To coach Seth Greenberg, the glass is half full.
And after watching the Bulls get hammered 81-62 by Memphis on Tuesday, having that attitude isn’t as easy as it sounds.
“I came out of (Memphis) encouraged,” Greenberg said. “Maybe I’m not very smart … it wouldn’t be the first time someone told me that.”
Greenberg said compared to last year’s trip to Memphis late in the season when the Bulls had a chance to take sole possession of first place in the National Division but lost 79-61, he was optimistic despite this season’s 19-point loss.
“I feel much better about our basketball team coming back off of this Memphis game than last (year),” Greenberg said. “I went back and graded the film out and we did a lot of good things.”
For all the things the Bulls did right Tuesday – namely slowing Dajuan Wagner, working the ball inside on offense and defending the post – it’s the one thing they did wrong that clubs you in the face like an elbow from FSU’s Nigel Dixon to B.B. Waldon’s head – USF shot horribly.
“We just didn’t make shots,” Greenberg said. “And you’re going to have those (games) where you don’t make shots.”
The iron was more than unkind to visiting USF – it was downright rude. The Bulls looked at times like they were shooting at one of those carnival baskets that is shaped more like a football than a circle.
“I felt horrendous when we came back from Memphis last year, because I didn’t think we did the things we needed to do,”
Greenberg said. “(This year) Greg Brittian defended Wagner effectively, we did a decent job for about 32 minutes on the post people, (and) I thought our plan was good. We were able to get the ball inside, we just didn’t finish.”
USF shot an abominable 19-of-64 (29 percent) from the field compared to its season average of 45 percent. Because of the poor showing from the field, the Bulls could never string together any sustained runs to climb back into the game. Combine that with their 19 percent showing from behind the three-point arc, and it is easy to see why the Bulls never seriously threatened Memphis after the midway point of the first half.
“If (the shots we took) were bad shots, that’s one thing,” Greenberg said. “(But) I look back and we might have taken two bad shots in the game. But that game’s over with and we’ve got to move on.”
The Bulls (12-4, 3-1 in Conference USA) don’t have much time to regroup as they face Charlotte tonight at 7 in the Sun Dome in a game televised on ESPN. Greenberg said with the Bulls arriving back in Tampa on Wednesday, preparation time is limited for a team that beat then-No. 25 Marquette 76-68 two weeks ago.
“We didn’t get back last night here until 7 p.m. and we didn’t get a chance to practice, just watch tape and sent the guys on their way,” Greenberg said. “That was not good, to be quite honest with you. We wasted a day academically and we wasted a day in terms of preparation and that’s a concern when you’re playing a team that’s as varied and multiple as Charlotte.”
The Bulls and Charlotte were picked to finish second in the National and American Divisions, respectively. Four of the 49ers’ starters are averaging double digits in scoring, led by preseason All C-USA selection Jobey Thomas’s 17.9 points per game.
“Jobey Thomas is one of the premier guards in the country,” Greenberg said. “Their three-guard offense of (Curtis) Nash, Thomas and (Demon) Brown is very tough to match up with.”
At the front of the Bulls’ miserable shooting performance against Memphis was Waldon, who was held scoreless on a 0-for-8 night from the floor. Since torching TCU for 37 points Jan. 5, the senior forward is averaging 4 ppg in his last three outings. Greenberg said he doesn’t believe Waldon’s poor play of late is related to the fractured cheekbone he sustained after taking an elbow from Dixon in the FSU game Jan. 2.
“I don’t think (the injury) has any effect on his game,” Greenberg said. “He’s struggling scoring (and) he’s not seeing a big basket right now, let’s face it. I want him to attack more and try to get through people. It’s really sad. Here’s a 1,600-point scorer, second leading scorer probably in Conference USA before he’s done (and) we need to get him going.”