USF beat a simply horrendous BCU team last night, but didn't exactly look sharp while doing so. This wasn't Kansas-Duke that's for sure, and there's still issues for a team trying to find their way. We'll start with the bad, and work towards the good... and yes, there was still lots of good.
The Bulls were only up nine at halftime, and I can't emphasize enough how terrible BCU is when you see them in person. But the Wildcats can hit shots, and ended up 10-28 from three-point range. Some of those makes were contested, but enough of them weren't where it's at least a bit concerning. When you're that athletically superior, more of those shots should have been challenged on the perimeter.
The other glaring issue is USF being only 4-17 from three themselves (and 1-14 sans Corey Allen), going to 7-25 on the season. The overwhelming majority of those 3's were uncontested as BCU had to give up something, but the shots still weren't dropping. The Bulls are going to have to find a way to shoot the ball better from the perimeter once league play begins. Javonte Hawkins is 0-5 this season so that's a big chunk of the problem across a tiny sample size, but so many of these looks are WIDE open and just aren't falling. They'll need to find a way to knock down some shots from the perimeter when the competition gets better.
With the new rules zone becomes an even more effective way to defend, and since the Bulls don't appear to be lights out shooters at present, they're going to see a lot of it. Last night USF showed they can find other ways to break a 2-3 zone instead of just shooting over it: they entered the ball to the high post, kicked it opposite and had a driver in Hawkins get to the rim. They ball-screened the top, pinning two defenders while getting Allen to drive to the nail. They had Egbunu flash high, then seal his defender to get a duck in off a wing entry. These are all ways you can break the effectiveness of a zone without just chucking it up from 22 feet, and it's likely USF is going to need to master many of these as they're going to see a lot of zone looks until they start making some shots.
Now that we got all that pesky stuff out of the way: COREY ALLEN!! We really liked this kid already, but last night sealed our man crush. 7-9 from the floor, 3-3 from distance, 4-4 from the free throw line, nine assists, seven rebounds, three steals, and just two turnovers. He did it all and with great energy for every one of his 34 minutes. The kid is quick, knows when to defer to teammates and when to take over, and plays his tail off. He's everything you want in a point guard... which might be an issue since he also shares that position with USF's best returning player.
So now the question becomes how can Allen blend with Anthony Collins when USF's consensus MVP returns? Getting AC back sooner rather than later is so important just so we can see how these two can play together. Allen is the bigger body and if they're on the floor at the same time he'll most likely have to defend opposing 2's, but that might leave the Bulls a bit undersized in the backcourt. His shooting last night though shows he can be a floor stretcher, and he can get to the paint as a driver too. We think these two can find a way to play together offensively... but it'll be the defense that will determine if they can stay on the floor together. And the competition we've seen so far just isn't good enough to determine if Allen can defend bigger players at a high level.
Hey more good things! 22 assists on 31 made baskets, and just 10 team turnovers. 25-32 from the free throw line, a much better number than seen against both Miami in the scrimmage and Tennessee Tech. Forcing 18 BCU turnovers was good, but holding them without a fast break basket all night is wonderful as USF had a 20-0 advantage on fast break points. The Bulls have defended the interior at a very high level so far, and hopefully that can continue when the competition gets better. And Chris Perry just continues to win at everything, as he was 5-9 shooting last night with four boards and four blocks in 20 minutes. His paint presence and hands are just so far ahead of where you would think a freshman should be at this stage. Bartow, Fla. get turnt... you've got one helluva player to root for here.
The other post playing freshman John Egbunu is struggling with foul trouble, but his skills are just breathtaking when he puts it together. Five points and 10 boards last night in just 20 minutes, though three turnovers too. He's going to be great when he puts it all together. Not good, great. And his freakish athleticism and wingspan are going to make the paint a serious challenge for opponents driving to the rim.
So it's mostly good, but there are still some kinks. Bowling Green and Stetson will be two more opportunities to get better before the first real benchmark: #8 Oklahoma State comes to the Dome on November 25th. And boy oh boy that's going to be fun.