Saturday, June 23, 2018
Sports

Nonconference attendance bodes well for Big East crowds at USF's Sun Dome

TAMPA — A strong showing by Syracuse fans certainly helped USF to its first home sellout in 11 years on Sunday, but the Sun Dome crowd of 10,024 reinforced a strong increase in home attendance during nonconference play in the Bulls' first season in the renovated arena.

USF's nonconference announced average of 3,525 was up 50 percent from last year's 2,350, when the Bulls played their early games at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the Bob Martinez Center and the Lakeland Center. Even compared to two years ago, in the last season played in the Sun Dome, this year's nonconference attendance was up 19 percent, boding well for strong crowds in Big East play.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim raved Sunday about the Sun Dome's $35 million makeover, contrasting it with his team's woeful shooting even in a 55-44 victory against the Bulls.

"They've done an unbelievable job with this arena," Boeheim said. "It's a beautiful arena, as good as any of the places in the league. Pretty arena, pretty ugly offense."

It may not be good news for Stan Heath's won-loss record, but the Big East schedule is stacked with opponents that should help pack the arena. By current RPI rankings, six of the conference's top seven teams come to Tampa, with Louisville, Connecticut, Georgetown, Marquette and Notre Dame still ahead.

NEAR MISS: Willie Taggart comes to USF with a reputation as a strong football recruiter, and his coaching staff nearly had two assistants to help that cause. The Bulls were left at the altar by Plant coach Robert Weiner, who announced Tuesday he would stay at Plant after one day working as Taggart's receivers coach; Weiner would have helped recruiting in USF's back yard.

And Taggart targeted a former colleague in Stanford linebackers coach Lance Anderson, named in February by Scout.com as the nation's top recruiter. But Anderson, a potential defensive coordinator for the Bulls, told USF on Monday that he was staying at Stanford, not wanting to uproot his family.

Taggart has a key four weeks ahead before national signing day, both in locking down existing commitments and in making the most out of his available scholarships. Fans should quickly have a sense of how well he can recruit.

THIS AND THAT: Two former USF football standouts signed with NFL teams this week, LB Kion Wilson with the Steelers and WR Carlton Mitchell (Gaither) with the Cowboys. … USF women's tennis opens its season Saturday at home against Syracuse, and the Bulls are ranked No. 43 in the opening ITA rankings. Senior Katie Vasenina is ranked 35th in singles. … USF's three midyear additions in football were a pair of junior college players from Butler (Kan.) Community College, LB Rahmon Swain and CB Torrel Saffold, and K Emilio Nadelman of Miami Central, who should compete for place-kicking duties with former walk-on Marvin Kloss, who handled kickoffs last season.

Comments
Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

There are many unanswered questions and unresolved discrepancies to the story of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and the March 2016 Uber ride in Arizona that led to him facing a three-game suspension to start the upcoming season.The Bucs won't commen...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning takes Quebec LW Gabriel Fortier with second-round pick

Lightning takes Quebec LW Gabriel Fortier with second-round pick

The Lightning is on the board in the 2018 NHL draft, using their first pick — 59th overall in the second round — on Gabriel Fortier, an undersize left wing from Quebec."I spoke with them a couple of times, so I knew there was an interest,...
Updated: 3 hours ago
For starters: Rays vs. Yankees, looking for two straight

For starters: Rays vs. Yankees, looking for two straight

UPDATE, 2:38: Clarifying what was a communication error with the team PR staff, Rays manager Kevin Cash said LHP Blake Snell was slated for an extra day's rest all along and will face the Nationals on Monday not the Yankees on Sunday. The Rays will u...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Besides the continual evolution of their intriguing pitching plan, the primary topics of conversation for the Rays over the next several weeks will be trades and prospects. And not mutually exclusively.Some sooner than others, the Rays are going to c...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Live blog: 2018 NHL entry draft

Live blog: 2018 NHL entry draft

The Lightning isn't scheduled to pick until the second round, but there's no telling how active they might be with trades, so you'll want to follow our live coverage throughout the NHL draft Friday (Round 1) and Saturday (Rounds 2-7) in Dallas.(funct...
Published: 06/23/18
Rodney Page’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Rodney Page’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

1. SS Willy Adames had a nice night, and there appear to be many more in his future. He had two hits, an RBI and an inning-ending leaping catch on a line drive by Didi Gregorius in the fifth.2. DH C.J. Cron needs to shake things up. Take a different ...
Published: 06/22/18
Marc Anthony pays a visit to the Trop

Marc Anthony pays a visit to the Trop

By Allana BarefieldTimes Staff WriterST. PETERSBURG — Latin pop star Marc Anthony visited Tropicana Field on Friday to see his beloved Yankees play the Rays.Anthony spent nearly an hour on the field before the game as fans and players surrounde...
Published: 06/22/18
Rays journal: Daniel Robertson’s return crowds up infield

Rays journal: Daniel Robertson’s return crowds up infield

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays reinstated INF Daniel Robertson from the 10-day disabled list (left hamstring strain). To make room, RHP Austin Pruitt was sent to Triple-A Durham."It's out of my mind. I don't think about (the hamstring) when I'm bend...
Published: 06/22/18
Brady Singer, Gators eliminated by Arkansas at CWS

Brady Singer, Gators eliminated by Arkansas at CWS

Times wiresOMAHA, Neb.  —Defending champion Florida failed to win a third straight elimination game, losing to Arkansas 5-2 Friday night and departing the College World Series.The Gators (49-21) had to win to force a rematch. The Razorback...
Published: 06/22/18
Rays hang on for a 2-1 win over Yankees

Rays hang on for a 2-1 win over Yankees

ST. PETERSBURG – Many times this season the Rays' strategy of opening the game with a short reliever and using the bullpen to finish hasn't had much success.Friday wasn't one of those nights.A total of six pitchers held the Yankees and their va...
Published: 06/22/18