Thursday, March 13, 2014

USF Bulls lose, decision awaits

Posted By on Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 1:54 PM

A day after the USF Bulls were eliminated from post-season play following its 72-68 loss to Rutgers on Wednesday in the opening game of the American Athletic Conference's inaugural tournament, the decision now awaits.

And it isn't rocket science.

Stan Heath must go.

Victor Rudd drives through the lane against the Rutgers defense on Wednesday during the Bulls 72-68 loss to Rutgers in the opening game of the AAC tournament.
  • USF Bulls media relations
  • Victor Rudd drives through the lane against the Rutgers defense on Wednesday during the Bulls' 72-68 loss to Rutgers in the opening game of the AAC tournament.

Four of the six seasons with Heath as head coach of the USF basketball program have resulted in below average records, including this season's 12-19 mark. Overall, the Bulls are 85-110 since 2007 with Heath as captain of this ship.

Earlier this week, USF president Judy Genshaft hired former UCLA senior associate Mark Harlan as the new athletic director at USF. In doing so, Genshaft emphasized greatness as a realistic goal for the athletic programs at USF.

"And it's hard to tolerate mediocrity...especially with a university that's on the move upward," Genshaft said at the press conference introducing Harlan.

With that being said, Harlan should make the decision before the weekend arrives.

Of course, Heath is managing to do his best Wolf of Wall Street impression to save his position.

"All I can do is keep doing my job, look for ways to improve this team and figure ways to help the good players we have get better," Heath told the Tampa Bay Times after Wednesday's loss. "(Wednesday) was a microcosm of a lot of what's gone on. A missed shot, a missed chance to make a play."

Perhaps the largest "miss" of all over Heath's six-year span at USF — and possibly the biggest factor in failure — has been blatantly letting local prep stars go off to other programs around the nation. Many of them have gone on to be major contributors to their respective teams.

Louisiana Tech junior guard Kenneth "Speedy" Smith, who ranks second in the nation in Division I with 7.9 assists per game, desperately wanted to be a Bull, but Heath never showed much interest.

"I guess they saw something they didn't want, but it is what it is," said Smith, who was selected to the Times' All-Pinellas County team while starring at Boca Ciega in St. Petersburg. "It would have been great to be leading that program into the tournament and playing in front of my friends and family, but it wasn't meant to be. Now, Ruston (Louisiana) is little-St. Pete. It's my second home."

St. Pete native Kenneth Speedy Smith earned Defensive Player of the Year honors and ranks in the top five in the nation for assists as the point guard at Louisiana Tech.
  • LA Tech sports media relations
  • St. Pete native Kenneth "Speedy" Smith earned Defensive Player of the Year honors and ranks in the top five in the nation for assists as the point guard at Louisiana Tech.

Unfortunately, for the USF program and its fans, Heath balked at offering a scholarship to the St. Pete native.

"They showed some interest, but the only school that offered me anything was (Louisiana Tech)," Smith said.

On Thursday, Smith will begin a quest to get the the No. 1-seeded Bulldogs into the NCAA tournament when LA Tech takes on Charlotte in the second round of the Conference USA tournament. The Bulldogs enter the conference tourney as regular season conference champs due in large part to the leadership of Smith.

Earlier this week, the 6-2 guard was named to the first team All-Conference USA, and yesterday he was selected as the league's Defensive Player of the Year and added to the All-Defensive team after leading the league in steals with an average of 2.60 per game (seventh in the nation).

Smith isn't the only local player Heath either failed to bring to USF or just simply ignored. The following is a list of other Tampa Bay standouts succeeding at their respective schools:

Michael Frazier II, soph, 6-4, 200, G, Florida Gators — former Plant star who was named to 2013 SEC All-Freshman team for Florida and has been an integral part to the Gators' rise to the No. 1-ranked team this season; second in team in scoring with 12.9 ppg

Okaro White, senior, 6-9, 205, F, FSU Seminoles — former Clearwater forward who enters the ACC Tournament today with 1,312 career points, ranking 20th in school history

Andre Nation, soph, 6-5, 200, G, James Madison Dukes — former Durant star who made the 2013 CAA All-Rooke Team and was selected to the 2014 All-Third Team for the CAA after leading the Dukes with 15.2 ppg

Dallas Moore, freshman, 6-1, 170, G, North Florida Ospreys — former Boca Ciega guard who was named Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year for North Florida, as well as a unanimous choice to the league's All-Freshman squad after leading the team with 12.5 ppg and 2.6 apg

Rashawn Rembert, junior, 6-3, 185, G, East Tennessee State Buccaneers — former Sickles guard who was named first-team All Atlantic Sun after leading the league with 18.3 ppg

Brian Pegg, freshman, 6-7, 190, F, Stetson Hatters — former Oldsmar Christian forward who was named to the Atlantic Sun All-Freshman Team after averaging 8.5 ppg

Quincy Ford, junior, 6-8, 212, F, Northeastern Huskies — former Gibbs star posted averages of 12.2 ppg and 5.8 rpg as a freshman to earn third-team All-CAA honors; missed the 2013-14 season due to back surgery

In addition to this illustrious list, several more local standouts from the area will be headed elsewhere to play next season including Berkeley Prep's Justin Gray (6-4 guard headed to Texas Tech), Tampa Catholic's Chivarsky Corbett (6-6 forward headed to Delaware), and Lakewood's Jacobi Boykins (6-4 swingman headed to LA Tech).

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