Before we get to Amy’s preview (BTW, Amy has done a phenomenal job with her coverage this season), we decided to have one last hurrah of Q&A with our friend Matt over at The Bull Rush. Despite us no longer being able to do blog Q&As when WVU leaves for the Big12, make no mistake about it, Matt and I will remain friends. Anyway, check his site out, then come back to this Q&A:
1) How did USF manage to pull off this amazing turnaround in one season? Last year, as I recall, USF were the cellar-dwellers in this conference.
The turn around is a bit shocking to be honest. The team only added 3 new players to the roster, Collins, Nash, and Rudd (sat out last year) and lost two others. They had a rough season and going into 2012, the hopes were never this high, but it’s great to see. There is energy back in the team, the program, and the fan base, it’s a lot of fun to see right now.
2) What has life been like playing at the St. Pete Times forum, as opposed to the Sun Dome this season?
The Forum has been great so far, although there isn’t a real strong student section because of the distance. We are 14-1 there and for the fans, it’s in the middle of downtown with restaurants and night life, so it’s a great place not only to see a game (the Lightning did huge renovations on the place as well) but the area is fantastic as well. Although the Sun Dome, which is getting closer to completion, is going to be incredible.
3) Who can we expect to see in the Starting 5 on Saturday?
(Coach) Heath could make a change, but I expect to see Anthony Collins and Hugh Robertson at the guard positions and Augustus Gilchrist, Ron Anderson Jr., and Victor Rudd on the front line for this one.
4) Strengths and weaknesses of this year’s hoops squad?
The strength is defense, no question about it. They are very disciplined with their assignments, help each other, and they are not afraid to take a charge. Their weakness is scoring. The offense often drains the shot clock, works for a good shot, and then drives to the basket. They aren’t a team designed to run up and down the court, so they control tempo and make the shots when they need them.
5) How far will USF go in the Big East Tournament?
This is going to be an interesting year for the Bulls. They have a first round bye, something they never though possible. They could face Rutgers or St. John’s in the second round of the tournament, two teams they beat earlier, so they should get to the third round and could face Notre Dame at that point. With the way they play defense, it’s hard to say how far they can go, we just want them to keep at it.
6) Do the Bulls have enough wins to make the Big Dance, or will it be a #1 spot in the NIT?
This is the hottest topic of debate right now. The goal is NCAA of course, USF hasn’t been there since 1992 and there is a lot that can happen. What the team has to do right now is remained focused and just play the games in front of them, they can’t look at the “experts” to see if their in or not. On paper, with the high RPI, wins over Louisville, Cincy, and others, we would think they would be in with another win or two, starting with WVU of course.
Now, it’s time to read Amy’s preview, and it is a good one!
There have been a lot of clichés thrown around about Saturday’s game between the West Virginia Mountaineers and the South Florida Bulls. To sum them up, winning this game is extremely important for both teams. The Bulls were able to pull off an impressive road win against 18th ranked Louisville on Wednesday, but doubt still persists among some. The Mountaineers are in a more precarious situation. A win would help the Mountaineers get into the NCAA tournament, but a loss may end those hopes.
South Florida has been impressive in the second half of the season. The team is 19-11 overall and 12-5 in the Big East. They have won 6 of their last 7 and have only lost once at home this season. That loss came at the hands of the UConn Huskies back in December.
The Bulls two leading scorers are Augustus Gilchrist and Jawanza Poland. They combine for an average of 19 per game. Just looking at the teams stats would lead you to believe that their record would be much worse than it is. They are 320th in the nation in PPG averaging 60.1 and 147th in the nation in field goal percentage at 44%. The team is 198th in the nation in RPG. Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and Ron Anderson Jr. combine for 12.4. The Bulls are 236th in the nation in assists and Anthony Collins leads the team with 5.4.
It has been a rollercoaster ride of a season for the Mountaineers. The consistency hasn’t been there and Coach Huggins has called the team out on a few occasions for lack of effort and heart. The only constant for the team has been Kevin Jones, who yesterday, won the ESPN mock vote for Big East Player of the Year. Whether he, in fact, wins the real thing remains to be seen. I think I can speak for all of Mountaineer Nation when I say if he doesn’t, it will be a travesty. The Mountaineers handily beat DePaul after losing to 10th ranked Marquette. The Mountaineers haven’t won two in a row since a 3-game winning streak in January.
Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant lead the team in scoring. They average 20 and 17.1, respectively. Bryant has had two great games. He scored 25 against Marquette and 28 against DePaul. Jones and Deniz Kilicli lead the team in rebounds. Jones averages 11.2 and Kilicli averages 5.3. The team is 34th in the nation in assists. Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne combine for 6.4 a game. The Mountaineers are 72nd in the nation in PPG averaging 72.5 PPG and 113th in the nation in field goal percentage at 44.9%.
If the Mountaineers hope to win this game, they need to find consistency, play solid defense, and the freshman need to step up and play. They have the ability, but they need to find the work ethic and heart that Huggins has been preaching for months. This isn’t going to be an easy victory for the Mountaineers, but it is a winnable game. The game tips at 12:00 and can be seen on Root Sports and ESPN3.
Editor’s Note: Hey, Matt, wanna get cute with your little Buzz Williams insult? That’s fine… just watch this video, and remember that WVU has no problem ending your basketball season in the same heart-breaking fashion they did during football season. Only different this time is, no Craig James in the broadcast booth.