PEORIA, Ill. — Henry Bibby couldn't care less what outsiders think of his program.
But the USC basketball coach doesn't much like it that the Trojans have fallen out of the weekly rankings.
"You always want to be in the rankings," he said Friday. "I mean, that's important. That's ego that we all have ... to be a team that's in the top 25."
The Trojans were ranked 20th in the Associated Press preseason poll but dropped to No. 24 after a loss to Fresno State in the preseason National Invitation Tournament. USC fell out completely after more than a week of ensuing inactivity.
"We've talked about it, though, and we're not deserving to be in the top 25 right now," Bibby added. "We've played selfish basketball to a certain degree and we can be as good as we want to be. We just haven't played up to what I would like to see at this point in time."
USC (2-1) has a chance to right itself tonight against Bradley (2-1), a mid-level team from a mid-major conference, in a nonconference game.
The Braves, who play in the Missouri Valley Conference, are led by sophomore shooting guard Phillip Gilbert, an East St. Louis High teammate of the Clippers' Darius Miles.
Gilbert is averaging 18.7 points and in last year's season opener, a 107-92 USC victory at the Sports Arena, he had 22 points, setting a record for a Bradley freshman in his first game.
His season scoring average of 12.5 points was the best by a Bradley freshman since Hersey Hawkins averaged 14.6 points in 1984-85.
USC freshman guard Errick Craven may pull defensive duty on Gilbert. "I don't know much about Phillip but I'll just play defense on him," Craven said.
at Bradley, 5 PST
Records--USC 2-1, Bradley 2-1.
Update--Junior center Kostas Charissis, 6-feet-11, 250 pounds, returns from his NCAA-mandated three-game suspension. Charissis, a native of Greece, was suspended after it was discovered he had played as an amateur in Europe on a team with professionals. USC senior forward Sam Clancy (18.7 points, 11.7 rebounds) has put a pad in his right shoe to absorb pounding and ease nagging pain in his foot. Clancy's sophomore season was derailed when he suffered a broken right foot, though he says the recent pain is unrelated.