DePaul Blue Demons at South Florida Golden Bulls – Friday., February 3, 2006 – 5:00 p.m. CST – Sun Dome, Tampa, Florida
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WFLA 970 AM - Tampa
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USF Coach Robert McCullum Speaks Out
On being winless in the Big East...
"We've played a number of games that could have gone either way," said McCullum. "I think we've had seven losses by a total of 22 points."
On the return of Collin Dennis, who scored a season-high 10 points along with five assists on his 20th birthday against Cincinnati this week...
"For the St. John's game we welcomed back Collin Dennis, a sophomore off guard we moved to the point guard spot due to so many injuries," said McCullum. "He was one of those that was injured. He missed 13 games. After the St. John's game, little by little he's getting back into the groove. He's still playing at about 70 to 75 percent after an ankle and Achilles (tendon) injury. He sits out (practice) automatically the day after the game. He's not always able to go full speed."
On the Blue Demons...
"DePaul is a team that has a lot of guys that can score," observed McCullum. "They've got a lot of depth. The size of the backcourt, Mejia, Burns, and Currie are all good sized in the backcourt. That too can pose a problem for us. As well as inside their guys are 6-6 to 6-10, they are well put together. We haven't fared as well rebounding the basketball against bigger, stronger, more physical teams."
Game Preview -
Former C-USA foes trying to prove they belong in new Big East
As the old saying goes, "Nobody ever said it would be easy!" While finishing up their last two years in Conference USA, those associated with the basketball programs at DePaul and South Florida probably couldn't help but look forward with great anticipation to the day their teams would compete on what would arguably be college basketball's biggest stage as members of the expanded 16 team Big East Conference.
But that brings us to another old saying, "Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it!"
With a combined 13 game losing streak and 1-14 record in Big East contests going into Friday night's match-up between the Blue Demons (8-11, 1-7) and the Bulls (6-14, 0-7), it's pretty safe to say that the inaugural season in the Big East hasn't exactly gone as hoped for the two former C-USA rivals.
Both teams have played better than their records would indicate, but the only thing that ultimately matters in determining which 12 Big East teams will qualify to go to the conference tournament in March at Madison Square Garden are wins and losses. DePaul's seven losses in league play include an eight point defeat on the road against then undefeated Pittsburgh, a 10 point overtime loss at home versus Rutgers, a three point home setback at the hands of Marquette, and a one point heartbreaker at Providence (a game in which DePaul came back from a 10 point halftime deficit to take a four point lead with two minutes left in regulation).
Under third year coach, Robert McCullum, who came to South Florida after spending three years as the head coach at Western Michigan, USF has been even more of a tough luck story in conference play, as five of the team's seven league losses have come by six points or less. In USF's last game Tuesday night at Cincinnati (another former C-USA rival), the Bulls owned a seven point second half lead but couldn't pull out the victory, eventually falling by a score of 73-60.
South Florida has also experienced a tremendous amount of misfortune that goes far beyond the boundaries of the basketball court, as senior guard Bradley Mosley, who started every game for the Bulls in 2003-04, tragically had his life cut short by cancer on October 29, 2005, at the age of 22.
USF also lost two players for the season, guard Chris Howard and forward Zaronn Cann, both to knee injuries.
Despite being ranked 15th in the Big East in scoring offense (61.5 ppg), the Bulls have four starters who average double figures in scoring, led by 6-2 senior guard, James Holmes, who throws in 18.0 ppg.
The other USF starters who average double figures are 6-10 senior center, Solomon Jones (13.2 ppg); 6-6 junior forward, Melvin Buckley (12.4 ppg); and 6-6 junior forward, McHugh Mattis (10.5 ppg).
Buckley is a Chicago area native and a graduate of Thornwood High School, who transferred to USF after beginning his collegiate career at Purdue.
The Blue Demons will need to play much better than they did in lopsided losses to Marquette and Georgetown in their last two outings if they hope to avoid going down in the record books as the first opponent to be beaten by the Bulls in Big East action.
No. Name Cls Pos Ht Wt Hometown/High School (Previous College)
2 Richardson, Melvyn Jr. F 6-07 235 Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic/Liceo
Union Panamericano HS (Lon Morris JC)
3 Buckley, Melvin Jr. G/F 6-06 220 Chicago, Ill./Thornwood HS (Purdue)
10 Capko, Chris Jr. G 6-01 185 Lakeland, Fla./Lakeland Kathleen HS (Florida)
11 Willis, Jonathan Jr. G 6-00 185 Jacksonville, FL/Mandarin HS
15 Mattis, McHugh Jr. G/F 6-06 190 North Lauderdale, Fla./Coconut Creek HS (St. Petersburg College)
21 Markusovic, Frane Fr. C 6-10 230 Split, Croatia/Kent Prep
23 Dennis, Collin So. G 6-02 185 North Richland Hills, Texas/Richland HS
24 Howard, Chris Fr. G 6-03 200 Lorton, Va./Friendly HS
25 Holmes, James Sr. G 6-02 195 Ypsilanti, Mich./Belleville HS (Schoolcraft College)
32 Williams, Aris So. F 6-09 235 Columbia, Md./Georgetown Prep (Valparaiso)
34 Cann, Zaronn Fr. F 6-06 245 Seffner, Fla./Brandon HS
44 Jones, Solomon Sr. F/C 6-10 230 Mount Dora, Fla./Mount Dora HS (Daytona Beach CC)
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