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USC BASKETBALL

Trojans have a big task in dealing with Boston College's Tyrese Rice

The Eagles' star point guard is 6 feet 1 and USC figures to put 6-6 Marcus Simmons on him. But Rice has gone up against taller defenders all season.

March 20, 2009|Chris Dufresne

MINNEAPOLIS — News flash: USC is going to put a big guard on Boston College's 6-foot-1 star, Tyrese Rice.

Rice shrugged his shoulders during Thursday's news conference at the Metrodome and all but said big deal.

After playing all year against Tobacco Road in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Rice probably isn't going to be intimidated by Figueroa Street.

Concerned?

"Not really," Rice said. "We have big guards in our league . . ."

Even in practice, where Rice regularly was defended by 6-5 teammate Rakim Sanders.

"Rakim all the time guards me," Rice said. "So that's not really an issue for us."

How USC handles Rice, or doesn't, is a key to whether No. 7 USC or No. 10 Boston College prevails in tonight's first-round NCAA Midwest Regional game.

USC has used 6-6 Marcus Simmons in recent games as a speed bump against smaller point guards.

During last week's three-game sweep to the Pacific 10 Conference tournament championship, Simmons assisted in holding UCLA guard Darren Collison to one basket in nine shots.

Simmons also took shifts against California's Jerome Randle and Arizona State's Derek Glasser.

Putting Simmons on Rice takes some pressure off USC guard Daniel Hackett who, at 6-5, also figures to get some time against Rice.

Rice averages 17.5 points and 5.4 assists a game. His scoring average is down almost four points per game this year, but he's been asked to be more of a facilitator.

Simmons isn't losing any sleep over the prospect of tonight's assignment. During USC's open locker room period on Thursday, Simmons napped on the locker-room floor with his hood pulled over his head.

Dome doom?

Some shooters in the NCAA tournament have trouble adjusting to the vacuous backdrops of domed stadiums.

Advantage: Boston College? The Eagles played last week's ACC tournament at Atlanta's Georgia Dome, while USC won the Pac-10 tournament at Staples Center.

"I think that we may be a little more prepared," Rice said. "But when it all comes down to it, it matters who makes shots tomorrow and not who's made shots in the past."

Sit or stand?

Boston College Coach Al Skinner said he doesn't rely on film study to assess his opponent. "I get a much better feel as the game goes along," he said. "And so I have a tendency to kind of coach from the seat of my pants."

This is in contrast to USC Coach Tim Floyd, who tends to coach without his pants touching the seat.

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chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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