TAMPA — USF is billing this weekend as Bull-a-palooza, and Friday night's lineup is like a multi-stage concert, with fans choosing among big events taking place at the same time.
The biggest draw will be the men's basketball season opener, arguably its best home game of the nonconference slate against SMU and former North Carolina coach Matt Doherty.
Volleyball has a must-win game in the Sun Dome's Corral, but the team with the most on the line Friday night might be George Kiefer's men's soccer team, which is hosting the Big East championship and plays in the semifinals against Notre Dame.
"It's huge to have the Big East tournament here," said Kiefer, noting that the tournament has rotated between Connecticut and Rutgers for the past 15 years.
USF (12-4-2) has a tough challenge, facing an Irish team that beat the Bulls 5-0 Sept. 7 at Notre Dame. USF has allowed six goals in 15 games since.
"That Notre Dame game made us better. I can do nothing but thank them for that," Kiefer said. "They were on and we were off, and we're a much better team than we were that day."
USF has since changed goalkeepers, and sophomore Jeff Attinella has nine shutouts, playing behind a defense led by senior Yohance Marshall. The offense has been sparked by another senior, speedy Jordan Seabrook, who had both goals in Sunday's quarterfinal win against Georgetown.
"Seabrook seems to be possessed, on O and on D," Kiefer said. "He's got an agenda out there, so I want to see what he does next."
USF is 7-0-1 at home, and the seniors are 30-4-4 at home in their careers. If the Bulls get past Notre Dame, they'd play for a Big East crown Sunday at noon, and either way, USF is expected to host an early-round NCAA Tournament game next week.
BACK IN 2009?: Early projections for the 2009 NFL draft continue to show junior DE George Selvie as a potential first-round pick, but Selvie said Tuesday that he's not thinking about the Bulls' next two games as possibly being his final home games.
"I haven't thought about that. I'm just looking to finish up the season strong, go to a bowl game, have fun. That's what I'm thinking about," said Selvie, due to graduate in May.
Selvie said he might submit his name to the NFL's advisory board for underclassmen, which would give him a projection of where he might go — "maybe, maybe not ... it won't hurt," he said. But even if the advisory board told him he'd be a likely first-rounder, he said he'd be fine letting a pro career wait for another year.
"I don't know how I'd respond to that. I haven't been thinking about that," Selvie said. "I enjoy college football. I enjoy the college life. I have nothing to worry about here. It's the real world out there. It's all business. I've got people that care about me here, and I've got an extra year. That's all I'm thinking about."
MUST WIN: Volleyball has dropped a season-high four in a row and needs two home wins this weekend if it wants a spot in the Big East tournament.
USF (15-12, 5-7) is one of three teams tied for ninth, with the top eight making the league tournament. Wins against Seton Hall (6-6) and Villanova (5-7) would likely put the Bulls in, avoiding a major disappointment after being picked fifth in the preseason by league coaches.
MAKE IT FIVE: Jose Fernandez's women's basketball team, which opens its season Saturday against Central Connecticut State, is expected to sign at least five players when the early signing period opens today.
The fifth commitment is 6-foot-2 F Jessica Monroe, who made an official visit last weekend and chose the Bulls over Liberty.
Stan Heath's men's team has two commitments, so Gs Jordan Dumars and Shaun Noriega are expected to sign today. PF Keith Clanton of Orlando is choosing between USF and Central Florida but isn't likely to announce his decision until next week, said his coach at Orlando Christian Prep, former USF guard Reggie Kohn.
Greg Auman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/usf.