The University of South Florida Bulls basketball team exceeded expectations in the 2011-2012 season. For the first time in school history, the Bulls advanced to the "Sweet 16." It was a huge step for Stan Heath's program that had won just 10 games the year before.
Now Heath can't help but smile. Even six months after the Bulls' first trip to the Sweet 16, there is still a buzz with the Bulls. This team can't help but be excited about the rise of their program.
"When you win, people want to gravitate towards winning programs," Heath said. "Your recruiting should improve. Your fan base should improve. The excitement around your program should improve. It's important for us to maintain and continue to build on that, rather than be a one-year wonder."
Raised expectations, along with a new shiny Sundome to play in, create a new culture for the Bulls. It also adds weight on this team to perform.
"I really think this team will really be aggressive," Heath said. "In terms of doing what it achieved last year, the NCAA tournament is a great goal, but this team wants to do more than just that. We know we have a lot of work to do."
A huge part of the Bulls' success last year came from home wins. The Bulls were 14-2 playing most of their games in the St. Pete Time Forum. Creating a real home court advantage in the newly renovated Sundome is Heath's top priority that he plans on discussing with this year's team.
"We will have that conversation," said Heath. "We haven't had that yet. We never, ever worked out on the main floor yet. We had a great experience being at three different locations, especially the Forum. This is our true home and 14-2 is nice, but I'd love to be 16-0."
The Bulls' identity will continue to be defensive, but their often-criticized slow, boring tempo is about to change.
"We are a lot quicker naturally than we were last year," said Victor Rudd Jr. "I don't think we will be playing that type of style anymore. But we can slow it down and play that style."
It's all quiet on the floor now, but the Sundome is about to come alive with a new brand of basketball.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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