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Dance Card: USC, Pac-12

The biggest surprise of the BCS so far- for once, Trojans are the ones springing the ambush, not taken in by it.


Who? The Trojans of Southern California. The short form is USC everywhere but South Carolina. The team is classically known as the Women of Troy, which is one of the very few gendered nicknames I like.

What? For their fighting spirit. (Though being half-Greek of Spartan heritage, I must point out that Troy lost.) The mascot is Traveler, not the guy riding him.

Where? Los Angeles, California, which has a history of smog dating back before the city's founding.

When? March 9th, in Seattle, Washington.

Why? They won the Pac-12 conference tournament.

How? Down seven at the half, the Women of Troy fought back in the second half, clamping down on defense and coming up with big shots in their 71-62 win over Oregon State. Ariya Crook led four Trojans in double figures with 16 points.

Surprise? Predicted to finish sixth in the conference, they ended up in fifth, tied in the standings with Arizona State and six games back of Stanford- but they knocked out the Cardinal in the semifinals.

RPI: 39

SOS: 29

Record: 23-12 (11-7 Pac-12)

Good wins: Stanford in the Pac-12 semifinals, full stop.

Bad losses: At Cal State Northridge.

Who's driving this thing? Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, since 2013. I really hate using her married name.

Extra, Extra! The Los Angeles Times and The Los Angeles Daily News (the latter with a little help from its friends). For all things in the City of Angels, though, I turn to hoopism for the first scoop. The folks at Conquest Chronicles have had a little to say recently, too.

Junior guard Ariya Crook has risen to the challenge this year for the Women of Troy, averaging 15.8 points per game. Forward Cassie Harberts adds 15.7 points and 7.5 rebounds, but gets in foul trouble. That all being said, the Trojan who intrigues me most, from having seen her in drills, is physical forward Alexyz Vaioletama (8.7 points, 7.6 rebounds), star of the Stanford win. (She's got my favorite useless magic number: more turnovers forced than committed. I knew there was a reason I liked her, other than those poor pads in practice.)