My thanks to Voodoo 5 for answering some questions, and for pointing out this article from the first time NC State and South Florida met on the basketball court (Dec. 1972):
The Brahmans from Tampa were mauled by North Carolina State University 125-88, but in losing by only 37 points, USF won a moral victory.
That is one hilarious, mind-blowing sentence. Tommy Burleson scored 29 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, while 'Dave' Thompson scored 30.
I answered some of V5's questions right here.
1.) South Florida was probably one of the biggest surprises among major-conference teams this season, finishing at 9-9 in Big East play after going 4-14 last year. What are the Bulls doing better this year? Is it just a case of a more mature Dominique Jones carrying the team?
I think its a combination of Jones having a great season, and USF finally having a roster with Big East quality athletes. When Coach Heath arrived on campus 3 years ago, all Heath had to work with was an injured Chris Howard, Dominique Jones, a decent big guy in Kentrell Gransberry, and a whole lot of nothing.
Heath has had to build up the program through some pretty risky transfers (Anthony Crater, Mike Mercer) and the JUCO route (Jarrid Famous), but the risks paid off this season. If Jones comes back next year and we find a quality three point shooter, we could be going to our first NCAA Tournament in 19 years.
2.) Aside from Jones, who should we expect to have a big impact on Tuesday?
Gus Gilchrist has slowly been getting back to form after missing two months with a high ankle sprian, but he has slowly played himself back into form since coming back. At 6'10, he has some decent post moves, but can hit from 20 feet when feeling it. Another option might be Shaun Noriega. He can shoot from anywhere on the court, and with Mike Mercer limited in practice this week Noriega should get some extended minutes out there.
3.) Stan Heath had a rough couple of years prior to this one. Do you think he can sustain this sort of success going forward?
I hope he does. We will need to find someone to replace Jones sooner or later, so I'm sure that's the main concern for Heath and the staff. If we can find someone that can replace most of his stats, we should be good to go. Another reason for optimism is the under construction Muma Basketball Center. Once the Muma Center is completed, Heath should have the resources needed to go head to head with other major programs.
4.) NC State runs its offense through forward Tracy Smith, who is an outstanding low-post scorer. How's USF's interior defense? Might we see some zone from the Bulls?
We could be a little bit better defensively down low, but we've held our own against guys like Greg Monroe and Luke Harangody. You'll probably see Freshman Toarlyn Fitzpatrick on Smith to begin with, with Gilchrist and Jarrid Famous taking on Smith every once in a while.
Heath likes to run man predominately on defense, but he will switch it up and run a couple of different zone defenses to switch things up.
5.) What are the keys to a USF victory tomorrow?
If the Bulls can get to the line about 15-20 times tomorrow that would be a great start. It would also help to make a basket out of the paint as well. If anyone can hit a three pointer or two, it should open up the lane for Jones to attack.