With games against Oregon and Oregon State, both strong in their own ways, the women’s basketball team will have to find a way to tackle both teams in order to protect their home court and advance their record.
“Oregon is a very high-scoring team, and they have a lot of offensive weapons,” associate head coach Beth Burns said. “Oregon State is a little bit different. They are arguably one of the two best defensive teams in the league.”
After winning at home last year, USC was defeated in its second meeting against Oregon. This year, the two currently hold the same record in conference play at 1-3. On the other hand, the Beavers come to Galen Center undefeated in conference play with a five-game win streak against USC. However, the Women of Troy are not focusing on keeping the opponents’ records from distracting them from their goal.
“I think most importantly we’ve got to improve ourselves,” Burns said. “Sometimes you get so caught up in what Oregon does or what Oregon State does that we forget what USC does.”
While both teams will challenge the Trojans, one of the biggest struggles that the team has to overcome is inconsistency. With five freshmen and only two returning seniors, the Women of Troy are battling to overcome their youth and continue to improve with each practice and every game.
“I think about the only thing consistent with a young team is inconsistency,” Burns said. “From one game to the next that has been our biggest challenge. It’s a process.”
Still early in conference play, the Trojans are looking to use their youth to their advantage. None of the freshmen have played against Oregon or Oregon State, meaning their opponents will not be completely certain of what they can expect, even with game footage and scouting. Youth can only go so far in this league, though.
“When you play somebody twice with a young group, you have the opportunity to sneak up on someone the first games, but not the second game,” Burns said. “By the end of the year in league, the preparation of the group has evolved to where you learn plays in December, you run plays in January, and you’ve got to make plays in February and March.”
The younger players have the ability to learn from veterans like senior guards Courtney Jaco and Alexis Lloyd. With their guidance and the examples they set — along with the coaching staff — the players are not only preparing for more than just this season, but also for the longevity of their careers at USC.
“I really credit Courtney Jaco,” Burns said. “She is just a true Trojan because as an older player, sometimes she has to be really patient for 15 minutes of something that she can do in her sleep. We have to have a fine balance every day of fundamentals; how to pass, how to shoot, how to catch and how to prepare to be a Trojan, to be a champion.”
The Women of Troy will take on Oregon on Friday at 8 p.m. and Oregon State on Sunday at 3 p.m.