DePaul is set to return home to Allstate Arena tomorrow night to take on the surprising South Florida Bulls. That the Bulls are having a better season than DePaul is pretty embarrassing, but that's life in Chicago and the Big East right now. The guys over there were nice enough to answer some questions about the team before the game. As always, check out my answers about their squad over here.
1) CCB: South Florida seems to be a hot name in the Big East this season. What's happened to help develop the Bulls into a team that's seriously on the NCAA Tournament Bubble?
V5: I think the fact that we have more than 5 people who can play basketball an a high level is the biggest thing. When Coach [Stan] Heath got here 3 years ago the cupboard was pretty much empty. All we had was Kentrell Gransberry, an injured Chris Howard, Dominique Jones, and some cookies. Heath has taken on some risks like Mike Mercer and Anthony Crater, but it all seems to be coming together this year. I honestly though the teams was going to make this type of leap next season, so barring catastrophe, next year should be the year where everything comes together.
2) CCB: Dominique Jones is obviously the man at USF. Is he going to stay for his senior season? What are his strengths and weaknesses?
V5: Jones has said that he wants to leave USF a winner and take the Bulls to the Sweet 16 before he heads off to the next level. Unless we pull off a miracle in the Big East Tournament and in the NCAAs, I think we will see Jones back next season.
Jones is one of the best in the country getting to the lane and creating his own basket. He does an excellent job creating contact, and getting to the line. He rebounds exceptionally well for his size, and he is an underrated passer. He also works extremely hard defensively, and will take on the opposing team's best scorer if need be.
The biggest complaint on Dominique is that he doesn't shoot the ball exceptionally well from distance, and that sometimes he wants the ball in his hands too much. Other than that, I really can't find anything else to complain about.
3) CCB: How has South Florida fared on the road this season? Arguably its biggest win came at Georgetown. Do the Bulls play well in opposing gyms in general?
V5: Compared to the last four years, USF has improved tremendously on the road this year. I think we had all of two road wins in the Big East before this season, and we have two wins this year, with the possibility of a third tomorrow night. I just think the difference this year is that the players know that they can compete with every team in the country. Now sometimes we will lay an egg (see last week's game against Villanova), but we tend to hold our own on the road, and sometimes will sneak out a win.
4) CCB: Who is someone besides Jones to look out for? Is it Jarrid Famous? (What a name!)
V5: Although Famous would be a good one, I might go with Gus Gilchrist (right). Gus had his best game since coming back from injury on Saturday, going for 21 points and 6 rebounds. At 6'11", he has some great post moves, and can shoot from three exceptionally well for a big man. If he is on his game again, it should open up some holes for Jones and Mike Mercer.
5) CCB: What needs to happen in the final two games and the Big East Tournament for South Florida fans to declare this season a success?
V5: This season is already a success in my mind. All I asked from this team was to get to 16 wins and an NIT berth for this season to be a success, and it looks like barring a disaster we will at least be in the Little Dance. Another plus from this season is that Bulls Basketball has become relevant in Tampa for the first time in a decade, and hopefully we have a great crowd Saturday on Senior Night against Connecticut. If we can get to 20-21 wins and an NCAA berth, I might start a Coach Heath Statue Fund for outside the Sun Dome.
Once again, a big thanks to Voodoo 5. Check out their site for all your South Florida athletics needs. (I still feel funny typing that.)