Thursday, April 26, 2018
Sports

USF Bulls mark major improvements in men's and women's basketball

TAMPA — As both USF basketball teams sort out their postseason future, Stan Heath and Jose Fernandez have improbably combined for the best improvement of any teams in college basketball's major conferences.

USF's men are 11-5 in the Big East after going 3-15 last year; USF women finished 8-8 after going 3-13.

So in terms of combined conference wins, men and women, USF has 13 more, easily the most of any program in the "Power 6" conferences. The closest any school from a major conference gets is California, plus-9 entering Tuesday's games, and in all of Division I basketball, out of 344 schools, only Davidson —- a combined plus-15 — has seen greater improvement.

The improvement comes at a time when the Bulls' home arena, the Sun Dome, is being renovated, so home games have been played at alternate venues. USF's women's team made its gains despite top scorer Andrea Smith missing the entire season recovering from knee surgery. And the men's team's surge into Big East relevance already counts as the best single-season improvement in the conference in more than a decade.

Only two men's teams in Big East history have made a bigger jump than USF, which has eight more conference wins and still has two games left, tonight at Louisville and Saturday at home against West Virginia. Boston College went from worst to first in 2001, an improvement of 10 conference wins, and Miami went from 0-18 to 9-9 in 1995.

Barring a Big East championship, USF's women are likely headed to the Women's NIT. But there's a greater opportunity for Heath's team, which has a chance to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 20 years. That, more than any statistical honor, would cement this team's place in USF history.

GETTING HEALTHY: Former Bulls RB Darrell Scott, who left after his junior year to enter the NFL draft, ran a disappointing 4.73 at the NFL combine this week. He said Monday he was limited by a quad injury, one he hopes to have recovered from when USF holds its Pro Day for scouts March 20. Scott, who weighed in at 230 pounds, wants a time closer to 4.5 seconds and believes he can do it in Tampa. "I know I can do way better than what I did," he said.

THIS AND THAT: After a 3-0 start, USF baseball stumbled to a combined three losses against North Florida and Bethune-Cookman going into Tuesday's game at Central Florida. The Bulls' pitching has come through as Lelo Prado had hoped, but the hitting and defense aren't there yet. The Bulls were hitting .223 as a team entering Tuesday, and they had 10 errors, including five by SS Chad Taylor, who shifted in from the outfield. … Pinellas Park's Sara Nevins was named Big East pitcher of the week after the sophomore went 2-0 last week with a save and 23 strikeouts in 16 innings. USF softball is 10-1 entering today's home game against No. 12 Michigan. … USF baseball gets a spring training exhibition at 1:05 Friday against the Yankees at Steinbrenner Field.

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

Biggest improvements

Here are the college basketball programs with the best improvements in combined conference victories for their men's and women's teams.

SchoolMWTotal
Davidson+6+9+15
USF+8+5+13
San Diego+5+7+12
Niagara+3+9+12
Delaware+4+7+11

* entering Tuesday's games

Comments
Don’t call it a comeback: Jonny Venters return to majors with Rays much more than that

Don’t call it a comeback: Jonny Venters return to majors with Rays much more than that

BALTIMORE — First, think of what you were doing on Oct. 5, 2012, and how much has happened in your own world since then.That will give you a time frame.Next, think of the challenge of rehabbing from two Tommy John surgeries and a third procedur...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning to face Bruins in East semifinals

Lightning to face Bruins in East semifinals

The Bruins beat the Maple Leafs 7-4 in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series Wednesday night and will face the Lightning in the Eastern Conference semifinals beginning Saturday at Amalie Arena.Here is the semifinal schedule:Saturday: at Tampa, 3...
Updated: 4 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 25

Wednesday’s scoreboardBaseballCanterbury 5, Shorecrest 4SoftballClass 6A, District 6 Semifinal: Springstead 10, Citrus 0
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs draft scenarios: Would this guy be their lucky pick at No. 7?

Bucs draft scenarios: Would this guy be their lucky pick at No. 7?

TAMPA – This is the Rubiks Cube of NFL drafts. It can be twisted and turned it in any direction. Not many know how everything will line up.For the Bucs, the puzzle is simple.  Since they have the No. 7 overall pick, they need four quarterb...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Thursday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYBaseballTwins at Yankees1 p.m.MLBRays at Orioles7 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMBrewers at Cubs8 p.m.MLBCollege baseballAuburn at Florida7 p.m.ESPNULSU at Mississippi 8 p.m.SECCollege lacrosse, womenACC tournament: Louisville vs. Boston College11 a.m.FSFAC...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Softball: Boca Ciega edges Tarpon Springs for 6A-9 title

Softball: Boca Ciega edges Tarpon Springs for 6A-9 title

DUNEDIN — It's hard to believe that we'll see a more emotional, more exciting game than this one throughout the rest of the postseason.Top seed Tarpon Springs and No. 2 Boca Ciega were fearless with the Class 6A-9 title on the line Wednesd...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Rays Journal: A win over ex-mate Cobb, and in a record way

BALTIMORE – The Rays knew there would be all kinds of mixed feeling seeing longtime former teammate Alex Cobb pitching against them in Orioles orange.And they made sure he didn't enjoy it.The Rays knocked Cobb out in the fifth inning, and rolle...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays bring Jonny Venters back to majors

Rays bring Jonny Venters back to majors

UPDATE, 5:34: Venters, understandably, was humbled and happy to make it back. "It's hard to put into words how I'm feeling," he said. "It's been an emotional day."Venters was in uniform in the Durham clubhouse during rain delay when he got called in ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Report: Former ‘Bama starting QB to visit USF

Report: Former ‘Bama starting QB to visit USF

USF's quarterback derby could have a prominent 11th-hour entrant.Former Alabama QB Blake Barnett, the Crimson Tide's opening day starter in 2016 who transferred to Arizona State shortly thereafter, is leaving Tempe as a grad transfer, several media o...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Art of the block: Get in the way of the puck. Expect pain.

Art of the block: Get in the way of the puck. Expect pain.

BRANDON — The welts and the bruises and — yes, even the broken bones — they are the badges given this time of year to the hearty souls who, in hockey vernacular, sacrifice the body.They are awarded to the guys who knock aside wrist ...
Updated: 11 hours ago