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USF men: Under the radar

Posted Oct 15, 2013 by Joey Johnston

Updated Oct 15, 2013 at 02:41 PM

There probably won’t be much buzz when the University of South Florida contingent—Coach Stan Heath, senior forward Victor Rudd and junior point guard Anthony Collins—appears at Wednesday’s American Athletic Conference men’s basketball media day in Memphis, Tenn.

In fact, if the preseason magazines are any indication, there’s a chance USF could be picked for 10th place in the 10-team league.

Heath doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, he sort of welcomes the underdog mentality that was such an integral part of USF’s NCAA Tournament team in 2011-12.

“I can understand how people might look at our team (12-19 last season) and say, ‘Well, they lost Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, they lost Shaun Noriega, they lost Jawanza Poland ... and they couldn’t score anyway,’ ‘’ Heath said. “I can see where people don’t expect much.

“But I really, really, really feel like we’re better. Maybe a lot better. We’re much deeper and much better. I really don’t care where they’re picking it us. We’ve got to prove it anyway.’‘

Rudd and Collins are the only players remaining from that NCAA Tournament team, but much of Heath’s optimism is based around the maturation of sophomores Zach LeDay and JaVontae Hawkins, plus a six-player recruiting class led by big men John Egbunu and Chris Perry.

“We’re still going to have our work cut out for us,’’ Heath said. “It (AAC) is a good league. When the Big East (broke up), people might say, ‘Hey, we’re not going to be in as good a place now.’ But this will be a powerful league with Louisville, Memphis, UConn, Cincnnnati, Temple ... and right on down the line. Plus, it’s a true (double round-robin) league and we’ve got to play everybody twice.

“I don’t expect people to make us much of a factor, especially early on. That’s OK. We’ve proven to be pretty good in the underdog role in the past. We’re fine with it. I like our team a lot and I can’t wait to get started.’‘

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