Abdul-Aleem out 4-6 weeks with foot injury
Lots of notes to share after talking to USF coach Stan Heath by phone -- he's hanging out in Central Park with Anthony Collins, Victor Rudd and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick after spending the morning at Big East media day at the New York Athletic Club, right across the street.
-- Sophomore guard Musa Abdul-Aleem will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a foot injury, having sat out last season with a broken fifth metatarsal in his foot, the long bone on the outside of the foot.
"It didn't totally heal up the way it was supposed to. He'll be away from us for a little while," said Heath, who said Abdul-Aleem is wearing a walking boot right now but should be able to return to the team midway through the nonconference season. "The doctors say he needs to take a little time and let it heal up, so that's what we're going to do. They want to take some pressure off his foot."
-- USF was picked eighth out of 15 teams in a preseason vote of league coaches, and while it's a nice sign of relative respect, Heath fully expects his team to again exceed expectations. A year ago, that might have been flattering, but the 8th-place pick can now actually serve as motivation.
"It's a step in the right direction. It does seem like we're catching some eyes when it comes to polls," Heath said. "At the same time, we finished (tied for) fourth last year and I think this team can be better than last year. We've improved in some areas. I do appreciate that, but preseason polls don't matter too much after today. ... We want to sustain and actually take things to another level this year. Obviously we still have a little bit of a chip that last year wasn't a fluke. We are a program that's moving forward. We have a lot of good things moving in the right direction. We're very hungry, very motivated."
-- Along the same lines, Heath is happy to see sophomore Anthony Collins recognized with a nod on the preseason All-Big East second team, but Heath has a higher opinion of his young floor leader.
"In fairness, you have to look at some of the people picked ahead of him, where their teams finished and what their teams did, but I wouldn't take anyone in the league in front of him. He's the guy I want to go to war with. I feel very comfortable and confident that he's going to prove himself to be the best point guard in this league, again. ... He's very deserving. His work ethic, his toughness. I think how cerebral he is as a player. He's going to continue to get better. He works extremely hard. He's now in his second season, so he's still fairly young, but now he knows the league, knows his teammates. I have high expectations for him leading our basketball team."
Collins practiced full-go at Tuesday's practice -- he had been limited to non-contact in the first week of practice with concussion-like symptoms from a collision in open gym. "A brick wall fell on him. Jordan (7-foot-3 center Jordan Omogbehin) and he collided, which wasn't good," he said.
-- Asked what his starting lineup would be if he had to go today, Heath said it would be Collins, with Shaun Noriega and Martino Brock on the perimeter, along with Victor Rudd and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick. "It's not size-wise a big lineup, but it's a very explosive offense team. It allows us to play differently offensively, and try to make sure defensively we don't give anything up. Those are experienced guys. You can see the chemistry of the team is very strong. We need Kore White and Zach LeDay to come along so we can play with Rudd at the wing. We need a guy like Musa or JaVontae Hawkins, those guys, so we give ourselves some depth at the wing spot. Our depth has to be a key for our team."
-- Asked for three teams that could make a big jump in the Big East standings like USF did last year, Heath had three picks:
"It won't surprise me if they take a giant jump. Rutgers, we had some battles with them last year and they have a lot of guys back that are young. St. John's brought in a very talented recruiting class. They didn't have as many bodies last year but now they do. Don't be surprised if they were to do some things. A team that when you look at on paper, two juniors in Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin, don't be surprised if DePaul can make a jump, too. Those two guys are as good a combination as you'll find in the league."