USF Must Focus on Front Court to Suceed

The 5 game losing streak that the South Florida Men’s basketball team (6-9 0-3) is in halfway through the season is not exactly where Stan Heath had hoped to be only a few short months ago. Coach Heath expected that his front court would lead this team and while the young wing players developed to fill in for departed players like Chris Howard, Mike Mercer and NBA Draftee Dominique Jones. However, this has not been the case roughly half way through the Bulls season.

Every game this season has been marred with poor shooting percentages (both from the Floor and the charity stripe) and a horrendous amount of turnovers (17.6 per game), which has led to an unacceptable amount of blown opportunities for the currently rebuilding Bulls.

Before the season started, Coach Heath constantly boasted about his the strength of his front court and how they were one of the best in the conference if not the country. Speaking in how this front court should be the leading the offense for his team. This has not been the case as the ball is handled by young wing players who quickly defer to keep the ball as opposed to pass the ball down in the post to the USF bigs.

All season long, as soon as the defense brings a man to double team any of the front court players for USF, they are instantly taken out of the offense and neglected for long periods of time. Which results forced jumpers and turnovers, instead of a higher percentage shot in the paint from proven forwards Jarrid Famous or Ron Anderson Jr.

Augustus Gilchrist has emerged as the leading scorer for USF (12 points per game), but Sophomore Guard Jawanza Poland (ppg) is taking large volumes of shots, while not converting on enough of them to warrant the amount he takes. Poland has taken 159 shots on the season, while Gilchrist has taken 127, (Part of this is due to Augustus’s absence), while Poland has actually made 1 less shot than Augustus (JW-58 to AG-59). This 36% shooting for Poland will not get the job done for Heath and company.

Poland has shown the willingness to drive to the hole to create his own shots and ones for others, much like Dominique Jones did a year ago. However, it is not with enough frequency or effectiveness to warrant his play on the year. Jawanza has a promising future for USF, but he must learn when to defer  to others for a higher percentage shot than he has been taking on the season.

Coach Heath cannot seem to make up his mind on who he wants to focus the offense around and unless he makes a decision the Bulls will not be likely to win more than 10 games this season. Heath must lay down an ultimatum to his guards, that they must focus on getting the ball down low early and often in the offensive possession to allow them to be effective

It has been clear over the past 8 games (Only 1 Win) that the young USF guards are not experienced enough to carry the Bulls, they are simply developing role players for the time being. And with a proven and hardened front court that includes Augustus Gilchrist, Jarrid Famous and Ron Anderson Jr. there is no reason that these 3 should not be touching the ball every time that South Florida gets on offense.