USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - The Bulls have been hard at work training, conditioning and competing against each other since the spring.
To say they're ready to go against somebody not wearing green and gold would be a huge understatement.
The USF men's basketball team will finally get going Saturday when it heads to the University of Tampa to take on a very good Division II team in the Spartans at 7:30 p.m., hosted by UT. This will be USF's first road contest of the year. Tickets for this exhibition game can be purchased through the University of Tampa's athletic department. Fans should contact UT with any ticketing questions.
"We've been going for a while and we've been beating each other up quite a bit," USF head coach Stan Heath said Tuesday. "Now I think we have an opportunity to show the work that we've put in against different competition. I know our guys are excited about that and the coaching staff is excited about that."
Despite not being a home game, the exhibition contest at UT will have its advantages for USF, which will play three nonconference games at the venue this regular season while the Sun Dome is undergoing renovations. The Bulls face Vermont in their regular season home opener Nov. 12 and head back to the Bob Martinez Sports Center Nov. 26 to face Florida Atlantic and Florida A&M on Dec. 11.
"It's important to get our feet wet there, get a feel for the surroundings and hopefully get somewhat of a comfort zone over this exhibition game," Heath said.
The Bulls will be working on their own comfort zone from a lineup standpoint Saturday as well.
Heath knows senior forward Augustus Gilchrist is the team's "anchor" through workouts and practices leading up to the game. The coach also pointed out the Preseason All-Big East Honorable Mention has formed a great trio with redshirt senior forward Ron Anderson Jr. and junior forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick this offseason.
Heath said the team can be effective subbing one in for another or playing with all three at the same time to form a dangerous frontcourt combination.
"I really think those three are kind of the staple of our team right now and we have to build from those guys right there," Heath said. "They have experience. They have talent and I think all three of them have the ability to be very productive players on the court."
Heath and the coaching staff have pinpointed redshirt sophomore Victor Rudd as one of their top weapons on the perimeter. The 6-foot-7 forward sat out all of last season after transferring from Arizona State, where he played in 15 games as a freshman.
Heath added the Bulls are still trying to figure things out at the point guard position, but he knows one thing is certain heading into Saturday's game. USF cannot look past Tampa, especially with a team like Arizona losing to Division-II Seattle Pacific in an exhibition game last week.
"We can't take anybody lightly," Heath said. "With this being a game with two teams in the same city, there will be a little bit of a pride factor for both teams. We've seen over the last few years in these games, there have been upsets."
Single-game and season tickets are available for purchase online at Ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000. You also can buy tickets in person at the USF Ticket Office or at Tampa Bay area Wal-Mart stores.