It's only the beginning, but the USC women's basketball team is off to a successful start as it begins a new era under Coach Marianne Stanley.
The Trojans cruised to a 78-59 victory over Boise State in their season opener Monday night at the Sports Arena.
More importantly, they did it the Stanley way--with an aggressive defense and balanced offensive attack, something not seen in previous years with scoring sensation Cherie Nelson in the lineup.
Four Trojans were in double figures against the Broncos, freshman forward Kim Gessig leading the way with 21 points. USC outrebounded the Broncos, 49-26. Eleven of those were by Gessig, 11 more by center Bolivia Gaytan.
"It was a pleasant surprise," said Stanley, who was concerned after a sloppy Trojan performance against the Spanish national team earlier this month. "Anytime you hold a team to 59 points, I don't care if it is Boise State, you're playing good defense."
For the players, having Stanley at the helm represents a chance at gaining respect from a well-respected coach--she had three national championships as coach of Old Dominion--and a chance at forgetting past failures.
"The players this year have forgotten about her," said senior forward Tammy Hammond, referring to former coach Linda Sharp, who was at USC for 12 years.
The Trojans started slowly Monday, then opened a 14-point halftime lead before coasting the rest of the way. . . . albeit against a smaller team with nowhere near the quality players the Trojans face down the road.