TAMPA — It's only an exhibition, but USF basketball coach Stan Heath saw enough Tuesday night in the Bulls' 110-79 win against Division II Florida Southern at the Sun Dome to expect a more explosive team in the regular season.
"Much more explosive," said Heath, whose team didn't score more than 80 in any game or exhibition last season. "It comes from defensive pressure. … This team has more offensive firepower, but I want it to maybe initiate from our defense."
Newcomers made a big splash. Junior C Jarrid Famous had 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists without a turnover in 27 minutes, and freshman PF Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, a King graduate, had 14 and eight off the bench.
"It felt good out there," Famous said. "I think we played good as a team for being out there this time. We have a lot of things to work on."
Senior G Mike Mercer, who tore his ACL in December and was reinstated to the team this fall after a dismissal in January after two arrests, looked like his old self with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Junior G Dominique Jones, the Bulls' leading scorer the past two seasons, had 20 points, eight assists and no turnovers in his 25 minutes.
"You saw some bright spots out there, and you see some things we need to work on, like rebounding, giving up middle drives," Jones said. "It's just everybody getting a feel for the college game. … We've got a lot of work to do in practice, but we're going to work hard and get better at those things."
Heath hopes his freshman guards can help the outside shooting, and Jordan Dumars (son of Pistons great Joe Dumars) and Shaun Noriega each went 2-of-4 on 3-pointers.
Soccer: USF's men's team won a Big East championship last year as a No. 2 seed, and the Bulls open defense of that in this year's conference tournament as a No. 3 seed, hosting sixth-seeded Marquette on Thursday.
The Golden Eagles and Bulls tied 1-1 in Tampa in their Big East opener in September, but coach George Kiefer said his young lineup has progressed much since then.
If the Bulls win, they would play Sunday at second-seeded Notre Dame. USF beat the Fighting Irish 2-1 in September.
USF's women's team lost in the Big East quarterfinals last week at Notre Dame, finishing 9-8-3 for their first winning season since 1999.
Recruiting: USF picked up a commitment over the weekend from Waverly Austin, a 6-foot-10 center from Virginia, but he wasn't the only recruit watching Friday night's football victory over West Virginia.
Four players from Montverde Academy in Orlando attended on unofficial visits, including Mark Overdevest, a 7-foot-2 junior center from New Zealand, Haukur "Hawk" Palsson, a 6-6 senior guard from Iceland who has a scholarship offer from USF, and Michael Avery, a 6-5 sophomore guard who was talented enough to commit to Kentucky when he was in eighth grade.
THIS AND THAT: In women's basketball, senior F Porche Grant will miss the first two games (against Florida A&M and St. Peter's) because of an unspecified violation of NCAA rules, coach Jose Fernandez said. … Friday's USF-WVU game drew more than 2 million viewers, the third-highest ratings out of 28 games on ESPN2 this season, USF reported.
Times staff writer Greg Auman can be reached at [email protected] and at (813) 226-3346.