While folks partied away their Friday evenings, I chose to stick around school and attend USF Basketball's Midnight Madness. Midnight Madness is a way for the mens and womens basketball teams to gain some campus exposure and generate some excitement.
Well, in that regard, they failed.
I got to the gym about 930pm. The event started at 10pm. They were serving hot dogs and hamburgers outisde, which was nice. And they gave out Los Locos t-shirts to students- or pretty much anyone who asked. Except for me of course. The girl demanded to see my student identification after passing out a passing out a t-shirt to some middle aged guy without looking because she was too busy talking to her sororiety sister friend. Apparently me looking her in the eye and saying, "what's the matter don't you trust I'm a student?" didn't invoke any sympathy for my plight. She, again, looking me right back in the eye, asked for my student ID. I gave her my ID.
After getting my hard bargained for t-shirt, I entered the gym and took a seat. It was about a quarter of the way full. At 10pm, it was still less than half way full. At that point, the women's team came out and did a little cheorgraphed dance routine to some Michael Jackson songs. They seemed to have a good time, and it was entertaining enough. Then they scrimmaged. Then the men's team came out and did, pretty much, the same thing. My thoughts were I certainly hope they play with more enthusiam than their scrimmages.
On that note, let's get to the real point of this post: USF Men's basketball. The main star is Dior Lowhorn. Leading the WCC in scoring last season, he averaged 20 ppg last season (and 7.4 rebounds per game) and is a pre-season all WCC conference player. Another top player is guard Manny Quezada. He ended the season with 14ppg and 4.6 assists per game (though an unimpressive 3.9 turnovers per game). Even with such talent, USF will have a tough year. They're coming off of a 10-21 season (5-9 conference). They have a new, unproven coach in Rex Walters, who came over from undistinguished Florida Atlantic University (15-18; 8-10 in the Sun Belt Conference).
In the pre-conference, the Dons face some tough challenges in Cal, USC, Boise St., UCSB, and Pacific. And it doesn't get easier during the conference. Gonazaga, St. Mary's, and San Diego, will, in that order, once again, likely dominate the conference by a large margin. If USF can scratch out some conference wins and top Santa Clara for fourth place, I'd consider that a very successful season.
Overall, it's definetly a rebuilding year. I'd say give Walters a few years to get his own recruits in and see how he does. We should have a pretty good idea by the time conference games roll around as to his coaching ability. I'm still guessing a 5th or 6th place finish, depending on how Pepperdine fares.
PS: Home games to watch for: UCSB (11/24, 7pm), San Diego (1/9, 7pm), St. Mary's (1/11, 7pm), Gonzaga (2/14, 7pm), and Santa Clara (2/21, 7pm). I hope to be at a few of them...so, see you at War Memorial! Until next time, Go Dons!