Do not be discouraged my friends. I can see how things might appear bleak now, but the season is far from over. I still firmly believe this is a tournament team. The team is young, and there will be highs and lows due to our youth. We've experienced highs: the win over UCLA, the blowout of St. Johns. We've experienced lows: the loss to Pitt and this last game against USF. Young teams will lose games they should not, but will also win games that people do not give us a chance in. There's still plenty of basketball to be played and whether or not Greg returns this season I think this team can and will win enough games to make the NCAA tournament. Once we make the tournament anything can happen. Remember two important things. 1) This team is a work in progress and will continue to improve through out the year, and 2) It only matters whether you get hot in March or not. How we play now does not really matter.
Losing at USF honestly is not that big of a deal. Should we have won? Yes, but a loss is not that bad. The Sun Dome has proven a tough place to play as a number of quality teams have picked up losses there including the 2005-2006 Hoyas who provided USF with their first ever BE win in USF's inaugural season where the Bulls went 1-15. Traveling down to Tampa often seems to throw teams off with the warm weather in the middle of winter. USF was desperate for a win starting the BE season 0-4 despite not being a bad team. Throw in an odd starting time and a game at #20 ND looming on Monday and this game had trap game written all over it. And of course there is the fact that we are still without the services of Greg Whittington. Some will say I am just making excuses. And sure I am, but an excuse is just another name for an explanation. There's nothing incorrect with my statements. But I understand the frustrations because despite all that I said we still should have won.
There were still some positives to take from the game. The biggest of which was the re-emergence of D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. DSR provided a spark of the bench that the Hoyas have sorely been missing. DSR contributed 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. He had an offensive rating of 162.9 and was second best on the team with a defensive rating of 94.8. He led the team in Net Points and +/-.
Despite the loss, the Hoyas offense was actually quite efficient. It was our second best offensive performance in BE play. Our defense let us down in the second half and South Florida rode some incredibly hot shooting to a victory. The Hoyas also did a solid job on the boards out rebounding USF 34-23 with an OR% of 41.7% while holding USF to 27.3%.
Two other Hoyas had very solid outings. Nate Lubick also had a quality outing with 8 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists and Jabril contributed 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Otto Porter was another bright spot. Twenty-one points, six rebounds, two assits. Otto came up clutch a number of times; of course, you know except for that last time. Which brings me to my final point. Should Otto be the go to guy for the final play of the game? We've been in this situation three times this year. Indiana, Marquette, and USF. We're 1 for 3. Otto scored against Indiana, got doubled against Marquette and kicked it to a wide open Jabril Trawick who missed, and was stripped against USF turning the ball over. Otto is clearly our best player, but is he the best option when we need a bucket? His handle clearly leaves a lot to be desired. I feel like we might be better served with the ball in Markel's hands ideally running a pick and roll with Otto as our go to at the end of games. Thoughts?