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Bulls standout not given due
By GREG AUMAN
Published March 9, 2005
Brian Swift deserved better.
The Bulls senior wasn't among the 15 players honored on Conference USA's postseason all-conference teams, despite finishing second in the league in assists and eighth in scoring.
Granted, teammate Terrence Leather, a second-team selection, was the only player honored from the lowest five teams in the standings. But Swift played a bigger role in his team's success and had better statistics than any of the four guards named to the C-USA third team.
"Swift and Leather are as good as anybody in the league," Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz said after his No. 18 49ers lost to the Bulls on Saturday night. "I voted for both of them for all-conference."
Many others chose to cast their ballots elsewhere. Memphis freshman Darius Washington, a third-team choice, is an exciting player, sure, but he scored less than Swift and ranked 12th in the league in assists. And that's for a talented Memphis team that was picked to finish second in the preseason, but wound up seventh, with only four more wins than USF. "As happy as we were for Terrence, we were equally disappointed that Brian did not make the team," coach Robert McCullum said. "He had just an outstanding year, and I've said it before, that he's clearly been our most valuable player, the one guy we could least do without. This doesn't take away from an amazing year he's had."
Only Louisville and Houston showed a bigger improvement from last year's standings than USF, which went from one league win to five. You have to hope this wasn't a case where the league's coaches and media members looked more at where the Bulls are going - off to the Big East - instead of where Swift has taken them.
INJURY UPDATE: Senior forward Brandon Brigman's knee injury in Saturday's win against Charlotte was severe enough that he did not travel with the team to Memphis. Freshman guard Collin Dennis, who dislocated a toe in Thursday's practice and did not play Saturday, practiced Tuesday and is expected to play tonight.
HOPES DASHED: USF's quarterfinal loss to TCU in women's basketball ended any realistic expectations of the Bulls making their NCAA Tournament debut. Their 20-10 record makes them a shoo-in for the WNIT, and they'll find out Monday if they can play the first postseason home game in the program's history next week.
Here's some consolation for Jose Fernandez's squad: USF lost to TCU 65-57, a closer margin than top-seeded DePaul, which fell 87-77 to the Horned Frogs in the semifinals, or second-seeded Louisville, which TCU beat 60-41 in the championship game.
HILL UPDATE: Quarterback recruit Carlton Hill accepted a plea agreement that will end the legal aspect of his sexual encounter with a 16-year-old female student last month at Jefferson County High School. The deal requires Hill to serve six months of probation, perform 25 hours of community service, pay $190 court costs and have no contact with the girl. Hill faces further discipline at a school board meeting Monday.
THIS AND THAT: The Bulls will get an early start on spring football, squeezing in one practice Thursday afternoon, then returning for four practices a week starting March 22. ... The USF Bulls Club will host a basketball watch party for tonight's 9:30 USF-Houston C-USA tournament opener at the Clubhouse Sports Cafe on Fowler Avenue. ... The state high school basketball playoffs have some familiar names for Bulls fans, as Winter Park Lake Howell, coached by former USF point guard Reggie Kohn, is trying to repeat as Class 5A champion. If his team can win tonight's semifinal in Lakeland, there could be a rematch of last year's championship game against Clearwater.
Times staff writer Greg Auman covers USF. Reach him at 813 226-3346 or firstname.lastname@example.org