The December portion of the schedule begins with a visit from the South Florida Bulls, in a return game from last season when the Bulls beat Bama 66-64 in Tampa. That was one of the few bright spots for South Florida, as they finished 12-20, and fired head coach Stan Heath. The school offered Manhattan head coach, Steve Masiello, but were then forced to take back their offer when it was discovered that Masiello's resume was inaccurate, as he never actually graduated from the University of Kentucky, despite his resume stating differently. Masiello was able to retain his position with Manhattan, assuming he completed his undergraduate degree.
Forced to turn elsewhere, South Florida hired Orlando Antigua, formerly an assistant at Kentucky under John Calipari, and current head coach of the Dominican Republic national team. Aside from that experience, this will be Antigua's first college head coaching job.
As expected in the transition period between coaches, the Bulls program saw several players transfer out, meaning the Bulls will be forced to lean on several young guys this season. One cause for optimism is that the team did return some key guys from last season, including guards Corey Allen, Jr. and Anthony Collins along with a potential star big man in Chris Perry. These three players will all factor heavily into South Florida's success or failure this season.
Collins may be the most important returner. He only played in 8 games last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury. The Bulls were 6-2 with Collins, 6-18 without him. You do the math. Collins isn't a prolific scorer, more of an old school pass-first point guard (he was averaging 6 apg prior to his injury), but he has been a critical player for this program during his career, and his decision to stay will provide Antigua with needed leadership on the floor. Allen, Jr. gained valuable experience filling in for Collins, and averaged 9.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg and 2.8 apg. Perry had a very good freshman campaign, with averages of 8.9 ppg and 5.3 rpg. He destroyed Bama in the game last season, with a stat line of 14 pts, and 14 rebs. The only thing that hindered Perry last season was his weight. If he's in better shape, he has the skill to be a big-time player for Antigua this season.
It remains to be seen if Antigua has the head coaching chops to lead South Florida to respectability, but he's off to a good start as far as recruiting goes. The expectations for this team will be low, but there's enough talent on this roster that no one should take them lightly.