That’s the combined margin of USF’s first two Conference USA games–a one-point victory at East Carolina and a one-point home loss to UAB.
According to coach Robert McCullum, both could have gone either way.
“We’re coming off a week where we were close to finishing the first week of conference play being 2-0 as opposed to being 1-1. But I guess realistically we could very well be 0-2 as well. So, if you are trying to find a silver lining somewhere, I guess that’s how we’ll look at it because just like we had our chances to beat UAB, we could have very well come out (behind) at East Carolina.”
The Bulls (8-5, 1-1 C-USA) will end a weeklong break in games when they travel to Milwaukee to face Marquette on Saturday. The Golden Eagles (13-1, 1-0) have won four in a row and are 11-1 at home this season.
Like he has all season, McCullum will be forced to rely on youngsters, particularly freshman guard Collin Dennis. Dennis started one game this season and has seen time in all but one. He saw a career-high 32 minutes in USF’s win at East Carolina and hit the game-sealing free throws.
McCullum has said that he and his staff would even lean toward starting the freshman.
“As a staff we are comfortable with him either way,” McCullum said. “If we take a vote, we would probably lean towards starting him, if you talk to the player about it, he indicated that he would be more comfortable coming off the bench. Your starters aren’t necessarily your five best players.
“There was a time where the sixth man was a big deal. It’s an important role to have someone come off the bench and provide an offensive punch.”
A player who has landed his share of haymakers this season is Brian Swift. Swift, the team’s starting point guard, has blossomed this season into an all-around player, leading the team in assists and trailing only Terrence Leather in scoring.
Swift and forward Solomon Jones are the only players to start every game and Swift is leading the team in minutes played, averaging 36.2 minutes a game. Versus UAB, he played 39.
McCullum has said that he is reluctant to replace Swift, as his bench is young and inexperienced.
“You figure out what is best,” McCullum said. “A fatigued Brian or an inexperienced Chris (Capko). It’s kind of a no-brainer. We need to lessen his minutes and hopefully he won’t have to play too many 39-minute games.”