In a 26-game schedule, a season can change as fast as a wink of an eye.
As the USF men’s basketball season looked bleak with a season-ending injury to starting guard Marlyn Bryant, a season-long suspension of senior Greg Brittian, an 0-2 start to Conference USA and a five-game road losing streak, the upswing could continue Saturday when the Bulls travel to East Carolina.
The Bulls had their first big win of the season in a 75-74 victory at Memphis last Saturday.
“Your league is so tough it can eat you up and spit you out,” USF coach Seth Greenberg said. “We have 12 separate entities. We have Memphis in the bank, and they can’t take that away. You have to build on it.”
With the victory against the Tigers behind them, the Bulls are playing with something they haven’t had much of this season — momentum.
“It’s a game that you can build on. It points to potential,” Greenberg said. “We have a lot of areas to improve. … I think they were able to speed us up a little bit, which disappointed me.”
The Bulls will need to stay sharp against an East Carolina team that is 10-6 overall.
The Pirates average 70.8 points a game, playing 10 players at least 10 minutes.
Posting a 1-4 conference record, ECU’s opponents connect on 31 percent of their three-point shots.
The Bulls will be playing with more excitement after the big victory at the Pyramid, an excitement that starts during practice.
“I think they are more excited; that’s what happens when you win,” Greenberg said. “We just want to build on it, play well and continue to play well.”
After starting out 0-2 in C-USA, USF has evened up its record while posting a 9-6 record overall.
The Bulls’ season started to look bleak when they faced No. 19 Marquette on Jan. 11, losing 96-63.
Bryant and freshman Yusuf Baker did not finish the game due to injury, and three Bulls fouled out, leaving USF with only five players after bringing guard Jimmy Baxter into the contest, who was suspended for one game.
“As bad as it was after Marquette, we were able to turn it around,” Greenberg said. “You have to maintain that level. That is not an easy thing.”
A day before the game against Memphis, USF received more bad news when the NCAA declared freshman Raphael Toren ineligible, claiming he played professionally in Israel.
However, in sports any moment can change a season. The Bulls hope that they can maintain the momentum they gained from their first ever victory at Memphis.
“Momentum enables you to practice more efficiently and effectively,” Greenberg said. “We have some good karma going.”
Bryan Fazio covers USF men’s basketball team and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org