Basketball and soccer: Leftover thoughts
Busy night tonight at basketball, then hurrying over to USF's soccer field, where the Bulls got a big 2-1 win against Harvard, gaining the right to host another home game -- also simultaneous with another home men's basketball game -- Saturday against UNC-Greensboro.
-- Again, High Point two days before Thanksgiving with soccer across the parkng lot isn't ideal for drawing a basketball crowd, but quite a weak turnout -- announced at 2,529, the lowest for a Bulls home game since 2,114 saw the Bulls play Bethune-Cookman. Stan Heath won't want to hear that more people turned out for a soccer game, but with Northeastern coming in Saturday, it could happen again. I think USF will have a decent record when the Big East season begins in January, which should make for much better crowds, but it's not a promising start in the stands.
-- First name that Heath mentioned in his postgame comments? Alex Rivas Sanchez, who played only three minutes, limited by a sprained ankle that's sidelined him since the Virginia game. Rivas Sanchez scored four points, his second basket literally coming through a triple-team, with two rebounds. "I thought Alex sent a great message to our big guys," Heath said. "He comes into the game for three minutes, gets two offensive rebounds and four points. We had guys who had about one rebound in the first half, just weren't going the way they needed to go, the intensity level."
-- I'm pretty sure "guys" means center B.J. Ajayi, dropped from the starting lineup. He finished with one point in 12 minutes, missing his only shot from the field. He added two boards and an assist. If he's falling to such a small role before Gus Gilchrist joins the frontcourt, he has a very short window in which he can show Heath something before it'll be much harder to do that.
-- We mentioned in the live blog that the second sub in was walk-on guard Ryan Kardok, who played seven minutes, grabbing two rebounds. Heath said that because Kardok has two seasons of experience from junior college, he preferred his experience over the relative inexperience of freshmen Justin Leemow and Gaby Belardo. Bench scoring? Rivas Sanchez had four points -- the other subs went 0-for-3 in 24 minutes. Again, with Rivas Sanchez healthy and Gilchrist and Mike Mercer on board in three weeks, depth should be less of an issue.
-- Senior Aris Williams, starting for the second game in a row, had a career game -- 11 points, six rebounds, three blocks in 27 minutes. A lot of the commenters here wrote Williams off last summer, wanting him to go on medical scholarship, but he's come back strong after being limited by knee problems for much of the last two seasons. He was a huge part of tonight's turnaround, scoring eight points in a 10-2 run that put USF in control.
-- Even if Dominique Jones is shifting toward more of a scoring point guard type role, I don't think Heath wants to see him take as few as three shots in a half, as he did in the first half tonight. Jones didn't have a bad game -- 3-for-10 shooting, nine points, six rebounds, four assists and two turnovers in 37 minutes. "They stayed pretty tight to him, and they did a good job, when he did get the ball, I saw four guys with hands in his eyes," Heath said. "If he drove it, they brought the whole parade with him. They were sitting in the lane waiting for him. In the second half, he did a better job when he did drive of kickking it (out), making a pass, setting his teammates up with good opportunities. There are going to be nights like that -- he's getting a lot of attention. That's what's going to happen to him. Everybody knows he's the guy you've got to shut down."
-- Onto soccer, the Bulls got both goals from junior Zak Boggs, who's a good story. Started his career at West Virginia, where he helped them to the NCAA Tournament as a freshman. He transferred to Central Florida, where he was their leading scorer in 2006, then after a coaching change, decided to transfer again. He didn't get a waiver and sat out last season, but he's made a huge impact this year -- his two goals Tuesday tie him with Jordan Seabrook for the team lead at five. Boggs is super-smart -- was one of 12 soccer players named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America team, with a 4.0 GPA in biomedical sciences.
Boggs, on his first goal, a header off a pass from Jason Devenish: "I snuck in behind them, and Devy turned around and hit it pinpoint to my head, and I headed it in, about 8 yards out. The second one was just a rebound. We've been saying 'Shoot the ball.' It's wet out here, the keeper's a little shaky, so shoot the ball. Just ripped it, and he couldn't get a hold on it."
Why has USF played so well in the last two weeks? "Coach has been saying every day in training that everyone is working," Boggs said. "From the first guy to the 26th guy, everyone's working hard. It's great to have a whole group of guys on the same page, ready to be part of something bigger than themselves."
-- I think it's barely, barely worth noting that I have been to the soccer stadium at UNC-Greensboro. Saw Toad the Wet Sprocket there my senior year in high school. Chilly night, great concert. This is the extent of my scouting report for Saturday night's game -- Google will help flesh that out over the next few days.
-- I honestly had not heard of the new title sponsor of the St. Petersburg Bowl, a telephone-over-Internet product called magicJack, until the bowl's announcement this afternoon. A spokesman for the company said they put almost a million dollars a week into advertising, mostly on TV. Sure enough, I pop on the TV tonight and the first thing I see is a five-minute informercial for the gadget. Spooky.