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January 10, 2013

USF's second straight loss teaches lessons

After every USF game there is a time to reflect. We are doing just that and here's our 'Five Things We Learned' from the Villanova game.

Size does Matter

I don't think I'm surprising anybody with this topic. Ever since Waverly Austin left for Oregon, USF's lack of size and depth down low has been well chronicled.

The surprise from last night was how and how much USF was bullied down low.

The Bulls had no answer for the duo of Mouphtaou Yarou and Daniel Ochefu on the blocks. Villanova outrebounded USF 42-32 and pulled down 15 offensive rebounds. In the first two Big East games, USF has been outrebounded 85-60 and opponents have combined for 38 offensive rebounds.

Clearly the Bulls are outmatched and outnumbered in the post. If Villanova wanted to, they could have gone to the post with Ochefu, Yarou and Pinkston on every possession and been successful. Even when USF put the 6-9 Victor Rudd down low, they couldn't get a stop. Rudd cannot be an answer defensively in the paint; he isn't big enough to push around the Big East's biggest guys.

The Scouting Report is Out

For the second straight game, teams dared USF to shoot the ball from the outside.

Syracuse's 2-3 zone and Villanova's help man-to-man defense both keyed in on Anthony Collins' drives to the basket, making USF shoot guarded from the perimeter. It seems that the scouting report is out on USF; don't allow Collins to drive to the basket and either shoot his patented floater or kick the ball out to the perimeter.

If USF is going to be successful the rest of the year, they are going to have to figure out how to free up Collins in the half court.

More is Needed From role Players

For as deep as USF was coming into the season, especially at the wing position, the Bulls have gotten very little lately from their role players.

The bench scored just ten points last night against Villanova and that includes a full court, heave three-pointer from Javontae Hawkins at the final buzzer. The best teams in the Big East can go eight or nine players deep each and every game.

USF starters are averaging over thirty minutes the past five contests. If the Bulls want to compete, they are going to need bigger contributions from Musa Abdul-Aleem, Zach LeDay, Hawkins, Jordan Omogbehin and Kore White (When he returns).

Defense Still the Identity

USF held an opponent to at least ten points under their season average for the second straight game last night.

Clearly, the Bulls are keeping defense as their mentality and aside from a few lapses last night, USF clamped down and got stops. The Bulls were especially good guarding the three point line, forcing the Wildcats to shoot just 4-18 (22.2%) in the game. This year, the Bulls are amongst the best in three-point field goal defense, opponents are shooting just 28.6% from long range.

Need to Stay Away from Hero Ball

Too many times last night, we saw Bulls players try to do too much. USF's offense is centered on the concept of quick passes, sharing the basketball and finding the open man. Players cannot try to go one-on-five like last night and expect positive results.

The Bulls had eleven turnovers last night, four of them can probably be attributed to a player trying to put the entire team on his shoulders and make a big basket. I'm not condemning players who want to step up, but because the Bulls lack size, they don't get many second-chance opportunities. The Bulls need to find and take the right shot, the first time.



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