After struggling mightily on the offensive end of the floor in 2012-13, the USF Bulls had hopes of improving in 2013-14. However that never came to fruition, with the Bulls going 12-20 overall and 3-15 in American Athletic Conference play as expected starting point guard Anthony Collins missed most of the season with a knee injury. As a result a change was made at the top, with Stan Heath being replaced by former Kentucky assistant Orlando Antigua.
Among the questions being asked this summer is whether or not Collins will be a factor for USF as they look to climb out of the cellar in the American. In a video interview with USF play-by-play announcer Jim Louk, Collins speaks about both last season and his upcoming junior season.
“I’m committed to staying at USF,” Collins said when asked about his commitment to the program by Louk. “I was on the team when we went to the NCAA tournament for the first time in [about] 20 years, and I want to do it again. I want to be the first person here to do it twice; that’s what drives me.”
Under Antigua the plan is to play at a faster tempo, and if Collins can return to the level he played at in his first two seasons USF will have a capable point guard running the show. As a freshman Collins dished out 5.9 assists per contest (1.5 A/T ratio), increasing that number to 6.5 assists per game (2.4 A/T ratio) as a sophomore. With a new regime taking over and their lone double-digit scorer (Victor Rudd) gone, USF will need an effective Collins if they’re to make strides in 2014-15.
With Collins being 100% from both a health and a commitment standpoint, the Bulls are better positioned to be competitive now than they were for most of the 2013-14 campaign.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.
For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.
On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.
Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.
Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.
In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.
As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.
(More to come from Chapel Hill…)
North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.
(H/T: The Cauldron)