The Voodoo Five team reached out to me before last night's Villanova win over Rutgers had even tipped off and asked me if I wanted to do a quick Q&A. We hadn't even tipped off yet! But ya know what, I went with the nothing to lose attitude and churned a few out with the V5 guys. It worked (minus the last question, which I refused to answer until after the game).
(One Foot Down crew, I see you)
Feeling snubbed that Anthony Collins didn't get ROY?
Not really. I'm just glad that he should be around for a few more years and that he'll continue to improve in a USF uniform, rather than in the NBA. Moe Harkless could be one and done. Having guys like that wouldn't do the USF program any good right now. They need guys who can contribute early and who can grow into great players down the line.
More after The Jump.
Be honest, could you have predicted the breakout year for USF?
No one could have. I wrote about this a little bit when I wrote about Stan Heath winning the Big East COY - we've always been forgiving of his tenure because there were so many issues beyond his control. Now those issues are fading, and we figured we would find out if he could really get the program going. But I thought it would take a couple more years. Seeing it happen this year is a fantastic surprise.
What does USF need to do this week (if anything) to lock up a historic NCAA bid for the program?
Beating Villanova would help, but I think to make absolutely sure they're in, they also need to win tomorrow night against Notre Dame. USF really won by losing to West Virginia because even with a double-bye, they would have had to play Georgetown in the quarterfinals, which is a horrible matchup for them. USF is much better suited to beating the Irish if they get past Villanova tonight.
What was the best moment of the year? When did you realize that this team was pretty damn good?
Tie for the best moment - Toarlyn Fitzpatrick's go-ahead 3 against Cincinnati that touched every inch of the rim before it dropped, and Ron Anderson Jr.'s unlikely free throws to give USF the lead with 10 seconds left in that game. The first one hit the flange of the rim, bounced straight up in the air, and went in to tie the game. If either one of those shots don't fall, we may be on the wrong side of the bubble right now.
As for when I knew this was a good team, that happened right after Syracuse finished scoring 26 points in a row against them. Very few teams could withstand a binge like that, especially on the road. USF went from up 13 to down 13, but they answered with their own run and cut the lead back to 3. Then when the Orange ran the lead back out to 12, the Bulls whittled it all the way down to one and had a couple of shots to go back in front with about 5:00 to go. Even though they lost, that sold me. You have to be a mentally strong, physically tough team to be able to shrug off something like that and hang in there.
Any concerns about losing Stan Heath in the offseason?
I hadn't really thought about that. We'll see how many high-major coaches end up getting fired, but my guess is that other schools want to see if this season was a fluke. If USF wins 20+ games again next year, they'll think that if Heath can win here, he can win anywhere, and someone might take a run at him. I don't think USF will ever be a destination job where you can make the NCAAs year after year after year, so if one of those was open and they hired Heath away, I could live with that. (Although when was the last time you saw someone get hired away from a Big East job? The only ones I can even think of in the last decade were John Beilein and Ben Howland.)
Prediction for the game?
I think USF's two wins over Villanova were helped along by some key absences and by the Wildcats being knuckleheads. Taking too many bad shots, losing their cool, getting benched for disciplinary reasons, etc. If that's under control, this could be a tough game. But the Bulls defend better and they rebound better, and they proved they can dictate the tempo between these two teams. USF should win, although I don't think it will be quite as easy as it was the first two times around.
Thanks again to the V5 guys, and best of luck. I seriously do hope you make the NCAA Tournament. But tonight is business.