Opening against a Division II team does not provide much assessment of where a team is starting a basketball season, but it does provide the chance to come together and start off with a solid victory.
South Florida’s men’s basketball team got exactly that in its 99-60 win against Nova Southeastern on Friday night.
“It was a game for us to see where our team was, and to get a lot of guys minutes,” senior center Will McDonald said. “To see where our guys were, and to learn the plays and stuff. It wasn’t to take advantage of anyone.”
The Bulls gave several people playing time with no one, out of 11 who suited up, playing less than 14 minutes.
Freshman Danny Oglesby got 14 minutes and freshmen Sam Barber and Yusuf Baker had 15 each.
“We got out of the game what we needed to get out of the game,” USF coach Seth Greenberg said. “We got a lot of guys minutes, and we got a chance to look at guys.”
The freshmen used their minutes to their advantage, as Barber scored 10 points, including two three-pointers. Baker also had a game-high three blocks.
Some familiar faces had big games as well. Senior point guard Reggie Kohn had 11 points, 11 assists and swiped a game-high four steals.
Junior Jimmy Baxter led the Bulls by scoring 18 points, including 4-for-7 from beyond the three-point line.
The Bulls will need to tune up their outside shooting and the scoring of their wing players when they start to face teams that are better than Nova Southeastern. They will be running the majority of their offense through McDonald, who had 14 points and nine rebounds.
“It’s all about the win this year,” Baxter said. “We don’t have anyone besides Will that we know is going to produce day-in and day-out. We have to come together as a team and have a supporting cast.”
The Bulls didn’t need to rely on their half-court offense to send the ball down to McDonald most of the night because of their running game.
The Knights committed 25 turnovers, which allowed for easy layups and dunks.
“We got to push it a lot. We didn’t have to set so may plays. We got a lot of stuff from semi-fast breaks and fast breaks,” Kohn said. “It was fun out there tonight. Everyone was being unselfish, passing the ball around and playing together.
“It’s a fun team to play with.”
Most of the Bulls’ turnovers and easy buckets came when they pressured the Knights using their full court press and traps.
“We’re not going to press the whole season like we pressed tonight, because they were going to use 30 seconds every possession,” Greenberg said. “There are no more rocking-chair games; they are over.”
USF also got to look at two intangibles that will help them as they try to compete with better teams.
Sophomore Marlyn Bryant provided energy and physical play, hitting the floor several times to chase after loose balls and rebounds.
Terrence Leather also proved he could be a valuable asset, providing rebounding off the bench and some scoring punch. Leather gave the Bulls nine points and a game-high 11 boards.
The Bulls get their first real test Tuesday as they host Providence at 7 p.m.
“I don’t know where we are at,” Greenberg said. “We will know a lot more about ourselves against Providence.
“I don’t think we are going to score 100 points every night. We are going to run our offense through Will, and be a hard playing, physical team, and put emphasis on rebounding and defending.”