We try to come up with as much of our own analysis and opinions as possible. But for me, basketball isn't my #1 sport, so I decided to send out for a little help to talk about what next season and the future in general holds for USF basketball.
Over at The Bulls Pen, the poster known as Vega might be the most knowledgeable person about the basketball team out of everybody, and also one of the most opinionated. Vega keeps very close tabs on recruiting, too, which makes him at least 1000% more qualified to talk about that topic than I am. We ended up having a wide-ranging conversation, so I'll break this into a couple of parts to make it easier to digest.
In Part 1, we mostly talk about the players who are already on the roster, plus transfer Ron Anderson Jr., who sat out this season. Here we go.
VOODOO 5: You weren't a fan of the style of play this year, and I definitely agree. If dribble penetration was shut off the whole thing went stagnant, because none of the bigs had a post presence and no one had a good outside shot.
Do you think Heath might end up changing the offense next year? The abilities of the players on next year's team look a lot different and I think it might set up as a more traditional inside-outside game. Heath loaded up on outside shooters (he may have overloaded on them, actually) and hopefully Ron Anderson or Toarlyn Fitzpatrick can offer up at least some semblance of an inside game.
VEGA: I don't see an inside-outside team on paper. I see a team that will have to play in transition next season even more so then last season's team. Without Dominique Jones we don't have a proven guy like that on the roster or committed. Look at all the athletes Stan Heath has signed, committed, or trying to bring in. (Waverly) Austin, (Lavonte) Dority, Showtime Haynes, (Hugh) Robertson, and (Jawanza) Poland are all much much more effective in an open floor game or with quick hitters. Like I have said before if Heath wants to play a slowdown tempo he needs to recruit players to that style. Looking at the list of guys I named above, none of them will excel in the halfcourt. We are deadly in transition and just plain dead in halfcourt ball.
VOODOO 5: I do see "can get to the rim" on the scouting reports of just about everyone Heath has brought in or is looking to bring in. But unfortunately we can't play Providence every night - teams are going to get back on defense. And that's more where I was going with my inside-outside suggestion. What do you see happening in the halfcourt? Will it be a succession of quick-hitters and re-racking if they don't work? Or might they at least try to work the ball inside to Anderson?
VEGA: Here's the deal I don't see the players on the roster to have a consistent inside-out game. With Anderson we are getting a guy who is physical, can rebound, and has an excellent basketball IQ. Now he has never shown to be a guy that can consistently score with his back to the basket. While Anderson has a little jump hook and a short jumper he is not to be confused with a true low block threat like a Kendrell Gransberry. I would call Anderson a "glorified garbage man." I see him giving us 12-14pts and 8-10 rebounds per game (starting) while shooting in the high 50s to low 60%. We fans will be happy with his toughness on D, his offensive rebounding ability, and his TEAM PLAY.
VOODOO 5: We might disagree some on Jarrid Famous, namely why he wasn't better. I thought he was basically a garbageman this past season, which is useful but not what we thought we were getting. He doesn't have much of a post game, he doesn't catch the ball well, and he gets most of his points off hustle plays and offensive boards. And… uh… let's say his defense needs a lot of improvement.
Are you down on Famous in general? Or is it possible that he wasn't being coached up real well? None of the other bigs distinguished themselves either, which is why I think it was coaching and not necessarily Famous being worse than advertised.
VEGA: Famous is soft and I honestly don't know if a coach can develop toughness. I believe you have to have it in you and he clearly does not. You will see a tough guy play next season when Anderson takes to court. Famous is easily the worst big man defender I've ever seen. At an athletic 6'11", he had the height advantage over most players he faced all season long yet he averaged 0.8 blocks per game which proves his lack of hustle and how soft he was. Famous got owned by every man he had to guard and it started in the preseason. The opposing teams guards stayed in the paint against USF because they read the scouting reports about our soft middle. I said during the season, it didn't matter what Famous scored for himself because he was always giving up much more on defense. I promise you if USF had B.J. Ajayi or a fully healthy (Alex) Rivas they could have won two or three more games.
VOODOO 5: You obviously weren't around for the Federico Peruzzo era if you say Famous is the worst defensive big man. I could have gone out there and held a broom in the air and I would have been a better defender than Peruzzo. Anyway, Toarlyn Fitzpatrick is my counterpoint, because there were times when he was borderline unusable but Stan Heath had to play him because there were so few options. I thought he wasn't really any better at the end of the year than he was at the beginning, although in his defense he was a freshman and the level of competition at the end of the year was a lot higher than it was in November and December. What are your thoughts on him (and Gus Gilchrist for that matter)?
VEGA: Gilchrist is a guy that started off strong and unfortunately got hurt (sprained ankle) last December. He really struggled in the Big East once he got back on the court after missing about 2 months. Now we all have seen the talent and drool over having a 6'10", 245-pound power forward that has shown the ability to shoot it from deep and occasionally pull off some impressive post moves. Most of that came against a very weak non-conference schedule which is the reason why Gus is still unproven. We didn't see many positives from him in BIG EAST play, and in my opinion the book is still out on whether or not he can be our go-to guy and be relied on throughout the season.
I really like Fitzpatrick and I though he played better then expected all things considered. I think most fans will remember his struggles towards the end of the regular season but it was clear to me that he had hit the freshman wall. As you know, because of injuries to (Alex) Rivas and Gilchrist, he had to play more then he should have, but I believe he and USF will reap the benefits of that in the coming seasons. I think Toarlyn and Anthony Crater will be the most improved players on the team next season.
VOODOO 5: What are you hoping to see out of Crater next year? I'm personally hoping he locks himself in a gym and does nothing but shoot jump shots, if for no other reason that to make the other team guard him and open up a little space on the floor. The Bulls were playing 4-on-5 on offense every time he was in the game, which made a big problem even bigger.
VEGA: From what I understand about him is that he's a hard worker and takes hundreds of shots daily. I know the results weren't positive when he played, but we must remember he hadn't been in a competitive situation for almost two years. I love his court vision and defensive capabilities. I truly believe he will thrive in an uptempo offense and he was promised by Heath that would be the style of play here at USF when he was looking around after transferring from Ohio State.
In Part 2, we'll talk about the bushel of recruits coming in next year, and on the state of the program in general.