No one said this was going to be easy.
The men’s basketball team began its journey into the legendary Big East in less-than-spectacular fashion, dropping its first three games against conference opponents No. 12 West Virginia, No. 20 Syracuse and unranked St. John’s, all the while accumulating an overall record of 6-10.
So far the Bulls’ season has been comparable to a car that’s gotten stuck in the mud. The wheels are spinning, but nobody’s getting anywhere.
This might cause some fans to lose hope and abandon the season in despair or maybe even pull out paper bags to wear at the games. Mediocre basketball with no hope of a postseason does not sell tickets, nor does it cause any kind of excitement among the student body or alumni.
There is absolutely no reason to hit the panic button yet. There are a lot of games to be played and there is a lot of growth on the court that needs to take place before these Bulls can mature into a real challenger to some of the more “elite” teams in the conference.
It takes time to turn around a program. This is only Robert McCullum’s third year as coach and he has already breathed some new life into this team.
During the 2004-05 season, McCullum helped coach the Bulls to a victory over No. 18 Charlotte and No. 20 Cincinnati. That was the first two wins for USF against opponents ranked in the top 25 since 1992.
McCullum has also had some good success with teams he has coached in the past. He was an assistant coach for the University of Florida basketball team from 1990-1996 and helped the squad make a Final Four appearance in ’94.
McCullum was also the coach for Western Michigan from 2000-2003 and turned around a program that had only three previous 20-win seasons during its 89-year history.
The Bulls suffered some hardships during 2005 that would most certainly alter any team’s morale.
USF was devastated with the loss of former player Bradley Mosley, who lost a yearlong battle with cancer in October.
There was also a season-ending injury to a key player that has hampered the Bulls from potentially being a more formidable threat. Freshman Chris Howard, who was supposed to be a starting point guard, tore his ACL in practice the day before the first exhibition game.
Regardless of distractions, the Bulls have played their opponents close and showed they are not afraid to face some of the nation’s most revered programs.
USF came close to beating the No. 24 Mountaineers, losing by just four points, and fell short of the mark against the Orange 63-57.
With hard work, practice and time, the Bulls should be able to make that turn.