TAMPA — Shortly after Friday's nine-point victory over winless Stetson, a team they acknowledged overlooking, three USF guards were asked about the upcoming glamour opponent with whom they had been preoccupied.
Which of you, they were asked, will defend Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart on Monday?
Corey Allen, Martino Brock and Anthony Collins each raised a hand. "We all can defend," Allen said.
They'll all have to, their coach agreed.
Smart, a 6-foot-4 sophomore whom the Bulls literally have been eyeing for nearly a week, arrives at the Sun Dome tonight with his No. 7 Cowboys (4-0) in tow. A projected NBA draft lottery pick, he scored a career-best 39 in OSU's 101-80 humiliation of Memphis on Tuesday.
The Bulls (4-0) were as enthralled as everyone else. So much so, Heath said, it's all they were talking about at Wednesday's practice, when they were preparing for Stetson. Futilely, Heath struggled to keep them focused on the Hatters.
Now, their attention is no longer divided, but the defensive assignment on Smart (20 ppg) will be. Heath said Allen, Brock, Collins and maybe others will have a hand in guarding OSU's marquee guy, who is complemented by four other Cowboys averaging at least 11 points.
"We can't give them transition baskets, we can't let Smart have 30," Heath said.
"It's not going to be one guy (on Smart), it's not going to be two guys. It's going to take a full unit, including guys off the bench, including guys that may not even play, just to stay engaged and help our team."