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Joey Knight, Times Staff Writer

Joey Knight

A fourth-generation Floridian, Joey Knight was born in Tampa and raised in Zephyrhills, where he still resides. He moved to the Times in July 2006 after 15 years at the Tampa Tribune, which included a seven-year stint (1997-2004) as University of Florida beat writer. He began covering the University of South Florida athletic department for the Times in 2013. A married father of three, he enjoys running, classic television and classic heavy-metal music.

Phone: (813) 310-6328

E-mail: jknight@tampabay.com

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  1. USF's Courtney Williams collects 2 honors

    Blog

    USF junior SG Courtney Williams now finds herself on an awards and scoring tear.

    Williams, who stretched her streak of consecutive 20-point games to five with Sunday's near triple-double (24 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists) in a 19-point romp of Tulane, was named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Week on Monday.

    The same honor was bestowed by collegesportsmadness.com....

  2. USF's Jose Fernandez earns 250th win

    Blog

    Fittingly, USF coach Jose Fernandez's 250th career victory Sunday embodied most of what he has espoused in his 14-plus seasons in Tampa.

    A brisk pace, suffocating defense, and force of will on the glass.

    Fernandez received nearly a triple-double from junior Courtney Williams (24 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists) and watched the Bulls (16-4, 7-1 American Athletic Conference) hold Tulane to six first-half field goals in a 64-45 romp at the Sun Dome. 

    Fernandez now is 250-212 since becoming the Bulls' sixth coach in 2000. His teams have accounted for 43 percent of the 43-year-old program's 580 triumphs, and both its NCAA Tournament appearances.

    Berth No. 3 seems secure if the regular season's final month reflects Sunday's effort.

    "I thought, the way we defended and played today, we could've beaten a lot of people," Fernandez said.

    Tulane (15-4, 6-2), technically tied with USF for second in the league standings entering the weekend, went more than five minutes without a field goal in one first-half stretch. By intermission, the Green Wave had committed 11 turnovers and had been out-rebounded 26-16.

    "Our defense was very important because during practice after (last weekend's) UConn game (a 92-50 loss), we really worked on our transition defense," said junior PF Alisia Jenkins, whose squad held Tulane to four fast-break points.

    "We had our (all-male) scout team out there making sure that we sprint the floor. Even though they're men, they really ran to their full potential, so that helped us get back and we just transferred that to the game."

    Tulane scored the first two field goals of the second half to cut USF's lead to 33-22 before Boca Ciega alumnus Tamara Taylor answered with a 3-pointer. A 10-0 Bulls run midway through the half, starting with a Williams jumper and ending with a Williams trey, sealed Fernandez's milestone win.

    "I've been very fortunate," he said.

    " Tampa's been very good to my family and I, and I've seen this university grow a great deal in the last 15 years. ... It's been really special being able to build this program and to work with so many great people and coach just wonderful student-athletes."

    Williams now has scored at least 20 points in five consecutive games. Jenkins added her 13th double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds), while freshman Laura Ferreira added 13 points and seven boards....

    USF women's basketball coach Jose Fernandez earned career victory No. 250 on Sunday.
  3. Telly Lockette: Taggart will 'turn it around'

    Blog

    After a round or two of phone tag, the Tampa Bay Times caught up with former USF running backs coach Telly Lockette, who recently accepted the same job (from a former mentor) at Oregon State. Here's the dialogue:

    I'm presuming the opportunity to coach in the Pac-12, in a power conference, was just too good of an opportunity to pass up.
    "Came down to it, me and (USF) Coach (Willie) Taggart really talked about it. I asked him what he thought about it and he said it was a great opportunity and he thought you shouldn't turn it down. I consulted with him first, you know. He sort of gave it to me like it was the way he got to Stanford...and learned what he had to learn, and then he came back and did what he had to do."

    Did (new OSU coach) Gary Andersen recruit you to Idaho State? (Lockette was a standout ISU linebacker in the mid-1990s)
    "He was on staff."

    How tough was it to leave a situation where you've a talented young backfield like D'Ernest (Johnson) and Marlon Mack?
    "It was tough. And then you've got to take in consideration the kids I recruited there that came to South Florida. ... But I called all my parents, all the kids I recruited...and told them what was going down. A lot of them gave me their blessings. It was just one of those things, you know?"

    This is a business and it's your job to recruit the best players possible to your school. Do you still keep recruiting the same (USF prospects) to Oregon State, or how does that work?
    "You know, it's a business, and like I said, I'll help those guys in any way I can. But if need be...on signing day, those guys I recruited will sign with USF."

    A lot of people I talk to, including coaches, say USF is so close it's not even funny. I know you're biased, but do you see USF on the cusp of turning the corner?
    "Yes. ... I think Coach Taggart is doing a tremendous job. You've got to understand, he's trying to change a culture of kids in less than a couple of years. And what he's been doing is a tremendous job. I think he can do it. With the staff that he he has there, they can do it. You've got to understand, we were in a lot of those games last year. ... So yeah, he'll turn it around."

    Was the move across the country a tough sell to your family?
    "My family's good with it. My wife, my kids, they're cool with it. I talked it over with my mom, and she was like, 'You've got to do what you've got to do to get where you're going.' It's an opportunity but you have to make the tough decisions at some point in time."...

    Former USF running backs coach Telly Lockette recently accepted the same job at Oregon State.
  4. USF-Tulane women's basketball, 4 p.m. Sunday

    College

    .TODAY

    USF women vs. Tulane

    When/where: 4; Sun Dome

    TV/radio: CBS Sports Network; 1010-AM

    Records: USF 15-4, 6-1 AAC; Tulane 15-3, 6-1

    Notable: The Bulls and Green Wave are tied for second in the American Athletic Conference, but USF held Tulane to a season-low point total in a 53-40 road triumph three weeks ago. … This contest likely represents the Bulls' toughest remaining test until the March 2 regular-season finale against Connecticut. … The teams are tied for 14th nationally in field-goal percentage defense (34.5), with USF limiting Tulane to 24.6 percent in the first encounter. … Bulls junior G Courtney Williams (19.5 ppg) enters with four consecutive games of at least 20 points....

  5. USF-UConn basketball, noon Sunday

    College

    .TODAY

    USF at Connecticut

    When/where: Noon; XL Center, Hartford, Conn.

    TV/radio: CBS Sports Network; 1010-AM

    Records: USF 7-12, 1-5 AAC; UConn 10-7, 3-2

    Notable: The Huskies won the season's first meeting, holding USF to seven second-half field goals in a 58-44 win Jan. 6. … UConn needs a late-season surge to avoid becoming the second reigning NCAA champion in three years to miss the following season's tournament. … Most of the Bulls' woes can be traced to the perimeter; USF ranks last in the American Athletic Conference in 3-point percentage (27.4) and 3-point percentage defense (37.9). UConn, by contrast, made a season-high 11 treys (10 in the first half) in Thursday's 67-60 triumph against UCF....

  6. Bulls' Matthew O'Neal sets indoor record

    Blog

    USF junior Matthew O'Neal propelled his wiry frame into USF track and field lore Friday night.

    Question is, can he now hop, skip and jump his way into Bulls immortality?

    O'Neal shattered the school's indoor triple jump record with a winning effort (53 feet, 11 inches; or 16.43 meters) at the UAB Vulcan Invite in Birmingham, Ala. The performance also broke the  CrossPlex Arena's 3-year-old mark (16.38 meters).

    Shane Lewis, a 2014 NCAA Indoor All-American, owned the previous USF record (52-4). O'Neal's career-best entering the weekend was 52-1.

    "There’s not going to be many people in the country that will jump nearly 54 feet,” Bulls coach Warren Bye said.

    The nation's top 16 performances qualify for the NCAA Indoors, set for mid-March in Fayetteville, Ark. A two-time outdoor All-American, O'Neal appears poised for a shot at becoming the school's first national indoor champion.

    USF's only current NCAA track champ: Jon Dennis, who won a pair of outdoor 5,000-meter titles in the early 1990s.
    ...

  7. 2015 USF Bulls recruiting update

    College

    USF Bulls

    KEY LOSSES: NG Todd Chandler, WR Andre Davis, CB/KR/PR Chris Dunkley, RT Quinterrius Eatmon, OLB Reshard Cliett, PK Marvin Kloss, TE Mike McFarland, C Austin Reiter, DL Elkino Watson, LT Darrell Williams

    ORAL COMMITMENTS (15)

    PlayerPos.Ht./Wt.School
    Deangelo AntoineATH5-9/165Orlando Oak Ridge
    Billy AtterburyOL6-5/280CCC
    Jarvis BaxterWR5-11/175Trinity Valley (Texas) CC
    Glen BethelOL6-6/300Arizona Western CC
    Cameron CampbellOL6-3/271Pembroke Pines Flanagan
    Marlon GonzalezDE6-4/255Cape Coral Island Coast
    Ronnie HogginsDB5-8/159Coconut Creek Monarch
    Brett KeanQB6-1/211Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward
    Khalid McGeeDB5-11/195Miami Northwestern
    Marcus NormanOL6-6/260Sebastian River
    Jordan ReedWR5-10/170Plant
    Trevon SandsATH5-11/170Southwest Miami
    Nico SawtelleLB6-0/214Jensen Beach
    Jaymon ThomasDB6-3/160Immokalee
    Mitchell WilcoxTE6-4/230Tarpon Springs
    EARLY ENROLLEES (1)...

  8. 2015 UCF Knights recruiting update

    College

    UCF Knights

    KEY LOSSES: S Brandon Alexander, SS Clayton Geathers, CB Jacoby Glenn, WR Rannell Hall, DL Jaryl Mamea, PK Shawn Moffitt, WR Breshad Perriman, MLB Terrance Plummer, OT Torrian Wilson, WR J.J. Worton

    ORAL COMMITMENTS (13)

    PlayerPosHt./Wt.School
    Cody BanksDE6-7/260Richmond (Va.) Freeman
    Titus DavisDE6-3/240Stockbridge (Ga.)
    Marcus FosterOLB6-2/210League City (Texas) Clear Falls
    Quintin HamptonOLB6-1/235Moultrie (Ga.) Colquitt County
    Brendon HayesDE6-4/240New Orleans Brother Martin
    Luke HiersC6-3/295Lake Wales
    Tyler HudanickOG6-4/285Harmony (Pa.) Seneca Valley
    Pat JasinskiOLB6-2/203Roswell (Ga.) Blessed Trinity Catholic
    Neal NelsonOLB6-2/225Sicklerville (N.J.) Timber Creek
    Bo SchneiderQB6-4/233Dallas Jesuit
    Cameron StewartWR6-3/185Snellville (Ga.) Shiloh
    Monte TaylorDE6-4/245Brooklyn ASA College
    Malik Vaccaro-DixonWR6-3/185Port Charlotte
    ...

  9. USF, Kentucky schedule basketball series

    College

    TAMPA — A USF-Kentucky men's matchup, initially reported in July, became official Thursday.

    Both schools confirmed the teams will meet for the first time at the Hoophall Miami Invitational in Miami's American Airlines Arena on Nov. 27. USF will play a return game at Rupp Arena in the 2016-17 season.

    The Black Friday contest likely will coincide —- or conflict with — the Bulls-UCF football game, staged the day after Thanksgiving the last two seasons. Dates for 2015 American Athletic Conference football games haven't been announced....

  10. Officially official: USF-UK to meet in men's hoops

    Blog

    What we reported last summer has become official: USF's men's basketball team will face Kentucky for the first time in program history at downtown Miami's American Airlines Arena on Nov. 27. 

    USF will play a return game at Rupp Arena in the 2016-17 season, UK confirmed.

    The Bulls-'Cats Black Friday contest may coincide -- or conflict with, depending on one's perspective -- the Bulls-UCF football game, staged the day after Thanksgiving the last two seasons. Dates for '15 American Athletic Conference football games haven't been announced.

    The inaugural USF-UK contest, part of the Hoophall Miami Invitational, also will include an Ohio State-Memphis matchup.

    Bulls first-year coach Orlando Antigua spent the previous five seasons on John Calipari's UK staff, and served with him one season (2008-09) at Memphis.

    "We look forward to the challenge of playing one of the greatest programs in the history of college basketball," Antigua said in a UK news release. "I was fortunate enough to spend five great seasons at Kentucky, so obviously have great respect for that program and (Calipari).”...

  11. T-minus 13 days: USF recruiting notebook

    Blog

    In the final, frenetic days leading to national signing day (Feb. 4), we'll offer periodic updates of USF's recruiting efforts. Here's the latest we know:

    * No fewer than four Bulls assistants -- defensive coordinator Tom Allen, cornerbacks coach Alonzo Hampton, defensive line coach Eric Mathies and passing-game coordinator David Reaves -- visited Armwood ILB Jordan Griffin at his school Thursday. Coach Sean Callahan told the Tampa Bay Times that Griffin -- who committed to Wisconsin before the Badgers had a coaching change -- remains "open" to Wisconsin, USF and Vanderbilt.

    * No so much news as reassurance for Bulls fans: Trinity Valley (Texas) CC WR Jarvis Baxter told the Times he remains a solid USF commitment and will sign on signing day. Similarly, Plant WR Jordan Reed is a "100-percent done deal" for the Bulls, Panthers coach Robert Weiner said.

    * As Runningthebulls.com reported, Bulls pledge Khalid McGee, a three-star cornerback from Miami Northwestern, visits Oregon State this weekend. New OSU -- and former USF -- running backs coach Telly Lockette has recruited McGee for both programs.

    * Former Vanderbilt QB/WR Josh Grady said Thursday he has narrowed his transfer choices to Florida and USF. Grady, who quarterbacked Armwood to the Class 4A state final in 2010, has said he wants to play his old position at USF. "I have spoken with (USF) coach (Willie Taggart) since being released to talk to USF," Grady said in a text message to the Times. "Once signing day is over, I'll plan out my visit to USF."...

  12. Bulls poised for historic February

    Blog

    Indulge us for a moment as we commit the cardinal sin of sports and look past a few opponents into the future.

    The upcoming month potentially could be historic for USF's women's basketball team.

    The Bulls (15-4, 6-1 American Athletic Conference) can reach two elusive program landmarks down the regular season stretch. Not only can they eclipse the program record for consecutive wins (nine), they can become the first team in school history to go undefeated in February.

    The schedule sets up beautifully for such a run.

    USF's current win streak stands at one, but the Bulls -- second only to UConn in the AAC -- likely will be favored in each of their next 10 games. Of those next 10 foes, five already have lost to the Bulls.

    The UConn rematch is set for March 2, USF's final regular season game.

    Here's a look at the Bulls' next 10 contests, with the result of the season's first encounter (where applicable):

    Sunday vs. Tulane (USF, 53-40 on Jan. 4)
    Jan. 31 at Memphis (USF, 72-39 on Dec. 31)
    Feb. 3 vs. UCF (first meeting)
    Feb. 7 vs. Cincinnati (first meeting)
    Feb. 10 at SMU (USF, 82-59 on Jan. 14)
    Feb. 15 at East Carolina (USF, 69-62 on Dec. 28)
    Feb. 18 vs. Tulsa (first meeting)
    Feb. 22 vs. Temple (USF, 70-58 on Jan. 11)
    Feb. 24 at Cincinnati (first meeting is Feb. 7)
    Feb. 28 at UCF (first meeting is Feb. 3)
    ...

    USF junior Alisia Jenkins (right) and the rest of the Bulls can make history with a February hot streak.
  13. USF-Temple basketball, 6:30 Thursday, Philadelphia

    College

    .TONIGHT

    USF at Temple

    When/where: 6:30; Liacouras Center, Philadelphia

    TV/radio: ESPNews; 1010-AM

    Records: USF 7-11, 1-4 AAC; Temple 12-7, 3-3

    Notable: A clash of the American Athletic Conference's worst 3-point shooting teams. … After hobbling through Saturday's 17-point loss to Tulsa, the Bulls head to Philly far closer to full strength. Coach Orlando Antigua said he's hopeful of having everyone available, including PF Bo Zeigler (right knee), who missed the Tulsa game. G Corey Allen (calf) showed a lot of explosiveness during individual work Monday, according to Antigua. … Temple has dropped three in a row but stunned Kansas by 25 in late December. … Watch for an intriguing matchup down low, where 6-foot-8, 240-pound Texas transfer Jaylen Bond (league-best 8.3 rpg) squares off against Bulls 6-8, 242-pound sophomore Chris Perry (11.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg)....

  14. USF-Houston women's basketball preview

    College

    >>Tonight

    USF women at Houston

    When/where: 8; Hofheinz Pavilion, Houston

    Radio: 1010-AM

    Records: USF 14-4, 5-1 AAC; Houston 6-11, 1-5

    Notable: The Bulls, who received 21 votes in last week's AP poll, garnered only two after Sunday's 92-50 loss at Connecticut. Even with an extended Huskies hangover, USF should have little problem with a Houston club that has dropped six of seven. … Don't be shocked if junior power forward Alisia Jenkins, held scoreless Sunday for the first time since March 9, 2013, emerges from the locker room with a vengeance. The American Athletic Conference's top rebounder (11.0 rpg), she'll face a team that ranks last in the league in rebounding margin (minus-8.1) and next-to-last in scoring (56.4 ppg)....

  15. Willie Taggart's third USF recruiting class is a constellation of three-stars

    College

    TAMPA — Assess USF's football recruiting class through a pragmatic prism, in terms of needs instead of national perception, and the Bulls appear to be doing all right.

    A defense in dire need of down linemen has verbal pledges from two ends. An offense expected to employ more spread principles has "commitments" from two receivers and a tight end. Four offensive linemen have said they'll sign next month, promising depth to a unit that never can get enough....

    According to the major national recruiting services, Willie Taggart's class of 2015 is a constellation of three-stars. If the recruiting season ended today, it would rank anywhere between 60 to 75 nationally and second (behind Cincinnati) in the American Athletic Conference. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]