South Florida-Temple Preview

Getting his Bulls to turn off the TV and go to bed has been the

biggest challenge for South Florida coach Stan Heath during the

NCAA tournament.

That’s about to change.

The 12th-seeded Bulls followed up a 65-54 win over California in

Dayton, Ohio, by flying Thursday to Nashville for a quick

turnaround for their second-round game against fifth-seeded Temple

in the Midwest Region on Friday night.

”We got our feet wet a little bit and got out there and maybe

worked out the kinks and the nervousness and all those different

things, but we’ve got a quick turnaround to play,” Heath said.

”The other team is a little more well-rested, may have a little

more energy. But may not have the same rhythm that we may have from

the previous game.”

Heath said his Bulls were watching highlights of each other’s

dunks at 2 a.m. Thursday, enjoying the school’s first NCAA

tournament win. South Florida lost in its two previous trips in

1990 and 1992, so these are heady days for the Bulls.

”It’s an exciting time for all of us,” junior forward Toarlyn

Fitzpatrick said. ”It’s even an exciting time for our city of

Tampa for everybody that supported USF for all these years to see a

team make it to the NCAA like for only the third time in


The Bulls (21-13) had an early wake-up call to catch a morning

flight to Nashville. But they got to sleep until mid-afternoon

while coaches broke down Temple (24-7).

The rested Owls won the regular-season title in the Atlantic 10.

They have plenty of NCAA experience in their fifth straight and

30th overall tournament. They also have a lineup featuring senior

Ramone Moore, senior Juan Fernandez and graduate Micheal Eric

looking to finish their college career in style.

They know Temple’s NCAA legacy well and would like to make it to

the second weekend for the first time since 2001.

”This is our last go-round,” Moore said. ”So however far we

can make it, it would be great. I think the Elite Eight you know

says a lot about the teams that we had in the past, how great of a

tradition Temple basketball has had through the years. And like I

said, it would just be great, but I mean we don’t want to try to

look too far ahead.”

The Owls got a close look at South Florida’s stingy defense on

Wednesday night when they watched the Bulls hold California to 13

points in the first half. The Bulls allow an average of 56.9 points

per game, which ranks seventh nationally, and are 16th-best in the

country allowing 38.8 percent shooting.

Fernandez said the Bulls cover a lot of space and contest every

shot with their big guards and athleticism.

”And that’s hard for teams to try to score as they would

against any other team,” Fernandez said. ”So we’re going to have

to move the ball, be patient and move without the ball too, and

play as a team more than ever on offense if we want to break them


With Fernandez giving out 3.9 assists per game and Moore 3.5,

the Owls are pretty good at spreading the ball around. They’re also

pretty good at scoring. Temple averages 76.1 points per game, which

is the most by the Owls since the 1987-88 team averaged 76.8 points

a game in reaching a regional final under John Chaney.

Temple coach Fran Dunphy has been following South Florida a bit

this season.

”If I didn’t have to play against them tomorrow, I would have

enjoyed very much watching the game, really celebrated what they

had done,” Dunphy said. ”Now obviously worried.”

This game offers a Big East preview with the announcement March

7 of Temple joining the league in 2012 in football followed by all

sports in 2013-14. Heath said Temple’s tradition and history in

basketball will really add to the Big East right when the

conference is losing some other teams.

”They play on a national scale,” Heath said. ”They beat Duke

this year. I mean, they beat Duke this year! So they don’t need an

introduction. They’re going to be fine. They’re a great program,

and they’ll fit in extremely well with the Big East.”