Basketball team working around early distractions

After several players left the program in Robert McCullum’s first season with USF, it seems the men’s basketball coach can’t catch any breaks in his second.

And the Bulls have yet to play a game.

So as USF prepares for its first regular-season game this Saturday, it must also deal with the loss of two players, senior Bradley Mosley and junior Maurice Mobley.

Mosley, a senior guard, was forced to leave the team when a biopsy earlier this month revealed that he had renal cell cancer.

Mobley, according to a statement released by the school, left the team because he was having a tough time balancing school and basketball.

“It was kind of tough on us mentally; we were thinking that we got some shoes to fill,” senior guard Brian Swift said. “It’s just one of those things we have to play through, and that’s what we’ve been trying to do in practice. Just try to work harder, pick our games up.”

As a junior last season, Mosley averaged 14.6 points per game and was the only player to start every game for the Bulls, who finished 7-20 and 1-15 in Conference USA.

A junior-college transfer from Parkland College in Illinois, Mobley was brought in this season to add more muscle and rebounding to the frontcourt but instead will never play a game for USF.

Mobley averaged 12.1 points and 8.8 rebounds a game last season at Parkland.

“There were things that Maurice Mobley gave us in terms of a physical presence that we certainly could have used,” McCullum said.

But it’s not all bad news for the Bulls. Center Brandon Brigman had successful surgery this offseason to repair a hernia that bothered him most of last season.

The 6-foot-8, 250-pound senior averaged 4.7 points and 3.8 rebounds a game last season, both career highs.

“Brandon Brigman has been in the system for a year and he’s also bigger and more versatile because he can play forward,” McCullum said. “While we would like to have Maurice, it’s not going to be nearly as big a factor as it would have been with Brandon out.”

Newcomer Solomon Jones should also aid the frontcourt. A 6-foot-10 transfer from Daytona Beach Community College, Jones was dominant in USF’s exhibition win over Saint Leo with 16 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks.

“I was really impressed with Solomon,” McCullum said. “What he’s he done has been really remarkable. It was a good day’s work by any standard.”