TAMPA, Fla. — Your old pal, Uncle Mel sat quietly in his seat, watched and listen as the echoes faded up into the ceiling of the finest basketball arena on the bayside of the sunshine state and is the home of the University of South Florida-the Sun Dome.
Also, mercifully fading into the abyss is the 2016-17 basketball season for the University of South Florida Bulls and for their interim coach Murray Bartow.
For your old uncle and many of his friends they feel that this season had a strange resemblance to something bundled tightly in a plastic bag trying to keep the stench from reaching the nostril, waiting for the truck to come and hull it way.
It is a comfort to your old uncle and his friends that the Bulls receive the No.11 seed in the Frontier Communication American Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament being played March 9-12, 2017 at the XL Center located in Hartford, Connecticut.
Oh by the way there are only 11 members in the conference!
So the Bulls will make the trip to the city of Hartford but they will be packed light because your old uncle is expecting, the Bulls to make a quick exit from the tournament and not stay for the whole weekend and take advantage of the culture offered by the city of Hartford.
Watching the last game of the regular season Sunday afternoon, against Temple University, USF quietly fell 72-60, cementing last place in the conference for the Bulls.
There are just couple of things that have plagued the Bulls for about three years now, that they have not improved enough to make the Bulls a serious threat at the conference tournament.
The first thing that really irritates your old grumpy Uncle is that USF still can’t hold on to the ball, making 19 turnovers against the Owls is not an improvement-it is inexcusable.
USF is still having trouble making baskets, they did finish the game against the Owls shooting 42.4 percent and that is respectable but Temple shot 43.1 percent from the floor including shooting 44 percent from behind the arch and that is despicable defense.
Temple found the ranged early in the first half and put USF against the ropes but the Bulls went on an 8-0 run raising the hopes of the 2,509 inside the Sun Dome but the Owls made some timely adjustments and ran into 15-6 run to send the Bulls into locker room dizzy.
Junior guard Geno Thorpe scored a game-high 21 points and he tried to put the Bulls on his shoulder and even though he hit a three-point shot to cut the lead down to four points in the beginning of the second half. Thorpe’s heroic effort just failed, he did not really get much help.
USF sophomore forward Luis Santos scored 14 points, hulling in six rebounds playing 24 minutes but it was not enough help for Thorpe and for the Bulls.
After the game, Bartow said that he thought that his team played with pride and plenty of enthusiasm defensively.
“I thought the defensive effort was good. Obviously they made 11 threes, which is too many,” Bartow said. “We rebounded well again. We rebounded our tails off!”
Now your old uncle is not exactly great with his observation skills but how can your defense allow four players to shoot and score into double figures and say that the defense played well?
It is acceptable that some players are just lucky shooters and getting all of those bounces on the rim just to have the ball fall the right way and caress the corded-net falling through the center of the rim.
This season the Bulls have had plenty of teams come into the Sun Dome and felt the friendly atmosphere and just like Goldilocks it was just right and then take the Bulls defense out for ice cream and pizza to say thank you for standing and watching.
Now nieces and nephews you know that your old uncle does not like to throw doubt around but there is plenty of doubt that surrounds this team.
Is Bartow in the hunt to become the new basketball coach?
Are there going to be more players deciding that USF is just not the right place for them to play and earn that degree?
Can the Bulls find a player that can score points to help Thorpe and Santos?
For this program, the spinning of out of control started way back in the summer of 2016 and started to head for the cliff in early January.
No it is not Bartow’s fault that this team only won one game in the conference, leads the universe in turnovers and can’t score consistently.
It is not Bartow’s fault that players want to bolt from this school and leave this program quicker than lighting.
USF will appear in the Frontier Communication American Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament as the No.11 seed and will play the No.6 seed the University of Connecticut, Thursday March 9, inside the XL Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.
Is there a chance for an upset?
Can the Bulls have an extended trip?
The answer to both questions is no!
So as your old uncle sat in his chair the arena lights are turned off and the darkness decinded, your uncle fondly remembers the start of this season a victory against Florida A&M University celebrating the hope of a brand new season only to have that dream crash and disintegrate right before your eyes.
So the University of South Florida men’s basketball team will have a long off season waiting for a chance to redeem themselves and put the echo of this past season behind them and then forget about it!
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.