(NOTE FROM VOODOO: Toro, Ken, and I were all chatting the other night and this conversation ensued. We should have pulled Gary in so everyone could contribute, but we got rolling and then it was too late. I don't know how we can fix this. I guess Gary gets to write whatever he thinks and take cheap shots at us for leaving him out.)
TORO: So do we do a basketball discussion now?
VOODOO: Yeah, stuff we can print would be good.
TORO: I'll start... so Stan Heath cancelled a donor event with his 3 Point Club tonight due to an "emergency" recruiting trip. I guess the easy joke here is "I hope it's a point guard." (ed. note: It was indeed a recruiting trip.)
VOODOO: The only thing that would be better than a point guard... would be two point guards.
KEN: With Anthony Crater out for six months and Mike Burwell, LaVonte Dority, and Shedrick Haynes not showing anything, that would make me hope it's a couple of points.
TORO: Which, with the roster we already have, would seem to indicate that we could field a very competitive Under 6 Foot team in the annual intramural tournament.
VOODOO: We're pretty sure there will be as-yet-unidentified attrition this offseason? With no more scholarships to work with, and a woeful lack of talent, it has to happen, right?
TORO: Well considering Heath has 13 available, and theoretically 13 occupied right now, and he's going on "emergency" recruiting trips... I guess the math there is we'll have some turnover. I've heard rumors that a couple of those point guards might be looking for playing time at another school next year.
Again, none of this is solid, and I believe the institution has an obligation to a student-athlete to renew scholarships even though they're technically an annual commitment. But, the school certainly doesn't owe you playing time. And if you want to get on the floor, sometimes transferring is the only way to make that happen.
KEN: Yep I agree, and we've had our fair share of people leaving before to assume someone is gone.
VOODOO: Is this a bad time to mention Soloman Bozeman? Although Greg Auman did helpfully point out that he would have been gone from USF before this year anyway, because he would have graduated.
KEN: Even if he had redshirted and played this season, he's a 6'0" shooting guard with a slow trigger.
TORO: Being the best player in the Sun Belt doesn't mean you necessarily should start in the Big East either.
VOODOO: Still, he could have helped a little bit... and that's what worries me about Heath. Not his coaching ability, but the talent evaluation. I know he's recruiting with at least one and maybe both hands tied behind his back, but I kind of thought we'd find someone good even by accident by now.
TORO: Welcome to the chicken and egg argument: You need to win to get players and fans. Fans and players gravitate towards programs that win. That's why there needs to be some sort of paradigm change regarding men's basketball. I hope the Muma facility is part of it, but I'm not sure that alone is enough.
VOODOO: Unfortunately I can present a counterpoint to Muma, right here in my backyard. Are you familiar with the Schollmaier Basketball Complex? A beautiful 25,000-square-foot basketball complex opened in 2004 for the TCU basketball programs. And yeah, their men's team still sucks really hard.
TORO: But how much more would they suck if the facility didn't exist?
VOODOO: I don't know. I can't divide by 0.
They have a smaller building than us and they've sold it out once since 2004. That was last month when Jimmer showed up. I was thinking about getting basketball season tickets in 2012-13, but why would I do that when I can probably pick up tickets to all nine Big East games for pennies on the dollar? (Oh, I'm sorry. MOAR LIKE BIG LEAST AMIRITE!!!!!!!)
So that's why I've been trying not to put too many eggs in the facility basket. It might help... but it might not, and then where are you?
It's been a long time coming with Muma and the Sun Dome renovation, but there needs to be someone like DoJo that fans will want to see. And even then, they didn't come until it was too late for him.
TORO: And that's the other thing, we need to find a way not just to make a run, but to sustain something. That's really hard in an era where really good players can leave early and make millions right away, but I'd be willing to get young with a group of guys that wanted to grow together.
Look at what happened at St. John's. They have all those seniors, and by their fourth year playing together (granted, with a new coach as well), it all came together.
KEN: And hey, now there are five scholarships available next season.
TORO: And they also have a top recruiting class entering. I'm not saying we should be able to get kids like St. John's, but maybe a class of guys that like each other and are willing to grow together might turn this around.
VOODOO: Where do you find that class? I don't know if this is a coincidence, but the best teams USF has been able to put together has been on the backs of kids from Florida. I don't know how hard we're going after local players... what do you all think?
TORO: I think high school basketball down here isn't very good, and there aren't a lot of good players. Our best athletes play football for the most part, and I think that top tier of kids is such a small number. Plus Billy Donovan (and now, maybe Leonard Hamilton) are going to get the majority of them.
I go to high school games here (ed. note: Chris Hansen wants a word with you) (Toro's ed. note back: if I'm going to a high school game, there's a kid that's linked to USF playing in it... otherwise I should have a seat over there and pour myself some iced tea), and I don't see people that jump off the page. But when I see high school football, you see kids all the time that right away you know "that kid can be a star in college."
KEN: Agreed. There are some good players in the area, but they're gone as soon as UF, FSU, or even Butler offers.
TORO: I think you've got to find kids that want to play in the Big East right away, and give them a chance to start from the word go. You've got to let them make mistakes as freshman, and let them get better. I think it's our best path to success.
VOODOO: How was this any different from 15 years ago, though? When FSU went to the Elite 8 in 1993 and Miami stopped sucking and UF went to the Final Four a year later, and USF had a dumpster fire on their hands.
TORO: It's not a bit different. But they made a commitment to success and we, frankly, have yet to do that. FSU goes out and gets Leonard Hamilton, a guy with NBA experience that's a really good coach. Frank Haith at Miami is kind of in the same boat we are here in that he can't sustain anything, but he at least got to the Dance.
UF is a whole different ball of wax because they have the Yankees-Rays money advantage on us.
Part 2 is coming tomorrow, where we talk about what it would take to build up into a legitimate basketball program, and we introduce something called "The Chuckycrater."