WHO: USF (10-10, 1-7) at UConn (14-5, 4-3)
WHEN: 2 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, Conn.
TV: BEN/BHSN (Eamon McAnaney and Ron Perry)
RADIO: 98.7-FM The Fan (Jim Lighthall)
By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - The Bulls have shown their ability to jump on teams early during the recent stretch of games. Stan Heath is now looking for some staying power.
The USF men's basketball team looks to regroup in Big East play 2 p.m. Sunday at UConn. The Big East Network game will be aired locally on Bright House Sports Network from Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn.
The Bulls have started league play at 1-7 but Heath has seen his squad make progress in key areas. USF shot a season-high 92 percent from the free throw line the last time out against Marquette and the Bulls continue making improvement on the glass as well.
"I'm seeing good improvement on the rebounding end," he said.
What Heath wants now is consistency after watching the Bulls let a lead slip away in a 63-50 loss at No. 25 Marquette on Monday night. USF started 4-for-5 from long range on the way to a 20-17 lead more than midway through the first half before Marquette took over in the second half with an opening 10-0 run.
"We can't have these gaps when we come out in the second half, or during certain periods of time, and teams go on these runs and get this little bit of separation that really is the differential at the end of the game," Heath said.
Thanks to a number of injuries, USF has gotten much younger this season and Monday's loss has provided Heath with good teaching points in practice. Two players that have taken Heath's guidance seriously are freshmen Zach LeDay and JaVontae Hawkins, who went from being minor pieces to major players for the Bulls.
Hawkins, a guard, has reached double figures in four of his past six games. LeDay, a forward, has been in double figures in two straight games and posted a career-high 17 points against No. 24/23 Notre Dame on Jan. 26.
"Both have exceeded those expectations and it doesn't seem like they're slowing down at all," Heath said. "They're still doing extra things to help themselves get better. They're both guys that want to learn and improve."
USF gets a rematch with Marquette 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Sun Dome. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.