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SoCalHoops Recruiting News

Midnight Madness Revisited: 
USC Stays Up Late--(Oct. 16, 2001)

There was quite a bit of basketball last weekend as the official start of NCAA Division I practices got underway in SoCal at four schools:  USC, Pepperdine, UC Irvine, and UC Riverside.  Since we couldn't be in three places at once, we've had to depend on the traditional media for our info (as well as reports from friends and scouts).   Here's what the LA Times had to say about the Trojan version of "Midnight Madness" in this past Sunday's edition of the paper:

Hopping Madness
Trojans Stay Up Late for Early Start and Show Off Skills

By PAUL GUTIERREZ, TIMES STAFF WRITER

Well, they're athletic. No doubt about that.

As the clock struck midnight Friday, the USC men's and women's basketball programs took the court at the on-campus Lyon Center and held their brand of Midnight Madness, an event organizers hope becomes an annual ritual to mark the first official day of basketball practice allowed by the NCAA.

The blurry-eyed, standing-room-only crowd of about 1,300 enjoyed the 45-minute program, which featured team introductions, scrimmages, a shootout and a dunk contest. The crowd was entertained by members of the women's team joining the dance squad for a routine, as well as by the touch around the basket by sophomore Ebony Hoffman.

But it was during the men's seven-minute scrimmage that the Trojans gave the fans a clinic on the finer points of the alley-oop dunk.

The Cardinal team of veterans may have outscored the White team of newcomers, 27-26, but that wasn't the point.

Fans came to see them jump and, of course, the highlight reel jams.

They got it in the dunk contest when freshman guard Derrick Craven bounced the ball off the backboard, caught the ball in midair and threw down a whirling tomahawk jam with his right hand to beat out his twin brother, Errick, and junior college transfer Jerry Dupree.

"It's all for the fans," forward Sam Clancy said. "We came out here and just tried to put on a show for the fans, show them that we're going to be ready for the upcoming season.

"We had a great turnout. More people showed up than what I expected."

Clancy received the loudest applause during introductions. After initially making himself eligible for the NBA draft last spring, he withdrew his name and the 6-foot-7, 240-pound senior is considered one of the top power forwards in the country. He is also a Wooden Award candidate, along with senior small forward David Bluthenthal, who appears to have put on 15 pounds of muscle.

"I made a great decision," Clancy said. "I knew that when I decided to come back to school."

Coming off a season in which the USC men advanced to the Elite Eight before falling to eventual national champion Duke, the Trojans are also facing the weight of hefty expectations.

The Trojans also have senior point guard Brandon Granville as a starter and sophomore Desmon Farmer, who figures to be the starting shooting guard.

Junior guard Nate Hair left the team but is continuing his education at USC as part of the settlement in his physical harassment case stemming from an alleged incident with former assistant Dave Miller, whose contract was not renewed this summer.

"The kids are excited," Coach Henry Bibby said. "We're coming off a great run and there's a positive atmosphere around and I think we can ... hopefully step it up to another notch and keep it consistent every year."

The show having ended, the Trojans, who open their season Nov. 13 at the Sports Arena against Wyoming in the Preseason NIT, trudged off the court and prepared for the real thing--practice Saturday at 11 a.m.

Beginning his sixth season at USC, Bibby said his program is starting to show signs of consistency and that events like Midnight Madness can only help with tradition.

"That's what we're trying to do," he said. "You're going to have some up-and-down years, but we're trying to develop some consistency here, we're trying to build a basketball program from the bottom up and I think we're laying the foundation to do that."

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