Sibling scorers and a roster full of talent
“Golden State! Golden State!” Minyon Moore called as she brought the ball up the court. The team spent the last 15 minutes of a recent practice running a pick-up game with situational plays. Aside from leading the play calling, the junior point guard also leads the team in scoring, rebounding and assists, and last month became USC’s seventh all-time highest career scorer and fifth all-time in career assists.
“It’s pretty cool in my opinion to get out the game and someone’s like, ‘Oh, you know you beat Cynthia Cooper’s assist record,’” Moore said. “Hopefully, we make the tournament so that we can try to make a run like they did and win a national championship.”
The Women of Troy had an up-and-down season. After starting 9-0, USC struggled to win in the Pac-12, starting 0-7 before getting a first win against rival UCLA in Westwood.
“I would grade the season a high “C” because we haven’t gotten the wins we want in-conference,” Moore said.
But through it all, the comradery of the team, she said, makes it all worth it. “My teammates, they make it fun every year,” she said. “That’s what was worthwhile and that’s a big reason I stayed on this team.”
Despite the rough start, the cardinal-and-gold picked up crucial wins in tough environments like California and Utah with the help of a new key player.
Her older sister, Mariya, transferred from Louisville two years ago, and per NCAA rules sat out the 2017-18 season. Now as a senior, she shares the court with Minyon for the first time since their high school days.
“Having her around is great,” Minyon said. “It’s a blessing—and our family could watch us play for her last year—so it’s dope.”
The Moore’s aren’t the only players who score well, however. Senior guard Aliyah Mazyck also scored her 1,000th career point this season, and freshman Shalexxus Aaron shot 42-percent from beyond-the-arc, earning Pac-12 freshman of the week honors after 26 points against Washington earlier in the year.
The roster is also full of fresh faces. Along with Mariya, starting center Kayla Overbeck transferred to the Trojans after two years at Vanderbilt, and graduate student Cheyanne Wallace, a power forward, joined USC this season after three years at neighboring Loyola Marymount.
Minyon’s game is reminiscent of Russell Westbrook—pure energy to drive into the lane and draw contact. But it also leaves room for her to kick to the sharpshooters, like Mazyck, Aaron and Mariya.
The elder Moore tied the USC women’s record for 3-pointers in a game with seven against Cal on Jan. 6—and her 36 points in that contest were the most by a Trojan in nearly 30 years. But unlike her sister, Mariya has a slightly different mindset.
“Breaking records is cool sometimes, but it doesn’t really matter if we lose,” Mariya said. “We’re focused on winning.”
As the season came to a close, head coach Mark Trakh remained optimistic.
“We got to take it a game at a time,” Trakh said. “We’ll focus on the next practice before we focus on the tournament.”
This is Trakh’s second tenure at Southern California. He was the head coach for five seasons, compiling a 90-64 record, but resigned in 2009 after getting knocked out in the first round of what was then the Pac-10 tournament. He was replaced by Cooper-Dyke, who resigned in 2017 for personal reasons. In his second year since returning, Trakh is steadfast in his zeal for the program.
“The second time is fun,” Trakh said. “It’s an honor to coach here, it’s a dream, it’s a privilege.”
Assistant coach Aarika Hughes–who played under Trakh during his first stint at USC—oversaw the practice, yelling “Let’s go!” Let’s go!” at the top of her lungs, urging the players to pick up the pace.
The game clock looming overhead read 4:00. Trakh appeared from the sidelines in his short build and strong, large face. With a slight hunch in his back, he walked to center court with a calm demeanor wearing a baseball cap and gray-ish casual clothing.
His demeanor stayed calm as he approached Minyon and explained the minute details of the play she was trying to run.
“She’s been the heart and soul of the team,” Trakh said of the Hercules, Calif., native. “Intensity. Passion. Great kid, great energy and great defense.”
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