After the South Florida women’s basketball team trounced its third opponent in a row Tuesday night — this time with a 103-55 win over Stetson — it became clear to coach Jose Fernandez that there is something different about this team.
“I think we’re on total different ends of the spectrum compared to last season,” Fernandez said. “For us to be successful this year we’re going to have to play different.”
Fernandez said one of the big changes is that the team is playing at a quicker pace, which has enabled it to accumulate 57 steals this season.
“We have to play up-tempo this season,” Fernandez said. “We have to create turnovers and speed the game up to be successful.”
USF has also upped its efficiency at the free-throw line. The Bulls are shooting 70.4 percent this season, as opposed to 63.5 percent last year.
“We made it a big emphasis in the preseason,” Fernandez said. “The girls went and shot free throws on their own, and we did morning workouts, which I think improved the free-throw shooting.”
Senior guard Jazmine Sepulveda — who shot 57 percent from the line last season — has hit eight out of nine free throws this year. She said her teammates are scoring often, which eases the pressure on her. Eleven players have scored for the Bulls this season.
“It helps a lot to come get rest and have my teammates keep scoring and keep the tempo going,” she said.
Perhaps the biggest difference this season is the way in which this team has won its games. The Bulls, approaching their fourth game of the season, have defeated their opponents by an average margin of 51.6 points. Last season, they went 2-2 in their first four games, and were blown out twice by 25 points or more.
“Last year, we got away from (playing together) a bit,” Sepulveda said. “The way the team is playing together right now and gelling is really good for us.”
The Bulls will play Coppin State at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Sun Dome.