Monday, December 11, 2017
Sports

Fennelly: Welcome to Tampa, Brian Gregory: Make USF basketball interesting (w/ video)

TAMPA — Congratulate me.

I'm pretty sure Wednesday was the fifth new USF men's basketball coach news conference I have attended.

Seth Greenberg, Robert McCullum, Stan Heath, Orlando Antigua and now Brian Gregory.

The boxed set.

Shouldn't I get a prize?

A set of steak knives?

A winning program?

Brian Gregory was introduced Wednesday at the Sun Dome. Like the men before him, he said the right things. He said them quite well, in fact. He comes from the Tom Izzo coaching tree, as good a tree as there is.

Welcome to USF's hollow log.

Enough of that.

Here's the chance for USF to start over and build it right.

You've got a guy with some coaching chops dropped in the middle of a city that doesn't care.

Well, make it care.

There's no good reason why USF, properly coached, properly stocked with recruits, including local recruits, shouldn't be able to make the NCAA Tournament every three or four years.

"There's no reason," Gregory said. "We've got a road to attack in order to get there, but we play in a league that can give us that opportunity. There's a talent base that's able to put us in the position. Is there a belief among the staff and head coach? There is now. There is now."

The optics right now are horrible. USF went 7-23 this season. In four years in the American Athletic Conference, the Bulls are an astonishing 11-61 — four years in and 50 games under .500.

"I'm not all that interested in why things haven't worked out in the past," Gregory said. "I know that if we do things according to our game plan that we are going to be successful. I know there have been glimpses of success (here), but maybe not sustainability. That's what I'm looking to do."

It's going to require patience. Next year will be bad. If it's anything more than bad, if Gregory produces receptivity first shot out of the box, name the Sun Dome court after him.

USF has been to the NCAA Tournament three times in the program's 46 years. The last time was 2012 under Heath. What is amazing is just how few times the Bulls have even been on the NCAA bubble. It has been a recurring blister.

It doesn't have to be this way.

And here is the perfect vacuum.

There are no expectations.

USF can become a laboratory. Gregory and his staff aren't trying to crack the riddle of the double helix. For starters, try beating Tulane and East Carolina twice a season.

And what are fans going to do if you lose, not come to games?

They already don't come to games.

USF men's basketball is a moonscape.

But it's a blank canvas, too.

Stick with the plan. No shortcuts. No quick fixes. That's what Antigua was about, slapping together players from everywhere, no rhyme, no reason, no team in any way.

And recruit the area. Try and own it.

"Our footprint of our university has been underutilized in the recruiting process," Gregory said. "That must and will change. It has to. You have to be the first one in the gym and the last one out."

I'd consider hiring local coaching talent such as former USF player and assistant and current Wharton High coach Tommy Tonelli or Tampa Prep coach Joe Fenlon. I'd be all over the locals. Go and meet Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox, who is bound for a powerhouse school. Go meet him anyway.

Get out there and stay there, in high school gyms and living rooms, and maybe two, three years down the road, it pays off, when another star local stays home. Refuse to let anyone reject USF out of hand.

Oh, and work this city. Once upon a time, before all the losing and the Lightning arrived, USF basketball was a viable entertainment choice on Saturday night. Time to reconnect. Open up practices. Let senior citizens in. Let kids in. Practice all over town. Do whatever it takes. Make USF basketball something to talk about.

Before I forget: Where are my steak knives?

 
Comments
Tampa Bay Rays cornerstone Evan Longoria “somewhere in limbo” due to trade speculation

Tampa Bay Rays cornerstone Evan Longoria “somewhere in limbo” due to trade speculation

Franchise cornerstone 3B Evan Longoria considers his future with the Rays "somewhere in limbo" based on speculation he could be traded as part of a cost-cutting and rebuilding movement."I don't know what to think, really,'' Longoria told the Tampa Ba...
Updated: 18 minutes ago

Monday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballBryant at Louisville7 p.m.ESPNUChicago State at Northwestern7 p.m.FS1Drake at Minnesota8 p.m.Big TenAlabama A&M at DePaul9 p.m.FS1NBAHeat at Grizzlies8 p.m.Fox SunPelicans at Rockets8 p.m.NBARaptors at Clippers10:30 p.m.NBANFLP...
Updated: 6 hours ago
nflweek14

nflweek14

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The snow sure suits Shady. LeSean McCoy scored on a 21-yard run with 1:33 left in overtime for the Bills’ 13-7 win Sunday over the Colts in a wintry, white-out setting best suited for snow shoes and sled dogs. Mush! He finished w...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Shorthanded Blues win fourth in row

ST. LOUIS — Vladimir Tarasenko scored with 35 seconds left in overtime, and the Blues, down two key players, beat the Sabres 3-2 Sunday night. Brayden Schenn and Paul Stastny also scored, and Joel Edmundson recorded two assists as the Blues topped th...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Celtics get payback for loss

DETROIT — The Celtics prevented Andre Drummond from scoring in the paint and quieted Reggie Jackson on the perimeter. That helped Boston to a 91-81 victory Sunday over the Pistons and avenged a rare loss.When Detroit beat the Celtics last month in Bo...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Veteran 3B Evan Longoria as uncertain as anyone about Rays’ plans

Veteran 3B Evan Longoria as uncertain as anyone about Rays’ plans

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Uncertain with all the talk about potentially rebuilding if the Rays would go as far as trading franchise cornerstone 3B Evan Longoria?So is he."I don’t know what to think, really,’’ Longoria said via text message Sunday night as t...
Updated: 7 hours ago
NFL Week 14: What we learned

NFL Week 14: What we learned

Aaron Rodgers is ready to return, but is he needed in Green Bay? Backup QB Brett Hundley is 2-0 in OT; Rodgers is 1-7. The Pack has its Mr. Clutch, right? Yeah, right. Its 27-21 OT win at Cleveland keeps it alive for a wild-card spot. Mr. Rodgers, yo...
Updated: 7 hours ago
O’Hair-Stricker team wins QBE Shootout in Naples

O’Hair-Stricker team wins QBE Shootout in Naples

NAPLES — Steve Stricker provided the pep talk and Sean O’Hair delivered the shot to secure victory Sunday in the QBE Shootout. Stricker and O’Hair closed with 8-under 64 for a two-shot victory over Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry, effectively clinchi...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Sports in brief

Sports in brief

Soccermanchester city keeps up record pace with win over manchester unitedMANCHESTER, England — Surely nothing can stop Manchester City now. The race for the English Premier League title is turning into a procession after City beat fierce rival Manch...
Updated: 8 hours ago
FSU beats Tulane in Tampa, stays unbeaten in basketball

FSU beats Tulane in Tampa, stays unbeaten in basketball

Updated: 8 hours ago