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Daniel Hackett, Taj Gibson and Dwight Lewis are set to return

USC BASKETBALL

All three should be available to play against Stanford after being sidelined because of illness or injury.

January 29, 2009|Chris Foster

USC's basketball team received good news on three fronts Wednesday: Daniel Hackett, Taj Gibson and Dwight Lewis should all be available tonight when the Trojans face Stanford at the Galen Center.

How much and how well Hackett (flu), Gibson (pneumonia) and Lewis (sprained ankle) will play is not known. But all three participated in the walk-through Wednesday and Lewis also practiced with the team.

"Taj came in today and his lungs were clean. Daniel said he is feeling better. Dwight seems ready. Now it's a matter of how much they will have in the tank," Coach Tim Floyd said.

Lewis, who has sat out two games, said the uncertainty surrounding Hackett and Gibson provided him extra motivation.

"If they're out, I have to play," said Lewis, who leads the Trojans with a 15.8 scoring average. "The ankle was sore this morning, but I can play on it."

Hackett, too, said he was ready to go, saying, "If it is up to me, I'm playing."

Gibson, the second leading scorer (14.7) and leading rebounder (10.4) for the Trojans, was treated for pneumonia Monday and Tuesday yet showed up somewhat ready to play Wednesday.

"It's amazing," said David Borchardt, the team's trainer. "It helped that we caught it early. We'll check him [Thursday] morning to make sure he's consistent."

Even with those three key players on the court, the Trojans probably will need more contributions from others to pick up some slack.

"Everyone trusts each other on this team," Lewis said. "The thing we have to remember is not to try to do too much to make up for the guys who are sick. We have to stay within our offense."

Scheming

The Trojans threw special defenses at Washington and Washington State last week, using a box and one and a triangle and two at times.

Floyd said it was out of necessity.

"We had Dwight Lewis out and Daniel Hackett had been playing 40 minutes per game," Floyd said. "We had to improvise, knowing that if Hackett got in foul trouble we didn't have the resources to do without him."

It was effective. Washington shot 37% and Washington State 27.5%.

"The way we played, you'd think we practice those all the time," Floyd said. "It's man defense every day. I'm a firm believer that the more zone you play, the worse your man [defense] gets."

Still, the Trojans may play some zone tonight.

"Until we get healthy, it's who we are and who we have to be at times," Floyd said.

Nearly healed

Forward Leonard Washington, who has been slowed by a high ankle sprain, said he should be 100% by Saturday's game against California.

"The only soreness is because I haven't been able to play or practice much," Washington said. "I'll be at full strength by Saturday. Tell people I'm dunking again."

--

chris.foster@latimes.com

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