Some men's basketball news this week.
First: point guard Anthony Collins has announced his intention to remain at USF! In an interview with radio voice Jim Louk at the official site, Collins talked coming back from injury, and answered a blunt question from Louk about his future:
LOUK: Now you have, options, in all candidness, about where you can play right now at this stage of your career. Are you committed to USF, committed to coming back next year?
COLLINS: Yeah, I'm committed to staying at USF. You know, I was on the team that went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in like 20 years and I want to do it again. I want to be the first person to do it twice. That's what drives me. The school's been good to me, I like the program, I just want to be here and win.
Speculation that Collins would leave had USF been running rampant since he was shut down in the middle of last season. This was fueled by Collins' lack of public comment on the matter; a confluence of events that ultimately didn't happen; and the general belief that USF basketball can't have nice things. But Collins will be back for 2014-15, and says he's 100 percent and is embracing Orlando Antigua's faster-paced offense. This is terrific news for USF.
Second, USF officially announced the non-conference schedule. It's a mix of winnable games, moderate challenges, and a couple major-conference schools.
The most glamorous game is against Florida State, as part of the Orange Bowl Classic. The FSU-USF game is part of a doubleheader, the other game being Florida-Wake Forest. So if you enjoy watching Gator and Seminole fans snipe at each other while pretending to be interested in basketball, this is the event for you. It's at the BB&T Center in Sunrise (the Florida Panthers' arena) on December 20 of this year.
Until the mid-90s, Florida State was a yearly opponent for USF. For some reason, the annual home-and-home series petered out, and has been played only sporadically since. The last game was at Daytona Beach in 2007, which USF won. The Bulls are 12-20 all-time vs. FSU, which isn't a bad record as our long-time basketball rivalries go. (Check our record vs. Memphis or Louisville.)
Other major conference opponents include Alabama on December 2, in a return of last year's game at the Sun Dome; Seton Hall on December 18, the first of a home-and-away series; and a trip to Raleigh to face North Carolina State on November 23. It's not clear if NC State will later make a return visit to Tampa; according to their SB Nation site, this game may have been a last-minute replacement for a Missouri game that got postponed.
Another old nemesis is back on the schedule: UAB. The Bulls travel to... (looking it up, I genuinely forgot)... Bartow Arena on November 20. Presumably USF will host UAB in 2015-16. The Bulls have played their old Sun Belt rivals four times since leaving C-USA, in part to fulfill a Big East exit requirement. UAB won three of those four games, which is close to their historical rate of success in this series.
USF travels to the University of Detroit on December 6, in a return game from last year's game at the Sun Dome. That means USF's travel itinerary this winter goes: Birmingham, Raleigh, Tuscaloosa, Detroit. Oh, and we don't go to Memphis for conference play. I pity the USF staffer whose job it is to sell basketball travel packages. Fortunately, New Orleans is once again a destination.
Other opponents, all at the Sun Dome: Indiana University of Pennsylvania (exhibition), Flagler College, Jackson State, Hofstra, Jacksonville, Georgia Southern, Southeastern Louisiana, and Bowling Green. Interesting that BGSU is on the schedule for a third straight year. Perhaps they're trying to re-create one of USF's wackiest games ever.
By the way, the Kentucky game I mentioned wouldn't be until the 2015-16 season. We probably won't get confirmation (or refutation, if appropriate) of that matchup for awhile.
USF's conference games have not been set in stone yet, but opponents were determined earlier this summer. USF will play Memphis at the Sun Dome only, and will not host Cincinnati. All other opponents, including newcomers Tulsa, East Carolina, and Tulane, will be home and away. So your marquee home games are probably UConn and Memphis.
One other piece of news to report: big man Jordan Omogbehin has transferred to Morgan State. According to MSU, he is a graduate transfer and will have two years of eligibility for the Bears. Best of luck to him.