Heath on Seton Hall: 'Turnovers just did us in'
With USF staying in New Jersey for two days before heading to Manhattan on Monday, the local media had their last access to basketball coach Stan Heath on Friday, but he was nice enough to lay out mini-scouting reports for each of the potential opponents the Bulls might face Tuesday in the Big East tournament. Here's what he had to say about Seton Hall, which handed the Bulls a 75-60 loss in Newark two weeks ago:
"We didn't handle the speed and quickness they have, especially at the guard spot. Turnovers led to our loss. We have to take better care of the basketball against them. We'll turn over some, but not the way we were doing where it ended up being layups and 2-on-1 fast breaks. We'll need a Justin Leemow or if Jesus (Verdejo) is ready, someone to give us another punch, because they can score. We'll have to generate some points in that game.
"We never were able to get our defense set against them for a good part of that game. The bright spot was our ability to really score in the post. Both Alex (Rivas) and Gus (Gilchrist) had big games inside for us. We destroyed them (inside). We beat them by almost 20 in rebounding, and went 17-for-18 at the line. Those two stats, you're saying 'They must have done all right.' The turnovers just did us in."
Here's our game story from correspondent Jim Reedy -- rough final three minutes for the Bulls, after Dominique Jones cut Rutgers' lead to 43-42. After Jones has a shot blocked with 1:55 left, Rutgers nearly runs the clock out, getting four offensive rebounds, then scoring on a putback with 13 seconds left. Gus Gilchrist missed a 3-pointer with three seconds left and Rutgers gets a 45-42 win.
-- Baseball has found its bats, scoring 13 or more runs in four of its last five games. Sophomore Junior Carlin, neglected here, was on a particular streak, with hits in nine consecutive at-bats, a USF record, before grounding out in the second inning of Saturday's win against Marshall.
Carlin is hitting a ridiculous .733 this season, with 11 hits in 15 at-bats, but he isn't the only surprising success at the plate -- redshirt freshman Todd Brazeal is hitting .423, and sophomore Jonathan Koscso, who hit .276 last season, is close behind at .405. Sophomore Ryan Lockwood, he of the 30-game hit streak last year, hasn't shown up yet at the plate, with just five hits in 34 at-bats for a .147 start.
Pitching remains a question mark, with a staff ERA of 5.45, including 9.18 from the bullpen. Derrick Stultz has been outstanding, with a 1.56 ERA in three starts, but converted closer Shawn Sanford has struggled, giving up 18 hits in 8.1 innings with a 9.72 ERA. The Bulls go for a fourth straight win today at 11 a.m. against Marshall, then have a midweek home-and-home with UCF, hosting the Knights on Tuesday, then playing again in Orlando on Wednesday.
-- Women's basketball set a Big East tournament record with 14 3-pointers in Saturday's win against Cincinnati, and Jazmine Sepulveda matched the individual tournament record with eight. Her 24 points were two short of matching her career high.
The 22 wins sets a school record, and the Bulls are a "virtual lock" to make the NCAAs, according to Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, covering the tournament in Hartford. I'll run through the potential hurdles for the Bulls in the next week, but it'd take total chaos in the conference tournaments to make the NCAAs an issue for USF. Here's what Jose Fernandez said after the game, and thanks to the Big East for sending out quotes from the postgame press conferences:
"If you look at our resume in comparison with the other teams around the country in the ACC, SEC, Big 10 and Big 12 and you look at our wins against the top-50, we won at Rutgers. We won at DePaul. We won at Villanova. We beat Iowa who was second in the Big 10. We beat Texas Tech, (which) beat Texas and Texas A&M. I think our resume is pretty good and we don’t have any bad losses outside the top 100 in the country."