USF Bulls 2011-12 men's basketball preview

Senior Augustus Gilchrist gets one last chance to prove he can lead the Bulls.

EDWARD LINSMIER | Times

Senior Augustus Gilchrist gets one last chance to prove he can lead the Bulls.

Stan Heath has exactly three post players for the upcoming season, but provided they stay healthy and can avoid foul trouble, he's confident the Bulls can be even better up front with just seniors Augustus Gilchrist and Ron Anderson and junior Toarlyn Fitzpatrick. • Anderson is the team's only true center, and Gilchrist and Fitzpatrick have outside range that makes them more likely to step out than crash the rim. Heath had signed two post players, but 6-foot-11 junior Andre Jackson didn't finish his final class in time to qualify, and 7-3 freshman Jordan Omogbehin is redshirting and recovering from knee surgery. • That leaves Gilchrist — who has a fourth and final season to emerge as a leader and consistent scorer — and Anderson and Fitzpatrick, whose minutes will be higher because of the lack of depth. • The newcomer to watch is 6-8 sophomore F Victor Rudd, a high-flying transfer from Arizona State who could surpass Gilchrist as the team's top scorer. Heath has been raving about him since last season, when he sat out the year after transferring. He has range, can dunk and has added 30 pounds to his frame since arriving on campus, which should allow him to sub in as a power forward if Heath needs help there.

And your point is?

When senior Anthony Crater was dismissed for a violation of team rules in May, the Bulls lost a player who took a huge majority of the minutes at point guard. Toward that end, the single biggest variable in whether USF can improve on a 3-13 Big East record will be how well Heath can find dependable playmakers from a group of three potential point guards.

The likely starter is sophomore Blake Nash, a junior college transfer who has the best offensive game of the three but will have to make the transition to elite college basketball. Another sophomore, LaVonte Dority, has improved a well-rounded game but barely played as a freshman behind Crater.

The wild card is freshman Anthony Collins, who impressed Heath with his defensive tenacity and ability to drive and distribute, something the Bulls have lacked. Collins is a waterbug on defense, arms wide and harassing opposing guards, and a deep group of shooting guards could allow the Bulls to get away with a point that isn't as much a threat from outside.

Up for grabs

If Rudd, Gilchrist and Anderson are likely starters and the point guard spot is up in the air, Heath's best depth is at shooting guard, where he'll choose among streak-shooter Shaun Noriega, whose defense is a concern; Hugh Robertson, perhaps his best defender and a solid rebounder; and athletic Jawanza Poland, who showed promising flashes last year but will miss the first month of the season with a back injury.

Finding a complete player among the group — if Noriega can shore up his defense, or Robertson or Poland can develop into a reliable double-digit scorer — would help Heath find the scoring balance he needs to keep defense from collapsing on Gilchrist.

Home away from home

A year from now, USF will proudly unveil a new home arena, having spent $35 million on a massive renovation to the 30-year-old Sun Dome. This season, it means the Bulls are homeless, playing their Big East games at the St. Pete Times Forum. USF opens the season, fittingly, with three home games in five days at three venues, with a cameo at the Lakeland Center (against D-II Florida Southern) and the first of three games at the University of Tampa's Bob Martinez Center. The Bulls haven't been a strong road team, so their ability to find a familiarity in the off-campus home venues is crucial to the team's success this season.



ROSTER

No. Player Ht. Pos. Yr.

1 Ron Anderson Jr. 6-8 F Sr.

2 Victor Rudd 6-7 F So.

3 LaVonte Dority 6-1 G So.

5 Jawanza Poland 6-4 G Jr.

11 Anthony Collins 6-1 G Fr.

15 Blake Nash 6-0 G So.

22 Shaun Noriega 6-4 G Jr.

24 Augustus Gilchrist 6-10 F Sr.

25 Alberto Damour6-5 F Sr.

32 Toarlyn Fitzpatrick 6-8 F Jr.

34 Hugh Robertson 6-6 G Sr.

SCHEDULE

(home games at St. Pete Times Forum unless noted otherwise)

Saturday Vermont* 7

Nov. 14 Marist 7

Nov. 16 Florida Southern** 7

Nov. 19 Old Dominion# 2

Nov. 20 Kentucky/Penn State# TBA

Nov. 23 Georgia Southern 7

Nov. 26 Florida Atlantic* 7

Nov. 30 at VCU 7:30

Dec. 3 at Kansas 5:15

Dec. 11 Florida A&M* 2

Dec. 14 at Auburn 9

Dec. 19 Cleveland State 7

Dec. 22 at Southern Miss 8

Dec. 28 Connecticut 9

Jan. 1 Rutgers noon

Jan. 5 at Villanova 8

Jan. 10 at Notre Dame 7

Jan. 13 Seton Hall 7

Jan. 18 St. John's 7

Jan. 22 at DePaul 2

Jan. 24 at Marquette 8

Jan. 29 Providence 2

Feb. 4 at Georgetown 11 a.m.

Feb. 8 Pittsburgh 7

Feb. 11 at Providence 4

Feb. 15 Villanova 7

Feb. 19 at Pittsburgh 7

Feb. 22 at Syracuse 7

Feb. 26 Cincinnati noon

Feb. 29 at Louisville 7

March 3 West Virginia noon

* Martinez Center, Univ. of Tampa ** Lakeland Center, Lakeland

# Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Tournament, Uncasville, Conn.

At a glance

Coach: Stan Heath (51-77, fifth season at USF; 163-154, 11th overall)

Last season: 10-23, 3-15 (15th in Big East)

USF Bulls 2011-12 men's basketball preview 11/04/11 [Last modified: Saturday, November 5, 2011 7:59pm]

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