After being outscored 21-2 in a three game sweep at home against DePaul, USF softball coach Ken Eriksen wondered if some of his players really wanted to be part of the team.

The Blue Demons (29-14, 13-3) completed the sweep with a resounding 8-0 mercy rule victory in six innings on Sunday at the USF Softball Stadium.

“We have been practicing since last August 25, and for whatever reason we didn’t do the right things defensively this weekend that we have done all season,” Eriksen said.  “We just don’t seem to have the right combination of players on the field.  I have been coaching in this game for 25 years and it worries me that I haven’t been able to figure it out this season.”

The Bulls (21-24, 6-8) committed six errors in the three game series compared to zero from DePaul.  USF is now 0-6 against the top two teams in the Big East Conference – Notre Dame and DePaul.

“I tell my players all the time that they need to play flawless defense to beat teams in the Big East because we aren’t as talented as teams like Notre Dame and DePaul” Eriksen said.  “(DePaul) is a fundamentally sound defensive team and they made every play against us this weekend.”

Despite the setback against the second place team in the conference, there were a couple bright spots for the Bulls over the weekend.

With a solo home run in the fourth inning of game two on Saturday, senior JoJo Medina tied current USF assistant coach Monica Triner for fourth on the all time Bulls home run list with 23.

Also, sophomore Janine Richardson hit safely in all three games of the series, pushing her hit streak to eight.

“It feels nice to be hitting consistently,” Richardson said.  “But (the streak) doesn’t mean much because we aren’t playing well as a ball club.  I have been trying to help our other players hit more consistently.  It’s unfortunate that we were not as ready to play this weekend as DePaul was.”

The Bulls were dealt a big blow to their line up in the bottom of the first inning when starting catcher and cleanup hitter Cat Olnick fouled a pitch off her mouth and had to leave the game.

“Olnick got knocked in the mouth pretty hard,” Eriksen said.  “We don’t know when she will be back but we need her.  You need to have strong defense up the middle to be successful and Cat is part of that strength.”

USF travels to Daytona today to face Bethune Cookman (23-21) in a double header beginning at 2 p.m.  The Bulls will then fly to Philadelphia tomorrow to play another double header against Villanova (18-27, 4-10) on Wednesday.

“My coaching staff and I will use this week to take an introspective look at who we have on the roster and who really wants to be here,” Eriksen said.  “What better way to have a tryout then to play two midweek double headers?”

-Joel Leventhal

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The Bulls lost 10-7  in the final game of a three game series against Villanova on Sunday after winning the first two.

USF has won four of its five Big East series this season.

Full Story in Monday’s Oracle.

-PN

The USF men’s tennis team, without No. 1 starter Lucas Jovita all season, fell 4-1 to Notre Dame in Saturday’s Big East semifinals in its quest to repeat as Big East champions.

The Bulls, who won its first Big East title last season, lost its No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 singles matches, and dropped its No. 2 and No. 3 doubles match.

The women’s tennis team, ranked No. 24 in country, also fell in the semifinals of the Big East tournament, losing 4-0 to DePaul.

Full stories in Monday’s Oracle.

-PN

Junior Andrew Barbosa gave up two earned runs and struck out ten in seven innings in USF’s 7-2 over Villanova Saturday night.

With the win, the Bulls (19-20, 10-4) have now won four of five Big East series this season after winning Friday 5-0 on junior Randy Fontanez’s complete game shutout.

USF goes for the sweep tomorrow at noon.

-PN

Defensive end George Selvie was picked by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round with the No. 226 overall pick, joining former USF teammate Jerome Murphy, who was taken in the third round by the Rams.

Selvie becomes the fifth Bull taken, a school record.

-PN

Former USF receiver Carlton was the fourth Bull taken, selected Saturday by the Cleveland Browns in the sixth round with the 177th overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft.

Many thought with what Mitchell did at USF pro day (4.40 40-yard dash), he’d be an second or third rounder.

“He’s got a similar skill set to Brandon Marshall,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said.  “… Carlton Mitchell’s got a lot of skills and to get him in the fifth or sixth round is pretty amazing.  I thought he’d be a third-rounder.”

Mitchell could be catching passes from former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, who was taken in the third round by the Browns.

To view commentary of every draft selection, read ESPN’s pick-by-pick analysis.

-PN

Former USF cornerback Jerome Murphy is the third Bull taken, selected with the No. 65 overall pick by the St. Louis Rams in the 2010 NFL draft.

Look for receiver Carlton Mitchell, a projected third rounder, to be the next Bull taken.

-PN

Safety Nate Allen became the second former USF player drafted, going No. 37 overall to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Allen joins defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who was chosen as the No. 15 pick by the New York Giants, meaning Allen and Pierre-Paul will be in the same division and will face each other twice per year.

-PN

USF won all three doubles matches and three singles matches to in a 4-0 win over Rutgers Friday morning in the first round of the Big East tournament,

The Bulls, who advanced the semifinals with the win, didn’t even have to finish the No. 2, No. 5, and No. 4 singles matches after clinching the win early.

USF, the No. 2 seed, will face the winner of the Louisville-DePaul match, which is tomorrow at 9 a.m.

-PN

The third-seeded Bulls started their Big East title defense off with a win over sixth-seeded St. John’s, beating the Red Storm 4-2.

No. 1 Wael Kilani, No. 3 Romain Deridder, No. 5 Yannick Yoshizawa, and No. 6 Juan Carlos Acuna Gerard all won their singles matches, while the Bulls took two of their three doubles matches.

USF faces DePaul, who they beat 5-2 this season, tomorrow at 9 a.m. in the semifinals.

-PN

As expected, former USF defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was picked mid-first round in the NFL draft, taken with the 15th overall pick by the New York Giants and becoming USF’s highest draft pick ever.

Pierre-Paul, who had 6.5 sacks with USF last season, was the first defensive end taken in the draft.  Most draft experts had Pierre-Paul anywhere from the late top ten range to late teens.

USF expects several more draft picks, with safety Nate Allen expected to go in the second round.

Stay tuned for updates.

-PN

In the midst of its final stretch of games this season, the USF Softball team is finally coming together, said Coach Ken Eriksen.

The Bulls (21-21, 6-5) split a double header against Pittsburgh (23-18, 7-6) on Wednesday at the USF Softball Stadium, dropping the first game 1-0 in ten innings before winning game two 5-1.

“Our pitchers gave us an opportunity to win both games today but we only hit in the second game,” Eriksen said.  “The ‘twin towers’ (Lindsey Richardson and Brittany Bowles) continued to get it done for us as they have all season.”

Despite taking the loss in game one, Richardson continued her outstanding freshman campaign, pitching a career high 9 and 1/3 innings and allowing one run on seven hits with nine strikeouts.

Richardson leads the Bulls in wins (10) and innings pitched (99 and 2/3) this season.  Her 1.83 earned run average is also best on the team.

Bowles earned the win in the second game after allowing one run on five hits in five innings.

“Our pitching and defense has been really solid for the past few weeks,” said catcher Cat Olnick.  “But we need to score more runs for our pitchers by having better at bats and concentrating on hitting the ball harder.”

Sophomore Capri Catalano recorded the save for the Bulls – her second of the season – in game two, continuing to impress since coming back from shoulder surgery last season.  She pitched two scoreless innings and struck out two.

“It is great to see (Catalano) out there and looking like she did (in 2008),” Eriksen said.  “We will see how her shoulder responds, but it is going to be tough to keep her in the bullpen if she continues to throw like she did (Wednesday).”

Catalano is 2-2 with a 3.28 earned run average in twelve appearances this season after missing all of 2009 with a shoulder injury.  As a freshman in 2008, Catalano was 17-1 with a 1.40 earned run average in 129 and 2/3 innings pitched.

The Bulls hope to continue their strong pitching of late and look to hit more consistently when they host DePaul (24-14, 8-3) for a three game set this weekend at the USF softball stadium, beginning with a double header on Saturday at noon.  DePaul is currently second in the Big East, three games behind Notre Dame.

“We have been battling through some on the field struggles with our hitting all season,” Olnick said.  “But we feel like we are coming together as a team.  We have a couple days of practice to work some of the kinks out with our bats and we’ll be ready to hit the ball well this weekend.”

-Joel Leventhal

After scoring just two runs in the final 18 innings of the weekend series at Rutgers, the Bulls scored 9 runs on 15 hits to beat Stetson on the road Tuesday 9-3.  Sophomore Matt Reed, who made his first start of the season, got the win.

Sophomore Stephen Hunt went 4-for-6 and scored three times, and sophomore Todd Brazeal has three hits and 2 RBI.

USF hosts Florida tomorrow at 7 p.m.

Full Story in Wednesday’s Oracle.

-PN

Senior receiver A.J. Love has a torn right ACL, the school confirmed late Monday evening, and will most likely miss the 2010 season.

Love, USF’s second leading receiver in catches and yards last season, suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s spring game after catching a pass.

Love tore his left ACL in the 2008 St. Petersburg bowl.  He was expected to be one of USF’s go-to receivers next season.

-PN

The Bulls lost 8-7 at Rutgers Friday afternoon in the first game of a three game series after the Scarlet Knights erased a 7-2 early USF lead.

USF junior Randy Fontanez gave up five earned runs in six innings.

The Scarlet Knights scored three in the bottom of the eighth, while USF was held scoreless after the second inning.

Third baseman Daniel Rockhold and outfielder Stephen Hunt each homered for the Bulls, who play tomorrow at 1 p.m.

-PN

USF softball coach Ken Eriksen is looking for a better approach to the season from his team, he said after the Bulls were swept this weekend.

No. 23 Notre Dame (29-6, 8-0) outscored the Bulls (18-19, 3-3) 16-3 in the three-game series at Melissa Cook Stadium in South Bend, Ind.

“Notre Dame is a very good team, but I felt we had an opportunity to win some games against them,” Eriksen said. “The majority of our team went into this series with the mindset that we weren’t going to win, and players in leadership positions just didn’t step up.”

The Bulls had only five hits combined in Saturday’s doubleheader, losing 4-2 and 10-1.  Notre Dame pitcher Jody Valdivia then hurled a complete-game shutout Sunday, holding the Bulls to just one hit in a 2-0 victory. She is now 22-3 on the season.

“I was very frustrated with our hitting,” Eriksen said. “We also didn’t make enough plays defensively, and our pitchers gave up too many walks. We cannot do those things if we want to win games.”

USF committed three errors in the series and its pitchers walked 10 batters.

USF senior Kristen Gordon pitched the series finale and kept it close, allowing two runs on three hits in six innings but took the loss.

“Lack of execution was the reason for our poor play,” said Gordon, who has a 4-5 record.  “We did our homework on Notre Dame and prepared all week, but we weren’t able to do the things we did well in practice and in last weekend’s series.”

The Bulls began the Big East portion of the season by sweeping Seton Hall in three games last weekend at the USF Softball Stadium. USF will have a chance to get back on track in conference play next weekend at Providence (12-18, 3-5).

Gordon said the Bulls are capable of beating anyone if they play to their potential.

“Notre Dame is a highly ranked team, but we could have swept them if we played the way we had been leading up to the series,” she said. “We can play with every team in the country and just have to get back on track this week in practice to be ready for next weekend.”

-Joel Leventhal

USF completed a three-game sweep of Georgetown after winning the series finale 8-2 on Sunday.

The Bulls, now 8-1 in conference games, moved into sole possession of first place after coming into the weekend tied with Rutgers and Louisville in conference standings.

All three starters — junior Randy Fontanez, junior Andrew Barbosa, and senior Matt Quevedo — pitched well and earned wins this weekend, with Quevedo getting the win Sunday after giving up an earned run in 5.1 innings.

Sophomore Stephen Hunt hit a three-run homer in the third to put USF 3-0.

USF is off until Friday, when it travels to Rutgers for a three-game series.

Full Story in Monday’s Oracle.

-PN

USF junior guard Dominique Jones has opted to skip his senior season at USF and enter the NBA draft, the Tampa Tribune reported on Sunday, saying Jones informed coach Stan Heath about his decision on Saturday night.

“I feel like I’m in good position and I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from not only scouts, but other NBA people,’’ Jones told the Tribune. “It was one of those decisions I had to think about for a while, but I feel good about my decision.’’

Jones apparent departure leaves a huge void USF’s backcourt, as the Bulls also lost starting guards Mike Mercer and Chris Howard to graduation.

Jones earned All-Big East honors this season after averaging 21.4 points per game, and is expected to be taken anywhere in the late first or early second round.  First round draft picks are guaranteed an NBA contract.

USF has never had a player go in the first round.

-PN

One of the spring standouts for the USF football team has been sophomore running back Demetris Murray, who USF coach Skip Holtz had more praise for after Murray impressed in the team’s second spring scrimmage at One Buc Place Saturday afternoon.

“He’s getting to the point where he can be an every down back,” Holtz said of Murray, who’s listed a second team back on the depth chart, which Holtz said he’d update once he evaluates Saturday’s scrimmage. “As just a young player, that’s a nice thing to have right now knowing Mo Plancher is a sixth year senior.  I know Mo can be an every down back when you watch him on film last year but (sophomore Bradley) Battles and Murray are the two that are going to have to continue to develop.”

Murray, who rushed for a touchdown in the first scrimmage, had three runs of ten yards or more and scored a touchdown near the goalline in the absence of Plancher, who was held out because of a minor hamstring tweak.

“I was really impressed with Murray,” offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said.   “He made some nice runs – some really good cuts … He got a lot of quality reps.”

Murray, USF’s mere fourth option last season, has been making strides in a backfield hit with attrition in the offseason. Senior Mike Ford was kicked off the team in February and senior Jamar Taylor’s future with the program is still in question after Taylor was held out of spring practice with academic issues.

With both Taylor and Ford expected to be significant contributors in USF’s backfield in 2010, Murray’s progression has been a welcome sight.

“He’s running the ball extremely hard.  He’s doing some good things.  I think he’s been a bright spot, definitely,” Holtz said.  “(Senior running back) Mo Plancher wasn’t able to go (Saturday), which is an opportunity for (Murray) to step up and show a little bit about what he can do … he’s getting better and better.  He’s showing some toughness.  He’s running hard.  He’s being physical.”

Depth concern at cornerback

USF defensive coordinator Mark Fitch said he was impressed with USF’s first string defense on Saturday, though he still sees a depth concern in the secondary.

“I’ve been pretty pleased with that whole first unit.  We’re not very deep at corner – that’s the one thing that’s concerning right now,” Snyder said.  “We have some depth (overall).  We have some speed.  I think the guys are performing at a pretty high level right now to only be three weeks into the system.”

Junior Tyson Butler, who played in USF’s first eight games last season, is out for the spring with a knee injury suffered last year while Ricardo Dixon had surgery on his shoulder, causing him to miss all of spring practice.

Sophomore Daniel Bryant, a converted wide receiver, had an interception as did senior linebacker Sabbath Joseph.

But Snyder said Bryant, who’s listed as a second string cornerback on the depth chart, still “has a long way to go.”

“He had a lot of mistakes, too,” Snyder said.  “He’s going to need every 29 practices that we have but he is a good athlete … (cornerback) is a position a young kid, a freshman, might have to come in and help us.”

The Bulls are expecting a touted freshman cornerback this fall in Hillsborough High’s Terrence Mitchell, one of USF’s highest rated recruits in program history.  Mitchell is expected to push for immediate playing time.

Defensive line impresses

Snyder said he “saw a flash off the ball” Saturday.

“That excites you as a coordinator,” he said.  “We do have some suddenness up front.”

With the departures of George Selvie and Jason Pierre-Paul, who are both expected to be taken in April’s NFL draft, defensive end still may be a bit of an unknown for 2010, but on Saturday, the line created havoc all scrimmage long, Snyder said.

“We lost some pretty critical components on the outside with our defensive ends but Craig and David have a lot of playing experience.  They’re doing an awesome job,” linebacker Mike Lanaris said.  “Our interior lineman are doing an awesome job … They’re really coming along.  We’re communicating well and I feel like they did control and help keep guys off me all day, which is good.”

Injuries

Holtz said there were a few minor injuries during the scrimmage, with sophomore tackle Mark Popek (hip pointer), junior guard Chaz Hine (foot), and sophomore tight end Andreas Shields  (leg) expected “to be OK here in a couple days.”

After winning the first game of a three-game series 8-4 on Friday, USF beat Georgetown 4-2 on Saturday in the second game to take the series and hold onto first place as they improved their conference record to 7-1 in the Big East.

The Bulls, who entered the series in a three-way tie for first atop the Big East standings with Rutgers and Louisville, got a solid pitching performance from junior Andrew Barbosa, who gave up two earned runs and struck out 11 in 6.2 innings to move to 4-1 on the season.

Junior Jon Koscso went 3-for-4 with two runs.

USF (15-16, 7-1) will go for the sweep tomorrow at 1 p.m.

-PN

On the heels of kicking senior defensive tackle Leslie Stirrups off the team, Holtz also learned Wednesday that senior guard Zach Hermann, who’s been struggling on and off with a bulging disc in neck suffered last season, will no longer play football.

Hermann practiced until the second day of spring practices with pads, when he tweaked the injury, causing him to sit out until he practiced on Monday.

“He’s been meeting with the trainor and his family for the last couple of days … and they’ve just come to the conclusion — with everything he’s been through, (and) the severity of the injury — that’s he’s not going to continue playing,” Holtz said Wednesday.  “It’s a  hard time for him right now.”

Hermann, who started in the first eight games last season until the injury, has been a mainstay in USF’s offensive line rotation the last two seasons, and was expected to have the same role in 2010.

“It’s really hard time for him right now in a game he’s played his whole life and been really good at,” Holtz said.  “… I feel for him. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”

USF coach Skip Holtz announced Wednesday senior defensive tackle Leslie Stirrups has been kicked off the team due to violation of team rules.

Stirrups, listed third on the depth chart at one of the defensive tackles positions, played in nine games last season, amassing nine tackles.

Holtz is expected to comment on the situation after Wednesday’s practice.

-PN

USF outhit UCF 10-8 but left ten runners on base in a 7-3 loss at Red McEwen field Tuesday night.

Sophomore Kyle Parker gave up two earned runs in 5.1 innings in his first career start.

Four Bulls notched two his in the loss. USF hosts Georgetown this weekend.

-PN

Game details shortly…

Matt Quevedo gave up two earned runs in five innings to lead USF (13-15, 5-1) to a 6-3 win and series victory Saturday afternoon at Cincinnati.

The Bulls, who dropped the first game Thursday and won the second game Friday against the Bearcats, won their second consecutive Big East series after sweeping Notre Dame last week.  Quevedo’s solid start came a day after junior Andrew Barbosa pitched a complete game shutout while striking out 16 in a 5-0 win Friday.

USF hosts UCF on Tuesday.

Full story in Monday’s Oracle.

-PN

After a no-hitter by junior ace Randy Fontanez on Friday, the Bulls got two more strong starts from starters, as junior Andrew Barbosa gave up two earned runs in 6.2 innings to lead USF to a 6-3 win against Notre Dame in the second game and senior Teddy Kaufman gave up one earned run in five innings to lead the Bulls to a 10-2 win in the nightcap of Saturday’s double-header.

The Bulls, who travel to Stetson on Tuesday, have won six straight games after starting the season 3-13. 

Full story in Monday’s Oracle.

-PN

Ok, folks.  Perhaps some interesting tidbits from USF first spring scrimmage Saturday afternoon, which, by the way, was packed with fans and season-ticket holders I was told.  I couldn’t make it, but my ever-so-reliable staff writer Joel Leventhal filled in, and here are some things to note:

– Sophomore linebacker Sam Barrington, nursing a right shoulder injury, was expected to sit out during Saturday’s scrimmage as a precautionary measure but I haven’t received confirmation on whether or not he played.  I’ll know soon.  Barrington suffered a “contusion” last week, but practiced on Friday in pads.  This may be something to keep an eye on because Barrington, if healthy, is primed to take over as USF’s starting middle linebacker after the graduation of Kion Wilson.

– Got word that sophomore quarterback B.J. Daniels wasn’t even expected for the scrimmage because his roomate was in a serious car accident Firday night and Daniels was excused to be with at the hospital with his friend’s family. Prayers go out. Daniels did show up about midway through the scrimmage and took snaps without contact, still recovering from shoulder surgery he underwent in late January.  Sophomore Ryan Eppes, a former walk-on, also took snaps at quarterback.

– Holtz said with the first scrimmage in the books, a tentative depth chart will start to take shape once he looks at film from the scrimmage.  For a little preclude on what to expect, the Bulls will field a totally reformed defense after departures of key personnel and coaching, while the offense remains in tact for the most part.  The defensive depth chart should be interesting.  Updates will follow when more information is released.  

-Sports Editor Phil Neary and staff writer Joel Leventhal

The Bulls beat North Florida Tuesday night 10-7 for their third straight victory after starting the season 5-13.

USF (8-13) got a solid start from senior Teddy Kaufman, who struck out eight in six innings in the win.

Full Story in Wednesday’s Oracle.

-PN

The Bulls got at least two hits from four players to beat Mercer (14-7) 13-4 in the final game of a three game series at Red McEwen Field Sunday afternoon.

USF took the series, winning 5-3 on Saturday after dropping the first game 2-1 on Friday.

It’s USF’s first series win of the year.  The Bulls (7-13) host North Florida on Tuesday.

-Phil Neary

Michigan scored two runs in the seventh and beat USF 4-2 in the last game of the Big East/Big Ten Challenge Sunday afternoon.

The Bulls, who beat Illinois 12-3 on Saturday, fall to 1-5 on the season.

Full story in Monday’s Oracle.

-PN

The Bulls scored 12 runs on 12 hits, including a homer by sophomore Stephen Hunt, to pick up its first win of 2010 over Illinois 12-3 Saturday in the second game of the Big East/Big Ten Challenge.

Freshman Ray Delphey pitched well, getting the win after giving up two earned runs in 6 innings while striking out six.

The Bulls scored 7 runs in the seventh inning.  Sophomore Todd Brazeal went 2-for-4 with 4 RBI.

-PN

Dominique Jones led four Bulls in double-figures with 26 points to lead USF over Providence Saturday night in the Sun Dome.

Providence had a 82-73 lead late in the second half, but sophomore Augustus Gilchirst’s left handed hook shot put USF 91-90 at the 2-minute mark.

Providence has lost eight straight games.

Full story in Monday’s Oracle.

-PN

Senior guard Allyson Speed scored a career-high 24 points, including a game-winning three-point shot with just under four seconds left, and the Bulls beat Louisville 63-60 on the road Saturday to end its three-game losing streak.

Senior center Jessica Lawson had 17 points and freshman KaNeisha Saunders had 16.

Full Story in Monday’s Oracle

-PN

The Bulls dropped its third straight Tuesday night, losing 72-62 at home to Providence.

Freshman guard KaNeisha Saunders has 23 points, junior Leondra Doomes-Stephens had 22, and senior center Jessica Lawson had a double-double (10 points, 12 rebounds) in the loss.

USF (14-13, 5-9) has now lost five of its last six games.

Full Story in Wednesday’s Oracle.

-PN

As talk of USF’s NCAA tournament chances dies down after a 74-58 home loss to St. Johns on Saturday, the Bulls still have opportunities left to get back on the right track and impress voters.

ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach broke down each bubble team’s chances in his weekly bubble watch summary.

The Bulls play at No. 8 Villanova on Wednesday, followed by games against Providence, Depaul and Connectictut.

-PN

USF coach Skip Holtz announced the completion of his coaching staff after hiring of offensive line coach Steve Shankweiler Monday afternoon.

Shankweiler, who was Holtz’ offensive coordinator for five years at East Carolina, joins quarterbacks coach Peter Vaas, offensive coordinator Todd Fitch, defensive coordinator Mark Snyder, assistant head coach/defensive backs coach Rick Smith, and special teams coordinator/defensive ends coach Vernon Hargreaves as new USF coaches.

Shankweiler, 57, has been a part of seven bowl appearances during three separate coaching stints at ECU, coaching the 2005 unit to 2,816 passing yards, which was the most at East Carolina since 1996.

In 2006, the ECU offense set a record for first downs (246) in a season while gaining 3,024 passing yards, the third-best season total in school history.

Smith, Hargreaves, Vaas, and Fitch also coached with Holtz at East Carolina.

Holtz, hired on Jan. 14, retained wide receivers coach Phil McGeoghan, defensive line coach Kevin Patrick, defense graduate assistant J.R. Reed, tight ends coach Larry Scott, and offensive graduate assistant Kevin Bird from former coach Jim Leavitt’s staff.

Former offensive coordinator Mike Canales and former defensive coordinator Joe Tresey weren’t retained by Holtz.  Canales was hired as offensive coordinator at North Texas.

Former running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Carl Franks, who served as USF’s interim head coach after Leavitt’s firing, will remain with the program, but in an administrative role yet to be determined.

-PN

After USF took a 6-3 lead into the ninth inning against No. 6 Florida Sunday in the final game of a three-game season-opening series in Gainesville, the Gators rallied in the bottom of the ninth, scoring three runs to tie the game at 6 and scored again in the bottom of the tenth to complete the sweep.

The Bulls used a five run eighth to go up five runs and scored again in the top of the ninth to go up 6-3.

Junior college transfer Andrew Barbosa started Sunday for USF, giving up three earned runs in six innings.

The Bulls scored just three runs in the first two games, losing 6-2 on Friday and 9-1 on Saturday.

-PN

USF shot just 27 percent from the field and has now dropped four of its last five games.

Freshman KaNeisha Saunders led the Bulls with 18 points.

-PN

USF freshman pitcher Ray Delphey gave up just two earned runs and had 8 strikeouts in his first collegiate start, but the Bulls offense didn’t get anything going in a 9-1 loss at Florida in the second game of a three-game season-opening series.

Florida freshman Brian Johnson didn’t give up an earned run in 5.2 innings and the Gators scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth.

The Bulls will try to avoid a sweep when they send 6’8″ lefthander Andrew Barbosa to the hill Sunday at noon.

-PN

USF’s NCAA Tournament hopes took a big hit after a 74-58 loss at home to St. Johns’ Saturday afternoon.

St. Johns (15-11, 5-9), who came into the game third from the bottom in the conference standings, has won three of its last four games.

Junior Dominique Jones and senior Mike Mercer each had 17 points, though the Bulls shot just 31 percent from three-point range.  The Red Storm shot 58 percent from the field.

USF falls to 16-10 overall and 6-8 in the conference.

-PN

After losing their season opener to Florida 6-2 last night, the Bulls will send freshman Ray Delphey to the hill for his first career start today at 2 p.m. in the second game of a three-game set in Gainesville.

Junior Randy Fontanez, the Big East Preseason Pitcher of the Year, gave up six earned runs in 6.2 innings while striking out five in the loss Friday.

The Gators hit three homers Friday.  Florida will also send of freshman to the mound Saturday in lefthander Brian Johnson, who was drafted in the 27th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in last June’s MLB draft.

-PN

Junior forward Jarrid Famous was sidelined for USF’s game against Cincinnati Tuesday night with a knee injury he suffered in practice but USF coach Stan Heath said he expects Famous to be in the lineup on Saturday when the team hosts St. Johns.

“We looked at it and saw he had a limited range of movement,” Heath said after his team’s 65-57 win over Cincinnati Tuesday night.  “He was really in a lot of pain. It’s something that he should be able to play with Saturday but he’s going to need a full MRI (Wednesday) to make sure there isn’t anything else there.”

Famous is third on the team with 11.6 points per game and leads the team with 7.8 rebounds per game.

-PN

Dominique Jones scored 22 to help USF beat Cincinnati 65-57 Tuesday night at the Sun Dome in a conference matchup with tournament implications.

The Bulls, who came in a game behind the Bearcats in the conference standings, now sit at 6-7 in league play, with a chance to get back to .500 when they host St. Johns on Saturday.

Cincinnati is now 6-7 in the Big East.

Full Story in Wednesday’s Oracle..

-PN

The Bulls shot just 4-for-20 from three-point range and couldn’t get a much-needed win Saturday night at Marquette, losing 63-52 and taking a hit as far as their NCAA tournament hopes are concerned.

USF (15-9, 5-7) now falls to tenth in the Big East standings and two games behind Marquette, a team they could’ve jumped in the standings had they won.

USF, just one game behind Cincinnati in the conference standings, play the Bearcats at home Tuesday.

Sophomore forward Augustus Gilchrist scored 7 points on 3-of-6 shooting in 23 minutes in his first game since Dec. 2 after sitting out with an ankle injury.

Junior guard Dominique Jones, the Big East’s third-leading scorer at 21.9 points per game coming in, scored 16 points, but was just 6-of-21 from the floor and 1-of-7 from three-point range.

The Bulls were 0-for-10 from three-point range in the second half.

-PN

Senior Jessica Lawson had 12 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Bulls to a much needed win Saturday.

USF was coming off of consecutive losses,  while Seton Hall has only one conference win.  The Bulls (14-10, 5-6), who still have an outside shot at the NCAA tournament, have tough stretch ahead, traveling to No. 13 Georgetown and hosting No. 8 West Virginia next week.

Full story in Monday’s Oracle.

-PN

The Big East announced the 2010 league schedule Wednesday, with USF set for four nationally televised games next year.

The Bulls’ game at West Virginia Oct. 14 will be on ESPN at 7:30 p.m., at Cincinnati Oct. 22 on ESPN2 at 8 p.m., at home against Rutgers Nov. 3 on ESPN2 at 7 p.m., and at home against Connecticut Dec. 4 on either ESPN, ESPN2, or ABC.

Game times have not been announced for Stony Brook, Florida, Western Kentucky, FAU, Syracuse, Louisville, Pittsburgh or Miami.

-Phil Neary

USF sophomore quarterback B.J. Daniels will be recovering this spring from successful surgery on Friday to repair a partially torn rotator cuff suffered in the team’s game against Louisville in November, team officials said Monday.

Daniels, who threw for nearly 2,000 yards and 14 touchdowns last year, while adding 772 yards rushing, underwent extensive rehab until surgery became the best option, a release said.

Daniels is expected to partake in spring practice and 7-on-7 drills but isn’t expected to participate in full contact drills until the summer, meaning the spring game in April is probably out of question. Spring practice starts March 16.  The team is participating in winter workouts, while national signing day for recruits is Wednesday.

“We wish B.J. a full recovery,” said USF coach Skip Holtz. “As much as we would love for him to participate fully in spring practice, our No. 1 objective is to make sure he has a complete and healthy recovery.  I’m sure he wants to be out there going full-bore with his teammates on a daily basis, but his participation in meetings and in practice will be very beneficial to his progress as a quarterback.”

Jones, Lawson reel in honors

For the second consecutive week, USF junior men’s basketball guard Dominique Jones earned Big East Player of the Week.

Jones, who has scored 20 or more points in eight straight games, led USF to wins over Seton Hall and then-No. 17 Pittsburgh last week, averaging 32.5 points. On Sunday, he scored 37 of USF’s 70 points, including 24 in the second half.  He scored a school-record 46 points against Providence on Jan. 23.

USF’s three-game Big East win streak, in which Jones averaged 37 points per game, is the school’s first three-game conference win streak since 2003.

Senior women’s basketball center Jessica Lawson earned Big East Player of the Week as well after scoring 22 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the Bulls 64-47 win over Cincinnati Saturday.  Lawson leads the Big East with 11 double-doubles this year.

Heath: Gilchrist doubtful for Georgetown

When asked if sophomore forward Augustus Gilchrist would be in the lineup for USF’s game at Georgetown on Wednesday night, coach Stan Heath didn’t rule it out.

But he said he “feels really good” that Gilchrist, sidelined with a high ankle sprain in early December, will suit up against Marquette on Saturday.

“Georgetown, I just think he’s going to need some practice time,” Heath said Sunday.  “We’ve got to be smart … of how to ease him in to what we’re doing.”

Heath said he expects Gilchrist, who was USF’s leading scorer at 18.8 points per game at the time of his injury, to make life easier for USF’s other post players. The Bulls are using a three-man rotation in the post right now: freshman Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, junior Jarrid Famous and senior Alex Rivas.

“Toarlyn probably won’t play as many minutes, but he’s playing well,” Heath said.  “Jarrid will get a little more of a blow.  Alex has really come on too.”

USF is 6-6 without Gilchrist.

“Our front-line guys will be stronger, fresher,” Heath said. “In this league, you have to have bodies. My goal is … have eight or nine guys to play at a high intensity level.  When you’re playing 40 to 45 minutes, you’re trying to figure out a few possessions here and there where you can catch your breath.  By getting him back, I think that’ll eliminate that with our front line and we’ll be a better rebounding team.”

-PN

Junior guard Dominique Jones continued his amazing play, scoring 37 points to lift his team to another big win in the Big East as USF beat. No. 17 Pittsburgh in the Sun Dome Sunday afternoon.

USF has won four its last five Big East games after losing its first four.

Senior guard Chris Howard added 13 points and six rebounds.

Full story in Monday’s Oracle.

-PN

North Texas has hired former USF offensive coordinator Mike Canales, who wasn’t retained by USF coach Skip Holtz after Jim Leavitt was fired.

Canales, a member of Leavitt’s original USF staff, will serve as offensive coordinator at North Texas.

-PN

USF has pulled the scholarship offer of one of it’s most prized recruits of the 2010 recruiting class — Manatee high product Brion Carnes — according to several reports.

Carnes, rated as the seventh-best dual threat quarterback in the nation by rivals.com, re-opened his commitment after Jim Leavitt was fired but still considered the Bulls.

-PN