TAMPA, Fla. — Please, is there any help for your old Uncle Mel and this year’s men’s basketball season at the University of South Florida?
Once again, it is the same old story being told by the Bulls. USF failed to score enough points despite the fact that Bulls made over half of their shots. Holding on to the ball is still the number one problem for the Bulls. USF turned the ball over 18 times plus the University of Memphis defense forced a season-high 14 steals.
The University of Memphis defeated the University of South Florida 85-75, to extend the losing slide for the Bulls in front of 2,563 inside the best basketball venue on the sunset side of the state of Florida, the Sun Dome.
“Well, first I would like to say that Memphis is a good team but I’m proud of our guys,” University of South Florida interim basketball coach Murray Bartow said after the game. “This team five weeks ago wouldn’t have come back from 19 and cut it down to 10. We’ve done a lot behind the scenes from the way they are carrying themselves as basketball players to academics.”
Carrying the Bulls against the Tigers, Malik Fitts finished the game recording his first career double-double with 29 points and pulling in 11 rebounds. He shot 9-of-14 from the floor including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.
“I was definitely feeling it tonight,” Fitts said. “We lost one of our key players for the past two games. I felt like I had to be more aggressive tonight and get some points.”
Missing from the floor for USF, guard and leading scorer Geno Thorpe who is still recovering from an ankle injury.
Fitts was just part of Bartow’s game plan to play three freshmen, so they can gain that experience.
“We have three good freshmen, Michael Bibby has a chance to be good, Tulio Da Silva has a chance to be good and Fitts has a chance to be good.” Bartow said about his trio of freshmen. “Malik was amazing, he is a hard worker and a great kid, works his tail off and he’s getting better.”
The 29 points scored by Fitts is impressive but the Bulls allowed University of Memphis forward Dedric Lawson to score 29 points and the Tigers offense was a model of consistency, shooting 46.7 percent from the floor in both halves of the game.
Memphis jumped out ahead of the Bulls and there were times during the game, that the Bulls made the Tigers aware of the Bulls.
At the 13:13, mark of the first half the score was tied at nine and then the Tigers went on a 13-2, run but the Bulls continued to play and at the half, the Bulls were down by five points.
Coming out of the locker room to start the second half, USF scored on a layup by De Silva and only trailed the Tigers by three points but then the Tigers went to work to put the game into the win column by going on a 15-5, run to boost the defect to double digits.
In the second half the Bulls did shoot a respectable 57.1 percent from the floor and finished the game shooting 51.0 percent from the floor but the 17 points scored by Memphis off of the Bulls mishandling of the ball and the poor 63.2 percent from the free throw line did not help the Bulls’ quest in finding victory against the Tigers.
So here we are USF fans, just the beginning of the month of February and the Bulls are at that magical mark of 0-10 in the conference and really is there any hope for a victory. A chance to make some noise at the American Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament being played in Hartford, Connecticut the answer is-No!
The basketball season for the University of South Florida unofficially ended with the dismissal of former coach Orlando Antigua after the second conference game in January.
It is hard for USF basketball fans to have any kind of optimistic idea of the Bulls and this year’s basketball season when they keep witnessing the same mistakes that have plagued this program for four years.
USF just can’t find any type of consistency in putting the basketball through the hoop, even at the free throw line. The fact is that the Bulls are last in the conference shooting just 64.1 percent from the free throw line.
Bartow says that the Bulls are working hard during practice and that they are putting forth that same effort during the game but still the result is 0-10 in the conference and have not won a game since the Bulls defeated the University of Delaware back in December.
“I am proud of the effort, proud of the fight,” Bartow said. “We are not proud of losing, so we’re not happy about the loss.”
Neither are the USF fans!
USF will pack their suitcases, trunks and head toward the city of Philadelphia to take on Temple University, Sunday, Feb. 5 and tipoff at the Liacouras Center is scheduled for 1 p.m.
University of South Florida basketball fans are hoping for plenty of help from all of the Bulls out on the court to make it a Super Sunday!
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.