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USF men’s exhibition loss not totally unexpected

The Bulls wrap up their four-game Canadian basketball tour tonight in Montreal.
USF coach Brian Gregory's team lost to Carleton, 78-69, on Wednesday night in Game 3 of its Canadian exhibition tour. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
USF coach Brian Gregory's team lost to Carleton, 78-69, on Wednesday night in Game 3 of its Canadian exhibition tour. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published Aug. 8, 2019

He has made a point to introduce his players to another part of the world during their Canadian tour. Between exhibition games, USF men's basketball coach Brian Gregory and his club have seen a smorgasbord of sights.

But on Wednesday came the unsightly.

Facing Canadian collegiate dynasty Carleton, the Bulls totaled three assists and mostly were dominated on the glass in a 78-69 defeat.

“(Rebounding) was the difference in the game,” Gregory said.

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To be sure, Gregory was disappointed. For a veteran program that prides itself on going to the glass, the performance was wholly uncharacteristic. But don’t write off the 2019-20 season, one brimming with expectations for a change, just yet.

While disconcerting, the defeat really is no cause for alarm. Here are three reasons why:

Carleton is crazy good

The Ravens, a Canada collegiate dynasty, annually feast on U.S. competition in the summer. Their victims in recent years include Wisconsin (the summer before the Badgers reached the Final Four), Cincinnati, Providence, Ole Miss, Alabama and now USF.

Wednesday’s victory was their 45th in 76 all-time meetings against American college programs.

USF had a limited lineup

To maximize playing time for their younger guys, the Bulls have made a habit during this four-contest tour of sitting three players each game. On Wednesday, junior swingman Justin Brown, 6-foot-10 senior Antun Maricevic and lanky sophomore guard Rashun Williams sat out.

Additionally, senior point guard Laquincy Rideau ― the reigning American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year ― isn’t playing on this tour as a precaution.

In tonight’s finale against McGill University in Montreal, guard David Collins, center Michael Durr and promising redshirt freshman Madut Akec will not play.

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The grind may be catching up to them

Between their sightseeing and team meals, the Bulls have crammed in a lot of basketball.

They landed in Canada on Saturday night, and played their first game the following afternoon. Wednesday’s contest was their third in four days, not counting tonight’s tour finale against McGill.

Even with some guys sitting out each contest, that’s a demanding schedule.