In a back and forth match, the Trojans fell to the No. 12 ranked UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in five sets on Wednesday. Gauchos junior Jacob Delson led the way with 22 kills and 4 aces in the 25-21, 21-25, 25-18, 19-25, 15-10 victory. The Trojans now stand at 2-4 overall and 1-2 in the MPSF.For the Trojans, getting another win against a top 25 team would have been a confidence-booster, but they fell just short this time. On the positive side, they once again received solid contributions from several players. Senior Lucas Yoder finished with 17 kills, while freshman Aaron Strange added 14 kills and eight digs. On top of that, senior Andy Benesh had 11 kills (hitting .526) and six blocks and sophomore Matt Douglas had seven digs.The Trojans could grow a lot from this game. Though the final result wasn’t what they were looking for, they fought hard against one of the nation’s top teams and nearly pulled out a win. It was especially important for them to put up a strong effort following a devastating 3-0 loss to CSUN in the previous match.It will be key for the Trojans to continue their physical and consistent play as they take on No. 2 UCLA on Friday at 8 p.m.
Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error SALT LAKE CITY >> A brief moment stopped for Kobe Bryant, where he could focus on something other than playing through the pain in his 37-year-old body, overcoming shooting inconsistency and elevating his younger Lakers teammates.Warriors guard Leandro Barbosa approached him this week during a stoppage in play, wishing him future greetings for when Bryant presumably would play in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero. Then, Bryant informed Barbosa he changed his mind.“It’s the young guys’ turn to go and play and perform. I’ve been fortunate enough to win two gold medals,” said Bryant, referring to his Olympic stints in Beijing (2008) and London (2012). “It’s important for them to go and play.”Bryant had expressed interest in another Olympics appearance as recently as early December. But before the Lakers played the Utah Jazz on Saturday at Vivint Smart Home Arena, Bryant sounded open about only one specific role. Bryant will likely do more with Kobe, Inc. once he retires. But he already trademarked several phrases, including “Friends Hang Sometimes, Banners Hang Forever.” “To look at it from a superficial standpoint, I don’t think it’s the right approach,” Bryant said. “You have to understand the significance of that and the depth of what that actually means. It’s not saying you don’t value friendships. That’s not what that means.”Bryant then explained that trademark signifies more than just a bumper-sticker slogan.“It means that when you have a purpose, you have something you’re striving for, sometimes you have to make hard decisions and make hard choices and sacrificing some relationships in order to accomplish something,” Bryant said. “It becomes very hard.”So hard that Bryant reported talking to various high school athletes “who struggle with the balance of high school friendships and relationships with playing football, baseball and basketball and how to balance the two.”“They wind up becoming distractions and they wind up having regrets when they get older because they didn’t focus on what they were trying to do,” Bryant said. “Now their friends are all going to different colleges and rarely speak. For me, the nature of that statement is being able to go after what you believe and your true purpose is to be and understanding when you have friends, they’ll understand that. You’ll never lose those relationships. I have friends that I still talk to this day that I’ve been friends with since I was 14 years old.”Memory laneThe wave of emotions struck Bryant any time he played the Utah Jazz.First came the deflated feeling a young Bryant felt when the Lakers lost to Utah in the 1997 and 1998 NBA playoffs. Those moments featured Bryant shooting four airballs in the Lakers’ elimination game his rookie season, as well as the Lakers holding a meeting on the team bus. “That was a very miserable summer for me,” Bryant said. “Every day I thought about trying to get past these guys.”Second came the euphoria surrounding the Lakers eliminating the Jazz for three consecutive years (2008, 2009, 2010).“It was a great feeling to have that happen,” Bryant said.Through the good and the bad surrounding 58 career games against Utah, Bryant relished it all for one specific reason.“All the wrestling matches,” Bryant said. “This is one of the most physical teams I played against.”During those times, Bryant averaged 25.9 points on 44.9 percent shooting and 4.4 assists per game. In his second NBA season, Bryant blocked Byron Russell’s 3-pointer that led to a dunk, which Bryant admitted he “felt vindication” amid the frustrating end to his rookie season. But Bryant reported he did not feel comfortable the Lakers could ever beat the Jazz until experiencing a 113-67 victory over Utah on Feb. 4, 2000.“That’s when we realized we could get past those guys,” Bryant said.So on Saturday, Bryant chatted with former Utah coach Jerry Sloan “about old times a little bit.” Bryant also joked with former Jazz forward and current team broadcast Matt Harpring. Then, referee Danny Crawford interrupted. “‘You and Matt Harpring hate each other,’” Bryant recalled, laughing.Maybe so. But Bryant loved playing the Jazz.“We used to have so many dog fights,” Bryant said. “That’s what I enjoy most about playing against a Sloan team.”Worst nightmareAmid their heavy travel, some Lakers occasionally forget their room number. For Jordan Clarkson, he felt a supernatural presence Thursday night in the Bay Area as the light in the bathroom of his hotel room flicked on and off. After Clarkson tweeted what happened, D’Angelo Russell shared on Twitter that the water suddenly came out of his spigot of his bathroom sink. “I left the room and looked for D’Angelo. I think he slept in one of the coach’s rooms,” Clarkson said, laughing. “I tried to play it off as much as I could and started watching movies. I finally fell asleep.” No horror movies, right?Said Clarkson: “I turned on the Disney channel for a little while.”That left Lakers coach Byron Scott shaking his head. “Nothing woke me up at night, no ghosts or knocking on the door,” Scott said. “My living room was shaking because it was a slight earthquake.”Model of efficiencyAmid all the endless losses, Clarkson has at least assured something reliable. He will score consistently, even if he has spent his second NBA season with diminished ball handling duties. Clarkson has posted double digits for 10 consecutive games.“I’m just working and trying to progress and trying to get better every game,” said Clarkson, who scored 10 points against Utah. “My shot’s coming in different places in every game when I’m playing. I feel like I can get in my spots, especially when I’m with Kobe and I’m out there with D’Angelo as well. I’m just trying to get used to playing everywhere on the floor.”Clarkson hardly surprised about the results. He spent his offseason adding 10 to 15 pounds of muscle, tweaked his shooting streak and worked on both hands.“It’s translated a lot, n the offensive end and on the defensive end,” Clarkson said. “I feel like I got stronger. The game has really slowed down for me a lot.”That left Scott “very happy with the way he’s played” as he gushed about Clarkson’s aggressiveness and dependable jump shot. But Scott wants more.“I want him to get to the basket a little bit more and get to the free throw line,” said Scott, who believed Clarkson needs to build more strength in the weight room. “So you can take the punishment of going to that basket; you’re going to get hit most of the time … He’s already pretty explosive and doesn’t mind going in there. But it’s a matter of going in there with confidence.”Injury updateLakers forward Brandon Bass sat out Saturday’s game against Utah, marking the second consecutive game he missed because of a sore right foot. “I’ll watch from afar and show support from afar,” Bryant said. “If they want me to come down and speak to the guys, I will. But that’s about it.”With Bryant playing his 20th and final NBA season, he had already ruled out playing overseas in following years because his “body won’t let me.” On Saturday, Bryant also ruled out a future in broadcasting. Bryant also found strong symbolism in playing his final game in the Lakers’ season finale against the Jazz at Staples Center on April 13.“It’s beautiful as it would be to play for the country, when I say my last game is going to be my last game, I’m going to retire and that’s it,” Bryant said. “It’s pretty sweet to have the final game in a Lakers uniform.”Business decision