Even though Coach Stan Heath has salvaged Augustus Gilchrist he has been unable to do the same with his team's season.
The Bulls have lost six in a row and eight of nine.
Gilchrist had been suspended by Heath for "philosophical differences" but came back roaring, leading the Bulls in scoring in two straight game and recording a double-double in a loss to Villanova, serving warning that teams in the future are going to have to deal with his game.
Villanova found him a force inside as he scored 16 points with 10 rebounds. Louisville found him more of a force as he scored 25.
Now Heath has to turn his attention to a team that is really struggling in all aspects of the game.
"It's not going to happen overnight. This is a team that's in -- I don't want to say rebuilding. We brought in some new guys. We're trying to build our chemistry, come together, and learn how to win. It's not easy when we face the teams we face," he said.
The Bulls, with Gilchrist leading the way, have a strong front line. Villanova Coach Jay Wright called it awesome.
The guard play at time also can be described in a word that begins aw ... and it seems that the Big East is conference this year where the guards are dominating everything.
--The crowd of 4,510 that came out for the Villanova game was a season high. It was followed by a crowd of 4,135 that came out to see Louisville.
--The Bulls need some staying power. In the last five minutes of the five losses leading into the Louisville game they had been outscored 66-46 while committing 16 turnovers to four for their opponents.
BY THE NUMBERS: 6 -- The number of consecutive losses the Bulls had suffered after its Jan. 9 loss to Louisville, matching the second longest losing streak in Coach Stan Heath's tenure at the school
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The biggest thing is we've just got to make sure we don't put our heads down -- keep battling, keep fighting, keep working, keep trying to get better." -- USF coach Stan Heath, after losing a fifth straight game to Villanova.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at Cincinnati, Jan. 12
KEY MATCHUPS: Cincinnati is among the top defensive teams in the nation and at home they really turn on the defensive juice. The Bearcats give up just 53.8 points a game and are allowing teams to hit only 37.6 percent of their field goals. They apply great pressure and considering that the Bulls have the worst assist-to-turnover record in the conference going in while also having the lowest scoring average, it would appear that they are for a frenzy of Cincinnati defense.
--vs. Providence, Jan. 16
KEY MATCHUPS: South Florida's guard play has been spotty and that makes for bad matchups with a Providence team that also is struggling. G/F Marshon Brooks is almost unstoppable, averaging 23.4 points a game to stand second to Kemba Walker of Connecticut in the conference. Providence is the only school in the conference to have players ranked No. 1 or 2 in scoring, rebounding and assists. Sophomore F Bilal Dixon is second in the conference in rebounding with 8.8 a game and sophomore G Vincent Council leads the league in assists with 7.0 per game entering the week.
FUTURES MARKET: The South Florida Bulls are looking backward in order to move forward. Struggling bad through the opening days of the Big East season and standing at 0-3 in conference play, the picture is bleak, just as it was a year ago when they started 0-4 in the conference before turning this around. "It's not easy," Coach Stan Heath told the Tampa Tribune. "The one thing that we have going for us is that we went through last year, so we have something to draw upon." His players know what he means. "I think about that every day," said C Augustus Gilchrist. "It's just that one win will give us momentum and hopefully we can go on another run this year."
--Sophomore G Shaun Noriega has found his 3-point stroke. After going five games without one he hit three against Villanova and followed that up with four against Louisville, accounting for all his field goals.
--Junior G Anthony Crater is roaring against Big East opponents. He had eight assists against Villanova and followed that up with 10 against Louisville.