In its second season under coach Jeff Scott, the Bulls are looking to make a big leap forward following a year in which they won just one game, went winless in conference play and finished the season on an eight-game losing streak.
Despite the losing record, USF did show some promise particularly on the offensive side of the ball, scoring 30 or more points in three games. Defensively, however, the Bulls allowed 30 or more points seven times.
Scott has yet to name a starting quarterback but has several worthy options in junior Cade Fortin, sophomores Jarren Williams and Katravis Marsh and freshman Timmy McClain, all of whom performed well in the spring game in March.
The Bulls have several notable games on this year’s schedule such as NC State in the season opener Sept. 2, No. 13 UF on Sept. 11 which will be broadcast on ABC, reigning AAC champs No. 8 Cincinnati on Nov. 12 and the War on I-4 against UCF on Nov. 26.
Following a tumultuous offseason that saw multiple key players transfer from the program due to inappropriate comments made by former associate head coach Tom Herrion, coach Brian Gregory has a mostly new roster to work with made up of a couple freshmen and transfer players.
After an up and down freshman campaign, Caleb Murphy, the highest-rated player in program history, is returning for his second year and looks to take the reins following the departure of longtime guard David Collins. Also returning from last year’s team is junior Jamir Chaplin, who improved in his sophomore season, Russel Tchewa and Mark Calleja.
Chaplin went from playing just 4.9 minutes per game in his freshman season to 16.4 in his sophomore campaign. In that added time, he raised his scoring average from 1.0 points per game to 5.3 points per game. He also notched a career-high 16 points in a loss to Tulsa on Jan. 6.
With no seniors, in terms of eligibility, on this year’s roster, coach Bob Butehorn is working with one of the younger teams of his tenure since taking over the men’s soccer program in 2017.
In their conference-only 2020 schedule, the Bulls went 4-6 and ended the season on a four game losing streak. The team struggled offensively getting shut out four times including a 7-0 loss to No. 8 SMU in the third game of the season.
USF will return a few key players from last year including freshman forward Oscar Resano who had the second-most points on the team (5), sophomore defender Salvatore Mazzaferro, a Preseason All-AAC selection and starting junior goalkeeper Kazuna Takase, who ranked fourth in the conference in save percentage (67.9%).
Tabbed to finish seventh in the conference behind UCF, Houston, SMU, Tulane, Cincinnati and Temple, respectively, the Bulls are looking to continue to develop under second year head coach Jolene Shepardson who led the team to a 6-8 record, 3-5 in the conference, two more conference wins than they had in 2019.
USF will return freshman Marta Cvitkovic, a preseason All-Conference selection, who led the team in kills with 214 and ranked third in the conference in kills/set (3.69).
Likely to be the odds-on favorite to repeat as AAC regular-season and tournament champs, the USF women’s basketball team has the makings of a squad that could make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
The Bulls return their entire starting lineup from last season with All-AAC First Team forward Bethy Mununga and center Shae Leverett returning for a super senior season, gaining an extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19.
Coach Jose Fernandez also added a pair of frontcourt transfers that’ll add talent and depth to the Bulls roster in Odeth Betancourt, who’s coming in from Panola College and Memphis transfer Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu.
Also transferring to the Bulls from Memphis is Aerial Wilson, a point guard with a knack for finding her teammates in advantageous positions. She was second in the conference last season in assists per game with 6.1.
Fernandez has once again stacked the team’s non conference schedule with a slate that includes a matchup against defending national champions Stanford, the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas that includes perennial powerhouses Connecticut, Oregon and South Carolina and a trip to Knoxville to take on Tennessee.
Coach Denise Schilte-Brown’s squad opened up the season with a dominant performance against UF on Thursday night and they have a loaded non-conference schedule that includes home games against several more SEC teams in LSU, Kentucky and Tennessee.
The Bulls are strong at all three levels of the pitch with AAC goalkeeper of the year Sydney Martinez in goal, All-AAC defenders Chyanne Dennis and Vivianne Bessette manning the back line and do-it-all junior forward Sydny Nasello causing havoc all over the field.
Considering the level of talent returning to the field, it should be another exciting season for Schilte-Brown and her team.