If you've been reading SouthOrangeJuice since it was regrettably known as, "Gonzo Ball," you'll remember that we sit down with each and every BIG EAST opponent and pick their brain with five questions in advance of that week's contest. This week, the Pirates welcome the South Florida Bulls to South Orange to kick off conference play. Fittingly, it's time our good friends and SBN's South Florida Blog, Voodoo Five , to Walk the Plank! Without further ado:
SOJ: What's going on behind the scenes with Augustus Gilchrist ? First we heard, "philosophical differences," and he was set to leave. Now he's learned a valuable life lesson and he's staying? What's going on here? Has it caused a rift between him and his teammates?
VF: I really have no idea. I'm sure this all started when his mentor/friend/"handler" Terrelle Woody wasn't retained as video coordinator this season. He doesn't look 100% focused when I've seen him out there this season, and a person with his talent shouldn't be averaging 10ppg. We've seen him look dominant at times over the past two years, and when he wants to be, he's one of the top 10 players in the league. Heath did say that the first couple of days were trying, but that the team's chemistry is improving each day. Gus did well in his first game back from his sabbatical against Cleveland State, going 5-8 from the field for 12 points. I just hope it continues.
SOJ: There's no question that Seton Hall's non-conference has been disappointing, but how would you describe USF's? Cleveland State aside, some of these losses are just head-scratching. Is Dominique Jones the sole reason why last year's 9-9BE Bulls are now losing to seemingly, weak opponents?
VF: Well you can't win any games when you turn the ball over 20+ times a game. I thought Chris Howard would be missed more than Dominique Jones, but I didn't know it was going to be this bad. Anthony Crater has been horrendous at the point, and his backups aren't any better right now. We do have some quality players at the post, and our wing players are improving every game. But if our ball handlers can't even complete a simple post entry pass, we can't score.
SOJ: Who has picked up the most slack in Jones' departure? Coming into the season, I assumed Gilchrist and Famous were going to give their usual production, but I was looking at Jawanza Poland to really come forward for the Bulls. Despite leading his squad in scoring, his numbers look rather unimpressive. How would you describe his season thus far?
VF: He redshirted last year at Hutchinson CC, so its taken him some time to kick the rust off, but he can play. He's the only guard who attacks the basket, and his athleticism is off the charts. He does a great job finishing inside, and can hit the three when he wants. He looks like he is starting to take the next step offensively and I'm excited to see his improvement over the next 2.5 seasons. Poland is a quality defender and if Hazell was playing it would have been interesting on how he would have done.
SOJ: Despite making a giant leap in conference play last season, Stan Heath is still only 47-61 at USF. What is his contract like? Should the Bulls BIG EAST schedule play out as poorly as their non-conference, could this be the end of the road for him?
VF: There's no way Stan gets the axe this year because he just signed a 5 year extension over the offseason for 900K a season. Dick Vitale called this job "The Toughest in America", and its true. Our facilities are awful, we have an apathetic fanbase, and players consider us an afterthought in recruiting.
Things are improving facilities wise with the Sun Dome being renovated, and the construction of the 50,000 sq ft Muma Practice Facility will be huge for recruiting. There are more students coming to the games now than when I was there in the first part of the decade. Hopefully they will become season ticket holders, and we can slowly build the fan base that way. Recruiting will be the hardest part, and until we can get some quality HS recruits to come to Tampa, we will be picking from the JUCO and transfer ranks to fill out our roster.
SOJ: Your prediction for the game?
VF: I'm sure we will keep it close, but until we can can figure out how to stop turning the ball over 20 times a game we will continue to lose. USF wins the "Worst Team in the Big East Not Named DePaul" award.
SHU 65 - USF 60
Venture over to Voodoo Five to read our responses to their Bulls Recon: South Orange Juice Talks Seton Hall Basketball and of course, follow them on Twitter .