Women's hoops: Grant to sit out first 2 games
We'll get a first look at USF's men's basketball team tonight -- I'll live-blog from the exhibition with Florida Southern -- but we won't be able to see USF's women's team until Nov. 13, when the Bulls open against Florida A&M.
USF coach Jose Fernandez met with the media on Tuesday, giving an early update on which of his eight newcomers are most likely to contribute and how his starting lineup might shake out to open the season.
-- First, senior forward Porche Grant will miss the first two games of the season for an unspecified violation of team rules. Again, it's Florida A&M and St. Peter's, so her absence isn't likely to change the results much for the Bulls. Fernandez declined to elaborate on the nature of the NCAA violation.
-- Some of the starting lineup is set, with sophomore Jasmine Wynne at point guard and senior Jessica Lawson at center. Senior Janae Stokes led the nation in 3-pointers last season, so she seems a safe bet to start at shooting guard, but Fernandez said the competition for the two "wing" positions is wide-open, with Stokes, junior college transfers Sequoyah Griffin and Leondra Doomes-Stephens, freshman Tiffany Conner and senior Allyson Speed all competing for minutes. Conner, he said, might be the best of the group defensively, making a solid impression in her first few weeks of practice.
-- Of the freshmen, Fernandez said guard Kaneisha Saunders of Delray Beach will be the primary backup to Wynne at point guard, and 6-1 freshman forward Tahira Johnson should be the fourth post player, behind the established three-player rotation of Lawson, Grant and Melissa Dalembert. Freshmen forwards Aleshia Flowers and Jessica Monroe are more behind schedule and less likely to contribute, as is junior guard Dominique English, mentioning the possibility of those players redshirting.
-- Instead of an exhibition, USF is having two closed scrimmages -- they played at Florida this past weekend and will go to Florida Atlantic this weekend. Fernandez said these have more benefit than a lopsided 40-point win in an exhibition, showing areas that need work before the regular season begins. Of USF's 13 nonconference games, only two are teams that finished last season in the RPI top 100 -- at No. 71 Wake Forest and against No. 55 Montana in Los Angeles.