USF women's hoops picked to finish 12th
USF's women's basketball team, coming off a 16-16 season in which the Bulls went 5-11 in the Big East, has been picked by league coaches to finish 12th in the Big East, a motivating challenge for a USF team with eyes on returning to the NCAA Tournament.
The Bulls -- who finished in a three-way tie for 11th last season -- return four starters, led by senior guards Shantia Grace and Jazmine Sepulveda, who are in New York today with coach Jose Fernandez to represent USF at the league's preseason basketball media gathering. Grace is one of 11 players named to the preseason All-Conference team; Connecticut's Maya Moore was picked by coaches as the preseason player of the year, with the Huskies getting 14 of 16 first-place votes from league coaches as the clear favorite to win the conference.
USF has never been picked by league coaches to finish higher than seventh in the league -- the Bulls were picked to finish ninth in 2005-06, seventh in '06-07 and ninth last season. USF exceeded those expectations in its first season in the league, finishing in a four-way tie for sixth, but has fallen short the last two seasons, finishing in a tie for eighth in '06-07 and the tie for 11th last season.
If the Bulls are to return to the NCAA Tournament after two trips to the WNIT, they'll almost assuredly need a winning record in Big East play -- two years ago, they were passed over by the NCAA despite a 9-7 conference mark.
-- Interesting story in the Miami Herald on football scheduling at Florida International, where USF was able a few years back to get a 2-for-1, including last month's first-ever game at new FIU Stadium. Looks like FIU is playing hardball now and asking for home-and-home series -- and getting it. That includes a four-game series with Central Florida, a two-game series with Duke and even more impressively, a four-game series with Louisville. A lot of people -- myself included -- scoffed at USF agreeing to home-and-home series with non-BCS teams like Ball State and Western Kentucky, but it looks like other Big East teams are doing the same kinds of things.
-- Good story by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune's Alan Dell on USF commitment Edgard Theliar, the 6-foot-3 receiver from Bradenton who could help offset the loss of Taurus Johnson and Marcus Edwards after this season.
-- Examiner.com has launched a slew of blogs that write about sports, but the writers seem to only go by what they read elsewhere -- no direct reporting or talking to people, just reading and writing. So I'll point you to a blog on USF basketball, if only to point out the silliness of phrases like "So the goal this season for South Florida is simply to make the Big East Tournament."