Winter is coming which means USF Dons basketball will soon be back on the Hilltop. Both men’s and women’s basketball tip off their season on Nov. 7 at War Memorial Gym. The women’s team will kick off their season at home against Cal State East Bay at 4 p.m., immediately followed by the men’s team who will play Texas Southern University at 7 p.m.
The women’s basketball team is coming off a 17-16 overall record and a 10-8 conference record from the 2021-2022 season. The Dons made it to the WCC tournament but were eliminated in the second round by the University of Gonzaga.
The Dons roster has many familiar faces including graduate students Kia Vaalavirta and Abby Rathbun, as well as star guard Ioanna Krimili who last season led the WCC and USF in scoring and rightfully earned All-WCC first-team honors for the second consecutive season. The Dons also made some notable acquisitions including fourth-year guards Loren Christie and Amy Baum from the University of Buffalo and Hawai’i Pacific University.
In an interview with the Foghorn, Krimili talked about her hopes for her team’s chances. “Both our backcourt and frontcourt have improved significantly since last season and this year we should be one of the most competitive teams in the program’s history.
“This season we were picked fourth [in the conference] but that is nowhere near an accurate representation of the caliber of team we’re bringing into the conference. We are coming in ready for this season and the rest of the conference should be too.”
The men’s team is also bringing back nearly the entire team from last season but made some key acquisitions following the departure of Dons legend Jamaree Bouyea. Coming off of an overall record of 24-10, and a conference record of 10-6; the Dons are led by graduate student Khalil Shabazz who was a key part in helping the Dons make their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1994. Shabazz is coming off an efficient senior season finishing second in scoring and being placed on the All-WCC second team. Shabazz will be joined by key players such as Julian Rishwain, Zane Meeks, and Josh Kunen.
The Dons also welcome four new transfer students; graduate student guard Tyrell Roberts from Washington State, second-year seven-footer Saba Gigiberia from Georgia Tech, graduate student Toni Rocak from UC San Diego, and second-year guard Marcus Williams from Texas A&M. The new transfers bring much-needed energy that the Dons lacked last year.
Shabazz said he’s looking towards the future and setting ambitious goals of making it back to the NCAA tournament this year. “This year’s team has a little more depth than last year which will be a good problem for us, if one guy isn’t having a good night there are eight or nine other guys whose night it can be.”
Fans are also eager to witness the new backcourt of Shabazz and Roberts, as Roberts is filling a big role left behind by Bouyea. Shabazz is excited for his new teammate, and both have learned how accustomed to each other’s style of play.
“It’s been great getting to know the new guys and finding out how we mesh on the court. As for [Roberts] and I, it’s going to be fun playing with someone who has a similar playstyle as me, and the fact that we both came from Division II schools is pretty cool.”
Prior to their stints with USF, Roberts played at UC San Diego before transferring to Washington State and Shabazz played at Eastern Washington before coming to The Hilltop.
As basketball season looms over the Hilltop fans have to wait and see if the Dons will dominate the WCC and make their way to the NCAA Tournament in March.
Students can attend USF games for free with the use of their One Card.