New look Bulls rule the show – L’Oracle
The new USF men’s basketball team debuted with a revamped roster as they kicked off the 2021-22 season with a 92-42 exhibition victory over Voorhees College on Monday night.
“It was great [to get the season going]”Coach Brian Gregory said in a post-game press conference.” It’s been a long time [offseason]. I think our guys reacted extremely well.
With just four players returning to this year’s squad, Gregory experimented with different lineups in an attempt to establish team rotation. Nine Bulls played over 15 minutes, with the starters on the field for just 19 minutes on average.
“It will be a challenge for our guys to understand that our strength will be in our numbers,” said Gregory. “Some nights it will be 10 minutes, some nights it can be 23. We have to be okay with that.”
There is still a lot to learn about this team given the magnitude of the team’s turnover last season. Gregory said he was happy with the overall performance of the new faces at both ends of the pitch.
“I think the most impressive thing for the newcomers was the intensity with which they tried to defend,” said Gregory. “The selflessness and execution on the offensive side as well, I thought that was impressive.”
The Bulls entered the break with a 43-29 lead but increased their intensity after the intermission. They outscored Voorhees 49-13 in the second half and led up to 52 points, at one point, in a 31-2 run in 11 minutes.
Second-year forward Jalyn McCreary, who transferred from South Carolina, scored 17, a high for the team.
“It was really good [to make my debut]”Said McCreary.” As soon as I transferred I went home and put in a whole lot of work just to improve my game. It was exciting to be there.
McCreary did most of his damage at mid-range, passing 8 of 13 on the field and taking just one three-point shot.
“If you give him the ball in that 15-16 foot range he’s ready to score,” Gregory said.
Senior goalie Javon Greene, a fifth-year transfer from George Mason, scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
“[He is] as good defensive rebounding goaltender as I have coached, ”said Gregory. “During his four year career with George Mason, I think he’s had over 500 rebounds, so he’s done it before.”
The Bulls’ defense grew stronger as the game progressed. They held the Tigers to 30 percent shots on the night and forced 22 turnovers, converting them to 23 points.
“Sometimes when the score gets out of hand you start to lose some of your principles defensively,” said Gregory. “We’ve done a great job of staying true to what we’ve been working on and what we need to keep improving on. “
USF smashed the offensive glass throughout the game, knocking out 16 total offensive rebounds, led by the sophomore forward and New Mexico transferring all seven boards from Bayron Matos.
“Bayron did his thing there tonight, I’m not going to lie,” McCreary said. “He’s a team player, he does what he has to do to help the team.”
Two of the notable absentees from Monday’s win were second-year guard Caleb Murphy and junior guard Jamir Chaplin, two of four returning players this season. Both players are expected to be ready for the season opener on November 9.
“To have that defensive effort, execution and offensive efficiency without probably your two starting goalies is pretty encouraging at this point,” said Gregory.
“[Murphy and Chaplin] the two could have played tonight, but they ran out of practice with [minor injuries]. We felt it was in our best interests to [rest them] another day or two.
As the new season takes shape, Gregory and his players have enjoyed the fan presence and the playing atmosphere.
“Just go ahead [into this season] with a certain normality, seeing the cheerleaders, the [in-person attendance], the energy our guys played with, there was just a different vibe, ”he said.
The Bulls will officially begin the 2021-22 season next Tuesday when they host Bethune-Cookman. The tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN + and streamed on iHeart Bulls Radio Unlimited.