The University of South Florida men's basketball team, coming off its first NCAA tournament appearance in 20 years, got some unprecedented respect at Wednesday's Big East Conference media day in New York.
USF (22-14 last season) was picked for eighth in the 15-team league by the conference coaches – its highest preseason selection since joining the Big East in 2005-06 – while sophomore point guard Anthony Collins was on the All-Big East second team.
"It's a good thing,'' said USF coach Stan Heath, whose team was picked 14th in last year's preseason poll. "You like to get some notice. At the same time, we were (tied for) fourth last season and we believe we're capable of challenging (for the title). So we have a lot to shoot for.''
Louisville was the unanimous choice at No. 1, receiving 14 of the 15 first-place votes (coaches aren't permitted to vote for their own team).
Heath was pleased to see some preseason mention for Collins, who made last season's Big East All-Rookie Team as a freshman.
"It doesn't even matter to him, though,'' Heath said. "He'll just shrug his shoulders, then go get some candy and Kool-Aid. I think the truth will come out by the end of the season. I think he's the best point guard in our league. I guarantee you nobody wants to play against him.''
Heath, Collins, senior forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and junior forward Victor Rudd Jr., represented USF during the media day at the New York Athletic Club.