The women's basketball team finished their non-conference schedule with a 74-56 defeat to Vanderbilt on Saturday. It's the Women of Troy's sixth straight loss, and the combined record of the teams they have beaten (UCSB, Pepperdine, Arkansas St.) is 12-24.
USC lost two of their most productive starters during the offseason when Briana Gilbreath graduated and her sister, Stefanie Gilbreath, transferred to New Mexico State. Junior forward Cassie Harberts has attempted to pick up the slack, averaging 16.7 points per game, and sophomore Ariya Crook has taken advantage of her new position as starting guard with 13.2 points per game. However, they are the only two players on the team with PPG averages higher than six points. Combine that with a FG percentage of 38.1, a turnover margin of -3.38, and a defense that allows 65.8 PPG (11th in the conference), and you have the makings of a very brutal road ahead in Pac-12 play with the likes of Stanford and UCLA waiting in 2013.
Michael Cooper doesn't draw the disdain from fans that Kiffin and KO get, but as he enters his fourth year as the WBB head coach, he has yet to pilot USC to an NCAA tournament berth. The Women of Troy came close last year, and would have put themselves in a strong position to get a spot with a good showing in the conference tournament; however, they fell short in an embarrassing quarterfinal loss to #11 seed Washington State, who had not won against a Pac-12 opponent until that game. It's difficult to say what Cooper's future holds.
USC will begin conference play this Friday with a road game against 6-6 Oregon State.