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USC Tries to Catch Cal on a High : Trojans Hope Bears Have Their Minds on UCLA Upset

December 23, 1987|MAL FLORENCE | Times Staff Writer

BERKELEY — It would seem that the chances of the USC basketball team getting a split in the Bay Area are negligible considering:

--The Trojans are coming off an 88-62 loss to Stanford in a Pacific 10 Conference opener Monday night.

--USC will play California tonight at Pete Newell Court, and the Bears are sky high after upsetting UCLA, 83-70.

But USC Coach George Raveling is trying to turn a negative situation into a positive one.

"We're playing Cal at the most opportune time," Raveling said Tuesday. "For the next 48 hours people won't be telling Cal's players to beat USC, but will be talking about how great they were after the big upset over UCLA."

Even so, USC (1-7) must get its act together to be competitive against any team.

Raveling cited some of the problem areas:

"We must eliminate our turnovers. We're averaging 21 a game and that's far too many.

"Also, we had only eight assists against Stanford and that tells me that too much offense is coming from individual effort.

"We're shooting so quickly that we're spending more time playing defense than offense. We've got to utilize the shot clock.

"And, we put Stanford on the free-throw line 21 times in the first half (19 of 21) because we were too aggressive. We were physical, but it was a blind effort."

That's just a partial list for a team that is off to the worst start in the school's history.

Some of the Trojans' problems could be cured by more accurate shooting. USC is shooting only 40.7% from the field and 58.3% from the free-throw line.

The three-point shot has been fool's gold for the Trojans. More than one-third of their shots have come from three-point range and, although the percentage (35.2) is respectable, it has deprived USC of an inside game.

"We've placed too much emphasis on the three-point shot," Raveling said. "The shot should just be an extra bonus."

Raveling blames himself for over emphasizing long-range shots. In fact, Raveling is assuming the blame for team's sorry record and has even questioned whether he is doing a good job of coaching.

He also said after the Stanford game that he had misjudged the talent on his team, which is mainly composed of newcomers.

"It's not a mature team, and it doesn't handle mistakes very well," he said. "The mental sky is very fragile."

At this juncture of the season, it would seem that the odds are against the Trojans improving on last season's 9-19 record--and their last-place finish in the conference.

But Raveling is trying bolster his team's morale.

"I told the players this morning that we have 20 more games to play, which means we have an opportunity to get better," he said.

Raveling is still hopefully looking at the glass as half full instead of half empty.

Trojan Notes Tonight's game begins at 7:30. . . . California (4-2) shocked UCLA by building a 45-26 halftime lead. The Bears were led by forward Matt Beeuwsaert, a transfer from Notre Dame, who was a teammate of Pepperdine's Tom Lewis at Mater Dei High School. Beeuwsaert scored a career-high 29 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and had 7 assists. He was supported by freshman guard Ryan Drew, who made four of his five three-point shots and scored 16 points. . . . It wouldn't be surprising if USC Coach George Raveling abandons his mass substitution pattern and settles on a rotation of eight players.

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