Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Sports

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

RECOMMENDED READING


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
Name game: What should this year’s UF-FSU rivalry game be called?

Name game: What should this year’s UF-FSU rivalry game be called?

This hasn't exactly been a banner year for Florida and Florida State football. And bowl bids are no certainties for either program. So we could look at this year's rivalry as their de facto bowl game. The Times' college football staff takes a crack a...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
Clayborn shining for Falcons as Bucs come to town

Clayborn shining for Falcons as Bucs come to town

The Bucs face the Falcons twice in their final six games, and as they prepare to go to Atlanta on Sunday, former Tampa Bay first-round pick Adrian Clayborn has had a nice two-week run.Clayborn had a huge game nine days ago with six sacks in a win aga...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays INF Matt Duffy has to say big goodbye to 27-pound cat Skeeter

Rays INF Matt Duffy has to say big goodbye to 27-pound cat Skeeter

When the Rays acquired INF Matt Duffy from the Giants during the 2016 season, we also heard about the giant and somewhat famous cat he had, an up-to-27-pounder named Skeeter.Duffy announced over the weekend on Instagram that the family had to have Sk...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rick and Tom podcast: Debunking the Jameis Winston conspiracy theories

Rick and Tom podcast: Debunking the Jameis Winston conspiracy theories

In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones debunk the Jameis Winston conspiracy theories as he will miss a third consecutive game this weekend in Atlanta.The guys explain that Winston’s absence is purely medical and has nothing to do with the...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays agonize over which prospects to protect on 40-man roster

Rays agonize over which prospects to protect on 40-man roster

ST. PETERSBURG — That the Rays went right up to Monday’s 8 p.m. deadline in deciding to add seven players to the 40-man roster, and that a couple they left off seem to be potential Rule 5 draft losses, was apparently a good thing."There’s always some...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Tuesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYBoxingWelterweights: Alexander vs. Castillo7:30 p.m.FS1College basketballMaui Invitational semifinal1:30 p.m.ESPNLegends Classic third-place game3:30 p.m.ESPNUMaui Invitational consolation game4 p.m.ESPN2Legends Classic final6 p.m.ESPN2George Ma...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs journal: Dirk Koetter says Doug Martin’s not at fault for struggling running game

Bucs journal: Dirk Koetter says Doug Martin’s not at fault for struggling running game

TAMPA — RB Doug Martin had just 38 yards on 19 carries in Sunday’s win against the Dolphins, but coach Dirk Koetter said his team’s struggles running the ball shouldn’t go squarely on his running back."In my opinion, he is not the reason we’re not mo...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Debunking some theories about why the Bucs are keeping Jameis Winston on the shelf

Debunking some theories about why the Bucs are keeping Jameis Winston on the shelf

TAMPA — The Bucs are sticking with Ryan Two and Oh Fitzpatrick at quarterback for Sunday’s game in Atlanta. But this isn’t a case of just riding the guy who has the cool head and hot hand. Doctors would not clear starter Jameis Wi...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Flames ride hot Gaudreau, beat Capitals

Flames ride hot Gaudreau, beat Capitals

WASHINGTON — Johnny Gaudreau would rather talk about anything other than his offensive production. He’s just making it impossible to avoid. Gaudreau had a goal and an assist to extend his career-best point streak to 10 games and lead the Flames to a ...
Published: 11/20/17
Cavs roll over Pistons, close in on Central lead

Cavs roll over Pistons, close in on Central lead

DETROIT — An emphatic win over a first-place opponent had LeBron James and the Cavaliers talking confidently again. "We haven’t had a win like that in a very long time," James said. "That’s what happens when we don’t let up." James scored 16 of his 1...
Published: 11/20/17