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Hoops media day: Bulls move on minus Williams, Jenkins

Bulls sophomore Troy Holston Jr. (seated) looks over the 2016-17 USF men's basketball media guide with freshman Michael Bibby.


Bulls sophomore Troy Holston Jr. (seated) looks over the 2016-17 USF men's basketball media guide with freshman Michael Bibby.



The question directed Wednesday at Jose Fernandez was telegraphed, which might explain how he was able to pick it off so effortlessly.

How does the USF women's basketball team move forward minus eighth overall WNBA draft pick Courtney Williams and Bulls all-time rebounds leader Alisia Jenkins?

"The programs that sustain the graduation and move forward and keep doing it are the ones that are very successful," said Fernandez, who enters his 17th season needing 15 victories to reach 300 for his career.

"Before Courtney and Alisia got here we had the same question: 'How are you guys gonna replace (1,000-point scorers) Andrell and Andrea Smith? How are you gonna replace (former 3-point specialist) Inga Orekhova?' That's the big thing. Our tradition and our program speaks for itself, and that kind of stuff doesn't graduate."

To be sure, Williams -- the program's No. 2 career scorer -- will be missed for her ability to create, especially late in the shot clock. These Bulls will have to manufacture more shot opportunities via screens to compensate. They'll also shoot more 3's, perhaps a lot more 3's. 

Six-footer Kitija Laksa, who set a Bulls freshman record with 74 treys, returns. The batch of newcomers includes Hungary native Dorottya Nagy, ranked Europe's No. 1 recruit by Blue Star Europe; and Jazz Bond, who helped guide Tennessee's Blackman High to a pair of Class 3A state titles.

Rebounding will have to come more via committee, as it did when Jenkins missed six games with an ankle injury last season. The Bulls out-rebounded or tied their opponent on the boards in five of those six games.

"I think our fans will enjoy a different style in some of the different things we're gonna do on the offensive end," Fernandez said, "because we are gonna shoot the 3 more and play with an extra perimeter player out on the floor. So it's gonna be definitely a new look on the things that we're gonna run offensively."

STILL GLOBAL: One of the nation's most successful European recruiters, Fernandez again will sport a team with a global reach. Eight countries and three continents are represented on the Bulls women's roster.

Most of those foreign-born players spent the summer competing internationally. Among them: junior PG Laia Flores, who hit two free throws with a second remaining to lift Spain past Italy, 71-69, in the finals of the FIBA under-20 women's European championship.

"You can't replicate that type of pressure and experience in the offseason," Fernandez said.

SUMMER STEAL? Men's coach Orlando Antigua might have managed an 11th-hour recruiting coup when G Michael Bibby, son of the NBA veteran and former Arizona star, signed with the Bulls in August.

Bibby led Phoenix's Shadow Mountain High to a pair of state titles in three seasons, but suffered torn knee meniscus twice in an eight month span as an underclassman. As a Shadow Mountain senior, he averaged 19.3 points, five assists and 2.7 steals. When asked how he'd describe his game, Bibby said, "Sneaky."

"Watching my dad play, being around the NBA for so long, I feel like my IQ's a little bit higher than some college players," Bibby said.

HOLSTON IS 'FULL GO:' Redshirt sophomore G Troy Holston Jr., who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, said he's 100 percent. Holston surged down the stretch of his freshman season, averaging 17.5 points over his last six games.

"Obviously early on, we're not expecting that (type of production), but we are expecting him to get to that point where he's playing with that same kind of fire, that same kind of confidence," Antigua said. "And as a staff and as a team, we know it will take a little bit of time, but he's way ahead of where I thought he would be at."

ODDS AND ENDS: Seven-foot junior Ruben Guerrero, 198 pounds when he arrived at USF, said he now weighs around 240. "The bigger guys that I used to play against, they'd just body me," he said. "I'm pretty good at holding them off (now)." ... The men's team has a player born on Christmas Eve (Bibby), the Fourth of July (freshman Malik Fitts) and New Year's Day (sophomore Jahmal McMurray). ... Fernandez, who has a vote in the USA Today women's coaches poll, said he ranked reigning four-time national champ Connecticut No. 1.

[Last modified: Thursday, October 20, 2016 7:04pm]


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