Bulls looking for some respect, NCAA bid

The Bulls won their 11th Big East game, usually securing a bid to the dance, but the experts have kept USF on the bubble, in part because it doesn't have a signature win over the big names in the conference but more so because it just doesn't have a big name itself.Tonight it heads to Louisville to face the 17th-ranked Cardinals.

South Florida has won basketball games.

Now it is out to win respect.

   The Bulls won their 11th Big East game on Feb. 26, beating Cincinnati 46-45. Normally a team with 11 victories in the Big East would have its ticket punched for the NCAA Tournament, but the experts have kept South Florida on the bubble, in part because it doesn't have a signature win over the big names in the conference but more so because it just doesn't have a big name itself.

   "(Respect) is something we've got to develop," coach Stan Heath said on a recent Big East coaches' conference call. "If we had a different name on the front of our jersey there probably wouldn't be a conversation about where we belong. That's disappointing, but we have some games in front of us where all the teams have records to get into the NCAA Tournament. If we do what we're supposed to do the rest will take care of itself."

   Of course, if he has to, Heath will do what it takes to let the world know about his team.
   "We haven't been in the tournament forever. It's been 20 years, so we're not a known commodity. We can't just lightly knock on the door. Sometimes you have to kick it in," he said.
   --South Florida's defense has been so effective that it has held five straight opponents to 51 points or fewer, all of that in Big East play. They lead the conference in scoring defense, allowing just 58.1 points a game.
   --South Florida's Feb. 26 win over Cincinnati marked the sixth consecutive game the Bulls have held their opponent  to two or more points beneath its season scoring average.
   BY THE NUMBERS : 48.5 percent  -- F Ron Anderson's free throw percentage when he stepped to the free throw line and made two key free throws in the final minutes against Cincinnati on Feb. 26, giving USF a lead in its 46-45 victory.
   QUOTE TO NOTE: "I still think we're on a mission. I still think we know we've got to win games. I don't feel like we think we've done something or we're satisfied. That's a good thing. There's no two ways about it. This is quite a challenge." -- USF coach Stan Heath on his team's attitude heading into the final two games of the regular season.
   --at Louisville, Feb.29
   KEY MATCHUPS: This will be a wild defensive battle, Louisville playing its array of pressure defenses trying to confound and confuse freshman PG Anthony Collins of the Bulls and USF playing its hardnosed defense against a team that likes to run shoot the 3. Again, this is another chance for the Bulls to shake off the one knock on them and that is they haven't beaten any ranked teams.

   --vs. West Virginia, March 2
   KEY MATCHUPS: West Virginia is having a difficult season and can be turnover prone. If the South Florida defense can force turnovers in front of a home crowd at the final home game of the season it could make it tough on WVU. The defense will be facing a difficult task in holding down the Mountaineers senior F Kevin Jones, the Big East leader in scoring at 20.0 points a game and rebounds at 11.0 a game. WVU, too, is a different team when senior G Truck Bryant is on.

   FUTURES MARKET: If the NCAA Tournament is in South Florida's future no one would appreciate it more than senior F Ron Anderson. See, he's been there before and he's the only one on the USF roster who has. Anderson played in the 2008 tournament with Kansas State before he transferred to South Florida, helping the Wildcats upset sixth-seeded USC in the opening round. "That's why we're trying to take it day by day. I'm trying to let everyone know how blessed and fortunate we are," Anderson said. "It would really be tough for me to say my freshman year was the only year I made it. We have our goal, we have our mission, and we won't be satisfied until we reach that."
   --Freshman PG Anthony Collins was the Big East Rookie of the Week last week and did nothing to hurt his chances this week by making the winning free throws in the closing seconds against Cincinnati on Feb. 26 while scoring 14 points with five assists.

   --F Augustus Gilchrist has had his playing time cut some lately and hasn't reached double figures in scoring in five games, but against Cincinnati he had a really rough time of it with one basket in six tries for two points.


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