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Trojans Might Press the Issue

USC REPORT

January 25, 2003|Paul Gutierrez | Times Staff Writer

PALO ALTO — Errick Craven looked off into the distance, broke into a sly grin and lost himself in the splendid memory of it all.

The USC sophomore guard had just been asked if Stanford could expect another steady diet of full-court and trapping pressure defenses today, similar to the ones the Trojans unleashed on the Cardinal in a three-game sweep last season.

"Oh yeah, I think that will be the case," Craven said Friday at the team hotel, a twinkle in his eye. "We'll try to change the pace by pressing, getting out on breaks, disrupting their offensive rhythm."

USC's defensive dexterity flummoxed Stanford last year, when the Trojans forced 20.7 turnovers and had 12.7 steals per game while beating the Cardinal by an average of 17.3 points.

Still, Coach Henry Bibby would not commit to playing the same ferocious brand of defense. After all, USC had three senior starters a year ago who were familiar with the schemes and this year's young and rebuilding squad is still feeling itself out, though it improves rapidly with each game.

"We haven't really done a lot of that [pressing] this year," Bibby said. "I've been a little more conservative at times. I think you have to coach according to your personnel, but we can do that if we want to."

*

TODAY

at Stanford, 3 p.m., Fox Sports Net 2

Site -- Maples Pavilion.

Radio -- KMPC (1540), KPLS (830).

Records -- USC 7-7 overall, 3-3 in Pacific 10; Stanford 13-5, 4-2.

Update -- Trojan junior forward Jerry Dupree, whose sore right foot kept him out of practice last week and limited him to 47.7 seconds of USC's loss at No. 25 California on Thursday, practiced Friday.

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