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USF hosts Stetson

Coach Jose Fernandez remains patient with his young team, which is searching for some chemistry after a loss to Middle Tennessee State on Sunday.

The Bulls open a three-game homestand beginning with Stetson tonight at 7.

“I think we got a lot of weapons. It’s just going to take a little bit of playing time,” Fernandez said. “I know we’re going to get tested in these first couple of games.”

The Bulls rallied in their opener against Jacksonville and won 82-77, but committed 23 turnovers in the loss.

Junior Andrea Smith had 18 points in Sunday’s game after scoring 21 in the opener.

“For us to have a good year, she’s going to get a lot of shots on offense,” Fernandez said. “She’s a good player.”

Fernandez has relied on mostly newcomers this season, with veterans sprinkled in. Starting last game were two freshmen (center Akila McDonald and forward Daleisha Carn) and two junior college transfers (Andrea Smith and Andrell Smith).

Junior Jasmine Wynne, the starting point guard last season who also had an important role in the Bulls’ WNIT championship season in 2008, is easing her way back from a torn ACL she suffered last season. In two games off the bench, she’s totaled 14 points.

“We have (Wynne), (sophomore guard) KaNeisha Saunders and (sophomore forward) Tiffany Connors coming off the bench,” Fernandez said. “Those are three kids that bring a lot of energy, and they can do different things defensively when they come out.”

The goal early in the season is to find the right combination, Fernandez said.

“We had one kid play only 30 minutes (against Middle Tennessee State),” he said. “We tried to give an opportunity to other (players) to log some minutes.”