Women's hoops: Non-conference slate released
If it hopes to again become an NCAA Tournament team, USF's women will have to play like one right out of the gate this fall.
A rugged early slate, a partial reason for their banishment to the Women's NIT last season, highlights the Bulls' 2014-15 schedule. Many of the matchups were previously reported, but the school confirmed the entire non-conference schedule a couple of weeks ago.
It can be seen in its entirety here.
Eight of the 12 non-conference foes ended last season with a top-65 RPI. Three of them -- Kentucky (RPI 9), Maryland (11) and Penn State (12) -- ended in the top 12.
USF opens the season with back-to-back games Nov. 15-16 against Chattanooga (47) and Villanova (55) at the Chattanooga Invitational. The Bulls end the month with games against Oklahoma, Illinois and Kentucky in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.
The beefy non-conference slate helps USF offset some potential RPI damage from its American Athletic Conference schedule, which no longer includes Louisville (now in the ACC) or Rutgers (Big Ten). The Bulls, a likely pick as American preseason runner-up, still will have two games against reigning national champ Connecticut.
Smitten by injuries and a lack of cohesion last fall, the Bulls dropped seven of their first 12 but rallied for a 23-13 finish, reaching the WNIT semifinals. Coach Jose Fernandez returns 13 letter winners from that team including honorable mention All-American G Courtney Williams (16.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and first-team all-conference F Alisia Jenkins (9.6 ppg, 10.3 rpg).