We're going to wait a couple games to write a full season preview for USF men's basketball, but some thoughts from tonight's win:
* Chris Perry is way ahead of where we thought. Fourteen points (7-10 shooting) & seven boards plus two blocks in 27 minutes despite not starting, and a real force defensively on the block. He's still very raw, but his effort is strong and he's got a great nose for the ball on stickbacks around the rim.
* We also really like Corey Allen. He's solid defensively already and plays with great energy. He made a few questionable decisions as the point guard (like going to the rim and getting swatted easily one time too many), but he's one of those players you can't help but root for due to his style of play. Hope he can find a home once AC comes back.
* This team can guard some people. We were all excited about the potential increase in offensive output this season, but they really got after it defensively. Granted, Tennessee Tech aren't world beaters, but the effort was good on both the block and the perimeter on the whole. The Golden Eagles were 22-60 from the floor, but a decent chunk of those were prayers that just dropped. There's still mistakes being made, but it looks like a defense that can come together and be effective as a unit.
* USF was 3-8 tonight from three-point range, which is better than the 3-16 in the exhibition against Barry. This isn't a team that's going to shoot a bunch of 3's, but they'll need to be a better shooting team against better competition. Slow improvement began tonight.
* Vic Rudd led all scorers with 23, including 11-12 from charity stripe. Rudd did a great job helping to ice the game, but also played only 25 minutes due to foul trouble. He drew some fouls being aggressive and going to the rim early, which is where the new rules can help him, but looks like he'll need to be more judicious on the other end to stay on the floor too.
* They're really bringing along John Egbunu slowly, and that's a good thing. Despite starting he only played 19 minutes,partially due to foul trouble and partially as coaching decisions. The freshman didn't take a shot from the floor that counted, but was 7-12 from the free throw line (where he has a gorgeous stroke for a 6'11 player). What makes him potentially really special is his defense: 7 boards, 2 blocks, and a guy that changes things just by his presence around his own rim.
* Josh Heath didn't play by design, as his Dad said after the game they're considering a redshirt for him. Bo Zeigler, Dre Clayton, and Jordan Omogbehin were the only other healthy Bulls (as far as we know) to not get any time tonight.
We'll head back Tuesday night against Bethune-Cookman and see some more of this team before we begin a preview, but it's an exciting team with lots of promise that's playing without their best player right now. They've also got many things to correct. We'll see how many they can address between now and Tuesday.