Women's hoops: First look
I'm horribly overdue for a football postgame from Saturday's impressive 22-12 win against Pittsburgh, but wanted to do something timely and talk about the women's basketball exhibition Sunday night, an easy 101-54 win for the Bulls against the Hollywood/Miami Sun.
The known commodity, of course, starts with senior forward Jessica Dickson, who only had to play 15 minutes, still scoring a game-high 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting. USF's starting five had sophomore Shantia Grace at the point, senior Rachael Sheats at two guard, Dickson at small forward, senior Nalini Miller at power forward and 6-foot-5 freshman Stephanie Sarosi at center.
Sarosi, with brother Derrick, the former starting tackle, looking on, had a solid debut, with 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. She showed her athleticism, running the floor with speed you don't except from a 6-5 player, and also showed confidence in her range, attempting two 3-pointers. The new player who looks like a real threat from beyond the arc is junior Daiane "Dai" Packer, a junior college transfer who hit four of USF's 13 3-pointers, scoring 14 points off the bench. Grace added three 3s, and sophomore Jessica Jackson and freshman Caitlyn Mitryk each had two, and Dickson mentioned how the superior perimeter shooting will help USF when they face zone defenses and can just shoot over the zone.
Tristen Webb, a sixth-year senior who has missed more than two years with knee injuries, looked strong in her first game back. Came off the bench about four minutes in (along with junior ChiChi Okpaleke and Jackson) and played mistake-free basketball, dishing six assists with zero turnovers (impressive on a relatively sloppy night) and adding a team-best three steals. If she can stay healthy, it allows Grace to play more as a two-guard, where she's more of a scoring threat. Add in Sheats and Packer and the Bulls have great backcourt depth.
Thoughts on the other freshmen -- Porche Grant didn't take a shot in 12 minutes but was aggressive on the boards, perhaps too much so as the only player to foul out of the game. Mitryk might be the team's most versatile player -- all of her shots were 3s, but at one point in the second half after the starters were done, she was bringing the ball up the court -- and playing in the frontcourt. She can do a little of everything ...
One player who did not dress, curiously, was freshman forward Melissa Dalembert, and coach Jose Fernandez said her sitting wasn't injury-related, but that she would be available for Friday's season opener against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Oh, and former Bulls guard Alana Tanksley was on roster for the Sun, scoring three points in 32 minutes. Biggest thing to take from this was a statement of USF's depth, with 11 players getting at least 13 minutes and all but one scoring at least three points. This was all about working in the new players -- starters averaged just 19.2 minutes.
Let me squeeze in one football note -- I can confirm another oral commitment, first reported Sunday at USFnation.com, though the pledge apparently came back the week after the Connecticut game. It's Sampson Genus (pronounced JEAN-us), and he's a 6-foot-1, 305-pound center from Lake City Columbia, the same school that sent defensive tackle Allen Cray to USF. It's another case of USF trusting its early evaluations -- this is a kid who has been recruited by West Virginia and Mississippi State, but his only other offer at this point is from Florida A&M, though he said Central Florida was in the process of offering when he committed to the Bulls. He's in good academic shape, with a strong GPA and is working to upgrade his entrance exam scores. The Bulls are also recruiting a teammate of his, defensive tackle Rene Perry, and Genus told me Perry is basically choosing between Louisville and USF, with offers from both schools.
Oh, and Jim Leavitt said Sunday night that guard Jake Griffin wasn't ready to play Saturday, returning from his broken foot. He said Griffin might not be ready Saturday for Syracuse, either. It's all encouraging news on Matt Grothe's foot, however, with X-rays negative and Grothe feeling better than expected on Sunday. Leavitt said he could possibly practice as normal on Monday, though I wouldn't be surprised if he's in a boot as a precaution. Everything points to him being able to start Saturday against the Orange.
OK. More on USF-Pitt on Monday, I promise ...