When the season began, USF women’s basketball coach Jose Fernandez and the Bulls adopted a team motto for the season, basically stemming from the lack of respect shown toward the Bulls by the other members of Conference USA. That motto was “something to prove.”
After being picked to finish dead last in the conference, the Bulls can take one step toward proving the doubters wrong this Sunday when the team takes on UAB at 1 p.m. in the Corral.
Should the Bulls come out with a victory against the Blazers, the worst team in C-USA and losers of six consecutive games, they would virtually guarantee themselves a trip to Fort Worth, Texas in March for the C-USA tournament.
Though Fernandez has said making the conference tournament should be expected, mostly because only two conference teams are omitted each year, it would be a huge step for the Bulls to lock up a berth this season. In fact, USF hasn’t been to the conference tournament since 2001, which was the last season every team from the conference made the tournament.
Though the Blazers sit at the bottom of the conference entering the first of two games against the Bulls, obtaining a win probably won’t be as easy as it seems on paper for USF.
In 28 all-time meetings against UAB, the Bulls have won only five, including losing both games against the Blazers last season by a combined six points. However, all five of the Bulls’ wins in the series have come at home.
The sour note for the Bulls is that they won’t actually be on their home court. USF is forced to play its three remaining home games in the Corral, which is home to USF’s volleyball team. And the change in venue really couldn’t have come at a worse time.
The last time the Bulls took the court in the Sun Dome they played arguably their best game of the season in a double-overtime upset victory against then No. 18 TCU. And though the Bulls currently stand with a sub-.5 record, all that could change in the next four games.
Besides playing the Blazers, who have just one conference win, twice in the final four games, the Bulls also play Tulane and Southern Miss at home. The Green Wave also has just one win in the conference, while the Golden Eagles have just two.
Running the table in the final four games remains a realistic possibility for the Bulls, and if the team can manage to pull it off, it could set up an interesting scenario regarding postseason tournaments.
Four consecutive wins to close the regular season would give the Bulls a record above .5, essentially making them eligible for postseason consideration.
The Bulls’ schedule strength would then come into play, and that’s where the team may have an advantage.
Six of USF’s 13 losses this season were against teams that have been ranked in the top 25 this season.
Another loss came against Florida State, which recently knocked off No. 2 Duke. The Bulls also can counter tough losses on the road to Army and UNLV with a win against a top-25 team. However, everything begins with UAB on Sunday.