Press Association Remi Garde has told his struggling Aston Villa players to use Leicester’s stunning survival story as inspiration to avoid relegation from the Barclays Premier League. The Foxes – who were six points from safety on Boxing Day last year – won seven of their final nine games to stay up. “It’s quite private what I tell the players but this is one of the points that I said to try and motivate them,” said Garde. “The manager’s job is not only about having boots, a whistle and the training session. “I am fully aware that football has changed, individual behaviour can be very helpful for the team. But for the team you cannot ignore that. “You have to know that your 25 players, some can be in a bad mood because of many reasons. “You cannot ignore that. To have to try and resolve the problem but it’s a lot of work.” Villa face fellow strugglers Norwich on Monday and then Sunderland on January 2 in must-win games following their Hammers clash. But Garde ruled out using a sports psychologist to help Villa in their battle against the drop. He said: “I didn’t bring one in, I am interested in psychology but not to bring in someone within in the group, it’s very particular, football is something very different. “But individual and group psychology is very important, I’ve got experience around me of that, we talk a lot about that. Training is not only running and kicking the ball.” Villa are bottom of the table and 10 points from safety, having won just once this season, ahead of Saturday’s visit of West Ham. Leicester beat the drop despite being rooted to the foot of the standings at Christmas last season and have gone from strength to strength under Claudio Ranieri this term, with the Foxes remarkably two points clear at the top of the table.
It was early in the second half, and USC was ahead by double-digits when the chants started at the Galen Center.“Overrated,” they bellowed, softly at first but soon turning into a stadium-wide jeer aimed at No. 8 UCLA, which USC took down on Wednesday in front of a sold-out, raucous crowd of 10,258 people.But the crowd wasn’t done having fun. They chanted, “Thank you, Lonzo” when Bruins freshman phenom Lonzo Ball missed a pair of free throws that gave all fans free Chick-Fil-A. Then, with five minutes to play, the “overrated” chants started again, sandwiched in between a high-flying putback jam by junior guard Elijah Stewart and an and-one dunk by sophomore forward Chimezie Metu.And, for good measure, with the game out of reach in the final minutes, “Just like football” rained down, a gleeful reference to the 36-14 beatdown that USC’s football team put on UCLA in Pasadena last November.Take a moment to appreciate what happened on Wednesday night at the Galen Center. There it was, a crowd actually getting into a non-football USC sport, the most excited a basketball home crowd has been in some time.While it’s unlikely that the energy for future games will eclipse that of a matchup against a crosstown rival, USC has to hope that what occurred both on the court and in the stands against UCLA serves as a blueprint for the remainder of the season.“It was great,” Metu said about the sellout crowd. “I just wish it was like that every game.”“That,” as in the line for students to enter the arena wrapping around the stadium, the usually half-empty section of the stadium filling up an hour before tip-off, tickets for the game selling out a month beforehand, the parking lots around Galen Center displaying “FULL” signs and traffic on the nearby surface streets slowing to an absolute crawl.Inside, it was just as spectacular. USC beat UCLA for the sixth straight time in men’s basketball or football — four in a row men’s hoops — and the Trojan faithful rubbed it in as much as they could. The capacity crowd cheered and chanted without being prompted by DJ Mal-ski, who typically has to encourage fans to make noise.“This was as good an atmosphere as I’ve seen,” head coach Andy Enfield said. “It was just a great college basketball environment … This atmosphere was just sensational.”On the court, it was like the teams switched jerseys. The Bruins and their high-powered offense — that ranks third in the NCAA in scoring at 92.2 points per game — were held to just 76. The Trojans, who have struggled shooting the ball early in conference play, drilled nine 3-pointers in the first half alone en route to dropping 50 on the Bruins at halftime.It didn’t start out that well. USC trailed 8-0 right off the bat, looking jumpy and over-amped, while an emphatic follow jam by Ball had the crowd oohing and aahing. But after going down 20-10, it was like a light switch went off for the Trojans. There were steals and dunks, alley-oops and hustle plays and a whole lot of the net swishing from long distance.Like that, the game was tied, and then USC went ahead. Before you knew it, Stewart drilled a deep 3-pointer at the first half buzzer to put the Trojans up by double-digits, sending a dejected Bruins team to the locker room.By the end of the game, USC had sent UCLA into low-key panic mode. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Bruins stayed in the locker room for nearly half an hour after the game, holding a lengthy team meeting.Maybe this UCLA team isn’t as good as everyone thought it would be (the Bruins also lost to Arizona last Saturday) when it was hyped as a national championship contender, and Ball — who scored 15 points but committed a whopping seven turnovers — still needs time to develop after being heralded as the next big thing. Perhaps he still is. And perhaps the Bruins simply had an off night.The Trojans can’t think about that, though. They have to take the momentum off this win against a top-10 opponent and hope that it translates to another win in Washington next week. Given their inconsistent conference play following a 13-0 start, this could potentially be a season-defining win that sparks a late-season push for a better Pac-12 and NCAA tournament seeding.And hopefully, went they return home on Feb. 9 to play Oregon State, the Galen Center will be just as energized as it was against UCLA. Both the team and the crowd — as the kids say — were absolutely “lit” on Wednesday. Now, it’s all about keeping the fuse burning.Eric He is a sophomore studying print and digital journalism. He is also the associate managing editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, Grinding Gears, runs on Fridays.
Quinn Cook is excited he joined the Lakers.The 26-year-old guard, who inked a two-year, $6 million contract with Los Angeles earlier this month, discussed the free agency process during an extensive interview with USA Today’s HoopsHype. Cook spent the last two seasons with the Warriors and averaged 6.9 points in 14.3 minutes per game in 2018-19. He was originally a restricted free agent, but Golden State rescinded his qualifying offer in order to create cap space to acquire D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade with the Nets.“I am very thankful for my opportunity (in Golden State),” Cook said. “I think I really took a big step forward in my NBA career in the two years that I was there. I accomplished some things there that I’d always dreamed of accomplishing.”The Lakers revamped their roster this summer as they acquired Anthony Davis from the Pelicans to pair with LeBron James. They had the cap space to add a third max player, but missed out on Kawhi Leonard, who signed with the Clippers.Los Angeles then went on to ink Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso and Avery Bradley to deals. Troy Daniels says he was recruited to Lakers by Anthony Davis “We have our team group chat going and the guys are very active in it,” Cook said. “It feels like this team has been together for a while. Everyone has been really active in the group chat. … All of the guys are really excited to get things going. I know this NBA season will be one of the better ones for everyone.”Cook won a championship while with the Warriors in 2017-18. Lakers’ Anthony Davis has no regrets on trade request: ‘I’m a grown man’ “It was a great experience for me, learning more about the business and stuff like that, but it was a long couple of days,” Cook said. “The biggest thing was joining a winner. That’s why I play this game. I want to win as much as possible.“Also, I wanted to go somewhere I’d have the opportunity to be a consistent role player and just try to help as much as possible. … I think the Lakers presented the perfect situation and opportunity for me.” Related News Lakers free agency rumors: Los Angeles an ‘unlikely destination’ for JR Smith