The USF men’s basketball team got firsthand experience of Big East basketball Tuesday night, but it was not a pretty sight.
The Bulls, who will join the Big East in 2005, were outclassed by Providence in an 84-60 loss at the Duncan Donuts Arena.
USF coach Robert McCullum said he was not reading too much into the fact the friars are a future Big East foe.
“I didn’t give much thought to that at all, simply that this is the next opponent,” McCullum said. “Yeah, they are in the Big East, they are Providence, but that is secondary.”
The Friars started their domination early, when after a 13-11 lead, they went on a 10-0 run. That scoring trend continued throughout, leaving the Bulls playing catch-up the entire the contest.
Many of the Bulls woes came because of lack of ball control. Both poor ball handling and the Friars’ zone defense plagued USF, en route to 19 turnovers.
“I think we weren’t able to handle the basketball,” McCullum said. “We turned the ball over too much, regardless of man to man or zone.”
Turnovers, unfortunately for USF, are starting to become a common problem. The Bulls committed 23 against Florida Atlantic, 19 against Valparaiso and 18 against Wright State.
“Regardless of the type of defense we are facing, we need to do a better job handling the basketball,” McCullum said.
When the Bulls did hold on to the basketball, they had trouble stopping the Friars’ offense from continuing, allowing Providence to pull down 10 offensive rebounds.
The Bulls, however, didn’t have the same success on the offensive glass, grabbing only six offensive rebounds.
“Offensive rebounding has been a strength,” McCullum said. “(Tuesday), we had nine fewer possessions just in the area of rebounding.”
Starting power forward Terrance Leather led the Bulls’ charge on the boards, collecting eight rebounds.
Sam Barber, who started in the season opener against Florida Atlantic, is No. 3 on the Bulls in rebounding, tallying 6.5 per game but was not available against Providence. He did not travel with the team Tuesday due to personnel issues.
“He could be back by the weekend.” McCullum said. “We’ll decide and see how he’s doing with the things he’s dealing with.”
Barber wasn’t the only blow to the Bulls’ rebounding chances. Brandon Brigman also did not travel due to a hernia injury that will keep him out of action for at least a week.
With only eight players dressed, the Bulls faced another challenge keeping players fresh.
“Depth played a part,” McCullum said. “Depth is one or their strengths, and depth is not one or ours. The depth is going to pay off for them all year, and it is going to be a concern of ours all year.”
Junior Bradley Mosley scored 18 points and once again stepped up in absence of scoring leader Jimmy Baxter. The senior forward, who averaged 14 points per game before the matchup against the Friars, scored just seven points Tuesday.
“Bradley Mosley played well,” McCullum said. “He scored for us when we were facing a drought.”
The Bulls will need to work to correct their turnover problems and find another player to step up on the glass before they face their next challenge at Nebraska on Saturday.
“We need to work on handling the basketball, and rebounding the basketball,” McCullum said.