tampabay.com

Slump shouldn't cost women an NCAA spot, expert says

ESPN bracket guru Charlie Creme still believes the USF women will make the tournament.

By GREG AUMAN
Published February 22, 2007


TAMPA - Despite losing four of five games with another potential loss ahead Saturday at No. 19 Marquette, USF's women's basketball team still should make the NCAA Tournament, according to ESPN bracket guru Charlie Creme.

"I think they're pretty comfortably in," said Creme, who projects the field for ESPN.com's Bracketology feature. "The pool of teams just really isn't as deep this year, and South Florida is above and beyond that group."

USF's best asset is aggressive scheduling: Seven of its nine losses are to teams with an RPI of 22 or higher. The Big East isn't likely to get more than eight teams in the field, and USF entered Wednesday's games in a three-way tie for seventh.

Creme said USF 18-9, 8-6 can cover a loss to Marquette by winning its home finale against Seton Hall and its opening-round game in the Big East tournament. "It would take a monumental effort for them to fall out at this point," he said.

Take your base

As a freshman last year, infielder Addison Maruszak was hit by pitches nine times in 56 games.

In seven games this season, Maruszak has been plunked seven times, and that doesn't count two times when he has been hit but called back because the umpire said he didn't try to avoid the pitch.

The St. Petersburg Catholic graduate, hitting .444, is on pace to destroy the school's season record of 22 HBPs by Bryan Hierlmeier in 2005.

Hot start

Sophomore catcher Braulio Pardo, a Gaither High graduate, already has more RBIs (eight) in 25 at-bats than he did (six) in 86 as a freshman. Pardo, batting .520 in the team's 6-1 start, is the nephew of catcher Al Pardo, a Jefferson graduate who played two seasons with the Orioles.

Quotable

"To me, it's our No. 1 priority. ... We really need this. I would be disappointed if we don't move dirt on a dining hall by fall. ... My timetable is a little different from everyone else's." - Jim Leavitt, on a $4-million multistory athletic dining hall the football coach is seeking, potentially to be located on the east side of the Sun Dome

This and that

Mike Lube, a former walk-on offensive lineman from Palm Harbor who has been a student assistant the past two years, has joined Leavitt's staff as offensive graduate assistant. ... Receivers coach Mike Canales, hired from Arizona two weeks ago, will also have the title of passing game coordinator. "We haven't run well enough to have a running game coordinator," Leavitt said.

Greg Auman can be reached at auman@sptimes.com and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/usf.