Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches, and so it has been with South Florida forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick.
A starter for much of his freshman year, he found himself coming off the bench this year until he recently found himself a chance to play more often and he's taken advantage of it.
"I think it humbles you a little bit and makes you hungrier. Sometimes you go through a little adversity and it helps you get to another level in life, and I think that's what we're seeing in Toarlyn," coach Stan Heath told the Tampa Tribune. "He probably went through a little adversity, and now he's playing his best basketball ever. Could he have been playing where he is right now if he hadn't gone through that? I don't know."
Fitzpatrick has had his best performances in the three games.
He had 11 points and five rebounds in a win over DePaul on Jan. 27, then matched his career-high with 13 points and had four rebounds in a loss at Providence on Feb. 2
He followed that by scoring 10 against Syracuse with six rebounds.
During the stretch he made 13 of 20 shots. He made 9-of-14 shots during the three games, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range, and committed just two turnovers in a combined 67 minutes of action.
--South Florida had lost seven games by seven or fewer points and is winless in 10 games on the road through Feb. 6.
--When PG Anthony Crater had five assists against Syracuse it was his 14th game this year with four or more.
--USF had started 10 different lineups this year and nine different players had been used as starters through Feb. 5.
BY THE NUMBERS: 10 -- South Florida had the 10th hardest schedule in the country through Feb. 5, according to CollegeRPI.com.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We need to get Gus going; it's been about two or three games he hasn't been in a great rhythm. When he's not 14-, 15- and sometimes 20-point guy, that's a big weapon we're missing out on." -- USF Coach Stan Heath on F Augustus Gilchrist, who has had a tough scoring.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--vs. Marquette, Feb. 9
KEY MATCHUPS: This is the second of three consecutive home games for the Bulls. It is a tough matchup for the team with the 10th best defense in the Big East (through Feb. 5) as it takes on in Marquette, the highest scoring team, one that likes to keep the pace fast. Marquette has paid a price for its high-power offense and that is it gives up a lot of points, which could help a South Florida team struggling to score. Four of Marquette's players rank among the top 21 scorers in the Big East, led by Darius Johnson-Odom, who is fifth at 16.4 a game.
--vs. Notre Dame, Feb. 12
KEY MATCHUPS: The third of three straight home games gives South Florida a chance against a team that is much better at home. The Irish, however, may just have too much depth and senior power for USF to compete. F Ben Hansbrough is a handful for anyone, ranking fourth in the conference in scoring with 16.9 per game entering the week, while G Tim Abromaitis was not far behind at 14.2. Notre Dame also was second in the Big East in taking care of the ball, an area where South Florida has been deficient.
FUTURES MARKET: Turning around a program is never an easy chore, as South Florida Coach Stan Heath knows. He is currently in his third season of trying to raise the Bulls to a Big East level. A year ago his team won 20 games but has slumped off this season, however, his track record says that he can get the job done. A former Tom Izzo assistant at Michigan State, he won 30 games in his first season as a head coach at Kent State, before taking over at Arkansas. After winning nine games his first season and 12 his second, he ran off seasons of 18, 22 and 21 before moving to South Florida.
--F Augustus Gilchrist is the heart and soul of the USF offense but Syracuse completely wrapped him up, holding him to 2-of-10 shooting, producing just four points. It was Gilchrist's lowest point total in Big East play.
--Sophomore G Jawanza Poland had been coming on for USF before Syracuse, scoring in double figures in six of his previous seven games, including a career-high 20 against Notre Dame. Against Syracuse he got into foul trouble, fouling eventually with just eight points in 24 minutes. "It took probably, at this point (in the season), our best scorer out of the lineup," Coach Stan Heath said.