All along the University of South Florida's road to the NCAA tournament, coach Stan Heath was confronted with questions about the Bulls' style of play.
Utilizing nearly every second of the shot clock with the goal of limiting possessions, USF used it to earn the Bulls' first NCAA bid since 1992. But Heath kept hearing words such as "ugly'' and "eyesore'' to describe his team.
Heath kept his cool following Sunday night's 62-56 loss against the Ohio University Bobcats in the Midwest Region third-round game at the Bridgestone Arena, but some frustrations bubbled up anyway.
"It's funny, but I'm watching TV and you'll hear an announcer talk about, 'Boy, Saint Louis is doing a great job, they're grinding out possessions and they're playing great defense,' '' Heath said. "Then you hear, 'Wisconsin is grinding out offense, this, that and the other.' You know, 'The kids are disciplined, great coaching.' All of a sudden, we play that way and it's ugly basketball.''
Heath never deviated from his belief that a patient style was USF's best method. Sure enough, the Bulls finished 22-14, one victory away from the Sweet 16.
"All of that (disparaging talk about USF's offense) was a little disappointing for me,'' Heath said. "More than that, I'm just happy that our guys didn't get distracted by those kind of comments because we're playing to win games and that's what the kids bought into.''
Hard work ahead
USF sophomore swingman Victor Rudd Jr. said the Bulls went straight to work after last season's 10-23 finish. He expects an even more heightened offseason approach after USF tasted some NCAA tournament success.
"We're getting in the weight room with our weight coach, getting on the track and going harder than we did last year, so we can be a successful team next year,'' Rudd said. "With our newcomers coming in, we're going to welcome them with open arms, have a good offseason and come in ready.''
Bright future for Collins
Next season, the Bulls should continue to revolve around point guard Anthony Collins, who made the Big East Conference's all-rookie team as a freshman.
"The best is yet to come for that young man,'' Heath said. "He's good, but wait until next year because he will be extremely motivated. This kid gets up during a regular year at 6 in the morning and shoots and works on his game when everybody else is sleeping. He's going to set the tone for everyone on our team.''
For the first time since Feb. 4, an opponent surpassed the 57-point mark against USF when Ohio registered 62 on Sunday night. Still, the Bulls allowed an average of 56.6 points to their opponents, which set an all-time Big East defensive record. The old mark was 57.8 by the 2006-07 Georgetown team that made the Final Four. … Senior Augustus Gilchrist had 13 points against Ohio and finished with 1,209 for his career, which ranks ninth in USF history. … Gilchrist finished with a 9.6 scoring average, the only time in USF's 41-year history that it didn't have a double-digit scorer. Previously, the lowest scoring leader was Dave Niemann (10.3 ppg) in 1976-77. … Basketball isn't over at USF. Coach Jose Fernandez's women's team (19-15) will travel to James Madison on Friday night for a third-round game in the WNIT, which USF won in 2009.