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USC BASKETBALL

Farmer Is Set for Bibby's Rants

October 22, 2003|Paul Gutierrez | Times Staff Writer

It's become as commonplace at USC in the fall as taking an afternoon stroll on campus and hearing the band belt out "Tribute to Troy," or "Conquest," or "Fight On" -- Trojan men's basketball Coach Henry Bibby publicly railing against his upperclassmen for a lack of leadership.

And although Bibby did not disappoint Tuesday at USC's media day -- "Hopefully, we're not waiting for the games to get ready to play," he said -- neither did the players.

In fact, senior guard Desmon Farmer said he was waiting for Bibby's sermon.

"I'm used to it, being here four years," said Farmer, the leading returning scorer (18.7 points) for a team that finished 13-17 last season and has lost in the Pacific 10 Conference tournament title game two years running.

"He said it to guys that were in front of me and eventually he's going to say I'm ... one of the leaders. It's the same for Errick Craven, Derrick Craven, Rory O'Neil and Nick Curtis -- he expects the same from them. So yeah, we were expecting to hear that speech."

Poor workouts on the first weekend of practices only sped up Bibby's pulpit rush.

The Cravens, however, had an idea as to why the returners were sluggish through the first three hour-plus practices.

"The older guys got bored," Errick said with a smile, referring to the teaching of the new guys that amounted to rehashing for the veterans. "I know I got bored."

Said Derrick, "Coach hasn't really been happy with some of the older guys' play but I think we're motivated to play. It's just the monotony of practice."

But it's all fresh for the newcomers, freshman guards Lodrick and Rodrick Stewart -- the second pair of Trojan twins -- Quinton Day and junior power forward Jeff McMillan, who red-shirted last season after transferring from Fordham.

But whereas the opening days of practice have been long on words, they've been short on tall players. McMillan is still hobbled by the broken foot he suffered in the spring, senior center Jonathan Oliver is academically ineligible through the semester, and junior power forward Gregg Guenther is busy as the starting tight end on the football team.

In any case, Oliver and Guenther are sure to hear Bibby's speech when they rejoin the team.

"Definitely. That just comes with it," Farmer said. "I think the guys that are going to be here after we leave are going to hear the same thing.

"It's true. You need the older guys to step up eventually. That's who's supposed to be making it happen, the older guys, setting examples for the younger guys."

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