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Antigua Excited About Roster for Next Season


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By TOM ZEBOLD

USF Senior Writer

TAMPA, APRIL 27, 2016 – Head coach Orlando Antigua and his staff spent their first two seasons at USF building a foundation and establishing a winning philosophy that will benefit the Bulls in the future.

Antigua knows year three is about results and the former top assistant coach in the nation is excited about the possibilities.

“I think we have a really good nucleus of players returning and a really good recruiting class coming in,” Antigua said Tuesday. “We’re still working to add pieces to the puzzle.”

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The nucleus includes sophomore guard Jahmal McMurray, a conference all-rookie team selection, along with healthy sophomore guard Troy Holston Jr., junior forward Bo Zeigler and junior center Ruben Guerrero.

“The verbiage or the work capacity we’re going to be expecting from them, they know. Now they’re the ones setting the example for the younger guys coming up,” Antigua said.

Antigua’s staff has added a lot of athleticism and versatility to the roster with an incoming class that includes freshman guard Andres Feliz, freshman forwards Tulio Da Silva, Troy Baxter and Malik Fitts, junior forward Isaiah Manderson and junior guard Geno Thorpe.

“You want players that want to be here, that are going to represent the program in the way we want it represented and are fully committed to doing the things we’re asking them to do,” Antigua said.

Following an 8-25 campaign in 2015-16, USF players are hungry for a bounce-back season and it’s been apparent with the approach the Bulls have this offseason.

“I think all the guys are buying into what coach wants us to do,” said Holston Jr., who thinks USF has “more than enough” talent. “Everybody has been having a winning attitude and you can tell everything is so positive around here. I think that’s a good start.”

McMurray ‘Definitely Coming Back’

Jahmal McMurray opened eyes last season with an impressive debut, ranking sixth in The American and becoming the second freshman in USF history to put up 500 points. He accomplished all of that while leading the Bulls in minutes (35.2 per game) and assists per game (2.5).

McMurray made headlines this offseason by opting to explore his NBA Draft status without giving up his college eligibility under the new NCAA rule.  

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"When the new rule got announced, I just decided why not try to get some feedback or something," he said. "I mean, those are people are at the highest level, so maybe they could tell me a few things I could do just to get better and work on my game.”

McMurray still has to see if he gets invited to the NBA combine in May, but he’s put USF fans’ minds at ease by saying he’s “definitely coming back” to the Bulls. Now a sophomore, McMurray has set lofty goals for himself – 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from long range and 90 percent from the free throw line – along with a higher assist-to-turnover ratio.

“Those are goals I’m just trying to get better at,” he said. “If I keep that in the back of my head as a goal, I’ll really focus on it more when I’m playing. Some shots I might have taken, I might not just to get better looks and bump up my efficiency.”

Holston Prepping Well for His Return

Troy Holston Jr. was expected to be a big part of USF’s plan last season after averaging 17.5 points in the final six games of the 2014-15 run.

Plans changed last summer, when Holston tore the ACL in his left knee during individual workouts and had to take a medical redshirt because of the season-ending injury.

“A bad thing that happened turned good because I got to learn the game more as a student of the game,” he said.OCRCVSVOJYUXFHX.20150125183653.jpg

Holston Jr. is happy to be back on the court, still in a limited capacity, but said he’s close to a full go.

“We’re still working towards getting there and I think it’s coming up soon,” he said. “I feel great. The leg doesn’t bother me anymore.”

Aside from becoming a smarter player, Holston Jr. has transformed his body, going from 190 pounds to 205, and Antigua is eager to get a very skilled Bull back in the mix.

“Toward the end of (his freshman) year he was physical, he was driving. He was getting to the free throw line, he was making additional passes,” Antigua said. “He just wasn’t a one-dimensional player and those are the kind of players that we want to have – well-rounded basketball players that can play multiple positions. He’s certainly someone that’s going to be able to help us a bunch.”

Holston Jr. already made a big impact this offseason by stepping into a leadership role and calling a players-only meeting in the locker room.

“I told them I wanted them to know that we have to buckle up,” he said. “We have to make sure everything is done properly and we’ve got to try to take it to another level. We can’t have another bad season, it’s not an option.”

Sitting in a circle, every returning USF player had an opportunity to speak in an effort to get the team on the same page heading into an important offseason for the program.

“We’re all trying to make this thing something special this season and I think we definitely can,” Holston Jr. said.

Bulls Bits

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- Incoming freshman guard Andres Feliz (Dominican Republic) got to sharpen his skills at the prestigious Nike Hoop Summit last month as one of 12 players selected to the World Team. “That’s the equivalent of being a McDonald’s All-American or a Jordan All-American because you’re a part of the 12 best 19-and-under players in the world at the time,” Antigua said. “You get invited to that against the top 19-and-under players in the U.S. They spend a week there working with NBA folks, training and practicing. It’s an invaluable experience to be able to have one of our kids playing in a tournament like that.”

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- Incoming 6-foot-8 freshman forward Troy Baxter (Tallahassee) won the American Family Insurance High School Slam Dunk Contest last month and Antigua said there’s much more to his game. “He’s a high-level athlete who shoots the ball better than people think. (He) can play the 3-4 (positions) and in a situation if you needed him to defend the 2, he can defend the 2.”

- USF added much more than size to its roster when it signed Texas Tech transfer Isaiah Manderson, a 6-foot-10, 255-pound junior forward from Bronx, N.Y. “He’s very, very skilled. In the times he was able to practice with us, he was probably the most skilled guy on the court this past year,” Antigua said.

 

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2 hours ago, NewEnglandBull said:

12-14 wins tops. Will it be enough???

You have no way to support this statement.  We could easily win 8 or 18.  And I have no way to support that statement either.

Point is, these guys will gel or they won't.  Antigua's job is to get them to do it.  But having talented pieces in place is a helpful part of that.  Try and be positive.

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9 hours ago, NCBull said:

You have no way to support this statement.  We could easily win 8 or 18.  And I have no way to support that statement either.

Point is, these guys will gel or they won't.  Antigua's job is to get them to do it.  But having talented pieces in place is a helpful part of that.  Try and be positive.

Of course I don't but based on the past two season I think 12-14 wins is being fair. Also based on last year's results, 12-14 wins is indeed being "positive." 

Edited by NewEnglandBull
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10 hours ago, Bausfkid said:

We got rid of some much needed dead weight. 

Cousins was not good and lacked the runway to get better.  It's to bad as he has something you can't teach, size. 

Peters was out of position playing PG and got hurt.  He was a 2 and we will never know what he was able to do. 

Perry has outside interests of his own and was a drain on the team.

Morillo was wildly inconsistent at the jumper and he was forced to spell McMurray at PG which was not his position.

Nunez will be missed.  He could do it all and you knew what you were going to get night in and night out.

Go Bulls!

I disagree with your assessment on Cousins; he put together a really decent senior season. His work in the gym and on-the-court was a night and day difference from his first season at USF. He was a hack machine when he first came aboard. His senior year improvement gives me hope that this staff can coach up players that want to put in the work.  

Edited by Paisa el Toro
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On ‎4‎/‎28‎/‎2016 at 9:38 AM, NewEnglandBull said:

Of course I don't but based on the past two season I think 12-14 wins is being fair. Also based on last year's results, 12-14 wins is indeed being "positive." 

yes because previous performance always predicts future results. 

Any familiarity with USF Football?

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1 hour ago, beastiebull said:

yes because previous performance always predicts future results. 

Any familiarity with USF Football?

Past performance is what we have to go on. We can also look at trends and both show a fail. The question will be "do the new recruits have the skill set to to change history and the current trend" (and does the coach have the ability to coach up marginal players)? I hope so, but to be wild eye and enthusiastic about the future of MBB is something I am not going to do right now.

Edited by NewEnglandBull
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