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USF Women: Weathering The Storm
Posted Nov 18, 2013 by Joey Johnston
Updated Nov 18, 2013 at 10:23 PM
It was about noon local time on Sunday, some three hours until game time. The University of South Florida women’s basketball was watching game film in a meeting room at the Marriott hotel in downtown Peoria, Ill. Then the hotel staff descended.
USF coach Jose Fernandez and his players were told to leave immediately.
“We were moved to the middle of the hotel with the other guests,’’ Fernandez said. “That was the safest place.’‘
The Bulls were caught in tumultuous Midwestern weather—dozens of tornadoes and intense thunderstorms swept through the area—and there were scary moments. The greatest damage occurred in nearby Washington, Ill., where some neighborhoods were wiped out in a matter of seconds.
Once the storm passed, the Bulls maintained a normal schedule and their afternoon game against Bradley University went on as scheduled.
“There was a moment of silence before the game,’’ Fernandez said. “Some employees of the university who were working the game, they just weren’t able to get there. Obviously, there was a lot of concern for what was going on.’‘
The game itself was routine. The Bulls (3-1) defeated Bradley 87-63. Afterward, the team traveled to Chicago and Monday’s return to Tampa was uneventful.
Fernandez will remember the initial moments, when the pregame film session was interrupted and no one was certain about the weather’s severity.
“You could see the water rolling down the streets, the hail, the wind picking up,’’ Fernandez said. “It was just howling. I had never been through a tornado like that before.’‘
As a Floridian, Fernandez had plenty of experience with hurricanes. He was a Miami resident in 1992, when Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida.
“I still remember exactly where I was,’’ Fernandez said. “In the closet. You can’t mess with Mother Nature. We think we’re in control. Moments like that prove to you that we’re not in control.’‘
QB White working overtime
Posted Oct 29, 2013 by Joey Johnston
Updated Oct 29, 2013 at 05:06 PM
Even before he was named starting quarterback at the University of South Florida, true freshman Mike White was considered a student of the game.
Now he is proving it.
USF coach Willie Taggart said he’s impressed with the preparation of White, who leads the Bulls (2-5, 2-1 American Athletic Conference) into Thursday night’s Halloween road game against the Houston Cougars (6-1, 3-0).
“I think he’s a coach now, I’ve seen him around so much,’’ Taggart said. “He wants it. I’m leaving and he’s still here and I’m like, ‘Wow!’ You got to love it. Hopefully it transfers onto the football field. Usually, it does. You put the work in and it does (transfer).’‘
Taggart stopped short of making an unfair comparison, but he said White’s approach reminds him of Andrew Luck. As an assistant coach, Taggart helped recruit Luck to Stanford University for Coach Jim Harbaugh.
“He was the same way as a true freshman, just constantly watching film,’’ Taggart said. “You knew it was only a matter of time before he was going to show everyone what he was capable of doing.
“That’s what it takes to be a big-time quarterback in college football. I’m pretty sure with all those big-name quarterbacks, if you see any similarities, it’s going to be their work ethic. They understand what’s going on and they can adjust to it on the field.’‘
Taggart said he asked White for a couple of his favorite plays from Fort Lauderdale University School, which he led to last season’s Class 3A state title, and they might be in the game plan for Houston. Taggart said he’s not asking White to win the game, but to simply protect the ball, manage the game and let the team itself win the game. He won’t compare anyone to Luck, but the former All-American, now the Indianapolis Colts, is a great example for methods of success.
“If you want (to be) a great one, he’s a prime example of how to be a great one from Day One,’’ Taggart said. “For us, we’d love to have Andrew Luck, but we’re just looking for a little luck.
“We’d like to get there, just a little bit. Not the whole Andrew. Just a little bit.’‘
White will be USF’s fourth starting quarterback this season, along with Matt Floyd, Bobby Eveld and Steven Bench.
Guastella named Citrus Park Christian’s boys basketball coach
Posted Oct 24, 2013 by Kyle LoJacono
Updated Oct 24, 2013 at 01:59 PM
Mike Guastella has been named Citrus Park Christian’s boys basketball coach.
Guastella led the programs at Lakeland Victory Christian and Ormond Beach Calvary Christian from 2008 to 2011, where his teams won three district titles in as many years and posted a combined 68-18 record.
Guastella, who is also the Eagles’ athletic director, is also coaching Citrus Park’s football team on an interim bases after Nathan Galan resigned earlier this month.
Chandler: Bulls are confident
Posted Oct 23, 2013 by Joey Johnston
Updated Oct 23, 2013 at 12:11 PM
According to University of South Florida DT Todd Chandler, one of the team’s more articulate and interesting interview subjects, the Bulls (2-4, 2-0 American Athletic Conference) have great confidence heading into Saturday’s homecoming game against the No. 18-ranked Louisville Cardinals (6-1, 2-1).
Chandler, who played at Miami Northwestern High with Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater, said he was disappointed to see the Cardinals lose against Central Florida 38-35 on Friday night.
“I was real disappointed,’’ Chandler said. “Not because it was Teddy, but because I wanted South Florida to be their first loss, to knock them off their high horse they’re sitting on. UCF played amazing defense. They didn’t quit when Louisville punched them in the mouth. They didn’t even blink an eye. They just came back fighting.
“I know that’s what South Florida is going to do. We’re not even going to blink. You know Louisville is going to make their plays. We’re going to make our plays. It’s going to come down to a defensive game. We’re ready.’‘
Chandler said people called Bridgewater “Teddy Heisman’’ in high school, but “we’re going to end those dreams as well. It’s college. He’s my friend, but we’ve got on two different jerseys.’‘
With an upset, the Bulls would become the first team in school history to begin 3-0 in league play. USF has a 2-0 league record for the first time since 2003 (Conference USA). When USF began 0-4, players continually talked about their top goal remaining, winning an AAC championship. Sometimes, that brought snickers. But USF players are still talking about it. The Bulls know that beating Louisville would create a few more believers.
“We’re not trying to focus on the negative parts of our season,’’ Chandler said. “Those four losses are on the belt. You can’t start over. You can’t press reset. We’ve got to stay hungry and keep this same drive we’ve had the past two games.
“We can still win this (conference) and go to a nice bowl game. One game at a time. We’re trying to go 1-0 (each week). After this week, we’ll be 3-0.’‘
Rudd, Collins on AAC 2nd team
Posted Oct 16, 2013 by Joey Johnston
Updated Oct 16, 2013 at 09:59 AM
The two remaining players from the University of South Florida’s 2012 NCAA Tournament team—senior forward Victor Rudd and junior point guard Anthony Collins—got some respect Wednesday from the American Athletic Conference coaches when they were named second-team preseason All-AAC. The announcement was made during AAC Media Day in Memphis, Tenn.
If the Bulls hope to rebound from last season’s 12-19, 3-15 nightmare in the Big East Conference, Rudd and Collins must show the way.
“We want to be the leaders,’’ Rudd said. “Truthfully, we’ve been doing that all along, since the (new players) got here. We’re always pulling them aside, showing them how to go about things. That’s the role we need to fill.’‘
USF, selected for 10th in the 10-team league by several preseason magazines, was picked eighth by the coaches, just ahead of UCF and Rutgers.
Here is the complete poll.
American Athletic Conference
Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Louisville (9), 81 points
2. UConn (1), 69
3. Memphis, 68
4. Cincinnati, 58
5. Temple, 40
6. SMU, 39
7. Houston, 28
8. USF, 27
9. UCF, 24
10. Rutgers 16
Preseason Player of the Year— Russ Smith, G, Sr., Louisville
Preseason Rookie of the Year— Keith Frazier, G, Fr. SMU
Sean Kilpatrick, G, Cincinnati
Shabazz Napier, G, UConn
Chane Behanan, F, Louisville
Russ Smith, G, Louisville
Joe Jackson, G, Memphis
Isaiah Sykes, G, UCF
Ryan Boatright, G, UConn
TaShawn Thomas, F, Houston
Montrezl Harrell, F, Louisville
Anthony Collins, G, USF
Victor Rudd, F, USF