Heath pleased by team's progress in Brazil trip
USF coach Stan Heath saw his team fall one win short of a gold medal this weekend in the Pan American University Championships in Brazil, but said that doesn't take away from the invaluable progress the Bulls were able to make in their time together.
"It was a great tournament for us -- we came up short in the end, and that was tough to swallow, but we've really gotten a good idea of what we're good at, what we're weak at, a better feel for our young guys," Heath said, back in his office in Tampa. "The team certainly improved itself during the tournament -- we grew together and bonded through the ups and downs."
Heath still doesn't have complete statistics from the five-game tournament and hopes to have those next week, but said junior forward Gus Gilchrist and sophomore guard Shaun Noriega were his top scorers in Brazil. Asked for his biggest surprise, he pointed to junior transfer Hugh Robertson, for his ability to defend and rebound as the team's starting small forward.
Heath's team won't start preseason practice until Oct. 16, nearly two months away, but he said he has specific goals now, like improved guard play, both in running the team and penetrating to the basket. One area he saw improvement in was USF's play against zone defenses, both in shooting over the defense and passing through it for easier scoring opportunities.
"We really carved up zones well," Heath said. "We passed the ball well, shot the ball well. We attacked the zones, and that was the biggest thing for me."
Heath used the same starting lineup in all five games, with Anthony Crater at the point, Noriega and Robertson at shooting guard and small forward, Gilchrist at power forward and Jarrid Famous at center. He said junior transfer Shedrick Haynes was his first sub at guard, with Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and Ron Anderson getting solid minutes off the bench in the post.
-- One more note: USF had been mentioned as a possibility for former Michigan State guard Chris Allen, who was dismissed by coach Tom Izzo and is transferring for his final year. Heath had talked to his former coach about Allen, but the Bulls aren't going to pursue Allen, who has visited Iowa State and UTEP and will sit out this season before playing again in 2011-12. USF has a scholarship available and could still use that on a transfer at midseason, or carry it over for part of next year's recruiting class.