lets hope he has learned his lesson and hits the books.