USF Bulls start a new era

Cleveland State (0-0) at USF (0-0)When: Tonight, 7Where: Sun DomeTV/Radio: None/1250 AM

The Bulls officially begin the Stan Heath era tonight, but must open their regular season without center Kentrell Gransberry.

The senior will be serving a one-game suspension for his participation in a non-sanctioned NCAA summer tournament, playing in Tracy McGrady’s annual basketball tournament.

Gransberry violated an NCAA bylaw, which prohibits student-athletes from outside competition. McGrady’s tournament was not among the certified summer tournaments in which college basketball players were allowed to participate.

The 6-foot-9-inch, 270-pound Gransberry is the top returning rebounder in the nation (11.4 per game) and was one of 11 players selected for the Preseason All-Big East Team.

The Bulls don’t have any players listed at center on their roster and must rely heavily on junior college transfer Mobolaji Ajayi – who fouled out in 15 minutes of play in the lone exhibition game against Saint Leo – to fill the void.

USF scored the most points in five years when the team defeated the Lions 99-70 on Oct. 31. The potent scoring in their relentless attack of the basket is exactly what Heath was hoping to accomplish since his hiring in April.

Heath replaces Robert McCullum, who led the Bulls to a 4-28 record in Big East Conference play in two seasons, and the former Arkansas coach is stepping into what many analysts have labeled the “toughest job in America.”

The Bulls are the only team that has failed to qualify for the league’s postseason tournament in each of the past two seasons and were tabbed to finish last in the conference by the Big East Preseason Coaches’ Poll.

Against Saint Leo, USF spent much of the game in a four-guard lineup, with an impressive debut from freshman Dominique Jones (23 points). Also, sophomore point guard Chris Howard appears to be fully healthy for the first time since tearing his left ACL twice in two years.

Cleveland State defeated Lake Erie 67-46, forcing 37 turnovers and out-rebounding the Storm 51-37 to win its only exhibition game.

The Vikings, a member of the Horizon League, used a balanced offensive attack as all 14 players scored, but none in the double digits.

Tonight marks the first game of the Glenn Wilkes Classic and is the lone appearance for the Bulls in the Sun Dome until Nov. 24, when they host East Carolina.