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Heath trying to build USF’s depth

USF knows what it’s going to get out of its starting five this year.

Between forwards Augustus Gilchrist and Jarrid Famous and guards Mike Mercer, Dominique Jones and Chris Howard, the points will come. But coach Stan Heath has said it’s the depth that will be the key, and that’s what it will take for USF to elevate its game.

But on Friday, all USF (1-0) needed was its starters, as they combined for the team’s point total and did enough to get a 67-61 victory at SMU’s Moody Coliseum.

“That is the one area we have to develop some guys to get some good minutes so we don’t have a drop off when we bring guys into the game,” Heath said.

USF’s bench didn’t score a single point, but the Bulls’ starters showed balance, with three players having double-digit games.

Some of the newcomers, however, didn’t have much of an opportunity, as freshman Toarlyn Fitzpatrick had the most bench minutes, scoring zero points in 20 minutes. Jones, who scored 13 points and had six assists, said he hopes some of the young talent can develop.

“The biggest thing with (the newcomers) is mentally getting up to speed with the college game,” Jones said.

Gilchrist scored a career-high 23 points and added two blocks and nine rebounds. Jones and Mercer combined for 13 assists.

USF, which has better post depth than last year with Famous’ arrival, is still without center Alex Rivas, who had surgery in September to replace the metal rods in his lower legs.

Rivas, who was expected to be a part of USF’s regular post rotation, is expected to miss the first month of the season. The Bulls will also gain depth when transfer Anthony Crater is eligible at the end of the fall semester after sitting out a year because of NCAA transfer rules.

“If Alex Rivas is healthy and the addition of Anthony Crater, I feel we have eight healthy bodies,” Heath said. “I’d like to get to the point where we’d have nine or 10 so we have more flexibility.”

USF’s depth will be tested again tonight, hosting ACC foe Virginia in the Sun Dome at 7:30.