Preview MBB: Rutgers vs. South Florida

The preseason has come to a close and Rutgers will venture off to Tampa, Florida and The Sun Dome for their initial Big East matchup against the surging USF Bulls. Forty minutes of solid, nonstop play by the Knights and they could open the Big East at 1-0.

The USF Bulls (9-4) guided by first year head coach Stan Heath are positioning themselves to become a solid Big East basketball program. Stan Heath had a five year stint at Arkansas where he crafted an 82-71 record while recording two 20 win seasons his final two years. Prior to Arkansas, he was hired away from his assistant post at Michigan State by Kent State, and in his only season as the Golden Flashes head coach he guided them to a 30-6 record and took them to the Elite Eight. He brings success, enthusiasm and a solid recruiting background to USF.

The Bulls are led by freshman guard sensation #0 Dominique Jones, 6’4 205(15.6ppg, 49.3%, 27 steals) and senior center #1 Kentrel Gransberry, 6’9” 270 (14.8ppg, 11 boards pg, 15 total blocks). USF has a total of five players averaging double figures in scoring, ranging from 10.4 to 15.6 ppg. As a team they have averaged 76 points per contest. Between the five starters and three top bench players they have shot 46.3% from the field, 38.6% from long range, with 66.2% from the foul line. The Bulls lost their 3 opening games, but now seem to be running on all cylinders winning 9 of their last 10, with only a loss to Wake Forest upsetting the streak.

In comparison Rutgers, as a team, is shooting 40.3% from the field, a mere 28.2% from long range, with 68.6% from the foul line. The Scarlet averages 66.1 points per game.

Forty minutes. Rutgers will either be without or allow some limited play for Corey Chandler and his 14.1 ppg and 22 steals, as additional time is used to rehab his stress fracture. Rutgers as a team must play their absolute hardest during the entire game, piqued by a relentless defense while playing smart offense. When the opportunity arises JR Inman and Anthony Farmer are the two players to seek out for the three pointers. Jaron Griffin finally appears to be going to the basket or dishing off the three point attempts, which not only improves Rutgers, but his personal game as well. Gransberry is an animal under the basket. The veteran savvy of Byron Joynes can indeed help the Scarlet cause by working the USF center into foul trouble. By absorbing offensive fouls combined with some good acting, Byron could force Gransberry into early foul trouble, allowing Hamady N’Daiye some additional breathing room underneath the basket. Of course, JR Inman will need to play an outstanding game with the help of Mike Coburn, Courtney Nelson, and Earl Pettis. Nelson appears to be steadily improving since his shoulder injury, while the confidence level of Pettis seems to be steadily rising. The young Mike Coburn needs to minimize his mistakes and play good team basketball.

Prior to the start of the Big East schedule, USF has only been averaging 3,400 fans to their home games, but you can expect more for this one. USF fans are known to be very loud and very nasty. Rutgers must shut out the noise, have the defense slow down USF, stay in their faces when shooting, and have the offense play within themselves. Hold USF to 65-70 points and RU can win this difficult road game, but it will take all 40 minutes.

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