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Conference USA Notebook

December 3, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments



Conference-USA Notebook

by Zach Van Hart

Atlantic-10: 2, Conference USA: 1

Three games Saturday pitted teams from Conference USA against teams from the Atlantic 10, with Conference USA falling two out of three times.

Saint Louis claimed the conference’s lone win, 56-54 over Saint Bonaventure, doing so in last-second fashion. Marque Perry broke a 52-all tie with two free throws with 28 seconds remaining in the game. Saint Bonaventure managed to tie the score with only 6.6 seconds left. This was more than enough time for a miraculous (and first of the season) win for the Billikens.

Wasting no time after the tying shot, Saint Louis raced down court and Chris Sloan was fouled while shooting with 3.1 ticks on the clock. Sloan coolly nailed both free throws, sending jubilation throughout the Billiken faithful. Perry tallied fifteen points for Saint Louis, eleven during the second half.

Another thriller took place in Richmond, Virginia, where Charlotte fell victim to the Spiders 64-60 in overtime. Richmond sent the game into overtime when Mike Skrocki was fouled shooting a three-pointer with 23 seconds remaining. Skrocki knocked down all three free throws, knotting the game at 54. The Spiders took control in overtime, scoring the first points and never looking back. Both teams played a sloppy game, as they combined for 43 turnovers. Charlotte shot just 36 percent from the field.

The 49ers appear lost early without last year’s leading scorer Jobey Thomas. The upcoming weeks are crucial for Charlotte to find some offense before the conference schedule starts.

Another team in need of offense and looking to replace last year’s top scorer is the Cincinnati Bearcats. One of the favorites (again) to win Conference USA, Cincinnati struggled putting the ball in the hole and lost 75-69 to Dayton. The loss snapped an eleven game win streak against the Flyers, dating back to before the Bob Huggins era.

Field Williams led UC with fifteen points, hitting four three-pointers. However, UC could not muster any fluidity within the offense. Players appeared to be looking for Steve Logan to bail them out when in trouble. Until the team begins to realize Logan is long gone, they will continue to struggle. A player falling well below pre-season predictions is Jason Maxiell. Maxiell is averaging just 8.3 points per game.

The Bearcats will get a chance at revenge on the Atlantic 10 this week, as they face Xavier Saturday afternoon.

Memphis Tigers put up another fight

What is going on in Memphis? Apparently the early season goal is to get every player suspended at some point this year. So far, the team is off to a good start.

Two more Tigers earned suspensions resulting from a fight during Memphis’ 78-54 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff last Monday. With 5:37 to go in the first half, a scramble for a lose ball lead to a slew of punches thrown by both teams. After the ruckus, four Tigers and three Golden Lions were sent to the showers early.

Two Memphis players, freshman Clyde Wade and sophomore Billy Richmond, earned one game suspensions for their involvement in the fight. Wade will sit out the Tigers’ next game, Tuesday night against Arkansas-Little Rock. Richmond, a transfer from Vanderbilt, is not eligible to play until December 12 and was dressed in street clothes during the fight. He will sit out the first game for which he is eligible to play. The suspensions come in the mist of Antonio Burks’ three-game suspension for the illegal use of a rental car.

Break up the Golden Eagles

Is there a resurgence going on in Hattiesburg? After an 89-78 win against South Alabama, Southern Mississippi finds itself 4-0 to start the season.

Keying the fast start for the Golden Eagles is a red-hot offense. The team is averaging 81 points per game and shooting a torrid 49 percent from the field. A balanced offense is responsible for the fast start, as five players are scoring in double figures.

Also leading the charge is junior forward Charles Gaines. Playing better than the other Gaines (preseason Conference USA player of the year Reece Gaines of Louisville), he is averaging 24.8 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. His emergence as the team’s go-to guy is a breath of fresh air in Hattiesburg.

And the Blue Demons

It’s the first week of December and already DePaul is within earshot of their win total from last season. While the Blue Demons still need seven more wins to reach last year’s total of nine, it feels much closer than that. After blowing out Central Michigan, 92-56, DePaul is 2-0 and enjoying life under new head coach Dave Leitao.

The Blue Demons return to action Saturday when they play Fairfield. Then DePaul will find out how far they have come since last season, when they face Mid-American Conference favorite Ohio, before heading east to face the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

And the Pirates

Balance is the key, from gymnastics, to accounting, to the success of the East Carolina basketball team. So far, the team’s balance is why they are sitting at 3-0 to start off the 2002-2003 campaign. Case in point – during the team’s three wins, their point totals read 65, 65, and 66.

Three players are averaging double-digits in scoring. The reason for the equal scoring is senior point guard Travis Holcomb-Faye. He is averaging eleven per game, but more importantly, 4.7 assists per contest. Holcomb-Faye is bestowing upon his team senior leadership and so far the results are positive for the Pirates.

Player of the week

Dwyane Wade, Marquette – Second straight week Wade garnished this award. He only needed one game, scoring 32 points on thirteen-of-sixteen shooting, leading the Golden Eagles to a 97-74 win versus Eastern Illinois.

Game to watch

Xavier vs. Cincinnati – Saturday at 4 p.m.
Dubbed the Crosstown Shootout, this is one of the best rivalries in the country. Xavier is in the unusual position of favorites.

     

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