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Boards will be crucial for Bulls moving forward

Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 07:11

It’s been the story of the season for the USF men’s basketball team: tough performance on the glass resulting in tough performances on the scoreboard.

When the Bulls hit the hardwood for their fourth game in five days, they will look to flip the script and avoid being outrebounded for the third time in the first five games of the season. USF was outrebounded 38-27 in a five-point loss to Western Michigan on Sunday.

“I think when we have games like that we have to be more active on the offensive boards and guys like Rudd and Poland need to step up,” coach Stan Heath said following the game. “I’d really like to get one of them going. I’d love to have both of them going, but not having either is a big loss in production. Even if they’re not getting it from shooting, they can get it from off the glass.”

Though the Bulls were expected to struggle with rebounding thanks to a smaller roster that is more conducive to speed rather than size, Heath said the team needs to get back to the rebounding identity that helped them succeed a season ago.

“We were better in our ball screen defense in the second half (against Western Michigan),” he said. “But we have to get better at rotations and covering down which is contributing to our struggles in rebounding.”

While the Bulls are combating a lack of size across the roster, they also have to deal with figuring out a constant starting lineup and rotation.

Through four games in 2012, the Bulls have had four separate starting lineups with only sophomore point guard Anthony Collins, junior forward Victor Rudd Jr. and senior forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick retaining their starting spot in all four games.

“There are definitely some things that we as coaches can do better to help us improve on offense, and helping certain guys get better at handling certain situations,” Heath said.

With the first road game of the season against Stetson and games against Georgia at home and Oklahoma State on the road facing the team on the horizon after tonight’s game against Bradley, finishing will be key for the 2-2 Bulls.

“We had some three-pointers and some layups that just didn’t go down,” Heath said. “And we got into the bonus early but didn’t take advantage of it. There were a couple of chances at the end, a layup and a short jump shot, where we could have taken the lead but we didn’t and they came back with a score. We’ve got to become better at finishing.”

The Bulls will tip off against the Bradley Braves at the Sun Dome tonight at 7:30, and will seek to get back onto the positive side of the rebounding margin.

“I don’t like getting outrebounded,” Heath said. “I think that’s a staple of our team. Rebounding needs to be a strength. Every time we’ve gotten outrebounded, it’s been a tough game for us. Our wings have to be a little more involved on the offensive glass so we can find ways to win even if shots aren’t falling.”

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