Since the Villanova Wildcats have a road date at The Sun Dome versus the South Florida Bulls, we decided to reach out to our friends at the phenomenal USF blog Voodoo Five to see what's been up in Bulls Land lately.
We chatted with Ken DeCelles from V5, and he was kind enough to answer some questions for us. Below is our conversation, and make sure you head over to Voodoo Five before the game to check out the other half of our Q&A session.
1. USF is obviously off to a rough start this season with a 6-9 record. In your opinion, what has been the biggest cause?
It has a lot to do with our guard play and a lack of team chemistry. We lost a ton of experience last year with 4 year starter Chris Howard, 3 year starter Dominique Jone, and 1 1/2 year starter Mike Mercer in the backcourt. Anthony Crater was the senior member of the backcourt, and he only has 1/2 a season of D1 experience. This is normally a recipe for disaster in a league like the Big East, and so far We haven't handled the press well at all this year, giving up 17 turnovers.
See you after The Jump for the rest of the Q&A.
Losing Dominique Jones to an early-departure has definitely hampered you. What perimeter player has stepped up, or is expected to step up, in his place?
I really thought Jawanza Poland would be the guy to grab the reins, but he has struggled to find his shot over the last couple of games. Hugh Robertson has stepped up in his place, and he's done a great job of getting 8-14 points a game from out of nowhere. Anthony Crater surprised everyone Friday night when he went for a career high 14 points against UConn, including hitting 4 3's. I wouldn't expect the same production out of Crater Thursday, but Robertson against Stokes should be a great matchup.
Outside of Augustus Gilchrist, who is the most important player to this year's Bulls squad?
That would be Jarrid Famous. Over the last couple of games, he has played some of his best basketball since he's arrived at USF, including a 22 point 11 rebound performance against Cleveland State. He will do the dirty work inside so Gus can roam on the offensive end, and they both compliment each other very well on the defensive end.
Was the good performance against the Connecticut Huskies a sign of things to come?
If Augustus Gilchrist can perform like he did Friday, we will be competitive the rest of the season. UConn couldn't match-up with Gilchrist, and he went off for 21 points and 8 rebounds against the Huskies. Gus also went to the line 11 times, and along with Jarrid Famous and Ron Anderson Jr, kept the Huskies posts in foul trouble all night long. It took a Herculean effort from Kemba Walker in the 2nd half for UConn to come back and win the game in OT.
Villanova has been performing a Jekyll & Hyde act so far this year where some teams have been able to frustrate them. What do you see in the gameplan for South Florida?
It'll be pretty simple. Heath will want to control tempo and slow the game down to a crawl. He'll want to find some quality looks for our post players and to get Pena and Yarou in foul trouble as quickly as possible. Crash the offensive boards. Defend like hell for 35 seconds and make sure we don't give guys like Stokes and Fisher a 2nd chance at a basket.
Is Stan Heath the right man for the job?
Definitely. USF has been considered the toughest coaching job in America, and the Athletic Department rewarded his 20 win season with a 5 year extension over the offseason. Some fans aren't happy with the results this season, but this is an extremely young team with only 1 senior on the roster. Even I could see that we were going to take a step back this season
The Athletic Department is doing their part to help with a massive facilities upgrade. First is the Muma Basketball Center, which will give USF basketball their own 50,000 square foot practice facility. Before that, both basketball teams as well as the volleyball team shared one practice court. If the court was reserved by someone else, the basketball team would be forced to move their practices to the Rec Center, and I could practice with them. You know that facilities are a huge key in recruiting and this should help.
The Athletic Department will also be renovating the Sun Dome over the offseason, and it will be a much needed facelift. If you've ever been to the Dome, you know that its not the greatest venue in the world, and other than a couple of screens installed at the corners it's exactly the same as it was 20 years ago.
What are your thoughts on Villanova potentially joining the BIG EAST in football?
I'd welcome you in with open arms. Coach Talley has shown that Villanova can play with pretty much anyone, and the jump up to the Big East seems like the next logical step. I know a lot faculty isn't supportive of the move, but if you guys don't make the move now, you might not have another opportunity to join.
How do you see Thursday's game playing out?
We will keep it close for 30 minutes, but I think Villanova pulls away in the end. Nova wins 73-62.
Thanks again to Ken DeCelles and the rest of the Voodoo Five crew for helping us get to know their team before our clash.