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Looking for improvment

Stan Heath – the South Florida men’s basketball coach – brought an impressive resume and high expectations to USF when he was hired one year ago today.

Although they started the season 10-4 – including winning their Big East Conference opener – the Bulls stumbled in conference play and finished the 2007-2008 season 12-19, with a 3-15 record in the Big East.

USF did accomplish some firsts -?both as a team and individually. The Bulls ended a 23-game conference road losing streak by winning their first Big East road game since joining the conference in 2005 – a 54-52 win over Rutgers on Mar. 1.

On Mar. 26, the USF Athletic Department announced that a basketball practice facility would be built on the USF campus.

Heath took some time away from offseason recruiting to talk to the Oracle about his first season at USF.

Oracle: What were your expectations going into your first season of Big East basketball?Stan Heath: I knew coming in that we were the team that had a long way to go to get to the top of the league. We had lost some key guys from last year, but I thought having a guy like (center) Kentrell (Gransberry) to build around would be a good starting point.

O: Kentrell Gransberry was a senior and team leader. How much does it hurt to lose that presence going into next year?SH: Kentrell was a different kind of leader. He led more by example and in the locker room rather than being vocal. I do believe that we have some leaders that are emerging for next year. As far as leadership, we will be fine. But trying to replace him – both the player and the person – is going to be tough.

O: Dominique Jones set the USF freshman scoring record. Did you expect that kind of season out of him?SH: When I first saw Dominique during his senior year of high school, I thought he was a pretty good player. I didn’t see him having the first-team All-Conference, Freshman-of-the-Year potential. I did think he would be a good contributor, and he really exceeded my expectations. There are still some things that he needs to get better at, but we hope that he can take his game to another level.

O: What did you think of the home crowds at the Sun Dome?SH: I think that our attendance numbers were going up as the season went on. We were excited that our fans stuck with us. I know that they are going to want to see more wins and see us in the postseason. That’s what we’re working towards.

O: How much improvement did you see throughout the year?SH: I thought our team got better as the year went on. We were very competitive, especially down the stretch with three or four minutes left in games. There’s still a lot of improvement we need to make, and that’s what we are doing this summer to get ready for next year.