It’s all up to you young ‘uns

Welcome, new students, to the next four years of your life; but with USF, who knows, you could be — and most likely will be — here for a little longer.

It’s cool though. When I first arrived at USF — it wasn’t a very long journey as I was born and raised in Tampa — I had no idea what I was doing or what was going on. I was wide–eyed, idealistic, and maybe a little immature, and I was about 15 pounds lighter. But now that I am starting my fifth year in the fall, I’ve learned a few things. Some essential, some I wish I could forget, but one thing that I have seen is many, many empty seats.

Everywhere are empty seats just wanting and waiting to be filled. People over at the brand-new athletic facility wonder, scratching their respective heads, why more people won’t come to the scheduled games.

The best part of coming to college and having national sports — not to mention the induction into the Big East this year — is that these sports, which can be good or bad and bring in better and worse teams, are absolutely free to attend.

Just whip out that fancy card you just had made in the Marshall Center, show it to one of the good people at Raymond James Stadium, the Sun Dome, the USF Soccer Stadium, Red McEwen Field or the USF Softball Complex, and there is no charge.

Not one red cent.

The university understands the financial strain on students, and for those living on campus in the luxury suites of the dorms — even those who lucked out with Greek Village — a game on any given night is just a casual walk down the street on a warm Florida night.

Go to these games. It’s something to do, it’s fun and hey, you might make some new friends who share your love of USF sports.

And I realize many of you have no idea who is on what team, but that’s cool, too. That’s what The Oracle is here for: to inform and to sometimes entertain.

In the fall, attention will surround the football team like Tiger Woods at Augusta, and you will be kept up to date as much as humanly possible.

But it won’t stop there; soccer and volleyball, tennis and golf, basketball, baseball and of course, softball, will be watched closely with the entry to the Big East.

Changes are on the South Florida horizon, and we’ll be there to tell you about them.

For now, here is what’s to come once you wake up early on Aug. 29 for your very first collegiate class:

Baseball

The past few years have been a struggle for the USF baseball team, but the Big East should give the Bulls some relief. Coach Eddie Cardieri, entering his 21st season as head coach, brings more local talent to the team, including son of Major League Hall of Famer and former Devil Ray and Red Sox Wade Boggs. In his tenure at USF, Cardieri has only missed the postseason three times, and this year lost two major starters, right fielder Bryan Hierlmeier and third baseman Jeff Baisley, who led the nation in doubles. The two seniors were the heart of the batting order at the third and fourth spots, respectively, so the team will be searching to fill a few holes come spring of 2006. – Mike Camunas

Men’s Basketball

The USF men’s basketball team will be without its top three scorers from last season as they enter into the Big East. Terrence Leather, Brian Swift and Marlyn Bryant left a USF team that finished 14-16 last season, coach Robert McCullum’s second with the Bulls. Any success this season will hinge on guard Collin Dennis and forward Solomon Jones, the lone returning regular starters. USF should also find some relief in seven recruits, the biggest class in McCullum’s tenure with USF. – John Calkins

Women’s Basketball

Coming off the most successful season in the team’s 33-year history, the women’s basketball team exited in the second round of the WNIT in March — it was the team’s second appearance in the postseason — and finished the season 21-11. Though a big cog in the Bull’s machinery, senior point guard Anedra Gilmore, is graduating, All-American and leading scorer Jessica Dickson, who surpassed 1,000 points in just her sophomore year, is returning, . Florida’s Class 6A women’s basketball Player of the Year, Riverview High’s Shantia Grace, is set to replace Gilmore at guard. – M.C.

Football

The goal for the USF football team will be the same one it has every season: to make a bowl game for the first time in program history. But after stumbling to a 4-7 record last season, the Bulls will be hard-pressed to even match that record in 2005. With non-conference games at Penn State and Miami, not to mention Big East opponents such as West Virginia and Pittsburgh on its schedule, 2005 will be the most challenging season in team history. Single-season rushing record holder Andre Hall is returning, but his numbers may drop since the Bulls lost three starting offensive linemen. – J.C.

Men’s Soccer

After a rollercoaster season, the USF men’s soccer team posted a 10-5-2, 5-3-1 C-USA record showcasing a few highlights, including a streak of four consecutive games of holding opponents scoreless and a new leading scorer who racked up 18 points on six goals and six assists. The Bulls lose only one starter, not to graduation, but to the 2004 MLS Superdraft. L.A. Deportivo Chivas selected freshman Christian Jimenez in the second round. – M.C.

Women’s Soccer

Coach Logan Fleck and the women’s soccer team will have their hands — not to mention their feet — full this upcoming season, as they must face their most challenging schedule in program history. The schedule is highlighted by a visit from Notre Dame, last season’s national champion. New team leaders must emerge for the Bulls as they lost goalkeeper Breck Bankester and prominent players Staci Sastre and Tara Escribano, who led the team to 5-9-2 last season. Katie Reed, the team’s leading goal scorer from last season, will be a senior this season. – J.C.

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