University of South Florida


A usf player hangs from the net with a crowd behind him, all wearing green

[Photos courtesy of USF Athletics]

Men’s basketball’s electrifying season sparks excitement throughout USF community

By Daphne Kotschessa Almodovar and Donna Smith, University Communications and Marketing

Student holds sign that says, "This ain't the same old South Florida"

There’s palpable excitement across the USF community as the men’s basketball team, picked to finish ninth in a pre-season poll, sits atop the American Athletic Conference standings. The team’s hard-fought 66-61 victory over the University of Texas at San Antonio on Wednesday night marked their 13th conference win this year, a new milestone for the Bulls. Additionally, the team’s 12-game winning streak ties with their 1980-81 season for the longest in the program’s history.

Last Sunday, the Bulls beat then-nationally ranked Florida Atlantic University in front of the team’s first sellout crowd in more than 20 years. A max-capacity student section was a sea of lime green replica jerseys, and a sign that read, “This ain’t the same old South Florida,” reflected the university’s trajectory and national visibility not just in basketball, but through a number of significant accomplishments, such as its invitation to join the Association of American Universities and a resurgent football season that included a six-win improvement from the previous year.

“It’s been such a growing year. We always talk about how lucky we are to be at USF during such an exciting time,” said Sydney Gardner, a member of the USF SunDolls. “When there’s a bigger crowd, we like to have more hype in the game.”

two young women give horns up sign

USF SunDolls Sasha Musumeci and Sydney Gardner

Gardner said the SunDolls are working on a new routine and will bring more dancers to the floor to match the energy of the crowd during the next home game on Sunday.

Also in attendance will be SoFlo Rodeo, a student organization formed in conjunction with USF Athletics in fall 2022 to attract more fans to the games. Student Tyler Moss, head of marketing for the organization, said it’s exciting to see their chants and cheers help create an exciting experience.

“We have pushed for making USF basketball, both men's and women's games, a place for everyone in the USF student body to feel welcome and feel like they're a part of what makes each program special,” Moss said. “Winning obviously elevates success in attendance, but as a whole, our main mission has been to push community and togetherness.”

Students in the stands


students in the stands


students in the stands


Track coaches

USF track and field coaches Abigi Id-Deen and Don Marsh

That sentiment is being felt across USF Athletics. Don Marsh, assistant coach of USF track and field, said the team hosted recruits at the FAU game, which he believes helped get them excited to compete for USF.

“The crowd support was unbelievable,” Marsh said. “It was great for our recruits to be able to see and feel the atmosphere and that level of crowd support.”

As Marsh’s own indoor track team heads to the conference championships on Wednesday, he believes the basketball team’s success is helping build support for other USF sports. 

Bayne McGown, a prospective computer engineering student, was part of a campus tour on the morning after the win. He said such excitement has sparked his interest in future games. 

“When you have a winning team, it really encourages you to go out and support them,” he said. “I’ll definitely be tuning in to watch the upcoming games.”

Father and son at USF bookstore

Bayne McGown and his father, Wade

Pilar Walker

Pilar Walker

USF employee Pilar Walker played basketball and interned with the USF men’s and women’s teams during the 2017-2018 academic year, so she has been highly invested in the season. She said the team’s dominance makes it a thrilling time to be a Bull.

“This inspires more USF pride,” said Walker, programs coordinator for the Office of Multicultural Affairs. “Pride in our basketball team, our sports programs and the university in general.”

players celebrate with large crowd behind

The next USF men’s basketball game will be at noon on Sunday, Feb. 25 at the Yuengling Center against Southern Methodist University, with another national audience watching the rise of USF on ESPN2. Tickets can be purchased here. 

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