The Dow might be down, but according to USF women’s coach Jose Fernandez, there’s a hot new Initial Public Offering on the market.
“If our basketball program was a stock, you’d buy it,” Fernandez said. “If there was a 13-game improvement.”
That’s the goal for Fernandez and the Bulls, coming off last year’s 4-24 squad. To increase their win total to 17 this season, the Bulls will have to win nine non-conference games, starting with this weekend’s Boston University Invitational. USF opens its season with BU Friday, then moves on to face either SMU or Georgia Southern in the championship game Saturday, provided the Bulls can knock off the Terriers.
“I’d like to win this tournament, get this season started on a roll,” Fernandez said. “Then, come back with two home games that, if we play well and bring it to the table, we can win.”
Before the Bulls can worry about their home opener Nov. 21 against Bethune-Cookman, USF must meet the Terriers on their home court. The Terriers were 10-19 in 2000-01 en route to finishing eighth in the America East Conference. Sophomore guard Katie Terhune will lead the 2001-02 Terriers, picked fifth in the preseason coaches’ poll. Terhune led BU with 16.2 points per game in her freshman campaign, earning her a spot on this year’s preseason All-Conference team. Terhune was also 12th in the nation with an 88.3 free-throw percentage.
“Katie Terhune’s a great player, she can play with her back to the basket,” Fernandez said. “She uses her body real well. We want to really pressure the ball, but we just got to get our hands off once people put the ball down on the floor.”
That was a problem for the Bulls in their lone exhibition game against the Premier Players when they were whistled for 22 personal fouls. Junior Aiya Shepard picked up a pair of fouls in the first five minutes and had to spend most of the half on the bench. Sophomore Melissa Tape had three before halftime.
“Overly aggressive, especially in the first half,” Fernandez said of the number of fouls called. “I think that was a lot of nerves. We were coming out on certain players that we shouldn’t have. We should have made some of their players beat us from the perimeter.”
Don’t expect the Bulls to temper their full-court trap defense. After seeing the Terriers score only 44 points in their last exhibition game, Fernandez and the Bulls realize that keeping the pace of the game on the level of their 93-74 game against the Players could be the key to a USF victory.
“We’re just going to play our way throughout the season,” Fernandez said. “We’re not going to let other teams affect the way we’re going to play. They might want to slow the ball down … but miss or make, we’re going to be running it right up their backs. I think it’s going to be tough for them to adjust to our style of play.”
- Anthony Gagliano covers women’s basketball and can be reached at email@example.com