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TAKE 5: with women’s basketball coach Jose Fernandez

Oracle: How did you spend your off-season?

JF: I went recruiting in the month of July, had summer camps in June. I played a lot of golf.

O: What’s your handicap?

JF: I’m a bogey golfer, big guy. I’m a 17 handicap, and that’s legit.

O: You’re a golfer; so what would be your dream foursome?

JF: That’s a tough question. I would like to play with Michael Jordan, just because he’s so competitive, and see how much he really does gamble on the golf course. And of course, the best player in the world, Tiger Woods, who wouldn’t want to play golf with him? One more? That’s a pretty good threesome. We’ll come back to that one.

O: You’d like to see how much Jordan gambles; what’s your game of choice?

JF: You’re going to get me in trouble. Um, Texas Hold ’em and blackjack.

O: How do you get the personalities of 10 women to jell together?

JF: You know what, I coach them the same as guys. I treat them as student-athletes. They are competitors on the floor, and they’re ladies off the court. I’m really surrounded by great individuals – that’s why we’ve had the success we’ve had.

O: Give me your fondest moment of last year, USF’s best year.

JF: Beating Florida at home was pretty special, and winning the first-ever postseason game for USF. We’ve never been to the NCAA tournament, but two straight NIT bids – walking into the Sun Dome and looking up to the rafters and seeing two postseason banners, that’s pretty special.

O: Bigger thrill: a banner or a birdie?

JF: (Laughs.) Postseason banner. Even though we have banner with WNIT on the front, we’re looking forward to a postseason banner with the letter “N” in front of it. That would be a NCAA tournament bid.

O: Back to the last member of your foursome.

JF: The last person in the foursome? I’d probably have to throw in the president of the United States. I don’t know, though. You’re getting me into politics; you’re getting me into gambling. What are you doing to me? (Laughs.) Forget George Bush, give me Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Larry Bird.

– Tony Marquis