Welcome back to our semi-regular feature Friends With Bennies, where we sit down with another Big East blogger to talk about their team. Today we have Ken from Voodoo Five to talk about UConn's matchup with South Florida. I also answered some questions for him, check that out here.
TheUConnBlog: UConn fans probably haven't paid much attention to South Florida before now, can you give us a quick overview of what we've missed?
Voodoo Five: The Bulls tackled a pretty tough non-conference schedule and came out of it with a 7-6 recrod. USF dealt with depth issues for most of the season so far with 3 of our starting 5 missing at least 3 games due to injuries. While there were some horrific offensive performances (40 points against Auburn as the lowlight), the defense has been solid all season. Our best win was a 15 point victory over a quality Cleveland State team that will most likely win the Horizon this year.
TUB: Once again August Gilchrist is the centerpiece of the team, how's his senior year gone?
V5: Like the previous three seasons, Gus has his good days and his bad days. When Gus is aggressive on both offense and defense like he was against Cleveland State, it opens up the game and makes everyone around him better. He has the ability to be a 15-10 type of guy, he just isn't consistent and I don't think he will ever be.
For every game where it looks like he's turned the corner, there are two where he looks lackadaisical and doesn't care. He doesn't find the open man on double and triple teams and shoots contested 20 foot fadeaways. His rotations on defense are slow and leads to open shots, he doesn't attack the boards like a person who's 6'10 should. Its frustrating to see a person like Gus have consecutive off days where he could be All-Big East if he put his mind to it.
TUB: Beyond Gilchrist, who else should UConn fans keep an eye on?
V5: We actually have a point guard! After the horror show that was Anthony Crater and Friends running the offense last year, freshman Anthony Collins has stepped in done well running the point. He is extremely fast and can get to the lane quicker than any USF guard that we've had since joining the Big East. He has excellent court vision, and isn't afraid of getting his own shot when he needs to. He does make mistakes, but he's someone you can build a team around for the next 3.5 years.
Also, JAWANZA! Poland is finally healthy after missing the first 11 games of the season, and has looked solid in his first two games back. His three point shooting seems like its improved tremendously since last year, and he can still jump out of the gym when he wants. The battle between him and Lamb should be fun.
TUB: What's the general mood on Stan Heath and the direction of the program?
V5: While some people don't like what Stan is doing, I'm in full support for him right now. Heath is finally full financial support of the Athletic Department, and the new facilities like the 50,000 sq ft Muma Practice Facility and a completely renovated Sun Dome finally gave Stan and the coaching staff the pieces needed to bring in some quality players.
The recruiting class Stan has right now is easily the best since he arrived, and might be one of the better ones in USF history. Heath signed JUCO All-American post Waverly Austin, and the coaching staff beat out some quality high major teams for Huntington Prep wing JaVontae Hawkins, who is the first Top 100 recruit we've signed in over a decade.
Its not an overnight fix to bring USF up the ranks of the Big East, but Heath is building a solid foundation, even if people don't realize it right now.
TUB: Do you have a score prediction? And where will South Florida finish in the Big East this year?
V5: Even with Calhoun not making the trip and the team enjoying weather over 60 degrees, UConn should win this one comfortably. I think it'll be somewhere in the 8-12 point range.
As for the final standings, its tough to say. So many teams went the easy route with their non-conference play that we really don't know much about them. The Bulls won't be in the top half of the league, but I wouldn't be surprised if the team somehow found themselves around 11th or 12th when its all said and done. We did luck out with our mirror opponents it turns out, with home and homes against Providence, a down Villanova, and a down Pitt.