Somewhere over the rainbow

The USF women’s basketball team must be feeling like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, believing there is no place like home.

The Bulls (5-11, 0-3 in Conference USA) haven’t won a game since defeating Boston University Dec. 30 in the Sun Dome. Between that time and now, USF was smashed by Georgia at home to start the New Year and dropped four straight on the road, which forms their current five-game slide.

This weekend’s home games won’t be easy for the struggling Bulls, as they must entertain two of Conference USA’s top teams. Cincinnati visits the Sun Dome tonight at 7, and Louisville comes to town Sunday afternoon at 2.

“Well, it’s definitely going to be good to be back at home, without a doubt,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “Any time you’re at home, it’s definitely an advantage because that’s where you practice and play every day.”

USF has traditionally struggled against these two programs, winning just one of 24 games against the two opponents in school history.

However, USF has played some of its better games against the toughest opponents. The Bulls stayed with No. 2 UConn for most of the game, and nearly pulled off a road win at No. 25 DePaul Sunday. The Bulls must play just as hard if they hope to earn their first victory in 2003.

Fernandez said that although his team didn’t get the breaks it needed on the road, now is not the time to be worried.

“You just have to stay positive, especially during adverse situations,” Fernandez said. “We’re 5-11, but you look at who we’ve played and we’ve lost six games by seven points or less.

“But we are 5-11. That’s what our record is, and the season is not over. There’s a lot of game to be played.”

If the Bulls get a victory or two this weekend, they could easily jump back into the Conference USA race.

Fernandez tweaked his starting lineup a bit by inserting Jen Kline in place of Sarah Lochmann at forward, hoping the change may help the team break its current losing skid.

“It’s all based on performance,” Fernandez said. “We are 5-11 right now. We have to find the seven or eight that have to be held accountable for their performance every day in practice and in every game.”

The Bulls will be without freshman guard Valerie de Velasco for this weekend’s games. She was suspended for Friday’s game for missing practice, and will be away for Sunday’s game for personal reasons.

Adam Adkins covers USF women’s basketball and can be reached at