Greetings folks…

I had a chance to swing by practice today, and I sat down for a short session with men’s basketball coach Stan Heath. The South Florida men’s basketball team is 3-3 after three home wins and three road losses. The three road losses the Bulls have suffered came by the hands of Virginia, UCF, and UAB, all of those in which were by a combined margin of 11 points.

USF is led in scoring by guard duo Dominique Jones (18.5 ppg) and Jesus Verdejo (17.2 ppg).

The Bulls have received a boost to their roster as transfers Mike Mercer (University of Georgia) and Gus Gilchrist (University of Maryland) are finally eligible to play. Both will make their first appearance on Sunday when South Florida hosts Niagara at 1:00 P.M.

Oracle: Has it been tough week with final exams?

Heath: “This is really the first day where we’ve had everybody together. The exam week made practice, for us, a little sporadic. We are really trying to bring the new guys, Gus and Mike, into the fold. We want to get them as many reps as we can with the other players.”

O: How are the transfers fitting in with the team and how you play?

H: “They’re fitting in well. We’re still going to have to evolve, especially chemistry wise, and I think Mike will make the fastest and easiest adjustment. I think Gus offensively will be fine, but I think defensively he still has some things he has to improve on.”

O: How much will having some extra depth help?

H: “It’s just absolutely huge. We’ve been struggling with our depth, a lot. We’ve also struggle with scoring, and those two guys will help us a lot in that department.”

O: How would you sum up the first six games of this season?

H:
“We’ve been inconsistent and have had problems finishing games. I really think, though, that we’ve played good basketball for 80 or 90 percent of games. We just haven’t been able to finish off that last 10 percent. In my opinion, it’s been depth that has hurt as in the early part of this season.”

O: What do you say to your team after losing so closely on the road?

H: “I think what we just try and tell them is that we are there, but now, we have to finish these games off. The fundamental plays are the ones that are beating us. Whether it be the free-throws, a rebound, or a simple pass, our mental mistakes have been a big issue. The important thing is that we grow and get better. If we do that, then we’ll be okay.”

O: What is your assessment of Jesus Verdejo and Dominique Jones’ play, so far?

H: “Dominique is really starting to play like Dominique can. Jesus has been very good, as well. I think it’s hard when you ask them to give so much for 40 minutes. That’s an awful lot to ask them. So with the added depth, that should help them out. I’m pleased with what they’ve done, and I’m hoping that they won’t have to shoulder so much load now.”

O: Have you seen much of Niagara?

H: “Yeah I have seen them. They’re a good basketball team. They’ll play with four perimeter players who can score. They have great quickness on the court, and we’re going to have to play really well against them. I know that they’re going to play well against us. I’m looking forward to the game.”

-K.K.

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