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A measuring stick

USF coach Stan Heath learned a few things about his team when it took care of Virginia on Monday.

In fact, Heath said he’ll learn a lot from USF’s non-conference schedule, which continues tonight when the Bulls go to the Charleston Classic tournament and play Davidson – a NCAA tournament team last season – at 7.

“We don’t have cupcakes,” Heath said of playing tough teams early in the season. “I certainly wouldn’t mind it every now and again. Teams do that. It will certainly get us ready (for Big East play).”

So what has Heath learned from a road win over SMU and the Virginia game?

For one, the Bulls already have half the number of road wins they had last season. And the energy level is much improved.

“Practice is a war,” Heath said. “It sets the tone for how we are in the game. I’ve noticed the energy and intensity level is three times higher in practice. The same could be said about how we’re playing the games right now.”

The offense got a good effort from sophomore Justin Leemow on Monday, who hit all the three-point shots he took.

Junior guard Dominique Jones said USF is playing good defense as well, which helps. The Bulls held SMU to 61 points and Virginia to 49.

“We didn’t let them (Virginia) score,” Jones said. “I think our defense can take us a long way because we have people that can score.”

Davidson not only lost a great scorer from last year, but one of its best players in history. Point guard Stephen Curry, who led the NCAA with 28.6 points per game, was drafted seventh overall by the Golden State Warriors.

“Davidson was great with Stephen Curry,” Heath said. “They were really, really good.”

If the Bulls win, they’ll face the winner between South Carolina and LaSalle. The losers will play each other. Both games are Friday night.

The tournament features 12 games over four days and has schools from the SEC, ACC, Atlantic 10 and Big East, among others.

Heath said the tournament will be a good measuring stick for his team.

“I’m excited – the players are excited,” Heath said. “There are some good teams within the whole field. I think we’re still scratching the surface with room to get better, but I like the energy and effort the team is playing with.”