The time is now

It’s finally here.

After seven months, the time has come for Robert McCullum and his staff to lead the USF men’s basketball team into a new era.

McCullum and the Bulls will debut their new disciplined, man-to-man defensive, intense style of ball tonight against Florida Atlantic at 7 in the Sun Dome.

There are plenty of changes to be seen in the Bulls, starting with the absence of the all-too-familiar 1-3-1 defense.

The zone defense of the past allowed a slower transition offense for the Bulls.

“Last years team, the stats were good defensively,” McCullum said. “When you look at what opponents shot from a field goal percentage standpoint, teams didn’t shoot particularly well at all, but when you were playing as much zone defense as they played, it’s a lot more difficult to create offense from your defense to force turnovers.”

The Bulls will also get help in creating fewer turnovers when they start two point guards against the Owls.

Juniors Brian Swift and Bradley Mosley will start in the backcourt, supplying the team with two ball handlers, as well as two players who can pressure the opposing team’s ball handlers.

USF went with the two point-guard lineup in the exhibition game against Saint Leo on Nov. 14 and had success, including a combined 31 points, 13 assists and two turnovers.

“They did an outstanding job,” McCullum said. “They did a great job taking care of the basketball. While Saint Leo is an inexperienced team, still, I thought our decision making overall was pretty good.

“They did not only that, but they really scored, so I was really pleased. We’ll definitely go with Bradley and Brian in the backcourt.”

While McCullum is new to USF, using two point guards at a time is not new to McCullum.

“Occasionally, over the last three years (at Western Michigan) we did that on occasion,” McCullum said after the Bulls 74-37 victory against Saint Leo. “We started two point guards together. The ball handling is better, and you’re going to do a better job of handling ball pressure, and your ball movement is going to be better.

“I like that lineup, and it is something we will do frequently.”

Seniors Jimmy Baxter and Gerrick Morris and junior Terrence Leather will join Swift and Mosley in the starting lineup.

The frontcourt and center positions will be a plus for the Bulls against the Owls, who have a smaller team.

“In a couple of positions, we should have serious size advantages,” USF assistant coach Steve Henson said. “The key to that is being able to get it to those guys in a position where they are able to do something with it.”

The Bulls may have another big body at their disposal that was not available against Saint Leo.

Brandon Brigman sat out in street clothes during USF’s exhibition matchup due to a “coach’s decision.” The status of his playing time was going to be gauged during practice and has taken a turn for the better.

“We’re counting on him,” Henson said. “His status is good. We just sat him down for the game, now he’s back on track and ready to go.”