Anaheim, Calif., Nov. 24 – In one of his most-repeated phrases, legendary coach John Wooden pushed his players to “be quick, but don’t hurry.”
The four teams at the Paycom Wooden Legacy, which begins Thursday at the Anaheim Convention Center, are taking heed to that advice.
The stage is set for Saint Joseph’s, USC, Georgetown and San Diego State to be quick during the early season while not hurrying to the prize that awaits in March.
“Our goal here is to win, like every other team,” Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing said. “Our main goal is to make sure our team is where it needs to be when the Big East (Conference) starts, and San Diego State will be a great team to play against.”
USC (4-0) and Saint Joseph’s (2-2) will tip off in the opener at 6:30 p.m. PST, followed by Georgetown (2-1) squaring off against San Diego State (3-1) at 8:30.
USC is off to a hot-shooting start by making 51.6 percent of its shots with guard Boogie Ellis leading the way, averaging 17 points while hitting 24 of 42 field-goal attempts. The No. 24 Trojans have already won twice on the road and now play just minutes away from their home at the Galen Center.
“We’re off to a good start in the season and just had a nice road trip, which has been a great experience for our players as they had to go and play in front of some wild and crazy fans,” coach Andy Enfield said. “We do have a new team this year, but we have enough core guys that got a lot of experience who are coming that have got a lot of experience and were very successful over the last two years.”
Saint Joseph’s started with two victories but have fallen twice in the past two weeks. Senior forward Taylor Funk leads the Hawks with an 18.5 scoring average to go along with 6 rebounds per contest. This will be the second meeting between the schools, and the first in nearly 73 years.
“We’re still in the process of learning each other, but I’m encouraged by the group,” Hawks coach Billy Lange said. “And the competition we are going to play in USC, Georgetown and San Diego State is going to be great for us.”
Georgetown, led by guard and captain Donald Carey (15.3 points, 8-of-13 from 3-point range) has won two in a row. The last time to the teams met was in 1981.
San Diego State, the defending Mountain West Conference champion, has also won two consecutive games. Senior guard Matt Bradley, a transfer from California, leads the way with an 18-point average for the Aztecs.
“It’s kind of a conference tournament feel,” Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher said. “We’re thankful to have the opportunity of playing Georgetown in such a good event as the Wooden Legacy.”