Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

USF Bulls men's basketball team built for speed

TAMPA — During a breakout 2011-12 season that included the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament wins, here are four words you didn't hear about USF men's basketball: Stan Heath's uptempo offense.

The Bulls were many things last spring — defensive grinders, for sure — but high-scoring? USF averaged 59 points, lowest in the Big East, but used the stingiest defense in Big East history to collect 22 wins and earn its first NCAA berth in 20 years.

Point guard phenom Anthony Collins is back as a sophomore, but an influx of solid perimeter scorers and a lack of true centers will have Heath more likely to push the ball, utilizing speed and offering a more entertaining brand of basketball.

"We had a nice formula for success last year. Now we have to tweak it," Heath said Tuesday, eager for Monday's exhibition opener against Division II Eckerd. "We don't have a choice. We have to play more of a speed game. That's how our team is built. It's going to be different, but we still have to guard. I think our scores will be up higher."

The combined buzz between the NCAA success and a renovated Sun Dome has helped season-ticket sales: The Sun Dome's lower bowl is sold out, with 2,093 season tickets sold, up 57 percent from this time two years ago, the last season USF played its home games on campus. It's nearly double this time last year, when the Bulls played most home games downtown during the Sun Dome's $35 million makeover.

Heath has been active in trying to fill his new home, hosting an event for football season ticket holders last week and another for area businesses. On Tuesday night, USF's players called ticket holders to thank them.

"The momentum has really helped us in a lot of ways," Heath said. "I'm expecting our students to be a big part of the Sun Dome. If we get our students involved, along with the increased sales, I think we're going to have a nice, exciting Sun Dome to play in."

The Bulls leave the state only once in 12 nonconference games, so a strong start could build momentum and fan interest as USF seeks to validate its 2012 success by staying in the top half of the Big East standings.

HAMMER TIME: Offensive linemen can often live anonymous lives, but not with a name like USF redshirt freshman Thor Jozwiak, who made his first career start at left guard Saturday and helped the Bulls rush for 369 yards in a 37-36 loss.

"My father was a big Thor comic book fan back in the day when they first came out," Jozwiak said. "He always wanted to name his son Thor. My grandmother, his mom, said he couldn't find a woman that would let her son be named Thor. Well he sure did. She was all for it. … Thankfully, I'm kind of a bigger guy."

Jozwiak has impressed coaches both with his strength and his understanding of blocking responsibilities, enough that offensive coordinator Todd Fitch wondered if he will ever leave the starting lineup. He's enjoying the fun that comes with his name, even on Halloween.

"I just go as myself," he explained. "When they ask what you're going as, well, I'm Thor. There's certain things to live up to, but I like it."

THIS AND THAT: USF women's soccer took a big step forward with a penalty-kicks home win Friday against Louisville to advance to this weekend's Big East tournament semifinals at Connecticut. The Bulls (10-5-3) play Georgetown (15-2-2), and goals will be at a premium. The Hoyas allowed a conference-best 11 all season, while USF has given up only 15. … USF men's soccer didn't make the 10-team Big East tournament, but the Bulls' RPI is strong enough they have a shot at making the NCAA Tournament. … Volleyball (13-12) is in ninth place in the Big East standings with three matches to play, but only the top eight teams make the league tournament. The Bulls are a half-game back and finish the regular season at home Nov. 11 against last-place Georgetown.

USF Bulls men's basketball team built for speed 10/30/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 7:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Friday's Rays-Yankees game

    The Heater

    Did the Rays make the right call in picking RHP Austin Pruitt rather than top prospect Brent Honeywell? Though Honeywell had tweeted he was as ready as he'd ever be, the Rays felt better going with Pruitt, who gave them the five innings they were seeking.

  2. Damion Lowe returns to Rowdies after eventful Gold Cup

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — Pretty well emotionally spent, and not at all rested physically having just finished a life-changing stint with his native Jamaica in the Gold Cup, Damion Lowe wants the Rowdies to know he's ready.

    Damion Lowe, right, returns to the Rowdies — though he is likely to get a rest in tonight’s 7:30 home game against Pittsburgh — after an eventful six Gold Cup matches.
  3. Rays journal: Lineup dominated by Masahiro Tanaka in loss to Yankees (w/video)

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — Sometimes you just have to dig out the good news, and for the Rays on Friday it may well have been that they didn't get no-hit in a 6-1 loss.

    Austin Pruitt waits for Brett Gardner to round the bases after leading off the first with one of three homers Pruitt gives up.
  4. Rays at Yankees, 1:05 p.m. Saturday, New York

    The Heater

    Today: at Yankees

    1:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell throws against the Rockies during the first inning Tuesday. He left after allowing just one hit and striking out nine in six shutout innings.  {Associated Press}
  5. Steve Cishek latest bullpen upgrade for Rays, who now must translate that to wins

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — The Rays made another addition to change the look of their bullpen Friday in acquiring veteran side-armer and former closer Steve Cishek from Seattle.

    Reliever Steve Cishek has a 3.15 ERA in 20 games after recovering from offseason hip surgery and a 1.86 ERA since a rocky second outing of the season.