Big East Summer Capsules: South Florida Bulls

Posted by mlemaire on August 16th, 2012

While most relish the onset of Summer, college basketball junkies do not. Most of the news surrounding the sport is recruiting rumors and commitments or injuries and transfer news. In order to help keep folks up-to-date on what their teams are doing during the summer, we put together these summer capsules for each team in the conference. Next up is South Florida.

1. Who is ready for the next wave of junior college players?

Bulls’ coach Stan Heath loves junior college players. It’s not a secret. The former Arkansas boss has the South Florida program headed in the right direction primarily because of his willingness to recruit junior college players. Three members of last season’s NCAA Tournament team came from the juco ranks, including leading scorer Jawanza Poland. So it should come as no surprise that two of his four incoming recruits are from the junior college ranks, including center Waverly Austin, who was generally regarded as the top juco big man in the class. The other junior college recruit is Musa Abdul-Aleem, a physical wing and one-time Florida State commit who should at least see some playing time and will add depth. The Bulls lost their two best interior players from last season when Gus Gilchrist and Ron Anderson graduated, so you can bet that Austin will get every possible chance to establish himself as the team’s starting center and his contributions will go a long way to determining whether the Bulls will make it back to the NCAA Tournament. Heath has found plenty of diamonds in the rough while mining the junior college ranks, and if Abdul-Aleem and Austin can be the next in line than Heath may have found a consistent winning formula for a long-dormant program.

2. Victor Rudd Jr. may be the team’s best player, but this is Anthony Collins’ team.

Stan Heath Boasts One Of The Conference’s Best Point Guards In Anthony Collins (AP)

One of the main reasons that South Florida was able to even make the NCAA Tournament last season was because of the play of their mercurial freshman point guard, Anthony Collins. The Texas native missed the first two games of the season but quickly established himself as the team’s top ball-handler and playmaker after that. In the last 10 games, Collins played some of his best basketball, averaging 13.9 points and 5.2 assists per game, including a 22 point, six-assist effort in a win over Pittsburgh. Of course, he turned the ball over at prodigious rates, but that was at least partially because he was a freshman who was basically asked to create offense for the rest of his team, so those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. Now he has had a season to adjust to Big East play and learn the nuances of the point guard position, so you can expect Collins to make a leap toward stardom this season. He isn’t the best shooter and won’t ever be a high-volume scorer, but he is extremely dangerous when he attacks the rim and he could emerge as one of the best distributors in the conference as soon as next season. Victor Rudd, Jr. is a versatile forward who may lead the team in scoring and rebounding next season, but there should be little doubt that Collins’ development will be instrumental in the Bulls’ success.

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Rushed Reaction: #12 South Florida 58 #5 Temple 44

Posted by David Changas on March 16th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. A Game of Runs.  In the first half, South Florida went nearly 11 minutes without scoring. The Bulls finished the half 3-of-27 from the floor, but were amazingly down by only four points at the break.  In the second half, a different South Florida team showed up.  The Bulls hit 10 of their first 14 shots, including four of their first five from three.  After trailing 19-8 with 6:34 in the first half, South Florida went on a 33-10 run that extended to the midway point of the second half.  The turnaround was stunning, as it didn’t appear that South Florida would be able to do anything offensively after its woeful first half.  Whatever Bulls Coach Stan Heath said to his team during the intermission got them going, and now one of the last four teams in the Big Dance has a chance to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
  2. Collins and Rudd Lead the Way. Anthony Collins, South Florida’s freshman point guard, was outstanding in steadying the Bulls in the first half and leading their attack in the second.  He finished with 17 points, five assists, and four rebounds. Sophomore forward Victor Rudd, Jr., hit several key shots in the second half, and went 4-6 from three-point range.  Collins and Rudd were the key to South Florida’s quick spurt at the beginning of the second half, and the Bulls never relinquished the lead after taking it on a Shaun Noriega three with 16:55 remaining.
  3. Good Defense beats Good Offense. This game was a contrast in styles.  On the season, Temple shot 47% from the field and averaged 76 points per game.  According to kenpom.com, the Owls were the nation’s 22nd most efficient offensive team.  On the other hand, South Florida is seventh in the nation in scoring defense (56.8 points per game) and 14th in field goal percentage defense (opponents shot 38.7% on the year). On this night, the Bulls won the battle of these contrasting styles, as South Florida held the Owls to 35.7% shooting and 44 points.  Temple simply could not get into any offensive flow in the game, and the Bulls deserve all the credit for that.

Star of the Game Anthony Collins, USF.  The freshman point guard who had more than three times as many assists as any other Bull, was the steadying influence on this team on this night, turning the ball over only once.

Quotable. ”I think they’re the best defensive team we played against all year.  They’re long and athletic. They do a great job switching, as well as the guards keeping their guys in front.” – Temple’s Ramone Moore, on South Florida’s defense

Sights and Sounds.  A lackluster first half led to a crowd that had no life in the first 20 minutes.  After the break, the South Florida crowd, which had seemed non-existent, came to life when the Bulls rallied.  The game also presented a contrast in styles between the coaches.  Temple’s Fran Dunphy and South Florida’s Stan Heath do things differently.  Heath is animated and argues with officials throughout the game.  Dunphy, though intense, does not let his emotions show like his counterpart.

Wildcard.  This game was a battle of future Big East opponents.  Earlier this month, the league extended an invitation to Temple, and it will join in basketball beginning in the 2013-14 season.

What’s Next?  South Florida will take on 13th-seeded Ohio on Sunday.  The Bulls were one of the last four at-large teams to make the field, and many thought they should not have been in the field at all.  Now, the Bulls will wear their home uniforms as the higher seed, and with their defense, a trip to the Sweet Sixteen is a realistic possibility.

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