USF aims to get back on track

MEN’S BASKETBALL GAME TIMELouisville (13-5, 3-2) at USF (10-9, 1-5)When: Tonight, 7Where: Sun DomeTV/Radio: Catch 47 / 1250 AM

The Bulls are in the midst of a five-game losing streak, all coming to conference foes. The road to the first Big East Tournament berth in USF’s history is long, and it doesn’t get any easier tonight.

USF (10-9, 1-5) will hope to get back on track when it hosts a Louisville (13-5, 3-2) team that is starting to see key players return from injuries.

“When you look ahead, you realize that there’s not a break in your schedule,” Heath said. “Even though they are coming off of a loss against Seton Hall … they’re still a very, very dangerous basketball team and can beat anybody – and beat anybody well – on any given night.”

Senior center Kentrell Gransberry and sophomore guard Chris Howard share their coach’s feelings.

“Louisville is a great team, and they’ve got the name Rick Pitino, who is a great coach,” Gransberry said. “They’re real big up front, and their guards are real quick. It’s going to be a real good game.”

“They like to come out and put a lot of pressure on you,” Howard said. “They try to get you to turn the ball over and make offense for themselves. We’ve got to do a great job of taking care of the ball under pressure.”

According to Heath, the Bulls will need to play a full 40 minutes of basketball to end their losing streak.

“We’re doing some things well. We’re getting close,” Heath said. “Unfortunately, there’s these three-, four- or five-minute spells where things aren’t happening the way we want them to happen, and the other teams are taking advantage of that.”

One reason teams are capitalizing during these spells is a lack of support from reserve players. The Bulls are searching for somebody to help take the burden off of Gransberry and freshman guard Dominique Jones.

“It would be a huge benefit to our team if we were able to get some strong minutes from the guys off of our bench,” Heath said. “It could be scoring, it could be defense. It could just be energy out there. It’s hard to put somebody in when you have a lead and all of a sudden you don’t have the lead.”

Howard agrees.

“We do need someone on our bench to step up,” Howard said. “Hopefully that guy’s going to step up starting Wednesday against Louisville.”

The game against the Cardinals has serious postseason implications for the Bulls. A sixth straight loss will put USF at 1-6 in the Big East, more than three games behind the Syracuse Orange for the 12th and final spot in the Big East Tournament.

Howard thinks that the Bulls may be down, but not out.

“The Big East right now, with the standings, there’s a lot of teams with just three wins,” Howard said. “We’re definitely not out of it. We just have to find a way to pick up a win here, soon. You never feel like you’re out of it. You never know what could happen. There aren’t too many teams that are way ahead of us, so we definitely need to keep fighting. It’s definitely right there for us to grab.”