TAMPA, Fla. — Your old uncle parked the official newsgathering vehicle in the assigned parking area and started walking toward the door of the most inviting basketball venue that stands proudly on the west side of the state Florida, your old pal began to notice that something just didn’t seem to feel right.
There was a strange vibration trying to escape through the doors of the Sun Dome, last Tuesday night Dec 20, before the University of South Florida took the floor against Northern Illinois University.
There was a development from inside the Sun Dome and it was not cheerful news and it certainly was not the present that University of South Florida basketball coach Orlando Antigua was hoping to find under his Christmas tree.
Another player wanted out!
After spending a six-game suspension and then coming back to average 25 points, Jahmal McMurray went to Antigua’s office and asked for his release from the basketball team and that he also informed Antigua that he would be leaving the University of South Florida.
“This morning Jahmal informed me of his intent to transfer from USF,” Antigua said before the game against the Huskies. “Per his request, we have agreed to grant him an immediate release to do so. I wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
After last season, McMurray wanted to say good bye to school and try his luck in declaring himself eligible for the National Basketball League but rescinded, which made a lot of folk’s breath better including Antigua.
McMurray departure makes him the 14th player to either ask for a transfer or has been dismissed from the USF basketball team by Antigua.
Antigua assures your old uncle that it is nothing personnel, it is just a difference of opinion on philosophy but he says that he needs to keeps his program moving forward toward a better future.
“My focus remains on leading the young men on the USF Bulls team as they continue striving for excellence on and off the court,” Antigua said.
McMurray absence on the court was notable as the University of South Florida made 21 turnovers and lost 59-48, to Northern Illinois University.
“You’re not going to be able to beat any Division 1 team when you give them that many opportunities by turning the ball over,” Antigua said after the lost. “We talked about wanting to control the backboards and we did that. We showed toughness. We showed fight when we do that.”
As the night came to an end, the silence of the near empty Sun Dome was broken by the cleaning crew but there still was a vibe that just couldn’t escape the building after the game.
As your old uncle left the building, Antigua shouted to Uncle Mel to come back and see the Bulls against the University of Delaware.
It took just a little more than 48 hours for the memory of McMurray to fade, the Bulls came out and played with a new found determination against the Blue Hens, Thursday night Dec. 22.
A perfect chance for USF to take a step into the future and the Bulls took that giant step by defeating the University of Delaware 81-53, at home in front of 2,398 exhausted basketball fans inside the Sun Dome.
Once again, Antigua would like to reintroduce Geno Thorpe to the USF fans, he scored 18 points, including shooting 8-of-8 from the foul line which had Antigua smiling.
“He and I had a chance to spend some time to talk about what his role is for us,” Antigua said. “We need the Geno that was having five, six assists and also be able to score. He had great balance and we he brings that balance to us it really helps everyone.”
Sounds like a couple making up after a big argument.
Now nieces and nephews your old uncle hates to rain on any parade but this situation is like the millions of basketball stories, being told tonight under the glow of a romantic candle glow right!
Your leading scorer says he is through, he is leaving and the shock at first felt like a punch into a full stomach- making it tough to breath.
Antigua says, Thorpe can provide balance, so if that is the case then were was Thorpe when McMurray came back for three games?
Does not the element of balance include the whole basketball team, balance offense, balance defense and a balance locker room.
Maybe and your old uncle is not an expert at defining basketball relationship but maybe the departure of McMurray just might help create balance for USF.
After three games back after his suspension McMurray was leading the Bulls in scoring but the flow and the vibe out on the court seemed out of balanced.
Many basketball coaches have schooled your old uncle in the importance of team chemistry, even at the University of Kentucky team chemistry is important just ask the Wildcats coach John Calipari, Antigua former boss of six years.
So now, the University of South Florida will be playing the American Athletic Conference portion of the schedule starting Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. against East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.
Antigua and his team will continue to strive for balance and along the way making teams in the conference take notice.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.