Q&A: Orlando Antigua
While observing an NCAA quiet period (and undoubtedly preparing for a slew of summer evaluations), USF men's basketball coach Orlando Antigua spent roughly 15 minutes with reporters Tuesday afternoon to discuss the state of the program. Our story on the Bulls' outlook for Year 3 of the Antigua era can be found here, but we've cobbled most of the chat into the following Q-and-A form.
How is Troy Holston Jr. looking? (Holston missed all of last season with a torn left ACL.)
"Looking really good. As expected, initially when we started on-the-court stuff and he was able to participate, he was a little tentative at first. And when he got tired he stopped thinking about it, then he looked normal."
Bulls fans want to know: Will Jahmal McMurray be in your backcourt next season? (McMurray entered the NBA Draft, but said Tuesday he'll withdraw his name before May 25.)
"I think so. I think Jahmal is exploring with the new rule changes, his opportunities to get educated and to see where he's at. I think he's very realistic as to what the process is about, so I expect him to be in the backcourt."
Did you float the idea of entering his name, or did he come to you?
"It was something that he came, and his family wanted to explore with the new rule change, and I was fully supportive of it. ... Worst-case scenario for us is that he is invited and he gets drafted. ... Best-case scenario is, you get a kid that's had a great year as a freshman and gets a chance to explore, get educated on what he needs to continue to improve on, and he comes back with a new passion, new energy, and ready to continue to lead this ball club."
With the recent upheaval in the program (PG Roddy Peters and PF Chris Perry were dismissed), will stability ensue?
"No question. I think in these first few transitional years, there's some of that stuff that happens. It's natural, it's normal and you want players that want to be here that are gonna represent the program in the way we want it to represent, and that are fully committed to doing the things that we're asking them to do."
What do you say to fans who see kids getting dismissed and think the sky is falling?
"I say I think we have a really good nucleus of players returning, and a really good recruiting class coming in. And we're still working. We're still working to add pieces to the puzzle."
This is a performance-based business. You're headed into Year 3 after two very lean years. You've gotta get it done now, right?
"Yes, absolutely. It's been the same attitude that we've had to try to get things going and establish the foundation of what we're gonna build our reputation on. And unfortunately, we've had some issues that we've had to deal with that come up with injuries and all the other things we've had to deal with in the past two years. We're finally hopefully looking to have a complete 13-man roster (next season)."
You played a pretty unforgiving non-conference schedule (Kentucky, South Carolina, Seton Hall, N.C. State) last season. Will it be modified this year?
"Some of those decisions on the schedule we were already in, and other decisions we were trying to take advantage of opportunities at the times, with the South Carolina and the Kentucky game and those kind of things. But this year, we're still trying to finalize the schedule obviously, and we're progressing to where it's gonna be a schedule that's gonna be a little more manageable for us as we continue to build the (players') confidence -- which is important."
Antigua also commented on each of his three incoming freshmen:
PF Troy Baxter (Oldsmar Christian): "High-level athlete who shoots the ball better than people think, who can play three, four, and in a situation if you needed him, can defend the two; he moves his feet well enough. Jumps out of the moon. Allows you to play a different way with him, being able to get up and down and defensively."
PG Andres Feliz (Orlando West Oaks): He's won everywhere he's been. ... Tough, hard-nosed facilitator that can score. But he's a natural point guard that looks to facilitate but can also shoot the ball and look to score. Defensive presence, leader who's gonna get into folks."
SF Malik Fitts (Brewster Academy, New Hampshire): "This year (in prep school) really served him. He was a kid that had an injury early on in his career and had gained some weight and was a little bit oversized for a 6-6 kid. But he can shoot the ball, skilled, passes. ... From what I hear from his prep-school coach he's down to about 210 pounds now, and that's added some athleticism to him, which he's gonna need in order to be able to move his feet to guard twos and threes, which is what he can play for us."