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WHERE'S THE FIRE?

Byline: Scott Wolf Staff Writer

USC coach Henry Bibby's frustration with the Trojans' lack of intensity reached a boiling point Tuesday, as he abruptly canceled a morning practice, made the players leave the North Gym and had them return for an afternoon session.

``I was surprised he stopped it,'' sophomore guard Desmon Farmer said. ``He just didn't like the way it was going. We were lackadaisical in the first drill.''

Senior forward David Bluthenthal said the players deserved Bibby's loss of patience.

``We weren't excited enough or going hard enough,'' Bluthenthal said. ``Guys needed it.''

Bibby criticized the entire team during his Tuesday news conference, saying the Trojans lack a real leader. In particular, he singled out the Trojans' three seniors - Bluthenthal, forward Sam Clancy and point guard Brandon Granville.

``We have a bunch of nice, low-key guys,'' Bibby said. ``We need someone to say, `This is my team' and lead. Last year, we didn't have that. I asked Brian Scalabrine, and he said, `Not me.' I've asked Sam Clancy and he can't do it. David Bluthenthal can't do it. Brandon Granville can't do it.

``Someone is a leader over (at Arizona) and it's not Lute Olson,'' Bibby said. ``Maybe it's (point guard) Jason Gardner. Someone who says, `If you're late to practice, don't show up.' ''

Bibby continued by saying, ``We need someone to say, `We're going to win the Pac-10 and get to the NCAA Tournament.' I think we needed a fiery leader.''

His players didn't necessarily disagree with Bibby's assessment.

``We're not going to yell at our guys, but I understand where it's coming from,'' Bluthenthal said.

--Brooks improves: Junior-college point guard Brandon Brooks of Indian Hills College in Ottumwa, Iowa, who orally committed several weeks ago, was considered risky because of academic issues. But Brooks' situation has improved enough this semester that he now is considered a safe bet to meet all academic requirements.

Brooks (6-feet, 195 pounds) is not playing this season, so he will have three years of eligibility remaining. He would be USC's third commitment after the November signings of Ventura College center Jonathan Oliver and forward Jack Wolfinger.

The Trojans have one scholarship remaining.

--Possible raise: There's been nothing stronger than a gentleman's agreement, but preliminary discussions have been made regarding Bibby's contract. Current discussions have proposed giving Bibby a raise for the 2002-03 season that would increase his salary to about $600,000 a year.

He also would get a yearly raise for the next three years of his contract. None of the talks are expected to be firmed up until after this season, and nothing at this point has been guaranteed.

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HENRY BIBBY

USC coach says Trojans lack leadership and need someone to ignite the team.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 19, 2001
Words:459
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