weather unavailableweather unavailable
Make us your home page
Instagram

Former Robinson coach Scott Wagers hired at USF

New USF men's basketball coach Brian Gregory took the first step in making good on his vow to bolster the Bulls' recruiting locally, hiring former Robinson High coach Scott Wagers as an assistant.

The first announced hire of the Gregory regime, Wagers ironically served as an assistant to former Bulls interim coach Murry Bartow at East Tennessee State. In all, he has spent the last 17 years at the college level with stops at ETSU (2000-13), Lamar (2013-14) and Jacksonville (2014-17). …

Full Story

USF spring football: Day 6 observations

Former Jefferson High star Juwuan Brown and his fellow defensive linemen likely will rotate extensively during the 2017 season.

JOEY KNIGHT | Times

Former Jefferson High star Juwuan Brown and his fellow defensive linemen likely will rotate extensively during the 2017 season.

Six quick reads from Day 6 of USF's spring drills:

* During the team's final 11-on-11 session Saturday, we kept track of the time between several plays, from the moment the previous play was whistled dead until the ensuing snap. The time ranged from 16 to 27 seconds.

"I think the rule is, 'as fast as possible,'" new defensive tackles coach Sean Cronin said. "So as soon as they can get it set and snapped, I think that's what they're gonna do. We want it to be unrealistic. We want (the defensive players), when they get into a game against a fast-tempo offense, to seem slow to them."

* On a related note, the Bulls no longer do post-practice wind sprints, a staple of the Willie Taggart era. But as DT Deadrin Senat noted, when you're scrimmaging at such a brisk tempo, the conditioning is done during practice.

* Redshirt freshman CB Mike Hampton, a former Hillsborough High standout, had two interceptions during the 11-on-11 session, the latter an easy catch of a wobbly Quinton Flowers throw. Hampton also jumped a route and picked off a short pass intended for Plant alumnus Jordan Reed.

* During five goal-line possessions -- ball placed at 1 1/2-yard line -- at the end of practice, the offense scored twice before the defense held on the last three. On the first snap, Flowers jogged in untouched on a simple bootleg to the left, then found Marquez Valdes-Scantling -- being covered by Ronnie Hoggins -- on a slant route.

* The defense is really emphasizing swarming -- or straining -- to the ball. In fact, Cronin said the plan is to rotate linemen extensively so ball pursuit remains relentless.

"So we expect them, because we're keeping 'em fresh, to play really, really, really, really hard and to strain on every play," Cronin said. "If they can play three plays, they can play three. If they can play five, eight, whatever that number is, we're finding that out right now."

* Okay, this wasn't an observation per se, but we were told Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater -- who played for Charlie Strong at Louisville -- was spotted during the early moments of Saturday's practice. Bridgewater and QB Quinton Flowers also are friends.

Full Story

USF spring football: Day 5 observations

New USF offensive line coach Matt Mattox (right center, beard) addresses his group at the end of Thursday's practice.

JOEY KNIGHT | Times

New USF offensive line coach Matt Mattox (right center, beard) addresses his group at the end of Thursday's practice.

Five quick reads from the fifth day of Bulls spring drills:

* Though the offensive line remains a mix-and-match proposition, redshirt freshman G Michael Wiggs clearly has made an impression. For the second consecutive workout, Wiggs got significant reps at right guard.

"He's an athletic kid," first-year offensive line coach Matt Mattox said. "We're getting him to just continue to bend and play physical, but he's doing a really good job and he's learned his plays and what he's got to do, so it's giving him that chance to move up a little bit."

Thursday's first-team o-line primarily featured Wiggs, LT Eric Mayes, LG Glen Bethel, C Cameron Ruff and RT Marcus Norman. Senior Jeremi Hall, who started every game at left guard last season, still is rehabbing a minor leg injury.

* Remember LB Jimmy Bayes? The heralded 2014 signee from Immokalee, who has appeared in six total games, darted through a gap and lit up TB Elijah Mack during goal-line work at the end of practice. Starting from the 1 1/2-yard line, the offense needed four plays to push it in.

* Barring injury, it's pretty clear the Bulls again will have the conference's best tight-end tandem. The ongoing duel between junior Kano Dillon (6-foot-5, 267 pounds) and redshirt sophomore Mitchell Wilcox (6-4, 250) could rage throughout the fall.

On Thursday, QB Quinton Flowers found Dillon over the middle -- behind a defender -- for a touchdown of roughly 50 yards.

"I would say for the most part, Kano's dang near as big as anybody in the nation, as far as guys he's gonna go against," Mattox said. …

Full Story

Here's a Shocker: Wichita State may join AAC

Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall has led the Shockers to four 30-win seasons in the last five years.

Joe Robbins | Getty Images

Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall has led the Shockers to four 30-win seasons in the last five years.

Less than 24 hours after Brian Gregory's formal introduction at USF, a report has surfaced that could make his long-term rebuilding job even harder.

If that's possible.

ESPN's Andy Katz reported Thursday that Wichita State would accept an invitation to become the American Athletic Conference's 12th basketball member if the league decides in the near future to extend the offer.

The Shockers, currently the crown jewel of the Missouri Valley Conference, have won 30 or more games four of the last five seasons, reaching two Sweet 16s and a Final Four during that span.

AAC spokesperson Chuck Sullivan said the league currently has no comment on the report, but Katz -- citing an unnamed source -- said the AAC could decide on Wichita State soon.

If the Shockers -- who don't have football -- were to join, they would begin AAC play in 2018-19. Under NCAA rules, if a conference takes a basketball-only member, it must take all of its Olympic/non-revenue sports.

Katz reports it would take 75 percent of the current AAC membership to ratify such a move.

The AAC received two men's NCAA Tournament bids this season (Cincinnati, SMU), but UCF has reached the NIT's final four in New York City. If Memphis and Connecticut get back on track and the Shockers join, the "Power Six" narrative AAC commissioner Mike Aresco has consistently pushed would have more merit.

At least from November to March.

Full Story

Annapolis to Oakland: Brian Gregory's fateful career twist

In a previous life, new USF coach Brian Gregory was a barely-used guard on Navy's 1985-86 team that reached the Elite Eight.

CHARLIE KAIJO | Times

In a previous life, new USF coach Brian Gregory was a barely-used guard on Navy's 1985-86 team that reached the Elite Eight.

Virtually every coaching journey contains an odd detour or curious fork that alters the trajectory of one's career -- or even life.

For new USF coach Brian Gregory, that sudden turn occurred after his freshman season at Navy, when he chose to transfer to Oakland University, a Michigan-based school he had never seen.

Today, he credits the very move with his coaching career.

"If I never made that move as a 19-year-old, I never would've gotten the (graduate-assistant) job at Michigan State," Gregory said.

Follow along. …

Full Story

Opening statements: Sound bites from Brian Gregory's intro

Brian Gregory was introduced as USF men's basketball coach Wednesday.

CHARLIE KAIJO | Times

Brian Gregory was introduced as USF men's basketball coach Wednesday.

A few of the more notable sound bites from new USF men's basketball coach Brian Gregory's introductory press conference Wednesday:

On the rebuilding task before him:
"I know this process is gonna be difficult. It is a process. But we're gonna get after it. I promise you we're gonna get after it."

On the Sun Dome (where USF drew an average home crowd of 2,586 this past season):
"I promise you this is gonna be one of the toughest places to play in the country before it's all said and done."

On developing relationships with local high school coaches such as Sickles' Renaldo Garcia (who recently led the Gryphons to the Class 8A state title):
"I've already talked to Coach (Garcia) and congratulated him; one of the first calls that I made. Just a tremendous, tremendous accomplishment. ... I think every team he played in the state tournament was held below their scoring average. So he won it on the defensive end of the court, which made me very, very excited."

On what happened at Georgia Tech (Gregory was dismissed after posting a 76-86 record in five seasons):
"I feel good because I went through and learned and was able to navigate through a three-year NCAA probation, through APR problems, through our conference realignment that wasn't one or two teams, it was four top-25 teams. I felt great about the culture that we built, the competitive resiliency that we built. ... Was I disappointed? Yeah. Because I thought that's exactly what we wanted to do, but I'm fully aware of the business side of things as well."

On the influence of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo in his life:
"There's nothing I do in this profession, and probably to be honest with you, nothing I do in my life that I don't make two calls: one to my dad and the other to Coach Izzo. ... (Izzo) thought this was a special opportunity. One of the things I think he talked about was just the positive belief that you have to have when you face a challenge like we face. He felt that the opportunity, the situation, the infrastructure...he was excited for me."

On the job Murry Bartow did as Bulls interim coach (an outside chance remains that Bartow will remain on staff in some capacity).
"I've known Murry Bartow now for 20 years. He did a tremendous job under difficult situations, and I could only feel for him as he was going through it."

Full Story

Why Dick Vitale likes USF basketball's Brian Gregory hire

Dick Vitale attributed Brian Gregory's struggles at Georgia Tech to the cut-throat competition in the ACC.

Getty Images

Dick Vitale attributed Brian Gregory's struggles at Georgia Tech to the cut-throat competition in the ACC.

USF will formally introduce Brian Gregory as its next men's basketball coach later today.

Count ESPN analyst Dick Vitale as a fan of the hire.

"Brian is a quality guy," Vitale said Wednesday morning in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times. "I've known Brian for a number of years. I watched him as a young guy on a staff with (Michigan State coach) Tom Izzo.
"Tom Izzo speaks extremely highly of him and thinks he is a really quality guy and quality coach."

Vitale said Gregory did a "heck of a job" at Dayton, where he had five 20-win seasons and two NCAA Tournament appearances. Gregory struggled at Georgia Tech (76-86 record), which Vitale attributed to the cut-throat competition in the ACC.

"The bottom line is, I think he's a good hire," Vitale said. "I think he's going to be really strong there. He has a phenomenal work ethic, and the other thing he possesses - he's a guy of great integrity...He learned from one of the best, working with Tom Izzo."

Vitale, who is promoting the Allstate Bracket Predictor, is also, well, bullish on the Bulls. …

Full Story

Villar leads USF baseball to 19th consecutive win

USF sophomore David Villar's scorching stretch continued Tuesday.

So too, did his team's.

Villar's three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh -- his fourth homer in as many days -- lifted the Bulls (20-1) to a 7-3 victory against North Florida (14-8), extending their win streak to 19 games.

"Our pitching and defense was really good," third-year coach Mark Kingston said. "Kept us in the game long enough so that our offense could find a way to get runs on the board. It's a complete team."

And darn close to being a historic one.

USF can tie the program record for consecutive wins Wednesday night when it travels to Florida Gulf Coast (18-3) -- ranked 12th by Baseball America -- in Fort Myers.

If Villar's bat boards the bus, the Bulls' chances are strong.

After hitting .636 (7-for-11) with three homers and 12 RBIs in a four-game weekend sweep of Harvard, Villar sent a 2-1 pitch from UNF reliever Austin Howze over the right field fence in the bottom of the seventh.

That gave the Bulls a 6-3 lead. DH Luke Borders added insurance with an RBI-single in the bottom of the eighth.

"You see a developing hitter right now is what you're seeing," Kingston said. "A guy that uses the whole field to hit in, a guy that knows what to look for and what to do with it when he does."

Full Story

USF spring football: Day 4 observations

The Bulls reconvened Tuesday after a 10-day layoff for spring break.

JOEY KNIGHT | Times

The Bulls reconvened Tuesday after a 10-day layoff for spring break.

Following a 10-day layoff for spring break, the Bulls reconvened Tuesday on a clear, mild morning for their fourth spring practice. Here are five quick observations.

* The offensive line, obviously one of Coach Charlie Strong's biggest concerns, will continue to be a mix-and-match endeavor, especially with senior T Jeremi Hall nursing a mild leg injury. On Tuesday, redshirt freshman Michael Wiggs logged some first-team reps at right guard, with third-year sophomore Billy Atterbury filling in for Hall at left tackle.

"You have a good group of receivers, a good group of running backs, a good group of defensive backs," Strong said. "I would say with our...tight ends you have a good selection there. But linebackers, we're still a little thin; but offensive and defensive line is where you'd like to get some more guys."

* Redshirt freshman DeVontres Dukes, a 6-foot-4 Wharton High alumnus, continues turning heads with virtually each practice. On Tuesday, he was on the back end of arguably the offensive highlight of the day when QB Quinton Flowers scrambled, stepped up and lofted a 30-yard TD strike to his outstretched frame in the left corner of the end zone.

"Tres Dukes is really doing very good," veteran S Devin Abraham said. "(Darnell) Salomon...is doing very well, and then of course Marquez Valdes (Scantling) is awesome every day."

* Have we mentioned lately that the offensive tempo is brisk? Watch a practice, and you're not likely to discover any glaring differences from last season (other than perhaps more downfield shots and nary a jet sweep). But the pace is sure to be crisper.

"Some of the routes that we're running now are way different from what we ran last year," Flowers said. "But as you get into the offense, most of the things will be similar to what we ran last year, it's just faster. You get the signal one time and that's it."

* MLB Auggie Sanchez, sidelined while recovering from labrum surgery, is fine. Sanchez even suited up in full pads with the rest of the Bulls on Tuesday, he just didn't participate. Strong has suggested Sanchez is getting sufficient "mental reps" while rehabbing.

* In terms of offensive and defensive skill guys, this might -- might -- be the deepest team in program history.

"I'd say it's deeper than deep," Flowers said.

Full Story

Brian Gregory primer: 10 facts about USF's 10th coach

New USF men's basketball coach Brian Gregory remains the third-winningest coach in Dayton history (172-94).

Photo provided by Georgia Tech

New USF men's basketball coach Brian Gregory remains the third-winningest coach in Dayton history (172-94).

As a prelude to Brian Gregory's formal introduction Wednesday, here are 10 items of interest regarding the 10th permanent men's basketball coach in USF history:

* He's the second member of the Tom Izzo coaching tree to matriculate to USF, joining Stan Heath. Gregory and Heath were assistants on Izzo's 2000 Michigan State team that defeated Florida for the national title. When Heath's youngest son Josh transferred from USF in 2014 (following his dad's dismissal), he went to Georgia Tech, where Gregory was coach.

* He and wife Yvette, both from the Chicago area, met in the Windy City in the early 1990s.

* Yvette went into labor with the oldest of the couple's two daughters (now a high school freshman) when Gregory and Izzo were visiting recruit Paul Davis in suburban Detroit. Gregory had left his cell phone in the car while visiting Davis (a no-no when you're wife's due at any moment).

* Georgia Tech, which fired Gregory after the 2015-16 season, paid him $806,250 this year and owes him $537,500 in 2017-18, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Gregory is set to make $1 million his first season at USF.

* Gregory's official bio from his tenure at Dayton (2003-11) indicates he and his wife were heavily involved in the community. Among their philanthropic efforts was their involvement in a local chapter of "Secret Smiles," a charity that delivers beds and bedding to children of families who cannot provide for them.

* He remains the third-winningest coach in Dayton history (172-94).

* He spent only one season (1985-86) at Navy, mostly watching the Midshipmen -- led by David Robinson -- reach the Elite Eight. There's no record of Gregory getting in a game that season, according to sports-reference.com.

* Gregory transferred to Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., and remains the Golden Grizzlies' career leader in assists (905) and average minutes played (36.4). He's second in career double-doubles (40), seventh in steals (161) and 10th in free-throw percentage (.816).

* Though all of the four-year seniors in Georgia Tech's program under Gregory graduated, and the Yellow Jackets' APR mostly sparkled on his watch, he leaned heavily on transfers his last two years. Among them was Josh Heath, one of four transfers who accounted for 44 percent of Tech's minutes in 2014-15. The following season (Gregory's last), five seniors played 62 percent of the minutes and scored 76 percent of the points. Four were transfers, including three who played only their senior year at Tech.

* Three of Gregory's Dayton recruits -- Brian Roberts, Chris Wright and Chris Johnson -- made the NBA. He coached Glenn Rice Jr. at Georgia Tech, but didn't recruit him to the school.

Full Story

Marlon Mack's stock surging as USF pro day arrives

Recent mock drafts have USF tailback Marlon Mack being picked in the early rounds.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

Recent mock drafts have USF tailback Marlon Mack being picked in the early rounds.

Roughly six weeks before the NFL Draft commences on the same Philadelphia steps Rocky Balboa immortalized, it has become clear Marlon Mack will be one guy who won't go the distance. …

Full Story

USF baseball streak win streak at 1 month and counting

The USF baseball team topped Harvard 14-2 on Sunday for its 18th consecutive victory.

JOEY KNIGHT | Times

The USF baseball team topped Harvard 14-2 on Sunday for its 18th consecutive victory.

Consider all of baseball's quirks, and it's easy to understand why prolonged win streaks rarely occur at most levels of the game.

One microscopic strike zone, one divot in the clay, one misread fly ball can determine the outcome.

"You can get a bad hop," USF third-year coach Mark Kingston said, "it can be the difference in the ball game."

Hence the reason Kingston's presiding over one of the most astounding stretches in recent USF sports memory. Home and away, in February frigidness and summer-style humidity, against power pitchers and junk-ballers, the Bulls still have managed to win every game they've played the last month.

One month. USF (19-1) won its 18th in a row Sunday afternoon, collecting 13 hits off an overmatched Harvard pitching staff for a 14-2 romp. Two more victories, and the Bulls tie the program record established in 1991.

"I just think it means we can win games in a lot of different ways," said Kingston, whose team owns the nation's second-longest active streak (Missouri and Louisville both have won 19 in a row).

"I just think the fact that we can pitch on most days, we bring our offense on most days, we play really good defense on most days, just gives us a chance to win every day. So because of that, we've been able to put a nice streak together."

Here's a more detailed look at the streak, which can stretch to 19 when the Bulls play host to North Florida on Tuesday.

* Only three of the victories have been by one run. The only one to go extra innings was a 13-inning, 4-3 win against Toledo on March 3.

* Sunday marked the fifth game during the streak in which the Bulls have scored at least 10 runs. They tallied double-digit runs twice all of last season.

* USF is hitting .316 during the streak. For the season, five players -- SS Kevin Merrell, 2B Coco Montes, RF Duke Stunkel, 3B David Villar and DH Luke Borders -- are batting over .300.

* The Bulls have hit 17 home runs during the streak, almost half their total (36) from last season.

* The pitching staff boasts a 1.82 ERA during the 18 games. With 234 strikeouts for the year, it's on pace to fan more than 650 batters in 2017. Kingston, whose staff was decimated by injuries in 2016, said the group's effectiveness and plethora of contributors so far has been the "biggest pleasant surprise."

* USF's opponents during the streak are a combined 59-83 (.415). Only two, Iowa (10-8) and FSU (14-7), currently own a record above .500.

Full Story

Brian Gregory's USF contract: 6 years, $6.58 million

New USF coach Brian Gregory signed a six-year, $6.85 million contract with the school on Monday.

Photo provided by Georgia Tech

New USF coach Brian Gregory signed a six-year, $6.85 million contract with the school on Monday.

New Bulls men's basketball Brian Gregory has signed a six-year, $6.58-million contract that could extend by a year if the Bulls receive NCAA sanctions.

USF released Gregory's contract -- signed Monday -- upon a public-records request. If the program is hit with NCAA penalties for infractions committed before Gregory's arrival, the deal is extended by a year from the date the sanctions are communicated to the school.

Penalties that could trigger that one-time-only extension include scholarship losses, reduction in recruiting time or practice hours, or a postseason ban, according to the contract.

USF is awaiting the findings of an NCAA probe into possible academic wrongdoing.

(VIEW BRIAN GREGORY'S CONTRACT HERE) …

Full Story

New USF coach Brian Gregory to be introduced Wednesday

The public can meet new USF men's basketball coach Brian Gregory on Wednesday.

Photo provided by Georgia Tech

The public can meet new USF men's basketball coach Brian Gregory on Wednesday.

New USF men's basketball coach Brian Gregory will be formally introduced Wednesday at 2 p.m. inside the Sun Dome Arena Club, the school has announced.

(VIEW BRIAN GREGORY'S CONTRACT HERE)

The public is invited to attend. Fans are asked to park in Lot 6, between the Sun Dome and Selmon Athletics Center, and enter the Sun Dome through Gate C.

Gregory, who owns a 248-180 record with six postseason appearances in 13 seasons as a Division I head coach, was named the program's 10th permanent coach on Tuesday.

Full Story

Know USF's foe: Missouri

Missouri point guard Lianna Doty leads all active SEC players in career assists.

Photo provided by the University of Missouri

Missouri point guard Lianna Doty leads all active SEC players in career assists.

A look at sixth-seeded Missouri, which faces USF's women in Friday's opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Tallahassee

Nickname: Tigers
Coach: Robin Pingeton (seventh season at Missouri, 122-99; 14th season overall in Division I, 266-180)
Record: 21-10
SEC finish: 11-5 (third; lost to Texas A&M 62-48 in SEC Tournament quarterfinals)
Most heralded player: G Sophie Cunningham. A 6-foot-1 sophomore, Cunningham (17.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg) earned first-team All-SEC recognition after scoring in double figures 24 times this season. She had 26 in a 62-60 upset of South Carolina on Feb. 19, hitting the game winner with 0.6 seconds to play. And did we mention she hits her free throws (84.6 percent)?
Most unheralded player: PG Lianna Doty. At a time of year when veteran guards skyrocket in value, the Tigers possess one in this 5-foot-7 fifth-year senior, who leads all active SEC players with 482 assists. Talk about your cerebral floor leaders; Doty majors in mechanical engineering.
Need to know: The Tigers typically employ a four-guard lineup anchored down low by 6-foot-4 sophomore Cierra Porter (13.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg), who might pose a matchup problem for the Bulls. ... That perimeter-heavy rotation drained an SEC-best 134 3-pointers in league play, shooting nearly 50 percent (56-of-114) from behind the arc in its last five regular season games. ... If this one goes to the wire, it may not be wise to wager against Mizzou, which shoots 80.2 percent from the free-throw line. If the Tigers remain on that pace, they'll break Georgia's 11-year-old SEC record (78.3). ... Mizzou finished with four top-25 RPI wins, twice as many as USF. ... Missouri has made back-to-back NCAA Tournaments for the first time in 31 years. ... The third-place conference finish was the Tigers' highest since 1990; they were picked seventh in the SEC preseason poll.

Full Story