Yoav’s Top-10: Ten things I loved in an up-and-down two weeks for USC sports

We’re back on USC sports just in time for a rundown of the basketball team’s strong start and the aftermath of football’s rivalry game Saturday. Wishing our readers a great Thanksgiving, but before we can get to break, let’s break down USC sports.

Gary Bryant Jr. steps up

In a game with few bright spots, sophomore wide receiver Gary Bryant Jr. had himself a day against UCLA. The wide receiver had 161 receiving yards and a touchdown, racking up almost as many yards as he had in his previous three games. His production may not have led to a USC victory , but he looks ready to step into the junior wide receiver Drake London-shaped hole in the offense.

Boogie Ellis’ do-it-all

The sophomore transfer from Memphis shined in USC basketball’s opener against Cal State Northridge. Ellis flashed his range with a deep three to put the Trojans up 20-13. A steal later in the half let him show off his hops on an empathetic Victor Oladipo-esque breakaway jam. 

He capped off his 20-point debut with a tough finish off the glass.

Trojans defense returns

Despite currently sitting right at the edge of the AP’s Top 25, men’s basketball is comfortably within the nation’s top -25 defenses. According to KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency rankings, the Trojans sit at No. 16, a mark almost as high as the No. 6  ranking they posted last season. 

Some defensive regression was expected after USC lost freshman forward Evan Mobley to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA draft, but if they can keep this up, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the Pac-12. 

Goals in spades

The USC women’s soccer team kicked off its 2021 NCAA tournament with a bang against GCU, winning 6-0. A hattrick in under five minutes by junior midfielder Croix Bethune set the tone for the rout and a couple of goals in a few minutes right after halftime finished it off. The dominant performance at home matched the program’s record playoff margin of victory. The Trojans battled Penn State in the second round but lost in heartbreaking fashion in a penalty shootout. 

Super senior turns super scorer

Men’s basketball redshirt senior forward Chevez Goodwin has stepped up to the plate in his fifth year and become a featured scorer in USC’s offense. After playing a smaller role in the season-opening blowout over CSUN, Goodwin has chipped in with 19- and 20-point games against tougher competition. He’s producing those points efficiently at a career high 67.7% field goal percentage, a marked improvement on the 53.8% he posted last year.

Dunk city gets dunked on

Men’s basketball Head Coach Andy Enfield returned to his old stomping grounds last week with USC’s trip to Florida Gulf Coast. Enfield established his reputation in Fort Myers, building the “Dunk City” team that electrified the 2013 NCAA tournament on its way to the Sweet 16. No electrifying upset came for this year’s edition of FGCU basketball though, as USC easily dispatched Enfield’s former team.

Picks aplenty

Is USC and UCLA combining for 4 interceptions evidence of good football being played? Opinions diverge, but most would agree those steals make for an entertaining game.

USC football shuts UCLA down for 10 minutes

The rivalry game’s opening stages were promising on one side of the ball for the home team. For all of 10 minutes, the Trojan defense stood strong, grabbing 2 interceptions on their way to a 3-0 scoreline. For the purposes of this column, it would probably be best if we didn’t cover what happened next. 

Women’s soccer takes home half of the Pac-12 awards

The Trojans boasted three of the six award-winners voted on by the league’s coaches. Senior Penelope Hocking went back-to-back, winning Forward of the Year. Junior Croix Bethune took home Midfielder of the Year and Head Coach Keidane McAlpine got in on the fun with Coach of the Year honors.

Anti-Prank Activities

There’s a long history of pranks between the two premier universities in Los Angeles, and there’s not a better time than rivalry week to pull those tricks off. Fortunately for USC, the fearless Trojan Knights and Helenes were on duty all week to thwart any vandalism attempts by force. Freshman Knight Jose Torres, who slept at Tommy Trojan for three nights last week, said he was “honored to be a part of something that goes all the way back to the ’40s. It’s just a fun time.”