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Heath: Starting jobs up for grabs

With a little more than two weeks before USF’s regular season opener, coach Stan Heath is still looking for players to emerge, especially at the guard positions.

Addressing the media before Wednesday’s practice in preparation for the team’s exhibition against Eckerd College at the Sun Dome on Monday at 7 p.m., Heath said he hasn’t determined his starting five aside from junior Augustus Gilchrist (6-10, 245) and senior Jarrid Famous (6-11, 240) in the post.

“Outside of probably Famous and ‘Gus I don’t know,” Heath said. “I’m just going by practice, and every day I seem to be shuffling the lineup around. That’s the good and the bad because I think that means we have some pretty good depth and parity.”

At point guard, a position Heath said has been inconsistent so far, junior Anthony Crater (6-1, 170), who averaged 23.7 minutes in 19 games (two starts) last season, and junior Shedrick Haynes, a 6-foot, 180-pound junior college transfer, are “neck-and-neck” for the starting spot.

“I’m not sure who’s ready to run and lead our team,” Heath said of choosing a starter at the position. “That’s the problem.”

“That’s where we have to get better. We’re not taking care of the ball as well as I’d like to. That’s kind of normal, but I’d like to see us make some improvements,” he said.

Sophomores Shaun Noriega (6-4. 195) and Mike Burwell (6-6, 210) are battling for the starting shooting guard spot, with sophomore Jawanza Poland (6-4, 200) and junior Hugh Robertson (6-6, 202) competing for the No. 3 spot.

Noriega, who is known for his 3-point shooting, is a player Heath described as “that one weapon we’ve sorely missed over the years. He’s just a guy who can knock down shots.”

“If he gets hot, it makes a huge difference,” Heath said. “Mike, overall, gets a lot of little things done. He’s not quite the shooter, but he shoots the ball well enough. He handles the ball. He makes good decisions, and his defense is pretty solid.”

Heath said he will use the matchup against Eckerd as a measuring stick to gauge who could start in the opener.

The Bulls host Southern Miss on Nov. 12 in their regular-season opener.

“Every day, it’s been back and forth. I’d like to get into a top eight and every now and then, if there’s a change because of whatever, we’d do that,” Heath said. “But I’d like to get into a set mode and get some consistency. I think players have got to take ownership in who wants the job. And right now, the jobs are still open. They’re up for the taking.”