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USF Bulls men's basketball season preview 2010-11

Augustus Gilchrist, driving on Connecticut’s Alex Oriakhi, should help make USF’s frontcourt a strength.

Associated Press

Augustus Gilchrist, driving on Connecticut’s Alex Oriakhi, should help make USF’s frontcourt a strength.

In each of their five seasons in the Big East, the Bulls have added new teams to the list of conference rivals they've defeated since joining the league. Last season, USF made considerable headway toward completing that list, adding Providence, Seton Hall, Pittsburgh and Connecticut. That means the Bulls have beaten 11 of their 15 Big East rivals, leaving a tough foursome: Louisville, St. John's, Villanova and West Virginia. USF gets two of those four at home in a span of four days, facing Villanova and Louisville in the Bulls' first conference home games of the season on Jan. 6 and 9 in the Sun Dome, with St. John's and West Virginia on the road this season.

Best in the league?

USF coach Stan Heath has put it on the record several times in preseason that he feels the Bulls have the best frontcourt in the Big East, with a pair of returning starters in 6-foot-10 F Augustus Gilchrist and 6-11 Jarrid Famous, who both were double-digit scorers last season. The Bulls also have solid reserves in 6-8 forwards Ron Anderson and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick. Who might challenge the Bulls as the Big East's top frontcourt? Few teams return both post starters from last season, but Syracuse, with 6-9 F Rick Jackson and 7-foot freshman phenom Fab Melo, is definitely close with the Bulls. Expect a big crowd when the Orange comes to Tampa on Feb. 5.

Changing of the guard

The biggest uncertainty for USF entering the season is the backcourt, where the Bulls lost Dominique Jones, a first-round NBA draft pick, and a four-year starter in PG Chris Howard, along with fellow senior Mike Mercer.

Who will step up to fill the void? All three starting jobs are up for grabs, with juniors Anthony Crater and Shedrick Haynes competing at point guard, sophomores Shaun Noriega and Mike Burwell at shooting guard, and junior college transfers Hugh Robertson and Jawanza Poland at small forward.

Heath is excited about Noriega's 3-point shooting — a must to draw defenses out away from the post players — but the biggest impact could come from Robertson and Poland, a pair of athletic wings who can shoot, rebound and get well above the rim in transition. And in Crater and Haynes, Heath has two of the fastest guards in the Big East, so quickness in transition could be a strength for the Bulls.

Comparing teams

How does USF's progress compare to the other four programs that joined the Big East in 2005? Cincinnati and Louisville have beaten all 15 opponents already, and Marquette is missing just Syracuse to complete its list. DePaul matches USF with 11 opponents, still missing Georgetown, Louisville, Pittsburgh and West Virginia. In terms of overall conference record in those five seasons, USF (20-66) is a game behind DePaul (21-65), with a good shot at passing it this season. Cincinnati is 33-53 in its five seasons, with Marquette (54-32) and Louisville (59-27) leading the way among the Big East newcomers.

ROSTER

No. Player Ht. Pos. Yr.

1 Ron Anderson Jr. 6-8 F Jr.

3 LaVonte Dority 6-1 G Fr.

5 Jawanza Poland 6-4 G So.

10 Anthony Crater 6-1 G Jr.

11 Shedrick Haynes 6-0 G Jr.

13 Jordan Heath 6-0 G Fr.

22 Shaun Noriega 6-4 G So.

23 Mike Burwell 6-6 G So.

24 Augustus Gilchrist 6-8 F-C Jr.

25 Alberto Damour 6-5 F Sr.

31 Jarrid Famous 6-11 F/C Sr.

32 Toarlyn Fitzpatrick 6-8 F So.

33 Vic Rudd 6-7 F So.

34 Hugh Robertson 6-6 G Jr.

SCHEDULE

Friday Southern Mississippi, 7

Monday St. Francis (N.Y.), 7

Nov. 18 at Central Florida, 7

Nov. 21 Georgia Southern, 2

Nov. 23 Liberty, 7

Nov. 26 vs. BYU*, 5

Nov. 27 vs. St. Mary's or Texas Tech*

Dec. 1 VCU, 7

Dec. 4 at Florida Atlantic, 8

Dec. 12 at Kent State, 6:30

Dec. 15 Auburn, 9

Dec. 18 James Madison, 7

Dec. 22 at Cleveland State, 7

Dec. 28 at Seton Hall, 7

Dec. 31 at Connecticut, 6

Jan. 6 Villanova, 7

Jan. 9 Louisville, noon

Jan. 12 at Cincinnati, 7

Jan. 16 Providence, noon

Jan. 20 at Rutgers, 7

Jan. 23 at West Virginia, 2

Jan. 27 DePaul, 9

Feb. 2 at Providence, 7

Feb. 5 Syracuse, 2

Feb. 9 Marquette, 7

Feb. 12 Notre Dame, noon

Feb. 16 at Pittsburgh, 7

Feb. 19 Georgetown, 7

Feb. 26 at DePaul, 2

March 2 Pittsburgh, 9

March 5 at St. John's, 8

March 8-12: Big East Tournament (N.Y.)

* South Padre Invitational

At a glance

Coach: Stan Heath (41-54, fourth season at USF; 153-131 overall)

Last season: 20-13, 9-9 (ninth in Big East)

USF Bulls men's basketball season preview 2010-11 11/05/10 [Last modified: Saturday, November 6, 2010 9:31pm]
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