USF men's hoops: 4 pressing questions
As another USF men's basketball season tips off, tonight against Florida A&M at the Sun Dome, we examine four pressing questions facing the beleaguered program.
1. Surely, the Bulls will be deeper this season, right? And just how deep?
Frankly, they can't be much more shallow than last winter, when they occasionally had only six scholarship players available. Presuming PG Jahmal McMurray returns from his early-season suspension and 2015-16 midyear transfer Isaiah Manderson becomes eligible later this season, the Bulls reasonably could go nine-deep. Here's our long-term projection of the rotation (including McMurray/Manderson)
PG Jahmal McMurray, 6-0, So.
SG Troy Holston Jr., 6-4, R-So.
G Geno Thorpe, 6-4, R-Jr.
F Tulio Da Silva, 6-7, R-Fr.
C Ruben Guerrero, 7-0, Jr.
First three off the bench
PF Bo Zeigler, 6-6, R-Jr.
G Michael Bibby, 6-3, Fr.
PF Isaiah Manderson, 6-10, Jr.
F Luis Santos, 6-9, So.
G Jake Bodway, 6-3, R-Jr.
F Malik Fitts, 6-8, Fr.
2. What about this NCAA probe (reportedly of academic impropriety), and what will the ramifications be?
Obviously, the NCAA doesn't provide updates on the status of investigations, but we're hearing this one's winding down. We're also inclined to believe the worst consequences (resignation of assistant coach Oliver Antigua, two signees never making it to the preseason) already have been realized. Nutshell: This is a nasty cloud for sure, but one that will soon pass.
3. Will USF finally possess a long-range threat?
Ah, the perpetual question. USF ranked 339th of 346 Division I teams in 3-point percentage last season (28.6), so its long-range proficiency can't get much worse. McMurray, (34.6 percent) the only real perimeter shooting threat last season, should be complemented by Holston, who hit 39 treys as a freshman before being sidelined by a torn ACL last year. Bibby was a solid 3-point shooter in high school, but it remains to be seen whether that efficiency will carry over to this level.
4. Will the Bulls be abysmal again in non-conference?
No, not a chance. For one, the non-conference slate is much more navigable than last season's gauntlent (Kentucky, N.C. State, Seton Hall, etc.). South Carolina is the only Power Five foe USF will face in the regular season, and the Gamecocks don't come to Tampa until Dec. 17 (when McMurray is slated to be back). We even project a winning record in non-AAC play.