Syracuse is riding high on a one-game winning streak. They'd like to keep that going against the South Florida Bulls this weekend. But what do we really know about these Bulls? Ken from Voodoo Five is here to fill us in about these Tampa ruffians.
USF is 8-15. Surprised? Expected? Disappointed?
I'm a little disappointed. There were 4-5 games in our non-conference schedule that we were ahead with 2-3 minutes to go, and somehow we lost them all. The loss of Dominique Jones was huge, and we would easily have 15-16 wins if he came back for his senior season. For teams like USF who are struggling to keep up in the Big East arms race, a person like DoJo is the difference between 8th and 15th. Thank God for DePaul still being in the conference.
You guys only lost by two to BYU earlier this year. What did you do right in that game and how might that translate against SU?
We only let Jimmer score 32 against us in 2OTs, which is a victory with the way he's been playing this year. We kept 6'6 Hugh Robertson on him all night, and made sure to hedge hard on screens so Jimmer wouldn't have the space needed to shoot the three. It also helped that our posts led by Augustus Gilchrist, Jarrid Famous, and Ron Anderson Jr. were able to limit BYU's posts to only 15 points all game. If there's been one thing that's kept us in games all season, its been the quality of our defense.
You guys have some fantastic names (Augustus Gilchrist, Jawanza Poland, LaVonte Dority). Who's name will Syracuse fans want to hear the least on Saturday?
It depends on which Augustus Gilchrist decides to come out of the tunnel. If its Good Gus, he will be getting guys like Melo and Jackson in foul trouble, making shots in the post, going 85% from the line, and even making a couple of three pointers. If its Bad Gus, he'll enjoy a 4-17 day from the field, get into early foul trouble, won't pass out of double teams, and commit 7 turnovers.
If we have any chance Saturday, we will need Good Gus to be out in full force.
What is the future of USF basketball? Does it include Stan Heath?
I think Stan gets at least another 3 years. USF has long been considered the hardest job in college basketball (Hence the Toughest Blog in America tag on our front page) and he just signed a five year extension last year, so he isn't going anywhere for a while even if they wanted to fire him. Heath has been handcuffed in recruiting with obsolete facilities, and Athletics is finally doing something about it with the construction of the 50,000 Square Foot Muma Basketball Center. For years, the two basketball teams along with Volleyball have had to share the same practice facility. If two teams wanted the facility as the same time, someone had to go to the Rec Center and use the same courts that scrubs like me were playing on. The Sun Dome is also getting a complete renovation once the season is over, adding suites and loge boxes while closing off the rest of the first level. There will be about 1000 less seats available, but that won't be a problem considering the level of support at basketball games.
The running joke all year is that every time Syracuse plays a road game, someone provides a reason to explain how its not really a true road game. This time its the fact that a lot of retired Syracuse fans live in Tampa. What kind of crowd are you expecting and do you notice a lot of SU fans there?
I wouldn't be surprised if its a 50-50 split, or even a 60-40 split in favor of Syracuse. You guys have always travelled well to the Sun Dome, and now that the game is in the St. Pete Times Forum, there will be an extra 8000 tickets for Cuse fans to pick up. For creating a neutral atmosphere at the Dome, the three teams that always travel well are Syracuse, Notre Dame, and for some reason Marquette. I've never seen so many blue and yellow rugby polos in my life when Marquette invades the Sun Dome. Its like being stuck at an American Eagle store for 2 hours.
What's your take on the UCF-expansion kerfuffle? Is USF really trying to block them? Would it be so terrible if they joined us?
I really don't care if they join. If Marinatto wants to bring them in fine, but I don't think President Genshaft and AD Woolard are trying to block them. If there is one thing that keeps them from coming in, its that they've recently screwed both Pitt and WVU out of return games in the past, and they have a lot more clout within the conference than we do. If we do expand to 10 in football, we might as well go all the way to 12 with Nova, UCF, and Houston. It would create a round robin 18 game basketball schedule, and it give a travel partner for USF and TCU with the non-revenue sports.
How's that 2011 football recruitin' work out for you?
We did ok. We had to replace a lot of lineman, so this wasn't going to be a Top 25 class for Coach Holtz and staff. Our big signing day surprise was when Miami DT Elkino Watson chose USF over Florida, Miami, and Louisville, and he will have a chance to jump right into the 2-deep next season.
Some other guys who have a chance to compete for playing time include a couple of Tampa WRs in Andre Davis and Ruben Gonzalez, Orlando OT Max Hall, and LBs Mike Juene and Antoine Posniak.
We signed OLs Thor Joswiak and Brynjar Gudmundsson based on their names alone. There is no confirmation that Thor will be able to carry Mjölnir on the field with him.
What's your prediction? And don't you dare say "Pain."
We will keep the game close for 30 minutes before you guys go on a run, and our lack of three-point shooting dooms us to another loss.
Syracuse wins 72-61