TAMPA, Fla. — The USF men's basketball team had to wear their name tags for a little while longer this preseason. The Bulls added eight transfers to their new-look roster, but the players aren't backing away from adjusting to a new program.
"It’s a different system. So you gotta learn different defenses, different ways they do things," said George Mason transfer Javon Greene. "I’m doing a good job adjusting. Staying in the gym. Working hard. The coaches believe in me just as much as I believe in myself."
Fifth-year head coach Brian Gregory thinks all his players have the right approach despite their relative inexperience in his system.
"I think we’re a tight-knit group," he said before Thursday's practice. "When you have really good guys that want to get better and want to be successful, that’s the first ingredient that you need."
Another ingredient, post play. Enter 6'9," 260-pound forward Bayron Matos. Matos, a native of the Dominican Republic. He transferred to USF from New Mexico. He said his first love was baseball, but he quickly learned basketball would be his future.
"I used to be the biggest guy, bigger than everybody else," Matos laughed. "Dunking over everybody. I said 'I like this!' I like the energy the basketball court gives you, you know."
"[Matos] brings a high emotional, very energetic attitude every day. That’s why he’s only going to keep getting better," added Gregory.
Matos said he went from outfielder to pitcher because he was too tall to hit curveballs, but joked there's no chance he's going back to baseball. He said he loves watching fellow countrymen Wander Franco and Manuel Margot play for the Tampa Bay Rays, but that's as close as he's going to get.
"I like to watch baseball, but I can’t play it," Matos said with a huge grin. "I don’t know why. It’s too boring. I like the energy. I like to be moving around and stuff like that."
USF (2-1) hosts #21 Auburn (2-0) Friday night at Amalie Arena. Tipoff is set for 7 P.M.