Sunday, May 27, 2018
Sports

Relaxing, fewer turnovers helped USF Bulls click on offense

NASHVILLE — Stan Heath can't put a finger on why USF's offense clicked so well in Wednesday's 65-54 victory over California, the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament victory.

But as the Bulls seek their second in tonight's second-round game against Temple, the coach said he believes his team looked more relaxed, having shed the burden of trying to make the tournament.

"Since around mid January, we were playing for our lives," said Heath, whose team entered averaging 59.2 points. "We felt like any game we lost was an elimination game. And I think in some ways, it might have been my fault that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. And maybe I coached that way, where just every possession was just so important.

"I felt like once we got in the tournament — and we talked about this — it was like, 'Hey, we're in a new season. Let's relax and play.' "

Those relaxed Bulls (21-13), jumped out to a 36-13 halftime lead on the Golden Bears, hitting 15 of their first 21 shots while maintaining the stifling defense they exhibited throughout the season.

USF playing well at both end of the court makes it that much more difficult to prepare for, according to Temple coach Fran Dunphy.

"They figured out what they needed to do to win," said Dunphy, whose team has beaten Duke (a No. 2 seed in the tournament) and Wichita State (No. 5) this season. "The thing that impresses me the most is when you can be tough physically or tough mentally, you have a chance to be a really good team. I think … especially at this point in the year, South Florida is both. So that's a tough task for us."

Heath said the public perception of his team struggling on offense might be magnified because it was especially low scoring when the national spotlight was on it late in the season — scoring 48 in a loss at Syracuse, 46 in a win against Cincinnati, 58 in a win against Louisville, 44 in a loss to West Virginia and 56 and 53 in its Big East tournament games.

The key to USF's scoring, Heath said, is limiting turnovers. Against Cal, the Bulls did with 11.

"When we have 12 or less turnovers, we average 67 points a game," Heath said. "We had 11 in that game, and we scored (65) points. So when we take care of the basketball, we are a different team offensively. We give ourselves more chances."

USF might need more scoring to keep up with Temple, which has scored at least 64 in every game. The Owls averaged 76, more than any team in the Big East.

At the same time, USF's players said the best inspiration for the offense clicking is the confidence that comes with their defensive identity controlling the game.

"I think we like to play defense a lot more than we like to play offense at times because we know that getting stops is what's going to keep us being successful," junior forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick said.

"When we see other teams frustrated and our plan unfolding out on the court, we definitely feed off that and it gives us a lot of confidence on the offensive end as well."

Greg Auman can be reached at [email protected]m and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bulls and follow him at Twitter.com/gregauman.

Comments
Rays bats come alive with six-run rally to beat Orioles 8-3

Rays bats come alive with six-run rally to beat Orioles 8-3

ST. PETERSBURG — If you think the Rays are holding their pitching staff together with baling wire, duct tape and an overbooked shuttle to Triple-A Durham, a bigger story might be how their bats keep producing runs no matter who is swinging them...
Updated: 1 hour ago
For starters: Rays RHP Sergio Romo opens the game for the second time in 48 hours vs. Orioles

For starters: Rays RHP Sergio Romo opens the game for the second time in 48 hours vs. Orioles

ST. PETERSBURG – Speaking of openers, the Rays will start RHP Sergio Romo (1-1, 4.66 ERA) for the fourth time this season, the second time in 48 hours vs. the Orioles. The 35-year-old Romo did not make it out of the first inning Friday, allowin...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have had to get creative in how they start games. Now, after Friday's trade of closer Alex Colome, they might have to get creative in how they finish them.How they handle the ninth inning going forward will be a fluid ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegas’ birth-to-best story?

Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegas’ birth-to-best story?

What in the name of the 0-26 Bucs is going on here?The breathtaking Vegas Golden Knights are the greatest expansion team in professional sports history. They are the best (or worst) thing to ever happen to our games, having won 51 times during the re...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

THE BASEBALL LABORATORY IN ST. PETERSBURG — Up is down. Down is up. Hello is goodbye. Goodbye is hello. A reliever is a starter. A starter is a reliever.These are your 2018 Tampa Bay Rays.You never know what's going to happen. And just when you...
Published: 05/26/18
Updated: 05/27/18
Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman, who was trying to resurrect his career with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, said Saturday that he is retiring from football.Freeman, 30, was a first-round draft pick of the Bucs in 2009 and was their starting ...
Published: 05/26/18
Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Orioles game

Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Orioles game

Interesting decision by the Rays to start RH reliever Ryne Stanek on Saturday. The Orioles' Nos. 1 through 5 hitters were righties, and Stanek came in allowing a 1.228 OPS against righties and a .592 OPS against lefties. It ended up working.How ...
Published: 05/26/18
RAYSREPORT

RAYSREPORT

Today: vs. Orioles1:10, Tropicana FieldTV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)Tickets: $15-$275; available at Tropicana Field, raysbaseball.com, surcharge of up to $5 within five hours of gamePromotion: Raymond children’s book for kids 14 ...
Published: 05/26/18
Rays Tales: What the trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span leads to next

Rays Tales: What the trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span leads to next

The reality of Friday's surprising trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span to Seattle is, of course, between the extremes.One side is screaming this is the latest proof the Rays are driven more to pocket money than winning games (and, for the loudest, o...
Published: 05/26/18

For starters: Rays vs. Orioles; Ryne Stanek makes first start, Carlos Gomez returns

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' bullpenning experiment continues, with right-hander Ryne Stanek to open this afternoon's game against the Orioles at Tropicana Field. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10.It is the first career start for Stanek, who has ...
Published: 05/26/18