South Florida Basketball Predictions
The South Florida Bulls posted a 12-19 overall record and went 3-15 in Big East conference play. Since transferring to the Big East the Bulls have won just 7 conference games in three seasons to go along with 43 losses, which includes a 1-24 mark on the road. The Bulls have a number of new faces this season, and head coach Stan Heath is confident that his roster is becoming more and more filled with Big East-caliber players. The Bulls haven’t made the Big East tournament since 1992 and haven’t made the postseason in the past five seasons.
With the departure of Kentrell Gransberry, the center who averaged 16.0 points and 10.8 rebounds, the Bulls will have a lot to replace, but Gransberry’s talent was largely wasted because he didn’t have a supporting cast. Gus Gilchrist was granted an NCAA hardship waiver and will become available before Big East competition starts this season. Gilchrist originally signed at Virginia Tech but backed out and transferred to Maryland where he never played. Gilchrist will make an impact as soon as he becomes available and should have time to get some tune-up games in before the Big East schedule starts. Juco transfer Alex Rivas Sanchez is a dominant rebounder and will need to make an immediate contribution. Mobolaji Ajayi grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds against Seton Hall late last season and will need to continue to build on that success. Freshmen Eladio Espinosa and Eugene Teague, Jr. will also be expected to make an impact. Espinosa has promise at power forward and Teague has dropped below 300-pounds and has great physical tools.
Dominique Jones had a fantastic freshman season, leading the team in scoring and becoming the first Big East freshman since Allen Iverson to register back-to-back 30-point games. Jones can drive to the basket, shoot from beyond the arc, and get to the free throw line, which means he can score in all different ways. Jones seemed to hit a wall late last season and could benefit from a little depth that will allow him to play less minutes. Jones can play the point, but that has pretty much been the domain of junior Chris Howard, who finished 6th in the Big East in assists. Junior transfer from Georgia Mike Mercer, a former All-SEC freshman, will become eligible in mid-December and will require a mix-and-match strategy to get Howard, Jones, and Mercer on the court at the same time. Senior Jesus Verdejo plays with a devil-may-care attitude which provides fans with a mix of exhilaration and exasperation.
This team is much better than the Bulls were last season, and there are more Big East-caliber player on the roster, but climbing up the ladder in the Big East is no easy task, especially when you start out with C-USA-caliber athletes. The Bulls should have more scoring opportunities this season and needs to take advantage of the chances they get. Basically, this is a team that needs to learn how to win. They have been handed a great opportunity with the NCAA granting Gilchrist’s waiver. Unfortunately for the Bulls, we see them finishing in the bottom of the Big East yet again.