DAYTON, Ohio — Victor Rudd has opened USF's past two games with a combined 16 points in the first five minutes, and he hopes for more of the same when the Bulls face California in tonight's first-round matchup in the NCAA Tournament.
"I was aggressive in the first five minutes in the Villanova (Big East tournament) game, and when we came out against Notre Dame, I felt I should be just as aggressive," Rudd said Tuesday. "It makes me play better down the stretch, because I know I can do things, instead of waiting for something to happen."
Rudd scored 10 in the first 4:13 as USF built a 12-2 lead against Villanova, and he hit two 3-pointers in the first five minutes against Notre Dame. He finished with 13 and 16 points, respectively, his best two-game total in nearly two months. And he's going back to his roots against Cal, having played high school basketball in Los Angeles and his first college season in the Pac-12 with Arizona State.
"They were No. 1 in the league and we were No. 2. They beat us twice, so we didn't get the split with them," he said. "They played hard. That's something they're coached to do. It was a tough battle, so I'm looking for it to be tough again."
Cal coach Mike Montgomery remembers Rudd not only as a recruit but as an opponent — he scored seven points in eight minutes as a Sun Devils freshman in two losses to the Golden Bears during the 2009-10 season.
"We watched Victor in high school. He was at Arizona State. We know all about him," Montgomery said. "He's very, very talented, can score it in bunches, and that's a tough matchup. He's taken the majority of the 3s for them."
Rudd hit four 3-pointers in the loss to Notre Dame, but before that, he had gone 13 games with no more than one 3-pointer. He's 5-for-10 beyond the arc in his past two games.
FAMILIAR FACE: USF assistant Steve Roccaforte joined the Bulls this season after being head coach at Lamar, which is also in Dayton and playing tonight against Vermont. Lamar senior Anthony Miles said he was hoping to see his old coach and wished him luck.
"That's my guy. That's our coach. He's the one who came and got us to come to Lamar," Miles said. "So we are excited to see him. We're happy for him the things they did in South Florida."
BULLS in WNIT: For the seventh time in nine seasons, USF is in the Women's NIT and opens at home Thursday against Florida Atlantic in the USF Rec Center. The Bulls (17-15) are one of 12 Big East teams in the postseason, including eight in the NCAA Tournament field. Win Thursday, and USF faces the winner of Stetson and Florida International. The Bulls won the tournament in 2009.