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FIVE KEYS TO VICTORY

1. FEED THE BIG FELLA: Senior Will McDonald is going to be options A and B, and maybe D, E and F _ and he appears up to the task. The 6-foot-11 low-post specialist had a superb summer with a touring all-star team. He improved from 3.4 points and 1.6 rebounds as a sophomore to 11.9 and 4.9 last season. Expect a similar increase this season. McDonald has made an impressive physical transformation the past two seasons and is poised to be an All-Conference USA player.

2. FIND A NO. 2 OPTION: Small forward Greg Brittian was expected to be the second-leading scorer, but pending an appeal to the NCAA, he has been declared ineligible for academic fraud. Point guard Reggie Kohn will drill 3-pointers when the defense sags on McDonald, but who else will score? Jimmy Baxter, Brian Swift and Brandon Brigman have shown potential, and freshmen Danny Oglesby and Sam Barber were big scorers in high school.

3. DEVELOP A ROTATION: Coach Seth Greenberg said he would prefer a nine-man rotation. Who will they be? There are at least 11 Bulls expecting to play regularly. McDonald and Kohn are givens. Everyone else is battling for a place. Baxter, Marlyn Bryant and Gerrick Morris will start tonight.

4. HIT THE BACKBOARD: Altron Jackson and B.B. Waldon were superb scorers, but their best attributes might have been rebounding. Everyone needs to pick up the slack, particularly big men McDonald, Morris, Terrence Leather and Brigman. If he has recovered from a torn knee ligament, freshman Yusuf Baker will be USF's best rebounder.

5. SEASONED SOPHS: The three freshmen, Baker, Oglesby and Barber _ Sheldon Franklin is likely to redshirt _ are impressive talents, but the sophomores also are talented and could step up to major roles. Swift is smaller than his listed 5-10, but can provide a boost for 15-20 minutes per game. Bryant appears more energized, if that's possible. The X factors are Brigman, who played little last season but might be USF's most skilled big man, and Leather, who is 6-9, has long arms and can handle the ball.

_ PETE YOUNG

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