A Look At The South Florida Bulls
Last season: The Huskies closed the regular season in Tampa, losing 75-68 to the Bulls. For UConn, the game spoke volumes about how the season had played out. South Florida opened the second half with a 12-1 run to lead by 13. Jim Calhoun pulled all five UConn players off the court with 16:04 remaining, with Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson and Gavin Edwards never to return. Kemba Walker, with help from little-used backups, led a spirited comeback and the Huskies pulled within two in the final minute. But South Florida made its free throws and hung on, keeping their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
Big East tournament, the Bulls wound up in the NIT, their first postseason appearance in eight years. South Florida lost the opener to N.C. State and finished 20-13. South Florida was 9-9 in the Big East, the first time it had won more than four conference games.
Who's gone, who's back: Coach Stan Heath signed a contract extension in the offseason, bumping his salary to just under $1 million a year. Heath is just 41-54 through three seasons, but that is a sign of growth for a program previously stuck near the bottom of the Big East.
Dominique Jones, who averaged 21.4 points, is the key departure. He was selected 25th overall in the NBA draft by the Memphis Grizzlies, with his rights soon traded to the Dallas Mavericks.
The Bulls do return their strong, athletic big men, Augustus Gilchrist and Jarrid Famous. Gilchrist averaged 13.4 points and 5.9 rebounds last season, Famous 10.4 points and 7.5 rebounds. Anthony Crater, a junior, is the best returning guard (just 3.1 ppg last season).
The UConn-South Florida rivalry: Last year's loss to the Bulls was a first. The Huskies hold a 7-1 advantage in the all-time series. The highlight? Probably Craig Austrie's pull-up game-winning jumper just before the buzzer sounded in 2008 at the Sun Dome. UConn had trailed by six in overtime, but pushed its winning streak to nine.