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January 14, 2013

Football staff, recruiting and basketball

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Each Monday, we'll take a look back at the week that was and forward at the week ahead. We'll pick out five things that stand out and feature them here - in our 'Five things to Ponder.'

Rugged way to start the Big East

It's a beast of a conference anyway, but playing arguably two of the best three teams in the conference to start out doesn't help the young men's basketball team. Syracuse and Louisville have a combined record of 31-2. The Bulls will be competitive, but right now have to solve the woeful disadvantage they have on the offensive glass. A 64-38 loss to Louisville may be the low point of the season. A strong presence inside is desperately needed before any hopes of a tournament run can be expected. Rutgers (11-4, 2-2) is a better matchup and coach Stan Heath and the Bulls (9-6, 0-3) need a win.

Staff coming together

With the hiring of former NFL coach Chuck Bresnahan as defensive coordinator and Ron Cooper as defensive backs coach, the staff that head coach Willie Taggart has assembled thus far is strong on the defensive side. The biggest challenge now is completing the staff quickly. The longer vacancies remain on the staff, the tougher it will be to close the door on potential recruits who want to know who they're playing for. Taggart is moving fast and furious and look for more staff additions this week - possibly a completion of the selections.

Local talent on display

The amount of local/area kids taking an 'official visit' to USF did not go unnoticed. Five area players from the Tampa Bay area, including Louisville commits Richard Benjamin (Tampa Bay Tech) and Derrick Calloway (Manatee) were on campus over the weekend. Also on an official visit were Hillsborough LB Nigel Harris, Robinson OL Bruce Hector, and Freedom safety Nate Godwin. The local Tampa Bay area produces countless numbers of D-1 athletes in all sports and it's important for USF to go after the local kids.

"It's very important for him (Taggart) to establish relationships with area coaches and recruit young and sleeper prospects extremely hard," said Big County Preps director of Operations Preston Jackson. "Winning will make his job much easier, but I wouldn't worry about the past. Establish your own bonds."

BigCountyPreps.com covers the Tampa Bay area.

No easier for the women

If the men's basketball team has had it rough, so have the women. Playing No. 2 Notre Dame (14-1) to an overtime loss and then going to DePaul (13-4) has not been a pleasant way to start off for coach Joe Fernandez' squad. The Bulls have been supported by Andrea Smith, who has been on fire - scoring 33 against Notre Dame and 35 against DePaul to raise her season average to 18.8 points per game. Too many costly turnovers continue to plague the Bulls - who are 11-4, but 0-2 in league play.

Still alive in the NFL playoffs

Former Bull Stephen Nicholas (2006), selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth round of the 2007 draft, will keep getting paid as the Falcons pulled out an improbable last-second win over Seattle 30-28. Nicholas has been with the Falcons his entire career and made 97 tackles and two sacks for the NFC's best team this past year. In the win over Seattle, Nicholas made three solo tackles and had two assists.



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