Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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?

Rays DFA Rob Refsnyder to make room for Kevin Kiermaier

Rays DFA Rob Refsnyder to make room for Kevin Kiermaier

The Rays made official after Monday's game that CF Kevin Kiermaier would be activated on Tuesday.And to make room on the 40- and 25 man rosters, they designated for assignment OF Rob Refsnyder.Acquired from the Indians for cash considerations just be...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays journal: A 4-0 lead disappears in loss at Houston

Rays journal: A 4-0 lead disappears in loss at Houston

HOUSTON — The Rays brought up several of their top prospects so they can get as much experience as possible.And Monday that included seeing how the relentless defending champion Astros worked their way back from an early four-run deficit to sco...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella pondered upside-down pitching in 2005

Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella pondered upside-down pitching in 2005

HOUSTON — Well before the idea of using a reliever to open games, as the Rays did against the Astros Monday for the 12th time, and then bringing in a starter was even a gleam in the eyes of the current Rays staff, former manager Lou Piniella wa...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Astros

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Astros

RHP Ryne Stanek continues to look comfortable and confident as the game opener, retiring all five batters he faced. His six starts now cover a complete game, and he has allowed only two runs in the nine innings.OF Carlos Gomez's feelings about not li...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Sports on TV/radio for Tuesday, June 19

TODAYBaseballOrioles at Nationals7 p.m.MLBRays at Astros8 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMMarlins at Giants10 p.m.FSFDiamondbacks at Angels10 p.m.ESPNCollege baseball, World SeriesFlorida vs. Texas2 p.m.ESPNTexas Tech vs. Arkansas7 p.m.ESPNGolfPGA Professionals c...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Iceland World Cup Fever … catch it!

Iceland World Cup Fever … catch it!

TAMPA — Iceland isn't what it used to be. Literally. The Nordic island country is shrinking, what with global warming. Iceland's glaciers are getting smaller. If you took all that ice and laid it end to end, well, you clearly have nothing bette...
Updated: 11 hours ago
For starters: Rays at Astros, trying to stop a streaking champion

For starters: Rays at Astros, trying to stop a streaking champion

UPDATE, 6:40: Cash said he had a good talk with Hechavarria, and that he understood the situation. Cash said Hechavarria will get to play some, and when he does it will be at short. … RHP Chris Archer (abdominal strain) is slated to throw a bul...
Published: 06/18/18
Kevin Kiermaier set to rejoin Rays Tuesday

Kevin Kiermaier set to rejoin Rays Tuesday

CF Kevin Kiermaier is here in Houston and will work out with the Rays today, and said that if all goes well he will be activated on Tuesday.That would be a couple days ahead of his most recent timetable, which had him slated to return to Friday.Kierm...
Published: 06/18/18

Captain’s Corner: Tips on targeting American Red Snapper

American Red Snapper (ARS) season opened a few days ago and some types of bottom are holding bigger schools of ARS then other bottom types. The hard bottom areas that most fishermen prefer are holding large schools of ARS, but the fish have yet to m...
Published: 06/18/18
Barry Trotz resigns as coach of Stanley Cup-winning Capitals

Barry Trotz resigns as coach of Stanley Cup-winning Capitals

Barry Trotz abruptly stepped down as coach of the Washington Capitals on Monday after failing to agree to terms on a new contract, a stunning move that left the newly minted Stanley Cup champions without a coach with the draft later this week and wit...
Published: 06/18/18