After a loss to Southern Miss in its season opener Friday, USF’s struggles only magnified the concerns coach Stan Heath had in the weeks leading up to the season.
The Bulls hope to get things turned around when they face St. Francis (N.Y.) tonight at 7 in the Sun Dome.
“We’re a young team, we’re trying to figure some things out,” Heath said. “A lot of things we need to fix (are) things I believe are fixable. I have no doubt they are.”
His main concern entering the season was guard play.
The Bulls broke in three new starters in the backcourt this season – sophomore Shaun Noriega at guard, junior Anthony Crater at point guard and junior Hugh Robertson at small forward.
The three combined for eight points and four turnovers in the loss.
Noriega, who Heath is relying on to make shots from the perimeter this season, scored just one point and went 0-5 from the floor (0-3 on 3-pointers) in 24 minutes.
“I thought he maybe had a little more time to … square up and make those shots,” Heath said. “It’s his first game, his first chance out there. I think he was a little bit anxious.”
Junior forward Augustus Gilchrist, who Heath labeled as USF’s go-to player heading into the season, went only 4-of-16 on field goal attempts and had four turnovers.
“I thought he was really trying to force some shots,” Heath said. “He ended up taking a lot of difficult shots. I think maybe he has to learn to get a little bit more patience in the offense and trust his teammates to get some movements. We’re going to get it to him.”
Sophomore transfer Jawanza Poland was the lone bright spot, giving a spark off the bench by going 3-of-5 from behind the arc. He scored 12 points.
Heath said today’s game will test his team’s resolve.
“We learned a lot about our team,” Heath said. “I thought some guys stepped up in some ways, and some guys weren’t as effective as they can be and should have been.”
Women split over weekend
After rallying to beat Jacksonville 82-77 in its season opener Friday, the USF women’s basketball team took a step back in a 71-59 loss at Middle Tennessee State on Sunday.
After scoring 21 points against Jacksonville, junior guard Andrea Smith totaled a team-high 18 points in the loss.
USF shot just 37 percent from the field and committed 23 turnovers.
Junior forward Daleisha Carn had eight points and a team-high seven rebounds Sunday.
USF starts its three-game homestand against Stetson on Wednesday at 7 p.m.