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Trojans plan to take 'playoff style of basketball' on the road

USC is hoping for great defense, good rebounding, no turnovers and good shots as the team prepares for a two-game trip to the Bay Area.

January 06, 2010|By Baxter Holmes

Aside from jerseys, sneakers and toothbrushes, the Trojans are bringing something extra along on their two-game trip to the Bay Area, where they open tonight at Stanford.

USC Coach Kevin O'Neill calls it a "playoff style of basketball" and he says it's the only style that travels well.

The ingredients: Great defense, good rebounding, no turnovers and good shots.

The outcome: "You can play well and win on the road as well as at home," O'Neill said.

On its first trip, USC lost by a combined 45 points to then-No. 2 Texas and then-No. 23 Georgia Tech.

But senior guard Dwight Lewis points out a key difference between that team and the one that later won three straight games at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii.

"We didn't have our whole team," Lewis said, referring to guard Mike Gerrity and forward Leonard Washington, who recently became eligible.

For defense, no team in college basketball is better than USC, which is giving up an average of 54.5 points and in its last game held Arizona State to 37 points, its lowest output since 1991.

USC also rebounds well and takes decent shots.

Turnovers have been the Trojans' biggest problem; they average almost 15 per game.

The mission tonight and always: "Control our team tempo, keep our team poised," Lewis said.

"If something goes wrong on the road, we have to stay poised."

Money players

USC has already faced high-scorers in Arizona's Nic Wise, Texas' Damion James and Tennessee's Tyler Smith.

But O'Neill said Stanford's Landry Fields, who is averaging 23.2 points, might be the best scorer USC has seen so far.

"It looks to me like he's a guy who can generate points very effectively," O'Neill said. "He's a very, very, very good scorer."

O'Neill also gushed about Jeremy Green, who is averaging 16.7 points.

"I think both of those guys have a chance to play for money somewhere," O'Neill said.

Heavy hearts

O'Neill told the team at practice Tuesday that USC radio play-by-play announcer Rory Markas died Monday night at his home in Palmdale.

Markas, who worked for the Angels, was in his 12th season with the Trojans.

"It's sad man, real sad," Lewis said. "Especially when I was a freshman, he would talk to me and ask how things were going. I appreciated it. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. He was a great man."

O'Neill, who is in his first year at USC, didn't know Markas well but spoke "of his reputation of being a premier announcer."

Steve Physioc and Pete Arbogast will fill in as USC's play-by-play announcers for the remainder of the season.

Physioc, who worked with Markas through 2009 on the Angels' television and radio broadcasts, will call tonight's game at Stanford.

Arbogast, USC's football radio play-by-play announcer, will handle USC's final 15 games, starting with Saturday's game at California.

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