We’ve been rather preoccupied with basketball lately, and since we only have hints of what Skip Holtz, Mark Snyder, and Todd Fitch have in mind for this year’s team, it’s really hard for us to properly preview spring practice. On top of that, B.J. Daniels will sit out the contact drills while he recovers from surgery to fix a partially torn rotator cuff on his left shoulder. At least he can still throw the ball, which is better than nothing, but Evan Landi will have to shuttle over from receiver to play some QB, and Ryan Eppes, a walk-on, will get some reps as well. It will be tough to get a read on the true offense until fall practices. And with several holes to fill on defense, including five potential NFL draft picks, their spring is going to be just as much about figuring out the depth chart as it will be what kind of scheme they’re going to run.

I will say that the thought of Jon Lejiste cracking the starting lineup gets me incredibly excited. I probably watched him blow up Tavares Pressley in that FSU game about 50 times in a row on my DVR. If you put it on an endless loop I think I could have watched it for an hour straight. Yeah, those were good times.

Oh, right, spring practice, sorry. Our motto going into spring practice is basically this Skip Holtz quote:

“Ever since I got here people have been asking me, ‘How are you guys going to be?,'” Holtz said. “I always tell them, ‘I’ll let you know after Tuesday. I haven’t seen B.J. Daniels throw a pass or anybody catch one.’ So we’ll see.”

In the spirit of not knowing anything about the 2010 Bulls, here are some links that might help you out as much as us:

  • Tampa Tribune – Scott Carter hits all the main talking points and adds an important new one – the need for Holtz to keep USF’s off-the-field problems from becoming on-the-field problems. Martin Fennelly also spent some time with Holtz on the golf course and turned in a column surprisingly free of one-sentence paragraphs and pithy insight.
  • St. Petersburg Times – I’m a little disappointed that Greg Auman didn’t crank out his usual 25,000 words on a given topic, but he did put together a nice story about Todd Fitch’s game-planning abilities, plus a preview capsule that includes some bits about Mark Snyder’s 4-3 under defense.
  • RivalsAs part of his preview, David Fox points out two defensive linemen to watch – Claude Davis, who has a chance to impress, and David Bedford, who may need to fight for his spot in the rotation.
  • ESPN.com – Brian Bennett’s spring superlatives feature on USF highlights the strength of the offensive line and the perilous lack of quarterback depth. Then again, we all thought we were screwed when Matt Grothe went down last year and things turned out OK. He also found some things to watch around the Big East, if you want to keep up with the rest of the conference.

With the season finishing up, I was able to get in touch with a bunch of highly respected bloggers around the Big East to create the 1st Annual Big East Blogger Awards. The following blogs were nice enough to send in their ballots for this historic event.

Orange 44 (Syracuse)
Pitt Script (Pitt)
UC Huskies (UConn)
Rakes of Mallow (Notre Dame)
The UC Bearcats Blog (Cincinnati)
Cracked Sidewalks (Marquette)
Eye of a Panther (Pitt)
Casual Hoya (Georgetown)
Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician (Syracuse)
On the Banks of the Raritan (Rutgers)
Voodoo 5 (USF)
The East Coast Bias (St. Johns)

I really appreciate everyone coming together so quickly in getting their ballots over to me. Now without further ado, your 2009-2010 Big East Blogger All-Conference Team.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’ll refer you back to the live blog from earlier today for specific things that came up during the 69-49 loss to Georgetown. Generally, we’ve known for most of the season that USF has some fatal flaws, and today they all came up to the surface. A lack of depth, trouble defending down low, bigs with post games that aren’t really developed, and bad outside shooting. Oh God, did that last one ever rear its ugly head during this mini-run. The Bulls shot a horrendous 29% from the field against the Hoyas, and Shaun Noriega was the only Bull to hit a three-pointer in two games. Let’s just say that is not an indicator of success.

One of my co-workers watched the game while he was working out at lunch time, and he thought USF quit towards the end. I can see where he thought that. Once the “just play a zone and they’re screwed” strategy went out following the second Notre Dame game, it’s been virtually impossible for the Bulls to rally from a double-digit deficit. And they know it, too, including Stan Heath. They can’t hit threes, and they can’t foul to stop the clock because they don’t have enough guys. That means they have to stop their opponent almost every time down the floor to make up ground, which just isn’t going to happen for long against quality opponents like Georgetown. When a game starts getting away from them, there’s nothing this year’s team can do about it.

So that almost certainly puts an end to any serious talk of USF sneaking into the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1992. But still, a 20-win season and a high seed in the NIT (maybe even a #1 seed) is a big step forward for this program, considering they hadn’t even had a winning season since 2003. If you can sit there and say you’re actually upset with how this season is turning out, then you’re either delusional or you have a Ph.D. in Moving the Goal Line.

For the rest of you, the NIT schedule should be out Sunday night, and there will certainly be some more basketball at the Sun Dome this season. The only way to avenge this bad performance at the Garden is to play there again, which should only take three more wins.

Our Las Vegas Correspondent DoJoMojo was nice enough to throw a liveblog together from one of the finest establishments that the city has to offer. Read about it after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

USF-Georgetown Haiku

March 10, 2010

Hoyas Get Revenge
I Think We are NIT Bound
Still a Great Season

Lots of bubble teams hoping USF loses to Georgetown today. To which Courage Wolf says:

USF does not want USF to lose. Gotta have this one.

Not much to analyze here. USF scored all of their 58 points in the paint or at the foul line, because it was so easy to get out in transition or work it inside for a good shot. (And because they couldn’t hit an outside shot to save their life). DePaul played the first half like they had checked out of their hotel before coming to the Garden, and only made the game mildly interesting in the second half.

Dominique Jones had 20 points, taking over second place on USF’s all-time single-season scorer with 660 points. He also broke the single-season USF record for free throws made, and now sits at 192. Charlie Bradley scored a ridiculous 901 points in 1982-83, which may never be broken, and he held the free throw record, too.

The one thing that bothers me heading into tomorrow is that they didn’t completely put the Blue Demons away to give their rotation players some rest. It only would have taken one good push at the start of the second half to put the lead up above 20 points and allow Heath to put Ryan Kardok or Mike Burwell or Shaun Noriega in the game for awhile. Instead, Chris Howard played 39 minutes and Jones played 37.

This week’s Biggest Game in Two Decades is tomorrow at noon, against Georgetown. It’s on ESPN, so either record it at home, or do what you need to do to watch it.