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December 14, 2007

Delaware State comes to the Galen Center

So the Trojans came painfully close to back to back victories over top five teams, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Still, there are plenty of positives. The defense has been absolutely stifling. Both Kansas and Memphis averaged over 85 points per game, and the Trojans held them each to under 60 in regulation.

The offense is struggling with the injury to Taj Gibson's ankle and some poor shot selection in crucial moments. Now the Trojans will get a chance to regroup after a meaningless blowout loss to Fresno Pacific in a game where the Trojans played their reserves the whole game. Three straight home games against teams that SC should beat could send the Trojans into Pac-10 play 9-3 and battle tested. They will have to go it without Kasey Cunningham though, who was lost for the season when he injured his knee in practice. First contest: Delaware State.

Click here for photos from USC/Fresno Pacific

Things To Know About Delaware State

The Hornets are in the midst of a killer preseason in which they have yet to play a home game. They have already played games against Arkansas, Georgia, and Arizona State. They have started the season 1-5, with losses to those three teams, Columbia, and Wisconsin Green Bay. Their lone victory game in an early conference game against Maryland Eastern Shore. The rest of their non-conference schedule promises to be rough as well with road trips to Cal, Xavier, and Seton Hall. The Trojans are probably the best team that the Hornets have faced this season.

DSU was the top team in their conference last season. They finished 16-2 and made it to their conference tournament final before being shocked by Florida A&M. That team lost four starters though, and is in rebuilding mode. They are not expected to compete for the conference championship this year.

6-6 wing man Roy Bright is the leader of the team. Bright transferred from Cincinnati after being dismissed from the team. He averaged over 15 points last season, and is averaging about 18 so far this year. Bright has the green light to shoot, and is happy to oblige. He shoots over eight threes a game, which is a ton. He is streaky, and at times struggles with shot selection. Bright also leads the team in rebounds. He has been suffering though with a sprained big toe. He didn't play in their win over MES, and tried to go in the first half against Arizona State, only to sit almost all of the second half.

Bright's injury has pushed junior guard Donald Johnson to the forefront. Johnson is kind of like Bright in that has has never seen a shot he didn't like, but he shoots at a lower percentage. Combined the two shoot about 40%, and about 35% from behind the arc. If Bright can go, Johnson will likely come off the bench. 5-10 point guard Trevor Welcher is the team's steadying influence. He is not a big time scorer, and is a poor perimeter shooter, but he only takes good shots (59%) and he is an unselfish player who leads the team in assists. He could be the Hornets' best defender as well.

Frisco Sandidge is a 6-6 forward. He provides some rebounding and fouls for the team. He can knock down the occasional three, but he is not an offensive threat. Joe Dickens plays the big forward position for the team, but he is only 6-7. He is a poor rebounder, and has been brutal offensively this year. The starting five will be rounded out by 6-5 guard Marcus Neal, another offensive non-threat who has handed out turnovers like he's feeling charitable.

The Hornets basically go eight deep when Bright is healthy. Johnson is their first guy off the bench who provides scoring spark. Terrence Parkes, a 6-6 true freshman forward, is their third leading scorer and a decent rebounder. He is not really a post player, but he finds ways to get things done around the basket, especially with offensive rebounding. Kyle White is a back up point guard who is still learning the position. He has been erratic.

As a team, there isn't one thing that stands out as something the Hornets really do well. They have not shot the ball well this season (39.7% from the field, 31.7% from deep). They are in the minus side in rebounding margin. They have really struggled on defense this season, allowing opponents to shoot 47%. They have been turnover prone against their big conference opponents. They don't force many turnovers. The best thing you can say about them is that they make their free throws.

Final Analysis

Delaware State is not a good basketball team. They're still trying to find their way after losing four starters, and they appear to be an undisciplined team that takes poor shots and doesn't play defense. They have kept the scores low in some of their games though, so I think we can expect a slow deliberate style from them. They don't have good size, and their top scorers are conscience proof gunners.

The Trojans should be able to stifle this team with their defense. The Mercer and Fresno Pacific games have already served to get the attention of this team when it comes to effort level. I would be kind of surprised if Deleware State cracked 50 points. This gives USC a good opportunity to work on its execution of the halfcourt offense. It will be interesting to see how much the dinged up Gibson will play. Either way, this shouldn't be much of a contest. SC has played hard on defense since the Mercer loss, and with the starters playing, that's all it will take to win this game. Even a poor offensive showing would result in a win if the defense is consistent. I predict the Trojans will do well offensively and win going away.

Trojans-70, Hornets-48

Questions, comments, or info? Contact me at tvenegas@comcast.net

Click here for photos from USC/Fresno Pacific

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