Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsUsc

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

USC's Mike Gerrity to start at point guard against Tennessee

Gerrity, who hasn't played in 21 months after transferring from Pepperdine to Charlotte to USC, was granted a waiver by the NCAA on Friday to become immediately eligible.

December 19, 2009|By Baxter Holmes
  • Mike Gerrity, who hasnÂ’t played in 21 months after transferring from Pepperdine to Charlotte to USC, was granted a waiver by the NCAA on Friday to become immediately eligible. He will start in place of guard Donte Smith.
Mike Gerrity, who hasnÂ’t played in 21 months after transferring… (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles…)

Mike Gerrity is a college basketball journeyman who is now on his third college in five years. He also hasn't played a game in 21 months.

But today, the Yorba Linda native and former Santa Ana Mater Dei star will start at point guard for USC against No. 9 Tennessee.

"It's a huge welcome back," said Gerrity, who said about 15 friends and family members will be watching from the stands.

Gerrity has transferred twice -- from Pepperdine to Charlotte and from Charlotte to USC -- and was granted a waiver by the NCAA on Friday to become immediately eligible.

Coach Kevin O'Neill didn't waste any time breaking him in.

"He's our best ballhandler, so I thought he should start," O'Neill said.

Gerrity has been known through his career as a skilled ballhandler. And as senior forward Marcus Johnson put it, "He's up-tempo, pushes the ball and likes to penetrate."

But O'Neill said he is "very concerned" about Gerrity's shaking off the rust of sitting out for nearly two years.

"I'm sure he's going to make some mistakes, but we'll be a lot better with him out there than with him not out there," O'Neill said.

"I feel like I've been practicing for so long, and I've played at this level, so I don't think there's going to be any rust," Gerrity said.

O'Neill didn't say how he would split time with guard Donte Smith, who has started at the point guard position all eight games for USC (4-4) this season. Smith declined to comment.

"I'm sure he's disappointed, but that's how basketball goes," O'Neill said.

O'Neill warns about Volunteers pressure

Pressure. Tennessee's bringing it, boatloads of it, on offense and defense. O'Neill has warned his players about it all week.

But as to whether the Trojans can actually handle the Volunteers' breakneck pace that ranges from freewheeling, fastbreak street ball to sound structured play, O'Neill said, "That will be the tale of the game."

"We just have to focus . . . , handle the ball, don't get in a panic, don't get in a scramble and . . . make the simple plays," said senior guard Dwight Lewis.

O'Neill said Tennessee's guard Scotty Hopson (13.9 points), forward Tyler Smith (12.2) and center Wayne Chism (11.7) "all have a chance to be drafted in the first round.".

Smith to miss game

Forward Evan Smith, who missed the Sacramento State game because of bronchitis, will miss today's game after suffering a mild concussion in Tuesday's practice. Smith said "it's like the 14th time" he has gotten a concussion, largely because of "dirt biking and stuff" when he was younger.

"The guy's had more concussions than Ali," O'Neill said.

Guard Percy Miller is day to day because of an AC joint sprain in his left shoulder that he aggravated last week. He originally injured his shoulder during the summer.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|