USF has opportunity to make early statement

By Rames Ali, COMMENTARY
On October 23, 2012

In less than two weeks, the USF mens basketball team will open what may be the most anticipated season in school history in an exhibition against Eckerd College.

Following a breakout season in 2012 when the Bulls shocked fans and experts alike by making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1992 and winning the first two NCAA Tournament games in school history, fans and the team itself may expect a similar season this year.

Thanks to the returning core of forwards Victor Rudd, Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and sophomore point guard Anthony Collins, the engine for the offense who was named to the preseason all-conference second team, and a favorable opening schedule, the Bulls may manage to surpass their success from a season ago.

After an opening grudge match against UCF on Nov. 10, the Bulls face few big-conference challenges in their out-of-conference schedule and have a chance to open the season with a strong record, unlike last
season.

Though the Bulls finished sixth in the Big East, tough losses against beatable opponents in non-conference play kept the team on the tournament bubble and forced it to sweat it out on Selection Sunday.

USFs out-of-conference struggles a season ago can be attributed to Collins early season injury and the development of both Collins and Rudd, who were both playing their first year at USF. As the season progressed and both players gained experience, the Bulls began to perform with greater
consistency.

The schedule does not include a single team ranked in the preseason Top 25 with only Georgia and Oklahoma State receiving votes.

The Bulls are not without challenges as the 2012-13 season nears, however, as they look to replace the senior presence of Ron Anderson Jr. and Augustus Gilchrist while also searching for a legitimate post presence on a team that is better known for its speed and athleticism.

If the Bulls can manage to sort out a consistent rotation by the time they take the court at the Sun Dome on Nov. 5 in their exhibition against Eckerd, the team could be in good position for the NCAA tournament by the time it opens Big East play against Syracuse on Jan. 6 at home.

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