The season is over for our Bulls and it was another great one after making it to the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament, their 3rd tournament in the past four years. It was a memorable season but there will be a lot of change heading into next season. Here is a break down of how everything went this season and how next season could look early on. Let’s go.
Let’s run through the numbers to see how everything went this season for the Bulls. USF finished the 2015-16 season at 24-10 (14-4 in the AAC) and 15-1 at home. USF finished 2nd in the AAC and were named a 6th seed to enter the NCAA tournament, winning in the first round before falling short in the second round to UCLA (game was in their town, so it was tough). It was a great year for the Bulls as they faced a tough schedule, battled injuries, and still dominated, especially at home. In the process, they put up some incredible numbers along the way.
This year, USF averaged 72 PPG while allowing 62 PPG. In 2014, they averaged 71.3 PPG and allowed 59.7 PPG. We have to remember that Alisia Jenkins and Laura Ferreira missed time throughout the regular season, so that has to factor into the overall stats. USF then averaged 42.8 RPG (allowed 35.8 RPG) after averaging 44.5 RPG (allowed 36.6 RPG). USF shot 41% this season (42% last year) while allowing opponents to hit 38% (35% last year from opponents). The Bulls were 213 for 619 from 3-point range (34%, 33% last year) and were 495 for 632 from the free throw line (78%, 72% last year). USF averaged 13 APG (12.5 APG last year) and 12.7 turnovers per game compared to 12.5 APG and 14.7 turnovers last year. The Bulls totaled 200 total steals (5.9 steals per game, had 230 last year) and 106 blocks (3.1 blocks per year, 178 total last year). These are some impressive numbers once again as Coach Fernandez continues to put together a great squad every season. Now with the overall stats on the table, let’s run down how each player did throughout the season.
#14 Paige Cashin – 6’4″ – Junior – Forward – Newark, OH (Newark HS)
Cashin appeared in 14 games this season (5 starts). She totaled 11 points, 38 rebound (2.7 RPG), 2 assists, 6 blocks, and 5 steals as a reserve off the bench.
#20 Laura Ferreira – 5’11” – Sophomore – Forward – Lisboa, Portugal (Escola Secundaria De Santo Andre)
Ferreira played in 28 games this year, starting 27, but missed time down the stretch due to a foot injury. She did return though for the postseason and late season. She totaled 268 points (9.6 PPG) and was 33 for 114 from 3-point range. She also totaled 134 rebounds (4.8 RPG), 38 assists, 9 blocks, and 21 steals as she became an every game starter for Coach Fernandez. She will a key leader next year on both ends of the court.
#22 Laia Flores – 5’7″ – Sophomore – Point Guard – Mataro, Spain (IES Miquel Biada)
Flores played in 32 games this year, starting 26 of them. She totaled 59 points, 45 rebounds, 76 assists (just 40 turnovers), and 16 steals. She started a vast majority of games this year, the first time in her career.
#24 Alisia Jenkins – 6’1″ – Senior – Forward – Statesboro, GA (Statesboro HS)
Jenkins, one of the greatest to ever play at USF. This season, she played in 28 games, starting 25, and missed several due to an ankle injury. She totaled 289 points (10.3 PPG) and joined the 1000 career point mark. She totaled 319 rebounds (11.4 RPG) and is now the career leader in total rebounds in USF history. She added 35 assists, 18 blocks, and 32 steals in her final season. She will be remembered for years to come as one of the program’s best.
#12 Maria Jespersen – 6′ – Sophomore – Forward – Arhus, Denmark (Marselisbrog)
Jespersen played in 34 games this year (11 starts) and totaled 200 points (5.9 PPG), 153 rebounds (4.5 RPG), 27 assists, 4 blocks, and 14 steals. She was a key reserve this year and could be a starter next year. She has the height and shooting ability to make an impact for this team.
#2 Micah Kroll – 5’8″ – Senior – Guard – Tampa, FL (Tampa Catholic HS)
Kroll appeared in 4 games this year as a reserve (her last season with USF) and totaled 3 points and a rebound.
#33 Kitija Laksa – 6′ – Freshman – Forward – Riga, Lativa (Rigas Francu Licejs)
Laksa played in 29 games this year (starting 16 of them) and was named the AAC freshman of the year and all freshman team as well (missed a few games with an ankle injury). She totaled 364 total points (12.6 PPG) and was 74 for 176 from 3-point range, 68 total rebounds (2.3 RPG), with 20 assists, 14 blocks, and 10 total steals. She had an impressive year from long range and will be a huge scoring threat for the Bulls next season. She is going to be a star and already is one.
#13 Laura Marcos Canedo – 5’8″ – Junior – Guard – Salmanca, Spain (Colegio Champagnat)
Canedo (graduated this year) played in 17 games (1 start). She totaled 11 points, 4 rebounds, 12 assists, 1 block, and 3 steals as a reserve guard.
#5 Trimaine McCullough – 5’8″ – Junior – Guard – Orlando, FL (Edgewater HS)
McCullough played in 4 games this year (I believe she was injured) and totaled 13 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists in limited action.
#4 Neena Pacholke – 5’7″ – Junior – Guard – Tampa, FL (Freedom HS)
Pacholke played in 3 games this year (1 rebound totaled) as a limited reserve.
#11 Ariadna Pujol – 6’1″ – Junior – Forward/Guard – Mataro, Spain (GEM)
Pujol started 2 games this year (29 overall) and totaled 82 points, 32 rebounds, 12 assists, 3 blocks and 7 steals. She was a key reserve and could battle for a starting position next year with her experience and long range game.
#23 Shalethia Stringfield – 5’6″ – Senior – Guard – Jacksonville, FL (Potters House Christian Academy)
Stringfield was a spark off the bench and was named 6th player of the year in the AAC. She started 7 games (34 games) totaling 326 points (9.6 PPG), 113 rebounds (3.3 RPG) with 126 assists, 3 blocks, and 44 steals. She came off the bench, added offense and ran it as well. She was a huge part this season that will be missed heading into next year.
#32 Nancy Warioba – 6’3″ – Junior – Center – Kismu, Kenya (Tigoi Girls College) (Blinn College)
Warioba played in 14 games this year (first with USF) and totaled 31 points, 27 rebounds, 1 block, and 4 steals in limited time off the bench this year.
#45 Katelyn Weber – 6’4″ – Junior – Center – Little Rock, ARK (Hall HS)
Weber played in 28 games this year (17 starts) and totaled 52 points, 53 rebounds, 3 assists, and totaled 17 blocks. She was the primary starter for most games, giving USF a big presence in the paint to begin the games.
#10 Courtney Williams – 5’8″ – Senior – Guard – Folkston, GA (Charlton County HS)
I don’t have to say anything, we all know the living legend that is Williams. After being named first team AAC this year (honorable mention All American as well), Williams leaves as the number two scorer in program history and ranks among the best in others. This year, she started 33 games (34 overall) and totaled 763 points (22.4 PPG), 286 rebounds (8.4 RPG), with 87 assists, 30 blocks, and 44 steals. She was the leading scorer once again and balled out against everyone. It was an honor to watch her along with Jenkins play this season. They will always be remembered as some of the best to ever play for USF.
Now, let’s start thinking about the 2016-17 season, beginning with our incoming recruits:
Jazzmaine Bond – 6’3″ – Forward – 3-stars – Rated 90 overall by ESPN
Shandrea Leverett – 6’2″ – P (swing player) – 3-stars – Rated 90 overall by ESPN
Enna Pehadzic – 5’9″ – PG – 3-star – Another international star from Denmark joins the Bulls.
Tamara Henshaw – 6’2″ – P (swing player) – 3-star
2016-17 thoughts: Let’s start with this recruiting class. There are some talented players here highlighted by Bond and international star Pehadzic as Coach Fernandez continues to scan Europe for the best talent he can find. The incoming recruits will not only provide talent but depth as the Bulls face a tough test next year. USF will have to figure out how to replace Stringfield, Jenkins, and of course Williams next season (both as scorers but also as starters), but they may not be possible. It’s really hard to replace two players that will likely have their numbers retired at some point, but that’s doesn’t mean its all over next year.
If they can’t replace the players themselves, then they will have to figure out how to replace their production. Returners like Ferreira, Laksa, and Jespersen will have to lead the way as the veterans on this team. They will have to pick up the missing production that the seniors are leaving behind. Flores does return, giving USF experience at point guard along with Cashin, Weber, and Warioba at center, giving the Bulls a lot of depth at center. Yet, even with that returning depth, it will still be tough to replace all that production that Williams, Jenkins, and Stringfield gave the Bulls last year. Can a young player like Bond or Leverett emerge as a star? Sure. Can Laksa lead the team on offense? It could happen. What we will see is a new look team that will be built differently next year. Scoring will come from a cast of players and not from two superstars. It will be a different era next year, I just hope its a successful one.