WCC Game 1: USF

Tip-off: Thursday, 7pm @ Leavey
TV: WCCNetwork
Line: Torvik- Broncos -2, 57% win prob; ESPN- 55% win probability.

The Dons are 11-4 on the season under 1st year coach Chris Gerlufsen, coming off a win over Hartford and prior to that a blowout, 37pt win over ASU. Currently ranked 76th on Torvik, and 88th in NET rankings; for comparison, Broncos are ranked 97th and 96th respectively.
Advance metrics show that the Dons have been solid at both ends of the floors, ranked in the 80’s in both Off and Def efficiency on Torvik. Stats highlights: they are 4th in 3pt shooting rate, 19th in 3pt shooting % defense, and 17th in defensive rebounding rate (just a few spots behind the Broncos).
The Dons have had a variety of starting lineups. The small backcourt of 6-0 Khalil Shabazz and 5-11 Tyrel Roberts have started consistently but the frontcourt and wing has been a revolving door of 5 or 6 different guys. BTW, Roberts is a transfer from WSU and lit us up in the NIT last year. Top guys/stats:

  • Shabazz (14.7pts, 6rebs, 4 assists, 2.2 steals, 32% from 3).
  • Roberts (14.5pts, 2.5assists, 39% from 3).
  • 6-9 forward Zane Meeks (11.6pts, 6.4rebs, 31% from 3).
  • 6-8 forward Josh Kunen (5pts, 4rebs, 43% from 3).
  • 6-8 wing Isaiah Hawthorne (6.5pts, 3rebs, 47% from 3).
  • 7-1 center Zaba Gigiberia (5.7pts, 3.7rebs).

Guards Marcus Williams and Julian Rishwain round out their primary playing rotation.
Everyone in the rotation shoots 3’s for he Dons, even the 7-1 Gigiberia has attempted 11 3’s. As a team they shoot 3’s at 34% but with so many guys that shoot a lot of 3’s, all it takes is for two or three to get hot and you’re in trouble so the Broncos are really going to have to be focused on defending/denying 3’s.

For the Broncos, we need to see a continuation of the solid play from the recent Irvine and Boise St. games. USF plays at a fast tempo which we prefer as well but between the fast pace and chasing USF guys around the perimeter to defend 3’s, the starters are going to need some breathers to stay fresh and still have their legs by the end of the game; so we need the bench to contribute and play solid when they are spelling the starters.
Podz should have a 5+inch height advantage over whoever is guarding him (Shabazz or Roberts); would love to see him post up some or get him touches at the elbow or short wing and let him back his defender down or find the open man if the Dons double him in the post. The Dons also occasionally play a 3 guard lineup including the 6-2 Marcus Williams; when that happens, both Justice and Podz should have significant size advantages…I hope we can find ways to take advantage of it.

Prediction: Broncos prevail in a high scoring affair, 84-81.

Two big games this week, hoping the Broncos can go at least 1-1 to get off to a decent start and show they belong with the upper third of the league.


I just instinctively despise USF and get more upset about losses to the Dons than any other team. (Not great given recent results.)

Use the height advantage at the guard spots. Bediako, Holt, and Tilly are all stronger than the strongest player on USF. If they play strong they can impose their will a bit and open stuff up for Podz, Stewart, and Justice.

Give me a beatdown to make up for several years of underperformance versus the Dons: 77-62 Broncos. Justice gets 24 on 7-10 shooting.


I’m with ya, they’re my least favorite in the whole league

A wildcard for USF to keep an eye on…6-8 wing Isaiah Hawthorne. While his season stats look modest (6.5pts, 3 rebs), he has come on strong the past 2 games; he started their last game vs. Hartford and went for 20pts, 8rebs and 5/6 from 3, and in their previous game vs. ASU went for 19pts and 4rebs.

Could be a breakout player for them and if so would provide a productive, tall wing that their lineup has otherwise lacked.

I’m having issues with the stream. Is anyone else experiencing the same problem?

Not working for me either. And they had been so good to this point…

Yes same here…pinwheel of death.

Following on the stat tracker…Broncos out to a strong 1st 4 mins, up 12-4.

Link: USF 4, SCU 12 - 15:35 (PRD 1) (statbroadcast.com)

Working now. Hit refresh.

Have to defend the USF backcourt better in the 2nd half.

USF has had their 3guard lineup on the court the last several mins…we have to capitalize and use Podz or Justice’s far superior size, both have 5" height advantages.

Can’t understand for the life of me why we’re deliberately switching a big onto Shabazz. 7 straight from him. Luckily no one else on USF knows how to do anything with the ball.

1 Like

Big time win!! Another one on Saturday and dare I say AP Top 25 voters should take notice?


Excellent win and solid production from many players. Great start and then after we fell behind we stayed with it and pulled away at the end, Tonight we beat a good team with all their players. Disappointed with the crowd but hopefully as students return so will more people. This team deserves support. Tough start in league but more games like this and we will get noticed. Go Broncos!!!


Great win. Our “bigs” (Bediako, Braun, Holt, Tongue, Tilly) went a combined 14-20 from the field.

Other game of note. San Jose State beat UNLV yesterday.


Switching makes no sense unless you want your opponent to dictate matchups…. Just not smart

Can honestly say did not expect us to be 13-3 and 1-0 in conference after losing Jalen…

And with respect to this team, I think its fair to forego mentioning the loss of his talents because this team is very different.

Incredibly balanced scoring - Podz, Stewart, and Justice can beat teams in different ways.

I was not a Braun advocate last season and into the start of this season. But he’s improved in the last 5-10 tremendously in my opinion. He still has those 2-3 possessions that leaves you scratching your head, but thats down from 5-6. Which is subtly huge.

Bediako and Tongue continue to take steps as well, providing crucial defense and slowly putting more in offensively.


2-0 with a win against SMC on saturday would be MASSIVE


And Podz is a baller. Flat out great player in all aspects.


Podz was portal gold.


Podz addition has been huge !