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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-Tulsa basketball, 1 p.m. Saturday

    College

    .Today

    USF at Tulsa

    When/where: 1; Reynolds Center, Tulsa, Okla.

    TV/radio: ESPNews; 1010-AM

    Records: USF 7-14, 1-7 AAC; Tulsa 15-5, 8-0

    Notable: The Golden Hurricane won the first meeting, 75-58, Jan. 17 in Tampa. Handling the rematch's analysis for ESPNews will be Bob Knight. Tulsa is on a 10-game winning streak; the Bulls have dropped six in a row. USF is expected to be without PF Chris Perry (unspecified health issue) for the third consecutive game. In his absence Wednesday, redshirt freshman Bo Zeigler and 265-pound Jaleel Cousins teamed for 12 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks in an 11-point loss to SMU. With five assists, PG Anthony Collins would pass Chucky Atkins (519) for third on USF's career list....

  2. USF-Memphis women's basketball, 3 p.m. Saturday

    College

    .Today

    USF women at Memphis

    When/where: 3; Roane Fieldhouse, Memphis

    Radio: 1040-AM

    Records: USF 16-4, 7-1 AAC, Memphis 11-9, 5-4

    Notable: The Bulls embarrassed the Tigers 72-39 on Dec. 31, but Memphis enters on a two-game winning streak. Tigers scoring leader Ariel Hearn (15.6 ppg) had five points and four fouls in the first matchup. Bulls junior G Courtney Williams has at least 20 points in five consecutive games and had 24 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in Sunday's 64-45 win against Tulane. USF is one of two American Athletic Conference teams (also UCF) with 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes....

  3. Baseball: Bulls lineup taking shape

    Blog

    During the USF baseball team's media day earlier this week, new coach Mark Kingston offered a sketch of his starting lineup if the season were beginning now. In light of the fact that two weeks remain before first pitch (Feb. 13 vs. Cal State Fullerton in Clearwater), here's how Kingston's lineup card is shaping up (batting order not included):

    C Levi Borders, Jr. (with sophomore Andres Leal the backup)

    3B Zac Gilcrease, Sr.; Clay Simmons, So.
    "One's a righty (Simmons), one's a lefty," Kingston said. "That could be a platoon or that could be one of those two guys earns the job every day."

    SS Kyle Teaf, Sr.

    2B Nik Alfonso, R-Jr. (with Leal also an option)
    "Another left-right potential platoon, or it could be who's swinging the hot bat," Kingston said.

    1B Buddy Putnam, Sr. (L/R); Danny Portales, So. (R/R)
    "Once again a right-lefty," Kingston said. "The good thing is, a lot of the spots where we're considering more than one guy, we have a right-left combination that will allow us to platoon if necessary."

    CF Austin Lueck, Sr.
    "He's been very, very good this preseason," Kingston said. "He's one of the guys I think has a chance to take that next step. He's always had great tools, but our hope is that now everything is starting to kind of come together for him."

    LF Kevin Merrill, Fr.; Portales

    RF Luke Maglich, Jr. (with junior Hayden Kelley the backup)

    Friday starter: RHP Jimmy Herget, Jr.
    Saturday starter: RHP Casey Mulholland, Sr.
    Sun-Tues starter: TBA...

    Tampa Catholic alumnus Nik Alfonso remains USF's starter at second base entering the 2015 season.
  4. Larry Brown: Antigua will prosper at USF

    Blog

    Since the season's outset, a veritable chorus of coaches -- usually in postgame press conferences -- has suggested USF basketball ultimately will flourish under first-year Bulls coach Orlando Antigua.

    The latest refrain was delivered Wednesday, only this time the resonance was a bit more powerful. A Hall of Fame coach delivered it.

    "I think (Antigua) will get it done," SMU's Larry Brown said moments after the Mustangs' 63-52 win at the Sun Dome. "I really do."

    Brown knows Antigua via Kentucky coach John Calipari, for whom Antigua worked as an assistant at Memphis and Kentucky the previous six seasons. Calipari was a Brown assistant at Kansas in the mid-1980s.

    Additionally, Brown coached Bulls assistant Rod Strickland for two seasons (1990-92) with the San Antonio Spurs and said he considers the former point guard one of the smartest players he ever coached.

    "I know how good this program's gonna be, and nothing against the coaches that left before; I have a lot of respect for those guys," Brown said. "But Orlando's good people, he deserves this opportunity. This, to me, is a sleeping giant and he'll get it done."

    Thing is, USF is mired in roughly its fifth decade of slumber. Brown was asked why he believes Antigua's the one capable of awakening it when more experienced predecessors have failed.

    "I've been down here trying to get some kids unsuccessfully, but Billy (Donovan's) done it, and a lot of people said, 'Hey, Florida doesn't care much about basketball,'" Brown said.

    "There's ample material here, I think our conference is gonna be appealing. I think they can recruit on a national level because Orlando's done that before and he'll have a lot of people that will help him. So I feel strongly about it."...

    SMU coach Larry Brown, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, called USF a "sleeping giant" that can be awakened by Coach Orlando Antigua.
  5. Baseball Q&A: Mark Kingston

    Blog

    New USF baseball coach Mark Kingston, who makes his formal debut Feb. 13 against Cal State Fullerton, spoke to reporters Wednesday at the program's media day. Here are excerpts from the 20-minute Q&A:

    What is something you've learned since you arrived?
    "I think now that I've been here for an extended amount of time, I think what I've learned is I'm even more sure that we can turn this into a real special baseball program. Based on what we have in the program now, but also based on how recruiting has gone, and the support we've gotten from our administration in making improvements where we think we need to make improvements."

    What needs to be changed or tweaked for USF to finally reach the NCAA Tournament?
    "I've tried to make an effort not to figure out what we need to change, because obviously the coaches that have been here have had a lot of success in their careers. But we all do understand that we haven't been to a regional in a long time (since 2002). I'd say making changes is not how we're looking at it, we're just trying to implement everything that our coaching staff believes in, and if that makes changes along the way, so be it. There are a lot of things that have stayed consistent, but there are a lot of things maybe that have changed just because we look at things maybe a little bit different and we have our own certain ways of doing things."

    Power was a concern last season (league-low nine home runs). Where will the pop come from in this lineup?
    "I think we have guys that are gonna have better power production than in the past. I think the new ball (smaller, tighter seams) is going to help with that. ... We have a new strength coach in Joey Carnes that's done a really good job in making our guys a little bit more physical. I think our offensive approach -- my offensive approach -- always has been with helping guys learn how to really drive the ball to the best of their ability. So I think when you factor and put all those together, I think we will be a more productive team. I think we will hit for more power, and sometimes power is doubles as well. We have a big ballpark here, so there may be times where we hit three doubles that could've been three homers in a lot of ballparks."

    You mentioned this team may be in position to surprise some people. Is that a reflection of bringing more untapped potential out of guys or bringing in new elements?
    "You look at last year's team, we were 27-31...and we lost 18 games by two runs or less. That means we were really close in a lot of ball games. So maybe with a slightly improved offense, maybe with pitchers that are a little wiser now from being a year older, there's a lot of factors that I think can change that record."

    What's your evaluation of (Jimmy) Herget (USF's Friday night starter) from what you've seen, and how good can he become in his third year?
    "He's a talented pitcher. He's two years now below a 2.00 ERA. A lot of arm angles, has the ability to run the fastball up to 94 (mph) when he wants to reach back, has a good breaking ball. He's a competitor, so everything you look for he can bring to the table. I think he can continue to get
    better as he gains weight. He's still trying to get more physical as a pitcher, but as he continues to get smarter and learn more about the game and get more physical, I think he can go a long way in this game."

    When is the last time (prior to this season) that you've had a January practice outside? (Kingston spent the previous six years at Illinois State)
    "2008. ... Maybe we snuck out onto the football field and shoveled the snow away so we could be on turf for the last five years. ... And when's the last time we had an intrasquad (game) on grass under the sun and I could wear shorts? It's been a long time. Another reason I'm very appreciative to be here."

    It has been a long time since this program has made a regional. Is that how you define success, or how do you define it?
    "For this year, I just want to know that we've maximized our potential. ... I'm only gonna define success on, 'Is our shortstop playing as good as he possibly can? Are our pitchers pitching as well as they possibly can?' And if I can look in the mirror and know that we are playing to the best of our ability, however many games we win I'll live with. Do I want to be in a regional this year? Absolutely. Do I think we could do that if we play right and play to our potential? I think we could, if things go right, we stay healthy and catch a few breaks along the way. Yes, I think we can do that."

    How wide are you spreading your recruiting net?
    "I would say at this point, it's 99 percent the state of Florida. We've signed kids within our city limits obviously, but we've also gone to Miami to get players, we've gone to Naples, we've gone to Orlando, we've gone the high school and juco ranks. Florida will be 99 percent of where our
    recruits come from. ... This state is too good to think we have to go outside it too often."...

    New USF baseball coach Mark Kingston (left), pictured here on the day his hiring was announced by athletic director Mark Harlan last June, met with reporters during the Bulls' media day Wednesday.
  6. Hey, coach, weren't you recruiting me for that other school?

    College

    TAMPA — Nearly two decades ago, a stocky, nimble Clearwater High fullback named Otis Dixon found himself between Rick Kravitz's recruiting crosshairs.

    The only glitch: Kravitz was between jobs.

    Within days, the West Alabama defensive coordinator — and Dixie Hollins alumnus — would join Jim Leavitt's inaugural staff at USF. In the madcap stratosphere of recruiting, where ethical lines often contort, even this seemed a fresh twist: a coach representing two colleges....

    Rick Kravitz, far left, with then-USF defensive back Johnnie Jones, told a recruit nearly 20 years ago he soon would join USF’s inaugural staff. He returned to that recruit representing the Bulls.
  7. USF-FSU football game moved

    Blog

    USF and FSU announced Thursday their 2015 matchup in Tallahassee has been moved up two weeks, from Sept. 26 to Sept. 12. The contest will kick off at 11:30 a.m. and will be televised by ESPN.

    According to a USF news release, the universities agreed to switch the game to the season's second week to eliminate an early open date and move the bye weeks deeper into the schedule.

    As a result of the change, here is USF's updated '15 schedule (times and most dates for remaining games not yet determined):

    Sept. 5 vs. Florida A&M
    Sept. 12 at FSU, 11:30 a.m.
    Sept. 19 at Maryland
    Oct. 10 vs. Syracuse

    AAC home: Cincinnati, Memphis, SMU, Temple
    AAC away: UCF, Connecticut, East Carolina, Navy...

  8. Shorthanded USF battles but falls to SMU

    College

    TAMPA — Six hours before USF's tipoff Wednesday night against SMU, the school issued a 16-word news release announcing that Bulls power forward Chris Perry will be out indefinitely with an unspecified "health issue."

    The ensuing memo about the season fading to a dimmer hue of bleakness as a result? Perry's teammates never got that one.

    In arguably their grittiest effort of the year, the shorthanded Bulls burst to an early seven-point lead and remained within striking distance down the stretch before falling 63-52....

  9. USF's Chris Perry out indefinitely

    Blog

    Four days after USF sophomore PF Chris Perry exited an evening practice with chest pains, the school announced the former Bartow High standout will be sidelined indefinitely with a "health issue." Here's the recent timeline of events involving Perry.

    Saturday: Perry is stricken with chest pains during an evening workout at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., and is hospitalized. "I was concerned, I didn't know what really happened," SG Corey Allen Jr. said. "I just know like, 20 minutes into practice, he went with the trainer, and toward the end of practice that's when I learned...he went to the hospital that night."

    Sunday: Roughly midway through the Bulls' game against Connecticut, Perry arrives on the Bulls bench in street clothes, and spends the rest of the game vigorously cheering on his team.

    Monday: Perry doesn't appear at practice. At some point upon the team's return to Tampa, he undergoes further tests for his chest ailment.

    Tuesday: Perry doesn't appear at practice. Coach Orlando Antigua says Perry is "day to day," offering no further details.

    Wednesday: Roughly six hours before the Bulls tip off against SMU, USF issues a 16-word statement indicating Perry will be out "indefinitely with a health issue."...

  10. USF-SMU basketball preview

    College

    .Tonight

    USF vs. SMU

    When/where: 7; Sun Dome

    TV/radio: ESPNU; 1010-AM

    Records: SMU 16-4, 7-1 AAC; USF 7-13, 1-6

    Notable: SMU enters on a six-game win streak while USF has dropped five in a row. … The Mustangs won the season's first meeting, shooting 52 percent from the floor in an 83-49 New Year's Eve romp in Dallas. Mustangs G Keith Frazier who had 14 points and three assists in that game, has since been ruled academically ineligible. On the flip side, 6-foot-9, 245-pound PF Markus Kennedy — academically cleared in late December — should be in far better game shape than he was in the first encounter. … With the status of Bulls PF Chris Perry (chest pains) uncertain, USF's challenge in the low post goes from demanding to daunting....

  11. Mystery surrounds illness of USF's Chris Perry

    College

    TAMPA — With nary a warning, a team besieged by mediocrity now also finds itself steeped in mystery.

    Suddenly, the short- and long-term status of Chris Perry, the men's basketball team's only low-post veteran, is unknown. Nearly three full days after being stricken by chest pains during a Saturday night practice in Hartford, Conn., Perry was a no-show at Tuesday afternoon's practice....

    Chris Perry left practice Saturday with chest pains, and the team doesn’t know his status.
  12. Worth the weight: Bulked-up Ruben Guerrero's game grows at USF

    College

    TAMPA — At this point, USF 6-foot-11 freshman Ruben Guerrero is a very vertical reflection — we're talking floor-to-ceiling mirror — of his 7-13 team.

    Both are far more green than golden at this stage. Their potential is revealed more in spurts than stretches. Fans see them often being bullied today but harbor hope they can be bullish tomorrow.

    Their futures can't arrive fast enough, yet time is the prerequisite. A few more thumpings may ensue, maybe even a pummeling here and there. But the widespread thought is, a Bulls renaissance is imminent....

    Ruben Guerrero is showing signs of tapping into his athletic ability and developing into a dominant frontcourt player for the Bulls.
  13. 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....

  14. 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.
  15. 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.