Conference USA Notebook
Kudos to South Florida coach Seth Greenberg for doing the right thing.
After his star player and All-American candidate Altron Jackson headed into the locker room without shaking hands with any of the Gators players or coaches at the end of USF’s 92-73 loss to Florida on Dec. 8, Greenberg said Jackson wouldn’t start the next game against Syracuse.
Jackson did play against the Orangemen – coming in after the first few minutes – and led the Bulls with 22 points in a 80-68 loss, but Greenberg sent a message to the rest of his team and the nation that none of his players will disrepect their opponents.
“Our players need to know that they have to act responsibly and represent the South Florida basketball program with class,” Greenberg said in a statement before the Syracuse game.
It’s been too easy for coaches to look the other way at these kinds of events and shrug them off with a “kids will be kids” attitude, especially with the difficulties coaches are facing in getting star players to even attend college at all, much less stay for four years.
So cheers to Greenberg and here’s hoping that Jackson, who has as much talent as anyone in the conference, understands the reasons behind the punishment and is better because of it.
Waves cresting: Tulane has surprised a lot of would-be naysayers and pundits en route to a 7-1 mark, but some key tests await to see if this Green Wave squad is for real.
Tulane has played a pretty light schedule, but wins over New Orleans, Vanderbilt and Virginia Commonwealth have been somewhat impressive. Non-conference contests await against Georgia Tech and Kentucky.
Junior forward Nick Sinville has been a pleasant surprise, averaging 15.1 points a game.
Marquette finally loses: Nothing lasts forever and Marquette’s season-opening 10-game winning streak was ended by rival Wisconsin.
In some ways, the loss might be beneficial heading into conference play. Look for Marquette to regroup and regain the intensity it showed earlier in the season. The Golden Eagles are still the class of C-USA’s American Division.
Logan rolling: Cincinnati is back in the Top 25 national rankings thanks to Steve Logan. The senior guard was named conference player of the week for Dec. 16 and will be among the likely candidates for the award again for this week after leading the Bearcats to the Las Vegas Classic title.
Logan averaged an amazing 29.3 points in four tournament games as Cincinnati rolled over some tough competition to win four games in eight days, including a 79-62 win over Purdue in the championship.
The Bearcats have now won 11 straight games, including a dismantling of bitter rival Xavier. There’s not a hotter team in the country – well, except for Duke, of course.
DePaul turning the corner?: The Blue Demons’ 60-58 win on the road against Temple on Dec. 22 was a bigger win than it would seem. With the win, DePaul ran its record to 6-4 and has faced a tough schedule, which will help its RPI.
Sam Hoskin tipped in a missed shot with 2.1 seconds left to beat the Owls (3-7), who have gotten off to a slow start again this year. If Hoskin misses that tip, DePaul falls to 5-5 with a very tough game against Missouri looming.
Now, if DePaul can find a way to upset Missouri, a decent conference mark would put the Blue Devils in the NCAA Tournament and could be the jump start Pat Kennedy’s program needs to start consistenly making NCAA Tournament appearances.
Are Cardinals for real?: Yes, Louisville will likely be 9-1 heading into what will likely be a steel cage match against Kentucky Dec. 29 in Lexington, but it remains to be seen how the Cardinals will fare away from the friendly confines of Freedom Hall.
Louisville has lost its only road game to date and decisively at that – against Oregon (90-63) on Nov. 24.
But give Rick Pitino credit. His team has won the games they have to win to give them a shot at a spot in the NCAA Tournament and can boast wins against Ohio State and Tennessee.