Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Show Me My Opponent - South Florida Bulls

Location - Tampa, Florida

Arena - Sun Dome (10,411 capacity)

Head Coach - Stan Heath (first season)

Record 7-12 overall (1-5 Big East)

Versus the Cards - 3-22 overall (Last meeting Cards won 74-60)

History of the Program - South Florida doesn't have anywhere near the tradition of Louisville's last opponent but the Bulls are improving. They may not be making the huge strides like their football though. USF has only been playing College Basketball since 1971 , with only two NCAA Tournament appearance's to brag about. The two schools have met twenty-four times, with Louisville winning twenty-one of them, including the last eight.

Notable Alumni - Terry Bollea (better known as Hulk Hogan) - Everyone's favorite player of Jimi Hendrix air guitar.

Leo Gallagher - Comedian who finds drenching people in watermelon funny...not my thing.

Lauren Hutton - Actress/model from such masterpieces like Once Bitten (Jim Carey's first movie) and My Father the Hero.

Tony La Russa - Current Manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, one of only two managers to win a World Series in both the American and National Leagues.

Chucky Atkins - Current NBA point guard, has his jersey retired by South Florida

Solomon Jones - Current NBA center

Anthony Henry
- Current NFL defensive back

Andre Hall - Current NFL running back

Starting Lineup...

- Guard - Jesus Verdejo - 6'4 205 Senior #23
The Arizona transfer can put up points and isn't afraid to shoot the ball. He went 0-6 in last season's meeting but did contribute 6 assists. A member of Puerto Rican national team that finished seventh at the 2005 FIBA Under-21 World Championships for Men.

- Guard - Dominique Jones (pictured) - 6'4 210 Sophomore #20
Leads the team in scoring, putting up over 30 points twice this season. Was 6-10 from the field with 17 points last meeting against the Cards.

- Guard - Justin Leemow - 6'1 175 Freshman #10
Has moved into the starting lineup over the last couple games but will split minutes with Junior guard Chris Howard

- Forward - Augustus Gilchrist - 6'10 235 Freshman #24
Has become USF's second option after making his debut against UL in Tampa. Can play inside and also stroke the trifecta.
- Forward - Eladio Espinosa - 6'7 220 Freshman #1
Rotates heavily with 6'10 fellow Freshman Augustus Gilchrist. He puts up a threatening 2.5 points and 3.4 rebounds a game.

This is no Bull - South Florida has no inside game, they run a three guard rotation at you and will no hesitate to let it rip from beyond the arc. Two of those guards (Verdejo and Jones) are in the top 15 in scoring in the Big East , with Jones leading the team in scoring at 17 points a game and Verdejo at 15 a game. Unfortunately for for Head Coach Stan Heath , the Bulls are pretty thin after those two. South Florida is last in the Big East in scoring (61.3 ppg) , in fact they are basically in the bottom 5 in all major categories in the Big East. Then again they are 5-8 going into this game with early season losses to Niagara (Don't think Calvin Murphy played) and Wright State. South Florida's last win over Louisville did come in Tampa (2001) with the Bulls winning 73-67 but the Cards have won three straight all by an average margin of 30 points a game.

Needs to be done - Louisville will need to be aware of there shooters on the court because they will put 3 or even 4 of them out there at one time. The Cards can not allow South Florida to get second shots, offensive rebounds usually produce the best looks from outside. Louisville's half court defense against Kentucky was suffocating but they still fall asleep in transition defense and if the Bulls get hot Louisville can find themselves in a challenge. If the Cards cut down their turnovers from the last game, this game in the Big East might just be their easiest.

Prediction - While I feel every home game this season may be a pleasant adventure, win or lose, I think this game might be the definition of that. The Cards are deeper, bigger, stronger, faster and just plain more talented then South Florida (You can put that on your billboard Bulls). I think Earl (Clark) will have a game similar to his performance against Ole Miss (25 points 16 rebounds), while Louisville's guards will make the Bulls ball handlers life a living hell. Knowles and McGee struggle with bigger guards but each of them should have nice bounce back games. Watch for Jennings and Goode (Less Goode then Jennings) to get descent minutes, allowing Samuels to not be overworked, with a smaller USF team this is a good game to get them some playing time in a Big East home game.

Cards - 77

USF - 61

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