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Bulls Beat: Practice, exams ahead for basketball team

TAMPA - Time to reset. Time to evaluate. Then time to move forward. The University of South Florida men's basketball team doesn't play again until Dec. 18, when Youngstown State visits the Sun Dome. Exam week is coming up, so the emphasis shifts to academics. Bulls coach Stan Heath said practices won't be lighter — "that word isn't in my vocabulary" — but they might be shorter. He's still searching for the right combinations. Consistency is the most important factor.
USF has that with senior point guard Anthony Collins and senior forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick. On most nights, junior forward Victor Rudd, senior guard Jawanza Poland and senior Shaun Noriega bring value. Heath now wants to see a player (or players) emerge as a strong inside presence. That could be senior Kore White, freshman Zach LeDay or 7-foot-3, 339-pound freshman Jordan Omogbehin. "The key for us is getting one of those guys – or all three of those guys – to have productive days," Heath said. "If they could combine for 15 points or eight to nine rebounds, that would be great. If one guy could do it, that would be great. "Right now, it's a flip of the coin. Jordan is getting better and better. We all know if he really, really gets there, then it's his (job). He's the most dominant guy by far. Zach can be relentless sometimes going after rebounds. I like to go with veteran guys and Kore has the most experience, so he has the edge there. So, we'll see.'' BASEBALL SIGNINGS: Coach Lelo Prado announced an 11-player signing class — which enters for the 2014 season — that is filled with Florida talent. The Bulls signed Winter Haven 1B Luke Borders, Pensacola C/2B Jonathan Bennett, Hillsborough Community College RHP Ryan Etsell, Newsome RHP Michael Farley, Hernando RHP Brandon Lawson, Tampa Catholic INF/C Andreas Leal, Seminole C/RHP Michael Mann, Jesuit INF/OF Vincent Miniet, West Orange RHP Brandon Murray, Jesuit RHP Daniel Portales and South Sumter INF/OF Clay Simmons. Borders is the brother of current USF 3B Levi Borders and son of former major-leaguer Pat Borders, the Lake Wales product who was Most Valuable Player of the 1992 World Series. Simmons has an interesting connection: His father and uncle played for Prado at the University of Tampa. The most intriguing physical prospect might be Murray, who is 6-foot-7. BULLS BITS: At least three USF football players will participate in postseason all-star games. DT Cory Grissom is going to the Senior Bowl. LB Sam Barrington and CB Kayvon Webster will play in the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field on Jan. 19. … Eleven football players — RB Bradley Battles, DE Julius Forte, DE Ryne Giddins, WR Sterling Griffin, DE Anthony Hill, WR Derrick Hopkins, OL Steven Jacques, DB JaQuez Jenkins, LB DeDe Lattimore, DT Luke Sager and DT Demi Thompson — will soon be on their third head coach. They spent redshirt seasons under Jim Leavitt and played for Skip Holtz. … Junior WR Andre Davis finished as USF's leading receiver with 46 receptions for 534 yards and six touchdowns. USF's single-season record for receiving yardage is 706 by Carlton Mitchell in 2009. The Bulls are among six Football Bowl Subdivision schools (including Army, Navy, Nebraska, Temple and Virginia Tech) never to have a 1,000-yard receiver. … USF football is 92nd nationally in total offense (367.5 yards per game) and 66th in total defense (401.8). Final rankings could fluctuate after results of bowl games. … USF forced nine turnovers all season, tying with New Mexico State for 119th (last place) nationally. USF's minus-19 turnover ratio tied with Arkansas and Colorado for 118th (last place) nationally.

jjohnston@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7353 Twitter: @JJohnstonTBO
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