High expectations, an in-state rival opponent and the official opening of the new-look Sun Dome will await the USF mens basketball team Saturday night.
After unofficially opening the season and Sun Dome with an exhibition against Eckerd College on Monday, the Bulls will start the regular season with the hype and excitement reserved for one of the most anticipated seasons in school history.
Though the Bulls were somewhat overwhelming against the Tritons in a game that may have been a little too close for comfort, the win and a promise of improved performances is an encouraging point, coach Stan Heath said.
A slow start against the Tritons in which the Bulls allowed their Division II opponent to race to an early five-point lead could have been the result of limited involvement from the teams two point guards because of injury and illness.
Heath said starting point guard Anthony Collins is limited because of a strained tendon or a muscle strain in the calf area just weeks after fully recovering from concussion symptoms, and shooting guard Martino Brock who also plays point guard when Collins is on the bench was ill prior to the exhibition game.
We have to get (Collins) healthy, Heath said. We tried to tag team it with both guards and get the most from both guys, but neither guy is at 100 percent yet.
Another point of concern for the team could be the three-point shooting, as USF shot 15.8 percent from behind the arc against Eckerd, compared to 31.6 percent a season ago.
Were going to be better as a three-point shooting team, Heath said. I know it was abysmal (against Eckerd), but itll get better.
Heath and the Bulls will take on the UCF Knights at 7 p.m. on Saturday night.
Womens basketball opens against Stetson
The mens basketball team wont be the only team opening at the Sun Dome against an in-state opponent on Saturday, as the womens team officially open the basketball season five hours earlier.
After a season of playing games at the USF Recreational Center, the Bulls make their return to the Sun Dome at 2 p.m. on Saturday against Stetson. USF hosted and won two games in the National Invitational Tournament last season before losing to James Madison on the road. The game will also mark the return of senior Andrea Smith.