There may not be any easy reasons for the significant success Cal has had against USC through these years, but it is interesting to note that both Coach Braun and Coach Bibby started their Pac-10 coaching careers in 1996. Henry Bibby was named head coach of the Trojans on March 15, 1996, and was the first of three new head coaches to the Pac-10 that year; Steve Lavin was the other newcomer.
In 1995, Bibby was hired as an assistant coach under USC's Charlie Parker, but was named interim coach for the last 9 games that season after Parker got the 'Ziggy (as Dickie V. would say). Despite not winning any of those nine games, Coach Bibby somehow earned the top job. Henry Bibby is renown for his collegiate play at cross-town rival UCLA and his NBA Championship with the Knicks in 1973, but many people do not know that he also played as part of a CBA Championship team and coached for 8+ seasons in the CBA.
Currently, there is some speculation in Los Angeles that he is the perfect fit to lead the now demoralized UCLA program, since he has proven his ability to coach in the Pac-10 and has direct links to the John Wooden era. Some detractors have said that when the UCLA job came open in 1995 when Coach Harrick was terminated, Henry was passed over by his alma mater, so the speculation about Bibby filling Lavin's spot may be just so much hot air. It certainly would be a major college basketball story, though, if a coach moved directly from USC to UCLA.
Bibby is an 'in-your-face' coach. Former Cal assistant and current USC assistant Kurtis Townsend recently spoke about the way the Trojan players view Coach Bibby. "They show him so much respect. He won an NCAA championship, an NBA championship, and a CBA championship. So they listen to him. He's got a lot of knowledge for them but he is also old school, a strict disciplinarian that doesn't let them get away with anything. He hasn't changed with the times."
But even if Coach Bibby will not change, his team's leadership certianly has. No team in the Pac-10 lost more firepower than USC did to graduation last year. The senior trio of Sam Clancy, David Bluthenthal, and Brandon Granville averaged 56% of USC's total points in 2001-02, and nearly 50% of their total rebounding. Sam Clancy garnered Pac-10 Player of the Year honors, and despite the trio having their season ended abruptly by UNC-Wilmington in the 1st Round of the NCAA Tournament, they did accomplish an Elite 8 run the year before.
Here is a quick look at the 2002-03 USC Trojans team:
Projected Starting Lineup: (Returning starters in Bold)
- PG- Derrick Craven 6'2, 190 So (2.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.8 apg)
- SG- Errick Craven 6'2, 190 So (13.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.2 apg, 41% 3-Ptr's)
- SF- Desmon Farmer 6'4, 220 Jr (17.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.4, 33% 3-Ptr's)
- PF- Nick Curtis 6'8 220 So (10.1 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.1 apg)
- C- Rory O'Neil 6'11 240 So (9.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
Key Returning Reserves:
- Jerry Dupree 6'7 200 Jr (2.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg)
- Roydell Smiley 6'4 195 Jr (8.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.3 apg, 40% 3-Ptr's)
- Robert Hutchinson 6'1 185 Sr (6.1 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 3.2 apg, 44% 3-Ptr's)
- Greg Guenther 6'8 250 So (5.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
- Kostas Charissis 6'11 260 Sr (3.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg)
- Jonathon Oliver 7'0 230 Jr (3.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg)
Beyond Errick Craven and Desmon Farmer, the Trojans are brand spanking new. Sophomore Nick Curtis is averaging 10 points with 8 boards per contest, but played just 5 minutes per game in 2001. Roy Smiley and Derrick Craven played even less. So some rebuilding is going on at USC now, with the Trojans at 7-6 on the season and 3-2 in the Pac-10. They had two bad outings against UC-Santa Barbara and Penn in non-conference games, but have played well in the Pac-10 season, getting wins over Washington State, UCLA, and Arizona State. The win over ASU was their biggest victory so far as the Trojans inched into a win in the last seconds. "For our team to win a close game like this is a good thing because in the past we struggled in games like that, not closing out games," said sophomore guard Errick Craven, who scored 22 in the win. "We almost let that happen again tonight, but we got the win." In spite of Ike Diogu dominating the Trojans in the paint, Craven and Farmer were able to pull it out.
The backcourt is the strength of this Trojan team, particularly at the shooting guard position. Farmer, Errick Craven, and reserve Roy Smiley are all natural 2-guards. Combined, they are averaging nearly 40 points per game in an offense that only totals 76 an outing. Farmer is a solid athlete who has the flexibility to man the 3-spot, and the former 'Flintster' can also streak-shoot his way to some big nights. Errick Craven is by far the most exciting player the Trojans have with his explosive slashing game. Craven attacks the rim as well as any player in the conference, though he is prone to committing charges and bad decisions. For depth, Smiley has been a sparkplug off the bench, averaging nearly 9 points per game. At the point, Derrick Craven is adjusting to a starting role now that freshman Brandon Brooks is gone for the year due to injury. Derrick is not a true point, and usually gives way quickly to senior captain Robert Hutchinson. When the game nears its conclusion, Hutchinson will be on the court.
In the frontcourt, the Trojabs no longer have a dominant low post player to rely on. Much like Cal had to adjust a year ago to the loss of 2001 Pac-10 Player of the Year Sean Lampley, the Trojans now deal with the same deduction in the loss of the 2002 honoree, Sam Clancy. Sophomore's Nick Curtis and Rory O'Neil are doing their best, with Curtis on the block and O'Neil using his face up jump shot. In an effort to get maximum energy, Coach Bibby likes to rotate his post players often and we'll see some of Kostas Charissis and Jonathon Oliver. Charissis is a Greek-native who played well last year as the sometimes starter, but unfortunately broke his foot midway through the Pac-10 schedule. Tight End Greg Guenther is also now available since his football season ended, and Guenther actually knocked down a couple of big free throws (on a questionable call) with 3.9 seconds left to get the win over ASU. Jerry Dupree has struggled with consistency this year more than just about anyone on the 'SC roster, and that has found him on the bench more often than not. Dupree is not much of a scorer, but he is one of the best under-sized shot blockers in the Pac-10. He's also the Trojans only true 3, so I think Dupree will get a lot of minutes against Cal.
California 2002-03 Team
Projected Starting Lineup: (Returning Starters in Bold) (2002-03 Statistics)
- PG- Richard Midgley, 6'1 200 Fr. (8.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 3.0 apg, 46% 3-ptrs)
- SG- Brian Wethers, 6'5 215 Sr. (14.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.9 apg, 35% 3-Ptr's)
- SF- Joe Shipp, 6'5 220 Sr. (21.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.4 apg, 43% 3-ptrs)
- F- Amit Tamir, 6'11 260 So. (17.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.9 apg, 46% 3-ptrs)
- C- Gabriel Hughes, 6'11 230 Jr. (2.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
- A.J. Diggs, 5'9 165 Jr. (4.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.6 ap