NEW YORK -- Game 1 is in the books, and while St. John’s and Marquette take the floor for warm-ups for the second half of the afternoon doubleheader here at the Big East tournament, here are a few quick thoughts on South Florida and Georgetown.
South Florida’s very thin bubble almost assuredly has burst now. The Bulls had a sort of up-and-down, even quirky season. They turned heads with a mid-season four-game win streak and then sort of disappeared. The late push to get into the tournament was exactly that -- too late. South Florida needed a fairly deep run and some help from other teams -- no upsets, a Seton Hall loss -- to even make a case. Now the case is closed. Still, South Florida had what could be a program-defining season, going from nine wins to 20. The Bulls almost assuredly will be in the running for an NIT bid, and the extra games will be good for the continued development of a fairly young team. "We know we're going to have more games to play,'' senior Chris Howard said. "Regardless of what happens, I'm proud of my teammates and my coaches. This year has been good to me.''
To be competitive in the Big East, however, South Florida is going to have to develop an outside game. Or at least the threat of one. The Bulls went 1-for-10 from behind the arc against the Hoyas. Add that with the 0-for-8 against DePaul and it’s easy to see why the Bulls shot just 29 percent from 3-point range all year. "I saw several times I thought we had 15, 17-footers and even threes that we should have taken,'' Stan Heath said. "We passed those things up to try and get a little closer.''
Georgetown’s reward for the victory -- a date with No. 1 seed Syracuse. The Hoyas nearly dug themselves out of a gigantic 23-point hole when the two teams squared off last month but couldn’t close the deal. With the way Syracuse has been playing lately, the Hoyas can ill afford another sluggish start this time around. "They can hurt you in many different ways,'' John Thompson III said of Syracuse. "They put a lot of pressure on you because they don't allow you to get good shots. And so you cannot be careless against them because they make you pay.''
Against Syracuse in the regular season, Georgetown got itself back into the game by forcing the ball inside to Greg Monroe. He not only scored, he got the Orange’s big men, Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku in foul trouble. That will again be critical this time around.