We make a lot of grand statements around here about the opponents on the basketball schedule on a regular basis. These refer mostly to the basketball teams only. There are the rare exceptions where we don't like the fan base either, but South Florida is not one of them. We're big fans of Voodoo Five, and as such, we turned to Ken DeCelles of V5 to provide us with some insight into tonight's game. We provided Voodoo Five with answers to their questions about Marquette, so be sure to check that out!
Without further ado, on to the questions!
Anonymous Eagle: First things first: Congratulations on your team's early season success in the Bizarro Big East! What would your reaction have been before the season if someone had told you that the winner of Tuesday night's game between Marquette and USF would move into a tie for second place in the Big East?
Voodoo Five: I would have believed the Marquette part, but there was no way that I could have imagined USF would be off to the start it has been. The emergence of Anthony Collins, JAWANZA! Poland, and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick has been fun to watch, and the team seems to be buying into the defense first message Coach Heath has been teaching. We can even consistently beat the press this year!
More questions after the jump!
AE: You've used the hashtag #TheQuestFor16 on your Twitter account. Can you explain the Quest for us? On a scale of 1-10, how confident are you that the quest will be completed?
V5: After last year, I wasn't expecting USF to break the 20 year NCAA drought this season, but a possible berth to the NIT seems reachable. To make the NIT as a high-major you normally have to have at least a winning record, and that meant 16 wins for us. At this point, even the guys at KenPom are giving us a 70% for getting to at least 16 wins, so lets roll with a 7. We still have 2 games against Providence and Pitt, a game against Villanova, and we always seem to pull of another win we shouldn't.
AE: This year's Bulls team is operating at the slowest tempo during Stan Heath's tenure, and there's only 4 teams in the country slower than the Bulls, including every Marquette fan's least favorite team, the Wisconsin Badgers. My question is this: Why does Stan Heath insist on trying to be Bo Ryan? Doesn't he know how much that we dislike seeing that style?
V5: I'm not a fan of the slow tempo, but its just the way we have to play to give ourselves a chance to win every night. We have 5-6 quality Big East players, but we are still lacking the depth necessary to run the way Heath wants. We have a really, really good recruiting class coming in next year which should help up the tempo, but for now we milk the clock for all its worth.
AE: When comparing last year's player stats to this year on KenPom.com, two things jump out at me. The first is that South Florida is succeeding with less usage from Gus Gilchrist and more from Jawanza Poland. Is this because of a specific focus from the coaching staff or just a byproduct of a Poland emergence after missing the first 11 games because of a back injury?
V5: This kind of feels how Dominique Jones emerged as the main option a few years ago. Gus is a solid 2nd or 3rd option, but you won't consistently win with him as your main option. There are games like yesterday's win against DePaul where he can carry the team, but if you rely on his skill set to pull off games, you will probably lose more games than you win.
With that said, Poland has been amazing since coming back from a back injury last month. His outside shot has improved greatly, and he still has the solid mid-range game that made him so tough last year. And there's also the one insane dunk he'll pull off a night. You really shouldn't miss it when it happens, and it will happen at one point.
AE: The other thing that I noticed was the contributions of Arizona State transfer Victor Rudd. What is it about Rudd that drew the interest of Buzz Williams enough to offer him a scholarship when he was transferring?
V5: He's a 6'8 wing who can score from anywhere on the court, but is at his best attacking the basket. He can handle the ball, rebound well, and can guard anyone from the 2 through the 4. He does stray around the perimeter a little too much, but he's getting better with his shot selection. He's only a sophomore, so we have 2 more years to see him get better.
Thanks to Ken and good luck tonight!