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November 12, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Wednesday, November 12th

Billikens Official: Saint Louis officially joined Charlotte in jumping to the Atlantic 10 Conference yesterday, effective for the 2005-06 season. Saint Louis, decidedly not adjacent to the Atlantic, joins its fourth conference since 1990. After being in the Missouri Valley Conference for nearly 40 years, the Billikens were in the Midwestern Collegiate, the Great Midwest, and finally were a founding member of Conference USA, which it will play in this season and next. In the press conference, Athletic Director Doug Woolard seemed lukewarm, as he indicated that the affiliation with the A-10 may not last long with the constant conference shuffling, but did state that the A-10 was the best fit of any conference the school had been in.

Titan Extended: The University of Detroit-Mercy has extended the contract of head coach Perry Watson through the 2010 season. Watson, who has 194 wins in his ten seasons at the helm of the Titans, came to Detroit after two seasons as an assistant at Michigan during the Fab Five era, when Michigan lost in the National Finals two consecutive seasons. His previous experience was as a successful high school coach at Detroit Southwestern High School, tallying 302 wins in 13 seasons. In Watson’s ten seasons at Detroit, he has had three conference players of the year, and has won three conference titles, three NCAA appearances, and two NIT appearances. His 1998 and 1999 squads sprung surprise wins on St. John’s and UCLA, respectively, in the first rounds of the NCAA’s, and Detroit went to the NIT Final Four in 2001.

Center Suspended: Bradley University head coach Jim Les has announced that senior center Jabarr Battle has been suspended indefinitely, following an on-campus scuffle he was involved in Friday night. Les indicated that the suspension was for violation of team rules, which, apparently, include a “no fisticuffs on-campus” clause. Battle, a Chicago native who transferred to Bradley from Olney (Illinois) Central College prior to last season, was key reserve who averaged 4.6 points and 3.2 rebounds playing in all 30 games. In Bradley’s first preseason game November 1st against Team Nike, Battle scored four point and had four rebounds in 11 minutes of game action.

Hawkeye Charged: In another huge scandal, bigger than Arizona’s Isaiah Fox stealing a bagel and candy bar, Iowa senior center Sean Sonderleiter was charged with fifth-degree (fifth!) theft for leaving a metered parking lot without paying. Sonderleiter, who – get this – drove down an embankment behind Lot 33 in Iowa City to avoid paying the parking attendant, has a court case in two weeks, and is facing a maximum fine of $500 and 30 days in jail. Sonderleiter, who averaged 8.5 points and 4 rebounds per game last season as a reserve, had some legal difficulties last season, as he received a deferred judgment for marijuana possession. Head coach Steve Alford indicated that he would take no action until the Sonderleiter’s court case is determined.

Not Grandfathered In: The grandson of legendary Kansas coach Phogg Allen has lost his prime seats in Phogg Allen Fieldhouse due to Kansas’ introduction of new stricter seating policies. Forrest “Phogg” Allen said that he had dutifully submitted payment with the order form for his four seats in June, and after several weeks of waiting for the check to clear, was informed that University policies prohibit the transferring of tickets from parents to offspring. The tickets, which have been in the Allen family for 48 years, officially went up for grabs when the younger Allen’s mother Isabel passed on in April. Allen, who indicated he would have matched or beat any competitive offer, but never was given the opportunity, has only missed four games in the last 33 seasons, and is now sitting seven rows higher. He may lose those seats if he doesn’t pony up to $10,000 in Kansas’ new personal seat license program, which is expected to be introduced for next season.

Charges Dismissed: Former North Carolina All-American Joseph Forte had assault charges stemming from a pickup game altercation dismissed yesterday. Forte, who was cut by the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics last month, was playing a pickup game on campus in Chapel Hill last May, when he struck North Carolina fullback James Gibson in the face. After mediation between the two parties this summer, the DA’s office dropped the charges. Forte left UNC after his sophomore season and entered the 2001 NBA Draft, where he was selected by Boston with the 21st overall selection. Forte was traded to Seattle in 2002.

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