College Basketball Nation: Anthony Collins

Conference Power Rankings: Big East

January, 4, 2013
Conference play always serves as the great revealer, separating the real teams from the pretenders and outing soft nonconference seasons for the record-padding fluff that they are.

We’ve already seen a little separation in just the first week of the Big East. This week there could be even more.

1. Louisville. The Cardinals are 2-0 against Rick Pitino’s former employers, beating both Kentucky and Providence in the same week. The cathartic victory against the Wildcats wasn’t easy, but highlighted just how overwhelming Louisville’s defense can be. The Cards are third in the nation in steals and 22nd in scoring defense.

2. Cincinnati. The Bearcats upped the tempo and the intensity on Pittsburgh in the second half Monday, outscoring the Panthers by 17 in the final 20. That’s the sort of offense UC can and has generated all season. Cincinnati should be able to dictate the tempo against St. John’s on Saturday, but can it against Notre Dame next Monday?

3. Syracuse. Jim Boeheim moved ahead of Bob Knight on the all-time wins list Tuesday and the Orange took their first victory in their last run in the Big East, beating Rutgers. Syracuse now has back-to-back road games, its first dates out of the state of New York since Nov. 30.

4. Georgetown. The Hoyas haven’t played since an easy win against American on Dec. 22. Will the long layoff affect a Georgetown team that has struggled to score when it travels to Marquette?

5. Notre Dame. The Irish play their first game since Dec. 21 when they host Seton Hall on Saturday. A trickier date is on Monday at Cincinnati, where the Bearcats’ speed and aggressiveness could push Notre Dame off its game.

6. Pittsburgh. So the big question now: Was the Panthers' gaudy nonconference record just smoke and mirrors? Pitt was swallowed up by Cincinnati’s defensive pressure in the second half, dropping its first game since Nov. 21. The Panthers have road games at Rutgers and Georgetown in the coming week, which will help answer the big question.

7. Marquette. Without their coach and with misdirected officials, the Golden Eagles won anyway. This, though, is a huge week for Marquette, with Georgetown coming to town to test the Golden Eagles’ 17-game home win streak, and a trip to Pitt to follow.

8. Connecticut. Kevin Ollie got a contract extension; the Huskies and Marquette went the wrong way for a possession, the Huskies were denied two points they should have received and lost in overtime. Otherwise it was a quiet week for UConn. The Huskies’ backcourt of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright continues to star, but the Huskies really could use another offensive threat.

9. Villanova. It wasn’t a work of art, but the Wildcats will take the win against St. John’s regardless. Villanova has now won six in a row. The Wildcats, though, remain a show-me team and need to prove they are legit. A game at South Florida is, therefore, crucial and a trip to Syracuse, well, let’s just say that would be monumental.

10. Seton Hall. The Pirates are playing well, but also playing with fire, eking out a win at DePaul to start conference play, a game after skating by Stony Brook. That won’t fly in the coming week, not against Notre Dame and Louisville.

11. South Florida. The only news that really matters -- Anthony Collins is OK. After a scary collision in a game against George Mason, Collins was taken off the court on a stretcher. He was released from the hospital and played against rival Central Florida. As for basketball, the Bulls and their stingy defense ride a four-game win streak into conference play, opening up against Syracuse this weekend with Villanova to follow.

12. DePaul. That thud you heard was the inevitable clap of reality that always seems to hit the Blue Demons. Just when things were looking good, DePaul loses to Loyola (Ill.) and Seton Hall in back-to-back games. Nothing will be easy again this season, especially with road games at Providence and Connecticut in the next week.

13. Providence. Louisville was simply too much for Providence to handle. There’s no crime in that. The Cards are too much for most teams to handle. The good news -- Bryce Cotton, the Big East's second-leading scorer, did play for the Friars. PC has talent to make moves this year but has to show it can do it. A game against DePaul on Saturday is a good opportunity.

14. Rutgers. Mike Rice returned to the sideline just in time for Boeheim to try for win No. 903. That’s not a fair fight. Upcoming games against Pittsburgh and St. John’s? Maybe a little more fair. The Scarlet Knights have to get better defensively, though, if they are going to do anything in the Big East.

15. St. John’s. The wheels aren’t spinning off for the Red Storm, but the bolts are loose. Back-to-back demoralizing losses to UNC-Asheville and in overtime to Villanova could be a tough pill to swallow for a young team, especially with Cincinnati on the horizon.

3-point shot: Accountability at Marquette

October, 30, 2012
1. Marquette was aware of the pending NCAA legislation that will pin responsibility and penalties on the head coach for any violation within his or her staff. That’s why Golden Eagles athletic director Larry Williams suspended head coach Buzz Williams for the first Big East game of the season even though the violation was pinned on assistant Scott Monarch, who was ultimately fired (for providing transportation for a recruit and not giving honest answers when questioned). A Marquette official said the university was using precedence about head coach accountability (see Jim Calhoun, Donnie Jones and Bruce Pearl). According to the official, the past cases played a role in the decision-making process. The NCAA still hasn’t ruled on the Marquette case and could impose additional penalties.

2. South Florida’s point guard Anthony Collins didn’t play in the scrimmage against Miami over the weekend, but neither did Hurricanes’ power forward Reggie Johnson, according to a source who was at the scrimmage. The Bulls used the scrimmage to evaluate their offensive and defensive schemes. Without Johnson, the source said Durand Scott and guard Trey McKinney Jones were the stars for the ‘Canes. That will continue throughout the season.

3. College of Charleston president George Benson and athletic director Joe Hull are currently negotiating a membership agreement with Colonial Athletic Association representatives after the board voted 12-5 to give them the authority to do so a few weeks ago. The president and AD still have to sign any approved membership agreement. There is no deadline to complete the negotiations and once they are deemed successful then a special meeting of the board will occur. The best-case scenario would be for Charleston to get this done sooner than later so it can move to the CAA for 2013-14. The Southern Conference will let the Cougars play in the conference tournament.
1. Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said he can go a variety of ways to fill senior forward Mike Bruesewitz's absence. Bruesewitz is out for a month while recovering from a severe cut on his right leg that required surgery after he crashed into the basket standard last Tuesday. Ryan said he could go with a combination of sophomore forward Frank Kaminsky, sophomore guard Traevon Jackson and freshman forward Sam Dekker or go smaller along the frontline. He said that junior guard Josh Gasser has improved greatly over the summer. Gasser has to be the lead guard after the departure of Jordan Taylor. The injury occurred because of Bruesewitz was diving for a loose ball, like no other player. Ryan said he it could only happen to “three guys I know [former Badgers] Mike Heineman and Joe Krabbenhoft and Mike [Bruesewitz].’’

2. Cincinnati is a trendy pick in the Big East and for good reason. The Bearcats are fully capable of challenging anyone for second (with the assumption that Louisville is the champ). Bearcats coach Mick Cronin said Sunday night he has the best chemistry he’s had at UC. “The depth could be tremendous. I love our potential defensively. It’s the most athletic team we’ve ever had and we have veteran winners." Cronin said that after a few days of practice. If he keeps seeing this potential in January then the Bearcats will be a formidable force.

3. South Florida sophomore point guard Anthony Collins, who averaged 5.2 assists a game, should be ready for full practice and contact Tuesday after missing the first four days due to a concussion, according to coach Stan Heath. The Bulls, who reached the NCAA tournament last season, have depth with South Alabama transfer Martino Brock available. Heath said Brock is a combo guard who is extremely athletic and tough. Brock averaged 14.2 points a game as a sophomore at South Alabama.

Big East's most important players

July, 23, 2012
Editor's note:’s Summer Shootaround series catches up on the offseason storylines for each conference. For more on the Big East, click here.

The most important player for each team in the conference ...

Cincinnati: Titus Rubles
The juco transfer hasn't played a minute for Mick Cronin, but he could be the coach's most vital cog. A former guard who grew up and out since graduating high school, the 6-foot-8 Rubles has the heft and the ability to play a more power game as well. The Bearcats have plenty of experience in the backcourt but they need help replacing Yancy Gates. Rubles could offer it.

[+] EnlargeOtto Porter
AP Photo/Eugene TannerOtto Porter will carry a heavy load this season as the Hoyas' leading scorer is gone and Porter's on deck.
Connecticut: Ryan Boatright
The NCAA delayed Boatright's debut but when he finally played, he made the Huskies immediately better. He'll have to do the same this year, now that UConn is without Jeremy Lamb, Alex Oriakhi, Andre Drummond andRoscoe Smith. Much of the Huskies' success will depend on how Boatright and Shabazz Napierplay.

DePaul: Cleveland Melvin
You have to feel for Melvin. He has been a terrific player for DePaul for two seasons with little in the way to show for it in terms of results. Melvin averaged 17.5 points a season ago, upping his numbers from 14.3 as a freshman … and still won just three Big East games. Eventually, someday, somehow the Blue Demons will turn it around. If it is anytime soon, Melvin will be the reason.

Georgetown: Otto Porter
Much will be expected from the Hoyas' unexpected star of a year ago. The sophomore to be averaged 9.7 points and 6.8 rebounds for a Georgetown team that, like Porter, surprised more than a few. But leading scorer Jason Clark is gone from that crew, putting Porter squarely in the mix for a key role as both a leader and a scorer.

Louisville: Russ Smith
This is Peyton Siva's team but there's no question that the Cardinals' sparkplug is the enigmatic, mercurial (insert quirky adjective here) Smith. Pitino loved his fearless guard, even though he didn't necessarily always love Smith's fearlessness. With a loaded lineup that should help Cardinals cure last season's offensive woes, Smith won't have to do quite so much this season but he will still be the catalyst for what could be another Final Four run.

Marquette: Vander Blue
A team in the best sense of the word, Marquette won collectively instead of individually -- and that was with Jae Crowder edging out teammate Darius Johnson-Odom for conference player of the year honors. Amid the collection of unheralded superstars was Blue, a gifted player who has the ability to shine and now, with Crowder and Johnson-Odom gone, will have the opportunity, as well.

Notre Dame: Jerian Grant
Sure, Jack Cooley will garner much of the attention for the Irish, but really Mike Brey's team will go as far as Grant takes it. He was terrific as a sophomore last season, turning heads with his 12.3 points and 5 assists per game and will have plenty to work with again this year. Notre Dame loses just Tim Abromaitis, who only played two games a year ago.

Pittsburgh: Tray Woodall
The point guard missed 11 games last season with a groin/abdominal injury and while the Panthers were bad with him in the lineup, they were a bona-fide disaster without him. It was Woodall's return that sparked a brief bit of life in Pitt midseason and it is Woodall's presence that will make the Panthers go this season. There is plenty on Jamie Dixon's roster to make last season nothing but a bad memory, but to make things work, Dixon needs Woodall and his dribble penetration to get the offense working.

Providence: Vincent Council
Despite all the hoopla (much deserved) surrounding Ed Cooley's incoming freshman class, the Friars remain very much Council's team. A terrific point guard, Council led his team in assists and scoring this season and with a better surrounding cast, could be due for a breakout season.

Rutgers: Eli Carter
Carter was sensational in his freshman season, averaging 13.8 points per game for Mike Rice's squad. And while he and Myles Mack were arguably the Scarlet Knights' two most reliable players, losing Gilvydas Biruta (to Rhode Island) will put even more pressure on Carter's shoulders.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Collins
Anthony Gruppuso/US PresswireSouth Florida and guard Anthony Collins are primed to go far this upcoming season.
Seton Hall: Fuquan Edwin
The best news for Kevin Willard: Edwin is already a terrific defensive player. Now if he continues to grow his offensive game (he averaged 12.5 points per game), the Big East can officially be put on notice. The big question for Edwin, though, is can he be The Guy? Herb Pope andJordan Theodore are gone, so the attention will be squarely on his broad shoulders.

South Florida: Anthony Collins
The Bulls were one of the best defensive teams in the country and one of the worst offensively. Equaling out that ratio falls squarely in the lap of Collins, the point guard who was great defensively but made too many foolish mistakes on offense to get the Bulls in rhythm. He's a terrific talent and part of the reason that big things are once again expected for Stan Heath's team.

St. John's: D'Angelo Harrison
Truth be told, the most important player might just be Steve Lavin, the head coach who missed last season while recovering from prostate cancer. But since Lavin is on the bench instead of on the court, we'll go with Harrison. The freshman averaged 16.8 points per game, and along with Moe Harkless, was one of the few steadying presences in a crazy season for the Red Storm. His return is huge for Lavin but Harrison will have to perform without his sidekick, Harkless, who left for the NBA.

Syracuse: Michael Carter-Williams
The point guard who couldn't get through the backcourt logjam a season ago will be asked to carry the load for Syracuse this season. Highly touted out of high school, plenty who watched Carter-Williams practice thought he was more than ready for the spotlight. Now the chance has come. Brandon Triche will be there to lend an experienced hand, but how Carter-Williams plays will determine how Syracuse does.

Villanova: Tony Chennault
The last time a displaced player landed on Jay Wright's doorstep, it turned out pretty well. Scottie Reynolds, orphaned by Kelvin Sampson at Oklahoma, led the Wildcats to the Final Four. Now it's Chennault, the Wake Forest transfer who was granted a hardship waiver to be near his family. The Philadelphia native, who averaged 9.0 points in his sophomore season at Wake, is a much-needed boost for a Villanova team that struggled mightily.

DAYTON, Ohio -- The South Florida Bulls don’t play fast. They don’t light up the scoreboard or crack nightly Top-10 highlight reels.

“Ugly” is the word that’s typically used to describe their rugged style, which helped them establish a Big East record for scoring defense (56.9 ppg).

And following their 65-54 victory over California in the First Four at the University of Dayton Arena Wednesday, the Bulls made it clear that they don’t care about their critics’ slights.

“I know people have their opinions. So they can say what they want,” said Anthony Collins, who scored 12 points. “But we're just going to play our style of play and take our time and get whatever shot we want.”

[+] EnlargeSouth Florida Bulls
Greg Bartram/US PresswireThe Bulls stymied Cal's offense and kept the Bears to only 13 points in the first half.
The Bulls, a team that entered the game averaging 59.2 ppg, were on pace to score nearly 80 points at one point in the first half. They held a 36-13 lead at halftime, after finishing the first half on a 14-0 run.

Victor Rudd Jr. led the team with 15 points and Augustus Gilchrist added 11.

Cal registered 5 field goals (20.8 percent clip from the field), missed all four of its 3-point attempts and was outscored 20-2 in the paint before halftime.

South Florida’s uncharacteristic offensive surge continued in the second half along with the crippling defense. The Bulls held a 32-point lead with 8:51 to play. They didn’t maintain that margin. But they never allowed the Bears to make a BYU-like push down the stretch.

In the end, South Florida’s abrasive, unsexy defense and methodical offense resulted in the program’s first-ever tournament victory. And that’s all that mattered to Stan Heath, who ended South Florida’s stint as the only Big East team that hadn’t earned an NCAA tourney berth.

“Well, we're all thrilled. Our president, my athletic director, it's always great to keep your bosses happy, and we're thrilled. And we didn't want to just come here for one game,” Heath said after the game. “We were excited to get in here. But we did want to prove a little bit that we deserve and we belong and we're legit. And I think the kids took that to heart. But it's a building process and we took a big step in the right direction today. But we want to take some more steps as well.”

After reaching their average (59 points) with 7:09 to play, the Bulls pulled back and worked the shot clock. With a second round shot at 5-seed Temple on the line, they didn’t want to squander their sizable lead, especially after witnessing Iona blow a 25-point edge in Dayton Tuesday.

“Yeah, we just wanted to come out and stay aggressive. And last night, you know, the teams, when I watched them play in the night before, that the teams played up and down real fast and was scoring the ball,” Collins said. “But then … when they had the big lead, they still was coming down and shooting fast shots. We wanted to go down also, but also take a good shot so the other team couldn't come right back down fast and get a better shot.”

The Bears averaged 71.7 ppg entering their loss to South Florida. But South Florida held Cal’s top scorers Jorge Gutierrez and Allen Crabbe to 21 combined points and a 7-for-24 clip from the field.

The Bulls clamped Cal’s scorers with a defensive philosophy that’s carried them all season, one that’s not TV friendly but worked for them.

“We get mad when people score, no matter what kind of bucket it is,” said Rudd. “And that's what makes us have people scoring in 50, 40, because we don't like it when people score at all, not even a free throw. So we get mad at each other, and that's how we play great defense.”
NEW YORK – Somewhere in Philadelphia, Bruiser Flint should be crafting his argument:

"The Top 100 Reasons Why My Team Deserves To Be in the NCAA Tournament."

South Florida provided 99 for the Drexel coach.

The Bulls, fighting to prove why they belonged in the bracket, instead gave the selection committee a litany of reasons for why they didn’t.

Forget the RPI and the 1-9 record against RPI top-50 teams. Forget the unbalanced schedule that worked against the Bulls in terms of SOS.

Just go to the eye test and watch the final few minutes of regulation and the extra period in their 57-53 overtime loss to Notre Dame. The federal government could put it on a loop to force bad guys to confess.

It was equal parts painful and foolish, a one-two self-inflicted punch that could prove to be a knockout.

Missed layups, missed front ends of one-and-ones, turnovers, dribbling aimlessly for 23 of the final 25 seconds with a four-point deficit and throwing the ball out of bounds on a last-ditch attempt to win it.

How did USF blow it? Let us count the ways.

And the Bulls blew it on a bubblicious night when Texas and Cal likely played their way in with wins and North Carolina State and Colorado State at least played their way into the discussion.

Instead, USF joined Washington, Northwestern and Mississippi State in the losers’ bracket of teams that will spend an uncomfortable Sunday evening.

[+] EnlargeStan Heath
Anthony Gruppuso/US PresswireStan Heath's USF squad will be biting its nails ahead of Selection Sunday after an ugly loss.
Of course, beauty or ugliness, as Stan Heath said, is in the eye of the beholder -- and when the USF coach gazed upon the mess, he saw a masterpiece.

“Hopefully we erased any doubt of what kind of basketball team we are,’’ he said. “We belong. We definitely belong. Giving that kind of effort on the defensive end, you have to really appreciate when you have teams that sacrifice themselves on the defensive end. People on the outside, the casual observer, don’t know how difficult that is, don’t understand that. Teams like us not only get in, they win and advance.’’

Heath’s assessment of his defense is fair. The Bulls do play hard and they challenge shots, using their size inside to make everything difficult. In one ridiculous effort, Gus Gilchrist managed to block Jerian Grant despite falling backward and out of bounds.

But this wasn’t about the defense making things ugly. Good defense should be lauded.

This is about the offense making things uglier.

As active and disruptive as the Bulls’ defense is, their offense is that lackluster. It is like watching chess, with players just standing around like statues.

South Florida led by three with 2:45 to play in a game when three points might as well have been 300, and lost. Frankly, it lost multiple times.

First, when with 33 seconds to play and USF up 45-44, Jawanza Poland got out on the break with absolutely no one but a row of cheerleaders near him and the basket ... and missed a layup.

“He should have finished that layup,’’ Heath said. “He’s point-blank, all by himself. He makes it and the game is over. It’s done.’’

Second, when Poland, strangely fouled by Scott Martin after that miss, clanked the front end of a one-and-one.

Third, when Poland made the worst 33 seconds of his life even worse, fouled Pat Connaughton.

Because the Irish were every bit as culpable in this disaster, Connaughton naturally missed one of two free throws to tie it with 26 seconds left.

“That was unusual,’’ Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said with a chuckle. “We threw a bomb to Pat and he got fouled. I thought, this is getting wild.’’

Ah, but there were five more minutes of wild to come. Notre Dame edged out to a four-point lead when Eric Atkins, without a field goal in the entire game, drained a 3-pointer with 30 seconds to play.

USF got the ball back and point guard Anthony Collins showed all the urgency of a senior citizen on a freeway.

It would have been a comedy of errors if weren’t so hard to understand and if the potential ramifications weren’t so bad.

“I’ll be honest, I won’t sleep,’’ Heath said. “You want to hear your name called on Sunday at 6 o’clock. I think we’ve done a great job by putting ourselves in a great position. I think our team is worthy. But there’s some people that have a lot of information that make wise decisions and we’ll let our case rest with them.’’

There is no shame in losing to Notre Dame. The Irish are a very good team, owners of a 22-10 record now and a legit top Big East squad.

And Heath should be commended for what he’s done. He has retooled a team that won 10 games all of last season into one that won 12 in the Big East alone this season.

But at this time of year it is not enough to talk about what you’ve done. You have to compare your results and your game to others.

You have to look like an NCAA tournament team -- and in its last game before Selection Sunday, USF didn’t.
Before they began to celebrate, the South Florida Bulls breathed a sigh of relief.

The final horn had just sounded in their 58-51 victory at Louisville Wednesday, and the Bulls fully grasped the magnitude of the situation.

“So much was at stake,” senior Ron Anderson said.

A spot near the top of the Big East standings, a road win against a quality opponent, a victory that will help its NCAA tournament hopes. South Florida touts 19 wins, but none were as big as the triumph over the Cardinals.

One season after finishing 3-13 in the Big East, Stan Heath’s squad will take a 12-5 conference record into Saturday’s regular-season finale against West Virginia. A win over the Mountaineers could boost the Bulls all the way to No. 2 in the league standings. More importantly, it would all but ensure South Florida a spot in the NCAA tournament.

If the Bulls are not already in.

Beating Louisville on the road Wednesday gave South Florida the one thing it lacked -- a victory against an upper-echelon Big East team away from home.

With underrated freshman point guard Anthony Collins teaming with Jawanza Poland in the backcourt and veterans such as Augustus Gilchrist and Anderson down low, South Florida has one of the better starting lineups in the Big East.

The Bulls average just 60 points a game and don’t have a single player with a double-digit scoring average. But opponents are scoring just 57.4 points and shooting only 39.2 percent against South Florida, making Heath’s squad one of the best defensive teams in the country. The Bulls haven’t allowed more than 56 points in a game in nearly a month.

On Thursday, Anderson, a senior, spoke with about South Florida’s success thus far and about what lies ahead.

Ron Anderson
AP Photo/Chris O'MearaBacked by a bullish defense, Ron Anderson and USF have built a strong NCAA tourney résumé.
What was it like in the locker room after you beat Louisville?

Ron Anderson: It was really emotional. Everyone understood how important the game was. Everyone wanted to win the game so bad that, finally, when the horn went off and there was no more time left, there was a big sigh of relief. We knew what was on the line. In order for us to continue to prove ourselves, we needed to get a quality win. Louisville is an excellent team. Rick Pitino is a Hall of Fame coach. That’s as hard of a place as anywhere to win -- especially on Senior Night. I heard today that they hadn’t lost in 14 years on Senior Night. That’s an accomplishment in itself.

What did Coach Heath say to you in the locker room afterward?

RA: Just to be excited, to enjoy the moment, but not be satisfied. He told us we had to keep pushing. That’s the mentality of the team right now. That’s the phrase we use in the locker room: never be satisfied. When we don’t have any games left and Selection Sunday rolls around, we can sit back and see if we should be in the discussion. For now we’re just going to continue to work hard and go out and play the right way.

What’s the main thing that’s happened that’s enabled this team to turn itself around?

RA: We had talent last year, but we had mental lapses in games that caused us not to win. We couldn’t close out games. We had a lot of new guys last year, too. So with so many people having an extra year of experience ... it builds confidence and chemistry. Plus, we always knew we could play. When you put those pieces together and combine them with a great freshman point guard, you’ve got the recipe for success.

What makes this team so good on the defensive end?

RA: It’s a passion. We pride ourselves on that. We know that if we play good defense and get stops, our offense will fall into place and we’ll make shots. Defense is about willpower and refusing to let your man score. If you go out there with that mentality, just thinking that you’re not going to get scored on -- and you know you’re on the court with four other guys who feel the same way --things are really going to work in your favor. That’s been our backbone this season.

Did Coach Heath do anything to instill that passion in you, or did it just happen naturally?

RA: All of our practices have been really intense, especially since conference play has started. Just really intense, really competitive. Augustus Gilchrist and I are out there banging like it’s a real game. We don’t want anyone in our team to slack off on the court. It’s all about pride.

What’s next for this team?

RA: Things have been going really well, but Coach Heath and his staff have done an excellent job of making sure we stay the course. We’re taking it day by day. What’s next for this team is Saturday at noon against West Virginia. If we take care of business there, there’s a chance we could move up in the standings and get a double-bye in the Big East tournament. Guys know what’s at stake. We’re working hard for it. We’re just excited about the opportunity. We’re not just playing for us. We’re playing for our university. We’re playing for all the guys from past years that have put in blood, sweat and tears. Every year, people work hard and try to succeed. We’re just fortunate that everything fell into place this year. Honestly, when I leave after this year, I want to be able to look back and think that we started a tradition here.

You mentioned “playing for the university” ... what’s the buzz about you guys been like on campus? How much has the support increased?

RA: Just like with any team that begins to win, the buzz has picked up a little bit. We understand that with winning comes more support. We embrace that. People are starting to understand that good things happen when you work hard. I’m so excited for Saturday’s game. It’s my Senior Day. I feel like we’re going to have one of the biggest crowds here that the school has ever seen. They’re saying it’s going to be the biggest home game in 20 years. Still, all the outside distractions, we can’t really worry about right now.