TAMPA - USF's season goal has been accomplished and now the
Bulls want much more.
The Bulls are back in the NCAA tournament for the first time
since 2006 and start off as a No. 10 seed in Lubbock, Texas where they'll faced
seventh-seeded Texas Tech in the Spokane Regional on Saturday at approximately
6:50 p.m. Eastern time.
"The credit goes to the young ladies. They've been relentless
and their work ethic has been tremendous," head coach Jose Fernandez said. "This
is a reward for them, but we have plenty of basketball left to play this year."
USF invited its fans to the Sun Dome for Monday's Selection Show
and the large crowd didn't have to wait long to celebrate. USF's tournament
trip was booked just minutes into the ESPN broadcast which allowed some of the
players to breathe a big sigh of relief.
"I was kind of nervous and really could not wait to get
here. Everybody was just antsy, so when we saw USF we were just
really excited," senior guard Andrea Smith said.
Tiffany Conner was a different story. The senior forward kept her cool all day and went
to practice telling her teammates that good things were ahead.
"I actually woke up very excited because I knew we were in.
I felt it when I woke up," she said with a smile.
Conner and the rest of the Bulls have had a lot to feel good
about during a 21-10 season that has featured two victories over top-25
opponents and tough battles with other elite teams - just ask Notre Dame. The
Bulls won five of their last six regular season road games during the postseason
push and showed the selection committee they deserve to go dancing by giving
the No. 2 Irish a tough battle in the Big East quarterfinals.
"Our quarterfinal game against Notre Dame on national TV, a
lot of people watched that game including a lot of committee members,"
Now a special group of Bulls, including eight seniors, get
to show the nation what they're about on the biggest stage in women's college
basketball and they don't plan on stopping anytime soon.
"Now we see that every game means something. You don't want
to go home after the first game and you don't want to go home after the second
game," senior guard Andrell Smith said. "I saw a little show last night 'Survive
and Advance.' I think we'll take that as motivation."