If you stumbled across the halftime score of the South Florida Bulls and Temple Owls basketball game in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, you might have thought it was a football game.
The Bulls led 19-15 with both teams shooting less than 40 percent from the field. After South Florida scored the 58-44 upset win against the fifth-seeded Owls, Bulls fans embraced their team’s molasses-like pace as some sort of style.
Winning ugly was now en vogue. Even as others groaned about the lackluster offense and low-scoring, Bulls fans bragged. “Nobody on the corner staggers like us.”
Sorry, Bulls faithful. Last year was more fad than fashion. According to Bulls coach Stan Heath, that style had more to do with necessity than identity.
“Our team is still in the process of trying to figure some things out, who we are, our identity. Obviously as a coach I want our identity built around defense and carry over from last year where we were good,” he said. “But we are better offensively.”
Enter the raging, running, fast break Bulls. That’s right. Without a strong low-post game, Heath expects these Bulls to race up and down the court and score some points.
“It’s tough. We had a nice formula of success last year, and now we have to tweak it,” said Heath. “We don’t have a choice because now we have more of a speed game. That’s how our team is built. So it’s going to be different. I think our scores will be up higher. ”
This means Bulls fans must re-think their trash talk. The slow-mo Bulls are so five minutes ago, as passe as the Jonas Brothers.
“I never thought that that was the only way we would play here. For that particular team it fit,” he said. “Defense is always important, but it’s kind of relevant to our team as to how we play on the offensive end.”
Merlisa covers Georgetown and Big East basketball. Follow her on Twitter: @merlisa