Hackett is looking to lead by example

Klein is a Times staff writer.

USC guard Daniel Hackett hoped to perform like a poised, veteran leader when the Trojans played in a tournament in Puerto Rico last month.

But Hackett struggled at times and shouldered responsibility for second-half collapses that led to losses against Seton Hall and Missouri.

“I felt so horrible about the Puerto Rico tournament, I didn’t want to go out and see the beach,” he said Sunday.


Hackett shored up his ball-handling, and his confidence, in a victory over Tennessee-Martin on Friday, committing only two turnovers in 32 minutes. The junior is eager to keep building on that performance tonight when the Trojans play host to San Francisco.

“I was a little more aggressive in the last game and I’m going to take more responsibility for the offense,” Hackett said before practice.

Hackett is averaging 8.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 6.2 assists for the Trojans, who showed improvement in several areas in their 70-43 victory over Tennessee-Martin.

USC played better defense, remained poised when leading and, Hackett said, “played all 40 minutes.”

The level of competition is expected to increase tonight against USF, which is 5-1 under first-year Coach Rex Walters. The Dons have won three consecutive games since losing to California, 87-74, on Nov. 18.

USC’s other challenge is to not look ahead to Thursday’s game at No. 11 Oklahoma.

“When you have new guys on the team, they get excited for the big games,” Hackett said. “It’s up to the older guys to make sure they don’t look ahead.”


Coach Tim Floyd does not anticipate a problem.

“It could be if we didn’t have two losses fresh in our minds,” he said. “That and the fact that San Francisco is playing good basketball.”


Sophomore guard Marcus Simmons, who made his first career start against Tennessee-Martin, practiced Sunday after sitting out Saturday’s workout because of an ankle sprain. . . . Floyd said he planned to speak with school compliance officials today with hopes of getting an NCAA ruling on the eligibility of forward Nikola Vucevic. The Montenegro native has not played this season while his amateur status is under review.



USC tonight


Time: 7:30.

Site: Galen Center.

On the air: Radio: 710.

Records: USC 4-2, San Francisco 5-1.

Update: USC resumed its winning ways with an easy victory over Tennessee- Martin on Friday. The Trojans face a USF team coming off a 65-63 victory over Colorado State on Saturday. The Dons’ only loss was an 87-74 defeat by California on Nov. 18. Junior forward Dior Lowhorn is averaging 20.2 points a game for San Francisco. Junior forward Taj Gibson (16.8 points, 10.8 rebounds) leads the Trojans.

-- Gary Klein