With the two-hour commercial for South Florida on ESPN 2 tonight at 7, the men’s basketball team will have to market its defense against Big XII member Nebraska.
“I think its obviously great notoriety for the university,” USF coach Seth Greenberg said.
“We couldn’t afford to buy the two hours we are going to get.”
The Bulls held Alcorn State to 62 points and a 36 percent shooting percentage, but Greenberg was still not pleased with the team’s defense.
“I didn’t think we defended awfully well,” Greenberg said. “I’m a little disappointed in that.
“I didn’t think we defended with our principles the way we wanted to. We were not consistent in terms of our defensive principles as we need to be.”
The Bulls’ defense will face a challenge against the Cornhuskers with their flurry of offensive sets and their ability to bring their post players out of the paint.
“They have an athletic backcourt, and they run offense very hard with good pace and run a lot of offense,” Greenberg said. “They have around 10 sets and they really mix it up.”
USF (3-0) has shown its man-to-man defense, 1-3-1 zone and a full-court press. It will need to bring all its defenses to the table to prevent the Huskers from posting their season shooting average of 42 percent and plus-seven scoring margin.
“You have to defend on principle, and you have to defend screens and show some toughness,” Greenberg said. “We have to keep them off the glass and use our quickness to rebound the ball.”
The Cornhuskers (2-2) will rely on their post players to come out high and set screens to create a double threat of Huskers shooters on the outside and big men crashing to the basket.
“We’ve got to be able to guard screen-and-rolls within their sets,” Greenberg said. “They do a great job of slipping their screeners to the basket. We have to make sure we have the right floor position and angles so that those big people don’t have angles to get to the basket.”
One of the players who will be responsible for guarding and preventing Nebraska’s big people from getting to the basket is center Will McDonald.
“William will have to go out on the perimeter and defend,” Greenberg said. “They run a lot of screen-and-rolls, and our big people are going to have to be very active in defending that.”
McDonald’s biggest challenge may be to stay on the floor. The senior center is averaging 19.3 minutes per game, while leading the team with 10 personal fouls.
Another disadvantage to the Bulls’ big men might be the possible absence of starting power forward Gerrick Morris, who is questionable to start the game because of a bruised toe.
If USF successfully shuts down Nebraska’s sets, it will force the Huskers to handle the ball and take dribble-drives to the basket.
“I think we do need to make them handle the ball,” Greenberg said. “I wouldn’t say we will full-court press more. We’ll extend our defense some, but I wouldn’t say we’ll press more. We’ll pick our spots.”