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USC REPORT

Long-Range Plans Are Reconsidered

March 07, 2006|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

The shot chart has been nearly as reliable a predictor of USC's success this season as the final score.

In their 17 victories, the Trojans have averaged 15.9 three-point attempts.

In their 12 defeats, they've averaged 23.0 long-range shots.

Saturday, that figure ballooned to a season-high 35 during a 71-60 loss to California at Haas Pavilion.

"We don't want to settle for that many threes," said sophomore guard Gabe Pruitt, who attempted a team-high 10 three-pointers. "We work too hard in practice to sit out there on the wing and make it easy for the other team."

Pruitt has been the team's biggest culprit recently when it comes to taking too many three-pointers. Since returning from a five-game absence because of a broken bone in his left knee, he has taken 20 of 26 shots from long distance in losses to Stanford and Cal.

"I told myself that's something I wasn't going to do," Pruitt said. "I don't want to be labeled as just a three-point shooter. I just want to try to mix it up and do a little bit of everything."

Sophomore swingman Nick Young, who missed the five three-pointers he took against Cal, also vowed to feature a more diversified attack Thursday at Staples Center when the teams meet again in a Pacific 10 Conference tournament quarterfinal.

"I've got to start inside-out," Young said. "I've got to start driving and get some fouls and then my jump shot will come."

One reason USC Coach Tim Floyd wants his team to shoot fewer three-pointers is the fact that its number of free throws has been inversely proportional to its number of long-distance shots.

In their victories, the Trojans have attempted 21.9 free throws; in their losses, that figure dropped to 15.8.

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A group of former Trojan players attended Monday's practice at the Sports Arena at the request of Floyd, who said such occurrences would happen with more regularity in the coming years.

"I just wanted them to come by and smell the old gym one more time," Floyd said. "I wanted some of our players to get around them and meet them."

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Floyd said he was unsure whether his team would practice at Staples Center before its quarterfinal game.

"We're talking about it," he said. "I know the window is very limited, not enough to get anything done, break a sweat."

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