Bulls selected as No. 10 seed for Big Dance
Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 00:03
The atmosphere was set — food, drinks, Rocky the Bull and the Sun Dolls.
The guests in the club level of the Sun Dome carried out their casual conversations about the season, the team and even the small Nilla Wafers set out for them, while the women’s basketball team sat in a roped-off area in their gray USF jackets, anxiously watching as ESPN’s Selection Monday show began.
The various conversations came to a halt as the Bulls team rose from their seats in celebration. The conversations turned to cheers.
Within 10 minutes of ESPN’s Selection Monday show starting, it was announced that USF will take its dancing shoes to Lubbock, Tex., to take on the Red Raiders.
On Monday night, the USF women’s basketball team, selected as the No. 10 seed in the NCAA tournament, made school history. This is the second time the women’s basketball team has made the tournament, the last time in 2006, when they lost in the first round to the University of South California.
The Bulls will face No. 7 seed Texas Tech on Saturday.
USF President Judy Genshaft, Athletics Director Doug Woolard, friends and family of the players, as well as fans and members of the athletic staff gathered to celebrate the team’s season.
It was dubbed a watch party, and a party it was.
“I couldn’t believe it,” senior guard Andrell Smith said. “I thought it was going to be a longer wait. I was in shock. I’m still in awe.”
The winner in the game between the Bulls and Red Raiders will most likely go on to play No. 2 California. Genshaft said she feels that’s the next stop for USF.
Though USF’s future in the NCAA tournament lies with Texas, the players were firmly planted in the moment.
Hugs, high-fives, handshakes and even tears could be seen in the Sun Dome after the announcement.
During the applause for the team, emotions ran high — for some this opportunity given to the Bulls was the last chance to make something special happen at USF.
“I came to USF with dreams and goals of the NCAA tournament,” Johnson said. “It just shows the hard work and dedication we put in and how our talent is finally getting recognized by the committee.”
But when the Bulls hit the hardwood against Texas Tech, it will be all business, she said, and Johnson wants USF to prove something to the nation.
“I’m just looking for us to show the country who South Florida is,” she said.
Andrell Smith said she’s looking to get the most out of the NCAA experience.
“We have to enjoy the moment that we have and embrace it,” Smith said. “You have to put everything into it, it’s crazy that this will be my last season and NCAA ride so I want to make it as long of a ride as possible.”
Tailing her sister Andrea in scoring, Andrell comes in second on the team in scoring averaging 13.8 points per game.
USF coach Jose Fernandez, in the company of his family at the watch party, said he felt as if his team more than deserved the seeding in the tournament.
“The credit goes to the young ladies over here. They’ve been relentless, their work ethic has been tremendous and this is a reward for them,” he said. “But we have plenty of basketball left to play this year. That’s been our goal all year. March has been our slogan.”