Coming off of a disappointing 12-win season, The University of South Florida Bulls are looking to rebound in a big way. Struggling mightily in Big East Conference play last year, the Bulls are looking forward to taking on new conference opponents in the inaugural season of play in the American Athletic Conference. The fresh start might be the perfect recipe for the squad.
Head Coach Stan Heath is entering his seventh season with the team, bringing a 85-110 record at the school with him. In the 2009-10 season, he led the team to 20 wins and an NIT birth, and in 2011-12, the Bulls recorded 22 wins and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. A product of Tom Izzo’s tutelage, Heath looks to get back to that tournament this year.
The Bulls are led by junior point guard Anthony Collins. I am convinced Collins is one of the most underrated and under-appreciated players in all of college basketball. The dude can flat out play. Although he averages just below 10 points per game, he had 194 assists last season to go along with 44 steals. His 194/82-assists/turnover ratio was excellent for a sophomore point guard. In a league that features star guards like Louisville’s Russ Smith, Connecticut’s Shabazz Napier, Cincinnati‘s Sean Kilpatrick, and SMU’s newcomer Keith Frazier, Collins will be the catalyst for his squad and will lead them to their destined future.
Redshirt senior forward and leading-scorer Victor Rudd is returning as well. Rudd put up 12.3 points per game last year, and will be looking to improve his efficiency, as he shot 28.4 percent from three-point range and 38.6 percent overall. If Collins is the team’s Batman, Rudd has to be Robin. Averaging 34.1 minutes a game last year, he will need to improve on his decision-making and shot selection in order for this team to go places. Oh, and they have redshirt sophomore Jordan Omogbehin, who is 7’3 and weighs in at 330 pounds. I’d like to see anyone box him out if he gets in the game.
I think this is the year that the Bulls not only make the NCAA Tournament, but have a decent shot of winning a few games in it. Since they play Louisville, UConn and Memphis each twice, along with an early season test against Oklahoma State, I don’t see them winning more than 19 games. I’m going to say they will go 19-12, and, depending on matchups of course, have the potential to win a couple of games in the NCAA Tournament. Collins will be a First Team All-AAC selection.