Yoav’s Top 10: Big wins and strong debuts define the past two weeks

Football may have taken a week’s break, but here at the Top 10, we never rest. Men’s water polo won a primetime matchup, women’s soccer refused to lose and a couple of former Trojans had strong starts in the NBA’s return. Let’s get down to business.

Underrated USC basketball

The preseason AP Top 25 College Basketball poll landed last week with no USC men’s basketball in the rankings. The Trojans had the 3rd-most votes among unranked teams, putting them in a more favorable position than you might think. Teams that were unranked before the season have gone on to win the national championship six times, as many times as preseason No. 9-25 have ever won combined. 

Shillelagh Hunting

USC and Notre Dame added another chapter to their storied football rivalry last Saturday. Notre Dame came away with the Shillelagh after a 31-16 victory over the Trojans, but what exactly is a Shillelagh? The Jeweled Shillelagh is an Irish club made of blackthorn or oak saplings imported from Ireland. First awarded in the 1952, the Shillelagh commemorated the inaugural game of the rivalry, played in 1926, and was donated by the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Los Angeles. 

Jaxson Dart’s recovery

 Freshman quarterback Jaxson Dart returned to almost full practice participation last week, graduating to an injury status of “out” to “day-to-day.” While he wasn’t able to return to action against Notre Dame, Dart will be back sooner rather than later. Interim head coach Donte Williams said Dart was “cleared to an extent,” but Williams decided to keep him on the bench until he’s 100%.

Water polo bounces back

Men’s water polo came back from a defeat at UC Berkeley to record two straight wins against ranked opposition. The Trojans blew out No. 12 UC Irvine on the road 17-8 before heading to Long Beach State for a top-5 battle. Five goals in the 2nd quarter gave USC a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Carson Kranz and Wyatt Barker chipped in with their second and third hat tricks of the season, respectively. Then, the Trojans took down No. 4 Stanford on the road Saturday to cap off a great week.

Anna Smith, resident brick wall

Another week without losing for the women’s soccer team. Goalkeeper Anna Smith left it all on the field to keep the Trojans’ unbeaten streak going with 11 saves, matching her career-high as the game went to overtime. Head Coach Keidane McAlpine had this to say after the 0-0 slugfest against Washington State Thursday: “This is the kind of game that we need to get better.”

NBA Trojans settle in

The Bulls and Cavaliers tipped off their seasons with a pair of Trojans in tow. Shooting guard DeMar DeRozan clocked in with 17 points, seven rebounds and a pair of assists in his first showing since being traded to the Windy City. Elsewhere in the Eastern conference, center Evan Mobley had a debut to remember. With 17 points, nine rebounds, six assists, one steal and one block, he hit marks no rookie (other than Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton) has ever hit in their opening contest.

Going for it

Senior running back Keaontay Ingram ran for a first down against Notre Dame on 4th-and-2 just before the end of half last Saturday, continuing a trend of 4th down excellence. USC has gone 4-6 on 4th down conversions this year. 

Women’s rowing sets off

The USC women’s rowing team traveled to Boston for its first regatta of the season. Competing in the women’s club eights event at the Head of the Charles Regatta, the Trojan rowers didn’t mess around. They took first place out of 31 college teams, an impressive start to a promising season. 

Keaontay Ingram’s big day

Ingram was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing loss to Notre Dame. He ran for 138 yards, a season-high and his third touchdown of the year, helping kickstart the USC offense when it looked to be stuck in a ditch. His physical running set the tone for a tougher second-half showing on both sides of the ball. 

Intramural Drama III: The pain of defeat

Often, we journalists are directed to be impartial, to emotionally distance ourselves from the subject of our coverage. In this aspect, I have perhaps failed. 

For six weeks, I have covered this intramural soccer team, growing to appreciate its dedication and grit. In the end, all good things must come to an end. The USC intramural team, “Players without a team,”  was defeated in a 1-0 loss in the round of 16 two weeks ago, finishing an eventful period of competition in disappointment. Although they’re called “Players without a team,” by the end of their season, they had found a team to be proud of.

Yoav Gillath is a freshman writing about his ten favorite things that happen in USC sports. His column, “Yoav’s Top 10,” runs every other Monday.