The USF mens basketball team is at the halfway point in its conference season and things could be going better for the Bulls.
Picked to go eighth in the Big East, the Bulls currently sit at the bottom of the conference with a record of 1-7. USFs bout in the Big East this season has dropped its overall record to 10-11.
Where does the problem lie in the same team that made a surprising run in the NCAA tournament last season?
Its clear that the Bulls are missing their seniors from a season ago.
The currently undersized squad wasnt as disadvantaged last season when they had 6-foot-8 Ron Anderson, 6-foot-10 Augustus Gilchrist, 6-foot-5 Alberto Damour and 6-foot-6 Hugh
This was in addition to current senior forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick who stands at 6-foot-8.
Normally a scorer, Fitzpatrick has had to do most of his work within the paint now, which isnt his strong point. When Fitzpatrick wasnt relied on so heavily as a big man he was able to flourish, shooting from the perimeter.
The lack of size and experience have been the clear causes of this seasons lackluster performance.
The Bulls are now last in the conference in offensive rebounds and third to last on the defensive side. With the inability to crash the boards, USF has been hurting all around with the worst scoring offense as well.
But the stats arent the only thing that proves the Bulls are worthy of the 1-8 conference record.
On the court, energy seems to be an issue as well.
Going back to the first Big East game of the season at home against a No.7 Syracuse team, the Bulls had a very good chance of winning as the Orange shot one of their worst games of the year. It was up to USF to take advantage and pull the upset.
But the spark that former seniors brought, such as Ron Anderson, was missing, and USF lost by 10.
Surely having a Top 10 team playing poorly on your home court would be enough motivation,
unfortunately for the Bulls it wasnt and the lack of fans didnt help the cause.
The loss of seniors also brought about a loss of size that has left USFs lineup in a scramble.
USF is third in the Big East in attempts beyond the arch, but is at the near bottom in three-point field goal percentage, shooting 27.9 percent. In basketball you live and die by the three, at this point USF could use all the life it can get.
While experience cant be replaced immediately, energy can.
Younger players like freshman guard JaVontae Hawkins and freshman forward Zach LeDay have been seeing increased court time as the season progresses.
LeDay has proven to be a threat from three-point range, shooting 45 percent and hitting 13 of his 17 attempts all season.
Hawkins is also stepping up. He currently holds the highest shooting percentage from the field with 49 percent.
Though the freshmen may be a sign of good things to come in the future, how near into the future, is the question.
Sophomore guard Anthony Collins, who is arguably one of the top point guards in the Big East is, still just a sophomore. He too cannot be relied on 100 percent to get the desperately needed offense going.
The Bulls will start the second half of the Big East this Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Sun Dome against Marquette.