Henry Bibby fancies himself a defense-minded coach, an old-school taskmaster who preaches about how playing good defense creates opportunities at the other end of the court.
Imagine his early-season chagrin, then, at USC's defensive lapses and the Trojans' coughing up leads in losses to the likes of Nevada Las Vegas (they blew a seven-point advantage in the last minute) and during a 24-point blowout loss at Brigham Young.
But something changed Friday at Fresno State. USC played hard and smart on defense and was able to escape with a victory after holding the Bulldogs to one field goal in the game's final 8:45, and only two points -- on a pair of free throws -- in the last 5:36.
It's a nascent trend the Trojans hope will continue tonight against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
It's also one that got its legs in practice last week.
"We were out there running on the track in our defensive slides," said junior point guard Derrick Craven. "We had to do two laps in our defensive slides.