So far, the surge has been convincing, if not impressive.
For more than a month, the USF men's basketball team has taken fans on an impossibly fun ride to Bulls and Bucks football, albeit from the backseat.
Who could have predicted that Alex Goresh and Todd Bowles would lead their respective teams to an exciting postseason run? But while those teams have flourished, USF first-year men's coach Amir Abdul-Rahim's team has quietly been doing the same.
The Bulls (9-5, 2-1 American Athletic Conference) have won seven of their last eight games, starting with a 16-point victory over FSU on neutral court. After a shaky start, Abdulrahim's club solidified. Bulls these days are efficient, skilled, and very entertaining.
Ahead of Thursday night's showdown at No. 10 Memphis, we look at four reasons why USF is the first Bulls club in five years to be over .500 in four of 14 games.
they discovered long distance contact
Considering this program has struggled to build a 3-point rhythm since Reggie Cone left. 20 years agothe Bulls' long range ability these days is amazing.
Over the past eight contests, USF has shot 39% (77 of 197) from 3-point range, nearly 6% higher than its season average. During the same period, he made 9.6 3-point shots per game, nearly two more than the overall average (7.4). Senior Selton Miguel, one of the few holdovers from the Brian Gregory era, led the Bulls by making nearly 50 percent of his long-range shots (23-of-47) during the Bulls' 7-1 run. stood.
Don't be shocked if their shooting touch lingers. Just three games ago, coach Abdul-Rahim publicly bemoaned the haste of his shooters, saying that after they made 3-of-15 shots in the first half of a home win against Temple on Jan. He was trying to hit the ball.'' .
Over the past two and a half games, they've shot nearly 40 percent (24 of 61) from the 3-point line.
Establishes depth and balance
The recent surge is due to ensemble efforts. The Bulls rank 37th nationally and second in the AAC in bench points per game (27.9) this season, with 10 players averaging more than nine minutes per game.
What sways that statistic is the fact that Miguel, who ranks second on the team in points with 14.6 points per game, has come off the bench in 10 of 14 games. Still, the Bulls are regaining balance. Eight players averaged more than 5 points, and no player averaged more than 14.9 points.
“They just have to continue to embrace it and live with it,” Abdulrahim said of four players in last Friday's 81-73 home win over Rice, led by junior Casey Ann Pryor's 29 points. He spoke after the players scored double-digit points.
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“That's not cool, guys. It's not something that will get you likes on Instagram or retweets on Twitter. Team basketball…we'll be able to play in March and that's the goal. ”
jaden reed is real
Reed, a 5-foot-10-inch freshman from New York, has emerged as the crown jewel of the Bulls' co-op effort. Over the past eight tournaments, the former three-star prospect has averaged 9.6 points, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 56.3 percent (9-of-16) from long range.
A sure sign of his maturation came in last week's win over Rice. Despite missing all five shots from the floor, Reed had five assists, three steals and zero turnovers in 29 minutes.
they are guarding the ball
Perhaps the most important statistic by far is the team's plus-3.9 turnover margin, 28th nationally and first in the AAC. Over the past eight contests, that margin has improved to plus-4.3.
In the win over Rice, the Bulls forced 18 turnovers but only committed six.
“It's not good, it's not great, it's elite,” Abdulrahim said. “His assist-to-turnover ratio of 3 to 1 is just elite.”
joey knight email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls
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