Women's basketball might be the most successful team on campus for the Bulls in 2013-14, and this weekend showed that the talent is clearly there but like all teams they'll still need to get better.
The Bulls kicked it off with a fun-to-watch-but-still-a-loss to #6/#8 Maryland 78-70 on Friday night. USF managed to hold All-American Alyssa Thomas to just 1-6 from the floor for four points and three rebounds, but still couldn't find the offense to get what would have been a big home win. The Bulls managed to break even on the glass with the Terps at 49 each, and forced 19 turnovers to just 11 for Maryland. The difference was in the shooting, as it's tough to beat any Top 10 team when you're just 4-20 from three-point range.
If the Bulls get anything at all from Inga Orekhova, they probably win the game. The Uber Ukrainian was 0-11 from the floor including 0-6 from 3 and just couldn't get in a rhythm at all in her limited 19 minutes of play. She backed that up with a 1-5 against Central Connecticut State in just 17 minutes on Sunday finishing a weekend performance that can best be described as puzzling. We're not worried about Inga as she'll figure it out, and the depth on this team (eight players logged 15 minutes or more against Maryland) gives other players a chance to fill the gaps.
Some of those that stepped up included Courtney Williams, whose Allen Iverson-style game is exciting to watch. She had 21 points, seven rebounds and three assists on Friday. Also add Alisia Jenkins to the emerging star list. The 6'1 sophomore was 6-8 from the field for 13 points, and added 11 boards and three steals too. You also saw Jenkins doing a great job jumping in passing lanes to create runout opportunities. Her basketball IQ really shined through in this one, and her all-around game gives her a chance to be a special player. We also really like JC transfer Tamara Taylor from St. Pete, as she took over a stretch in the second half that keyed a 12-0 run to get the Bulls within striking distance.
USF did beat Central Connecticut State (the Blue Devils FYI) 81-47 on Sunday in a game we missed, but freshman Ariadna Puyol from Spain was the star with 20 points on 7-11 shooting in just 25 minutes including 4-7 from deep. If you were at the Sun Dome Hoops Mania event before the season, you saw Puyol bring the house down during the 3-point contest. She can really stroke it despite a super-funky delivery, and her international experience representing Spain will be helpful as the season progresses.
With their next three games against Jacksonville, Bradley, and North Carolina Central, the Bulls should have a chance to work out some of the kinks. Maryland head coach and former national championship winner Brenda Frese said after the game she was glad to get the Bulls now instead of later, and we think that's probably the right assessment.
Don't worry, they're still going to be really good.