I love the beginning of basketball season. The sound of the sneakers hitting the hardwood always gets you excited about the chance to make a real splash in the Big East and get that elusive NCAA Tournament bid. This edition of the USF Bulls open up the season against a quality mid-major in the Vermont Catamounts as they kick-off the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Tournament.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 PM, and they will play at the University of Tampa's Bob Martinez Center. There is no TV for the game, but Jim Lighthall and Todd Kalas have the call for you on 620 WDAE. Here are your probable starting lineups for tonight's game.
|6'2" Soph.||G||6'1" Soph. LaVonte Dority|
|6'5" Jr. Brendan Bald||G||6'4" Jr. Shaun Noriega|
|6'6" Soph. Brian Voelkel||F||6'8" Soph. Victor Rudd|
|6'7" Soph. Luke Apfeld||F||6'10" Sr. Augustus Gilchrist|
|6'8" Sr. Matt Glass||F||6'8" Ron Anderson Jr.|
Vermont comes into the season a little bit in transition. The Catamounts have a new head coach in John Becker after former coach Mike Longeran left over the offseason for the vacant position at George Washington. Also gone are the two top scorers from last year's team in Evan Fjeld and Joey Accaoui.
Even with those two gone, UVM has a couple of experienced players who could give the Bulls fits all night. Leading the way are wings Brendan Bald and Brian Voelkel, who each are primed to pick up the shots that were vacated by Fjeld and Accaoui. In our Bulls Recon earlier this week, we asked BusterDouglas what made these two so dangerous, and each of them bring a separate skill to the table.
The matchup between Victor Rudd and Voelkel should be a good one to watch all night. Rudd will have to do a good job all night boxing out the small Voelkel and use his reach to interrupt possible passing lanes. Both Bald and Shaun Noriega are the sharpshooters on the team, and seeing how both players fight through screens to chase each other around the court will be big. I wouldn't be surprised if Heath has Hugh Robertson play some extended minutes to trail Bald all night.
If there is one position where the Bulls have an advantage, its down in the post. UVM has a lot of players that they can throw at USF, but I don't think anyone will be able to matchup with Ron Anderson Jr. and especially Augustus Gilchrist. Matt Glass started most of the season for the 'Cats and is servicable, but its the uncertainity behind him that have UWM fans worried. Luke Apfield is talented and will be the first player to play at the 4, but his ability to stay healthy has been a big concern since stepping on campus. Add in his penchant for getting in early foul trouble and it could be a quick trigger towards the bench if Gus can draw a couple of quick fouls.
I won't make any predictions for the game, but will just send you over to KenPom.com, who has USF winning a close one tonight 64-58. Here's hoping that sounds about right.