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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. Men's hoops schedule taking shape

    Blog

    The 2015-16 USF men's basketball non-conference schedule came into clearer form Thursday, with three modest foes joining the marquee one.

    The Bulls will host New Jersey Institute of Technology, Boston University and Albany as part of the expansive Basketball Hall of Fame Classic, which culminates with a game against Kentucky at Miami's American Airlines Arena on Nov. 27.

    NJIT visits the Sun Dome on Nov. 16, followed by Boston University five days later. The Bulls host Albany, which has made three consecutive NCAA Tournament trips, on Nov. 24.

    NJIT, which upset then-ranked Michigan in Ann Arbor last December, finished 21-12 and reached the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. Once arguably the most moribund Division I program in existence, the Highlanders are expected to return G Damon Lynn, the program's first 1,000-point scorer.

    Thursday's matchups come a day after the American Athletic Conference announced its men's hoops league pairings for 2015-16. USF will play home-and-home dates with every AAC team except UConn (home only) and Tulsa (away only).

    The complete schedule will be announced at a later date....

  2. USF falls to Houston in AAC baseball tournament

    Colleges

    CLEARWATER — On a breezy afternoon in which it could afford nary an error, USF committed them in triplicate Thursday.

    In the same inning.

    Leading by a run after six, top-seeded Houston (41-17) scored four in the seventh on three hits and three errors en route to a 7-3 victory against the Bulls (33-23-1) in the American Athletic Conference tournament.

    A victory, for all practical intents, would've secured USF's first postseason berth in 13 years. Instead, the Bulls must return to Bright House Field this morning for an 11 a.m. elimination game against Memphis. A loss there, and they could be fidgeting mightily during Monday's NCAA Selection Show....

  3. USF advances in AAC baseball tournament

    Colleges

    CLEARWATER — Desperate for an 11th-hour impression on the NCAA selection committee, USF spent Tuesday's American Athletic Conference tournament opener racking up precious few style points.

    Racking up runs was another matter.

    On a searing afternoon in which their ace struggled to keep hitters off balance and their veteran shortstop committed two errors in one inning, the fourth-seeded Bulls (33-22-1) compensated with 12 hits in a 10-6 victory against No. 5 Memphis. USF faces top-seeded Houston in Thursday's 3 p.m. game at Bright House Field....

  4. American Athletic Conference baseball tourney at a glance

    College

    At a glance

    What: American Athletic Conference baseball tournament

    When/where: Today-Sunday; Bright House Field, Clearwater

    Tickets: $8 per day ($6 for students, seniors, children and military); $36 for six-day pass ($18 for students, seniors, children, military)

    TV: Today's games on CBS Sports Network, championship on ESPNU

    Today: USF vs. Memphis, 3; Houston vs. Cincinnati, 7...

  5. Bulls pair makes All-AAC first team

    Blog

    Bulls junior RHP Jimmy Herget and junior C Levi Borders, the likely starting battery in Tuesday's American Athletic Conference tournament opener, have been selected to the All-AAC first team.

    Sophomore RHP Tommy Peterson, a River Ridge alumnus, made the second team.

    Herget is among four players to earn first-team honors in consecutive seasons. He enters Tuesday's start against Memphis with an 8-3 record and 2.64 ERA. In 88.2 innings, he has struck out 101 and walked 32....

  6. Herget's last hurrah?

    Blog

    If justice always prevailed in baseball, Jimmy Herget's start Thursday night would've stretched into the waning innings. That elastic right arm would've been cocked at myriad angles ranging from unorthodox to unsettling.

    The lanky junior's velocity would've been crisp, his slider confounding. He might -- just might -- have been nudged by the audience into a curtain call.

    Instead, he settled for just plain curtains.

    What may have been the final home start of Herget's USF career also was arguably his flukiest. In a 25-pitch first inning, the Bulls' right-handed ace surrendered a pair of two-out, two-run home runs to UCF, forced an infield grounder to end the inning, then never returned.

    An ensuing 107-minute lightning delay squelched any thoughts of Herget returning for the second inning, relegating a would-be command performance to a cameo.

    "It's definitely sad, it's crazy that it's almost over," Herget said the following day. "But things happen, things can change, you never know what's gonna happen with the (Major League Baseball) draft and all that process."

    Conventional wisdom says Herget's last college start -- home or away -- could arrive at any time. He'll start Tuesday when the Bulls (32-22-1), an NCAA bubble team, open the American Athletic Conference Tournament against Memphis in Clearwater.

    As the sun sets on his third sparkling college season, it seems Herget has little remaining to prove at this level. On Friday, the Jefferson High alumnus acknowledged to the Tampa Bay Times he and his family have talked to "a bunch of people" regarding his future options.

    "We don't know yet," he said, "so we'll see what happens."

    Scouts have probably seen enough over the course of three springs to be convinced of his pro upside. In its 2015 AAC season preview, Baseball America listed Herget as the conference's 10th-ranked draft prospect.

    He enters the AAC tourney with a 21-11 career record, 1.83 ERA and 251 strikeouts in 290 innings. Though maybe 170 pounds in a sopping uniform, he still touches the low 90s with his fastball, possesses an above-average slider and keeps hitters off-balance with his plethora of arm angles.

    On Tuesday, he earned All-AAC first-team honors for the second consecutive year. All he seems to lack at this point is a triumphant exit....

    USF junior Jimmy Herget, a Major League Baseball draft prospect, could be wrapping up his final season in a Bulls uniform.
  7. Bulls seeded fourth entering AAC baseball tourney

    Blog

    USF's 5-4 triumph Saturday against UCF, coupled with Tulane's doubleheader sweep of Memphis, gives the Bulls the No. 4 seed in next week's American Athletic Conference tournament at Clearwater's Bright House Field.

    The entire tournament schedule can be found here. The Bulls (32-22-1, 13-11), who possess a solid RPI (32 through Friday) but are 2-9 against top-25 RPI teams, entire the double-elimination event perched a bit more securely on the NCAA Tournament bubble after Saturday's proceedings.

    With the triumph, sealed by a bases-loaded double play in the ninth inning, USF captured its first conference series in more than a month. The Bulls played all three games without Coach Mark Kingston, serving a five-game suspension following a postgame ejection last weekend at Tulane.

    If USF wins one of its first two tournament contests, Kingston would return for the third game. 
    ...

  8. Former Armwood QB Josh Grady transfers to Gators from Vandy

    College

    TAMPA — Former Armwood High quarterback Josh Grady, who recently graduated from Vanderbilt after getting limited playing time the past three years, has transferred to Florida for his final season.

    Grady, who helped the Hawks to the 2010 Class 4A state final, also considered USF and Maryland.

    "Mentally, I was dead set on USF for a while," Grady, who earned an economics degree, said in a text Friday to the Tampa Bay Times. "But once Vanderbilt compliance gave me permission to communicate with USF, the USF staff didn't really seem to have a mutual feeling, while the whole University of Florida organization seemed very intent on having myself as part of their program."...

  9. Bulls top Knights to even series

    Blog

    Though the first pitch of USF's game Friday against UCF was moved up five hours as a precaution against potentially nasty evening weather, the deluge still arrived in the seventh inning.

    Courtesy of the the Bulls' bats.

    Playing for their postseason lives, the short-staffed Bulls (31-22-1, 12-11) collected five runs off six hits in the seventh to pull away for a 7-3 triumph in the season's final series before next week's American Athletic Conference tournament.

    The rubber match -- UCF won the series opener Thursday -- is Saturday at 1 p.m. The Bulls remain without Coach Mark Kingston, serving a five-game suspension following a post-game ejection Sunday at Tulane.

    "(Kingston) talked to us before the game, said (we) should play as if he is here," said rightfielder Luke Maglich, whose single to center scored the first two runs of the seventh. "I think we have a good group of guys and were able to do that."

    Luke Borders also drove in two runs in the seventh for USF -- which totaled 13 hits -- with a one-out double. Junior right-hander Ryan Valdes allowed two earned runs and five hits over six innings, with former Newsome High standout Michael Farley throwing a nine-pitch seventh to get the win.

    The teams re-took the field Friday only 14 or so hours after the conclusion of Thursday's 12-9 UCF triumph, delayed 107 minutes by lightning in the area. Bulls right-handed ace Jimmy Herget, who threw 25 first-inning pitches when play was stopped and didn't return, said he "more than likely" will pitch in some capacity Saturday.

    "We have to sit down and talk as a staff and decide what we're gonna do," Bulls assistant Mike Current said. "With the conference tournament next week and short rest, there are a lot of things we have to factor in here."...

  10. Ex-Armwood QB Josh Grady transferring to Florida

    Blog

    Former Armwood QB Josh Grady, who recently graduated from Vanderbilt after getting limited action in four seasons with the Commodores, confirmed Friday he's transferring to Florida for his final season.

    Grady, who with former Gators RB Matt Jones and current Florida WR Alvin Bailey led the Hawks to the Class 4A state finals in 2010, also had considered USF and Maryland. He said in January that Vandy had given him clearance to transfer to any of the three.

    He said he'll compete for the starting quarterback job after playing both behind center and at receiver for Vandy.

    "Mentally, I was dead set on USF for a while," Grady, who has an economics degree, said in a text message Friday to the Tampa Bay Times.

    "But once Vanderbilt compliance gave me permission to communicate with USF, the USF staff didn't really seem to have a mutual feeling, while the whole University of Florida organization seemed very intent on having myself as part of their program."

    A member of the SEC's Academic Honor Roll in 2012 and '13, Grady totaled seven receptions in three seasons at Vandy. He switched to quarterback for the '13 season, and went 3-for-6 for 27 yards and two interceptions in limited duty before being sidelined by an injury.

    Grady threw for nearly 7,000 yards in his final three prep seasons, his last two at Armwood. The Times' co-Suncoast Player of the Year as a senior, he totaled more 3,000 yards and 26 TDs for the 14-1 Hawks, tossing only five picks.

    "From the moment I was granted permission to contact (Florida), I knew that UF was the place for me," Grady said. "They have shown nothing but professionalism throughout this whole process, and I am blessed to be a part of such a prestigious and successful university, as well as their football program."...

  11. Bulls, minus coach, fall to Knights

    Blog

    Arguably the most critical series of the USF baseball regular season began Thursday with Coach Mark Kingston absent.

    For most of the evening, it appeared the rest of the Bulls might not show up either.

    With Kingston serving the first of a five-game suspension, UCF pummeled Bulls pitchers for 15 hits -- including four early home runs -- in a 12-9 triumph delayed 107 minutes by area lightning.

    USF (30-22-1, 11-11), which made things interesting with five ninth-inning runs off two UCF pitchers, must defeat the Knights today and Saturday to win its first American Athletic Conference series in more than a month.

    First pitch for today's game has been moved to 2 p.m. due to concerns over possible inclement evening weather. If the Bulls can't rally for consecutive weekend wins, they likely will have to capture next week's AAC tournament in Clearwater to secure their first NCAA postseason berth since 2002.

    Fortunately for the Bulls, right-handed ace Jimmy Herget likely gets a do-over today after a forgettable abbreviated outing Thursday.

    Herget surrendered a pair of two-run home runs in the first before flickering skies in the area forced the delay in the middle of the first. When play resumed, Herget -- who threw 25 pitches -- was relieved by freshman Joe Cavallaro.

    He found the Knights' bats as potent as they were before the postponement. Senior RF Erik Barber hit his team-best 10th home run, a leadoff blast to left field, in the third; and added a three-run shot in UCF's six-run fourth.

    Kevin Merrell, Luke Borders and Dre Leal each had a pair of hits for the Bulls. Leal capped the Bulls' mini-rally in the ninth with a two-run, bases-loaded single to put the tying run at the plate, but Zac Gilcrease's infield grounder ended things....

  12. Bulls tennis team falls at Baylor in Round of 16

    Blog

    On a clear, mildly crisp evening in Waco, Texas, USF's 18th-ranked men's tennis team provided a hearty Hurd Tennis Center audience with doses of suspense.

    It just couldn't provide a stunner.

    In their inaugural NCAA Round of 16 match, the Bulls (21-7) fell to No. 2 Baylor 4-1 on the Bears' home courts. The defeat snapped a seven-match win streak for the Bulls, who won their second consecutive American Athletic Conference title last month.

    The Bears (24-5) clinched things when Julian Lenz topped Bulls junior Roberto Cid 6-3, 7-5 at No. 1 singles. Baylor also got singles wins at No. 4 and 6 after narrowly capturing the doubles point.

    The Bulls, who had dropped the doubles point once in the past three months, fell in a pair of tie-breakers at the No. 1 and 2 spots after the tandem of Cid and Ignazio Gonzalez-Muniz won at No. 3.

    Senior Oliver Pramming notched the Bulls' only singles triumph, winning in straight sets at No. 3.


    ...

  13. USF baseball coach serves suspension after ejection

    Colleges

    TAMPA -— USF first-year baseball coach Mark Kingston began a five-game suspension Thursday night stemming from his postgame ejection after the Bulls' 4-3 loss Sunday at Tulane.

    The Bulls began a three-game home series Thursday against UCF, and they begin play in the double-elimination American Athletic Conference tournament next week.

    Kingston will continue to run practices, the school indicated. Assistants Billy Mohl and Mike Current will manage games in his absence....

  14. USF coach Mark Kingston suspended 5 games

    Blog

    USF first-year baseball coach Mark Kingston began a five-game suspension Thursday night stemming from his post-game ejection after the Bulls' 4-3 loss Sunday at Tulane.

    The Bulls began a three-game home series Thursday against UCF, and begin play in the double-elimination American Athletic Conference tournament early next week. Kingston will continue to run practices during the suspension, the school indicated....

  15. Spivey, Wyckoff earn all-region honors

    Blog

    Bulls junior C Lee Ann Spivey and sophomore 2B Kristen Wyckoff have been named to the NFCA All-Mideast Region teams, with Spivey earning first-team status.

    As a first-teamer, Spivey, who wrapped up her breakthrough season (.378, 10 home runs, 52 RBIs) at last week's American Athletic Conference tournament, remains eligible for All-America status. An All-AAC first-team pick, she led USF in eight offensive categories and finished atop the league in batting average and slugging percentage (.679).

    Wyckoff, a Plant City High alumnus, earned third-team status after finishing second in the AAC in runs (45), triples (five) and stolen bases (25).

    Her former Raiders teammate, UCF senior P Mackenzie Audas, made the second team. Audas, owner of six Knights career records, leads her No. 2-seeded team into this weekend's NCAA Tallahassee Regional....