Tampa history: USF men's basketball team

We're celebrating the 50th season of USF men's basketball. Let's learn more about the Bulls program.

Humble beginnings

USF’s first basketball season was 1971-72. Before that time they had a trial program ot freshman only to test the feasibility of bringing men’s basketball to the school. That squad played against freshman teams from other state universities as well as junior colleges. They won in their first ever game on Dec. 4, 1970, against the University of Florida. The 1970–71 all-freshman team finished with a 19–4 record and earned approval of the college program.

The early years

USF first tipped off as the Golden Brahmans on Dec. 1, 1971, with a 74–73 win at Stetson University. The team would be relatively homeless for almost 10 seasons, playing at 7 courts around Tampa Bay before opening the on-campus Sun Dome for the 1980–81 season.

The Golden Brahmans would finish their inaugural season 8–17, including their 10th game where they topped 100 points for the first time (beating Florida A&M 103–102). Their second season they had a winning record, finishing 14–11.  In 1973 they made the jump to Division I, where they play today.

New name

The 1981–82 season began with a new nickname, officially changing from the Golden Brahmans to the Bulls. USF finished the 81–82 season with a solid 17–11 showing and a 14–2 record at home.

Conferences

The Brahmans/Bulls have played in several conferences including Sun Belt, Metro Conference (became Conference USA), Big East and currently the American Athletic Conference.

Records

Through the 2020-2021 season (shortened by COVID), USF has played 1489 games with an overall record of 668-821.

Sun Dome and Yuengling Center

The $12 million Sun Dome opened on the USF campus in 1980. It is also home to women’s basketball, volleyball and commencement events. The Brahmans recorded their first win in the Sun Dome on Dec. 6, 1980, against UNC Greensboro. The Golden Brahmans would not lose another regular season home game for more than a year, with the next loss coming after a school record 21-game home winning streak. That record still stands today.

In 2000, the original inflatable roof of the Sun Dome was replaced with a more conventional hard dome.

The building was upgraded in 2011 and in 2018 USF announced a 10-year naming right deal to rename the building the Yuengling Center.

With 10,411 seats, the Yuengling Center is the fourth-largest basketball arena by capacity in the American Athletic Conference.

The Postseason

The Brahmans made their first ever postseason tournament in 1981, going to the National Invitation Tournament. They have played in the NIT 8 times, finishing 4-8.

The Bulls also have 3 NCAA Tournament appearances (1990, 1992, and 2012), with their best finish coming in 2012 when they made the Round of 32. Their overall NCAA Tournament record is 2-3.

USF also played and won the inaugural Florida Four tournament in December 1981 over Florida, Florida State and conference foe Jacksonville. They won the second Florida Four, which was discontinued after the second season.

Retired players

They have retired 3 jerseys in the program’s history: Chucky Atkins (12), Charlie Bradley (30) and Radenko Dobras (31). All 3, along with former coach Bobby Paschal, are members of the USF Athletic Hall of Fame.

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