"DRIVE MY CAR"
(COACH: STON MORRISON)
USC coach Stan Morrison expects point guard Larry Friend to have a driving influence on the Trojans. "The team is like a big Cadillac sitting out there," says Morrison. "If you don't have the keys, it won't run. Larry's the keys."
Last season Friend set a school record with 176 assists as USC claimed a share of the Pac-10 title. His assist-to-turnover ratio of nearly 3½ to 1 was particularly remarkable. At 5'11", Friend sums up the Trojans: fast but lacking in size. "Our downfall will be physical," Friend says. "We used to rely on beating people up." Adds Morrison: "We graduated all the elephants."
But the Trojans still have the Pac-10's top returning re-bounder in junior forward Derrick Dowell, who averaged 8.3 boards and 11.6 points a game last season. And Dowell and Friend should receive immediate help from six incoming freshmen, particularly Eric Gathers, who gathered in 15.1 rebounds per game at Philadelphia's Dobbins Tech. "I predict he will graduate as the greatest rebounder in USC history," says Morrison.
Further aid will come from 6'11" Ivan Verberckt, a transfer from Long Beach State who grew up in Antwerp, Belgium. He has a 91-inch wingspan, but one of his lungs works to only partial capacity and his playing time may be limited.
USC receives a stern test in the third game of the season when it meets Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. That game may tell if Larry Friend holds the keys to a new Cadillac or an old Edsel.