The USF Bulls suffered another frustrating and disappointing loss last night, this time at the hands of the Providence Friars. After USF's 11th conference loss, here is what we learned:
The USF Men's Basketball team continues to be a 1st Half Team.
It seems like last nights game is something we've seen from USF before. Almost exactly the same script as games against UConn, Notre Dame, and Syracuse in which USF has had the lead at halftime, and squandered it away in the second half. Last night the Bulls held an 11-point advantage going into halftime. As was the case in the three games stated above, the Bulls couldn't hold on for the full 40 minutes. The start of the half was the beginning of the end, as the Friars opened up on a 23-2 run. USF went on a stretch from the 54-second mark of the first half to the 12:30 mark in the second half without scoring a field goal. Not only did the offense fail, but the defense did as well, allowing 51 second half points. Nobody knows why this happens, not even the head coach. Stan Heath was asked that question, "how?" His response wasn't surprising. "That's the million dollar question."
Victor Rudd Has The Potential to Take Over a Game
Victor Rudd played arguably his best Big East game ever last night. He posted a double-double scoring 26 points and bringing down 12 rebounds. Of course it was in a losing effort, but we've seen Rudd totally disappear from games in the past. It makes you wonder what is at work there. Is it a lack of effort? Who knows? He has all of the talent in the world to be a top scorer in the conference. The 6'9 junior just needs to find a way to put this kind of effort out on a game-to-game basis. It's definitely possible, as we saw last night.
Jawanza Poland Is No Longer Producing
Senior Jawanza Poland, who was at one point the team's leading scorer, has seen a bit of a decrease in playing time. Poland played just six minutes against Providence and was 0-2 from the field. In his last six games, Poland is a combined 9-of-40 and is shooting just 22 percent. This clearly isn't the same player we saw scoring 17, 15, and 13 points against Rutgers, Georgetown, and Seton Hall.
The Bulls Continue To Struggle Against the Zone Defense
It seems teams in the Big East have taken note of the success that Syracuse had playing zone against the USF offense back in January. At some point or another, each opponent for USF has dropped into that zone. Last night, Providence played a 3-2 zone that gave the Bulls absolute fits offensive. USF was held without a basket for a stretch of about eight minutes in the second half. At halftime, the Bulls had 22 points in the paint. Providence limited USF to only eight in the second because of that zone defense.
The Bulls Can Rebound
This whole season we've talked about how rebounding has been such a huge issue for the Bulls. However recently USF has actually excelled in that category. They outrebounded the Friars 34-28 in the game on Wednesday. Victor Rudd led the team with 12, but a bunch more including Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, Kore White, and Zach LeDay all contributed to success on the glass for the Bulls. This has actually been one of the bright spots. It's one area where USF has fixed an earlier, lingering issue.