Bulls stay hot over break

The USF men’s basketball team has gotten off to a stellar start in the 2007-2008 season. Winning is a trend that USF started before the winter break, and it will be looking to continue that during the second half of the season.

After dropping three straight games to start the season, the Bulls (10-4, 1-0 Big East) have won 10 of their last 11 games. Senior center Kentrell Gransberry and freshman guard Dominique Jones have provided USF with a potent offensive attack that opposing teams are struggling to stop.

“(Having a player like Gransberry) helps me, as well as it helps everyone else on the team,” Jones said. “It’s hard for a team to double-team him with me out on the perimeter, and vice-versa.”

Gransberry also knows how important Jones has been to the Bulls this season.

“(Jones) is a great player,” Gransberry said. “His playmaking abilities help me because he can penetrate and take extra guys off of me. He can also find the other guys: Jesus (Verdejo), (Aaron) Holmes and Chris Howard. He makes those guys better with his playmaking ability.”

On the season, Jones is leading USF with 16.2 points per game. Gransberry is second on the team with 15.2 points and pulling down a team-high 11.5 rebounds per game. Even with USF’s version of a dynamic duo, head coach Stan Heath credits his team’s success to the entire roster.

“Our supporting cast has been huge,” Heath said. “We know that it hasn’t been a two-man show for our basketball team. We have four players scoring in double figures on a consistent basis. We understand the importance of us being a balanced basketball team.”

Thanks to that balance, USF has lost only once in its last 11 outings. On Dec. 19, the Bulls traveled to Winston-Salem, NC to play the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The Bulls had a poor shooting night from three-point range (3 of 19) and could not keep up in the second half. USF lost the game 74-61.

“I thought once we got on a roll after losing the first three games, I thought that was good for our psyche,” Heath said. “After the loss at Wake Forest, it was good to get back into that winning circle again.”

Since then, USF has won three straight, including an impressive first for the Bulls. On Jan. 2, USF won its Big East Conference opener against Rutgers. The game – which was broadcast nationally on ESPN2 – marked the first time in three tries that USF has won its Big East opener.

Against the Scarlet Knights, Jones led all scorers with 24 points, and Gransberry had a big night as well. The senior center scored 20 points and added a season-high 17 rebounds. A home crowd of about 3,000 people saw USF win 68-45 at the Sun Dome.

For the Bulls to compete in the Big East, some of the players feel that getting more people in the stands is a necessity.

“When we go on the road, teams have their stands filled,” Jones said. “We are trying to establish that here so that, when teams come in here, they know that there is no way they can win.”

“On Wednesday, we want to get all of the students out here,” Gransberry said. “We play (No. 13/13) Pittsburgh, and it’s on national TV on ESPN2. This game is very important for us, and a packed Sun Dome would help us out a lot. It would be really nice to see a full house.”

Even Heath realizes that increased fan support would benefit his team.

“(Filling the Sun Dome) would just warm my heart, to see this place full and lively with students and fans from all over,” Heath said. “I think that once school gets going, a lot more people will make it out to the games. Until then, we just need to take care of business. Winning games will solve a lot of those problems.”