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November 20, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Thursday, November 20th

Weber lays down the law: First-year Illinois coach Bruce Weber has decided to bench three of his players from the start of the season for violating undetermined team rules. Junior guard Luther Head and freshman forward Aaron Spears will miss the team’s first two games against Western Illinois and Mercer, while freshman guard Richard McBride will sit out the first four contests. All three players, who have been told not to speak to the media, will still practice and dress for the games. Weber would not comment on the violations in question.

Three Broncos Leave: Boise State head coach Greg Graham has announced that three players have left the Broncos basketball program, and also announced the suspension of another player. Leaving the team are freshman forward Larry Davidson, freshman guard Darius Harper, and junior center Mattias Johansson. Johansson has been declared ineligible after it was discovered that he played professionally in Europe two years ago. Meanwhile Davidson, an Australia native who redshirted with knee injuries last season, couldn’t make a go of it with his injuries, and will be returning home. Harper is leaving the squad for personal reasons, but is staying in school until the end of the semester. Senior guard Bryan Defares was suspended for one game for playing in a non-sanctioned summer league game over the summer.

Huskies bites Wolf Pack: In the second round of the preseason NIT, top-ranked Connecticut ran past Nevada, 93-79, to improve to 2-0 on the year. Huskies guard Ben Gordon poured in a career-high 37 points to pace UConn in the win, while his roommate, All-American center Emeka Okafor, chipped in 13 points and 14 rebounds. The Wolf Pack (1-1) gave Connecticut a run for its money in the early going, trailing by only six at the break. But Gordon and the Huskies proved too strong down the stretch and coasted to the double-digit victory… In other action, Utah upended Minnesota, 66-54.

It’s Official: As reported yesterday, the University of Tennessee extended coach Buzz Peterson’s contract through the 2008-09 season, upping his total salary to around $900,000 a year. The third-year coach of the Vols has managed a 32-28 mark while at Knoxville, including last season’s 17-12 record and NIT berth. Though his contract was negotiated last spring, Peterson’s signing process was delayed until now due to the installment of new athletic director, Mike Hamilton, earlier this summer. Regardless, Peterson has become a very rich man, and trails only Tubby Smith of Kentucky and Billy Donovan as the top-earning coach in the SEC.

Butch-ing Up: In other Big Ten news, Wisconsin freshman center, Brian Butch, has decided to officially redshirt his freshman season in order to bulk up a bit before he begins his college career. The 6-11 big man currently weighs 225, but hopes to add another 20 pounds before the start of the 2004-05 campaign. Butch was one of the most highly recruited players ever to come out of Wisconsin as he led Appleton West to a 23-3 record and the state championship game. As a senior on that team, Butch averaged a healthy line of 22.8 points and 10.1 boards per game.

Another Bush in Texas: For the first time in months, there’s positive news to report involving Baylor University. Bears coach Scott Drew announced on Wednesday that former LSU forward, Tim Bush, will be transferring to BU. Bush, a 6-6, 245-pound sophomore, will be eligible to play following the close of the 2004 fall semester. Bush was used sparingly his freshman year in Baton Rouge netting just under a point per game, but he did post solid numbers in high school, averaging 15 and eight his junior year at Shaw high in New Orleans (he didn’t compete his senior year).

New Stag: Fairfield has announced the hiring of John Carey to Tim O’Toole’s coaching staff as an assistant, and also promoted assistant Jerry Hobbie to associate head coach. Carey is a long-time head coach from All Hallows High School in the Bronx, having coached there for 27 years, winning the city championship in 1985, on a team that included Olden Polynice. Carey has a 391-302 career record at All Hallows, as well as at Xavier High School and the United States Merchant Marine Academy. Hobbie was promoted after serving as an assistant for the Stags for the past five seasons. His experience includes playing and later being an assistant at Fordham, and the head coach of St. Patrick’s High School in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Wildcat Not Quite Down: Kentucky sophomore guard Kelenna Azubuike suffered an injury in practice Monday, though it won’t keep him out of action. Azubuike suffered a torn tendon in his pinky finger of his left hand, which is his non-shooting hand. Azubuike suffered the injury when he was denied on a layup, and the contact bent his finger back. He’ll be wearing a splint for six weeks, and has stated that the injury will be mostly a nuisance.

Collison to Hang: Well, his jersey, actually. The University of Kansas has announced that they will retire former Big 12 Player of the Year Nick Collison’s jersey in a halftime ceremony during the upcoming game against Michigan State. Collison’s jersey joins the jerseys of Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning, B.H. Horn, Clyde Lovellere, Charlie Black, Paul Endacott and Ray Evans (retired in football as well). Collison averaged 18.5 points and 10 rebounds per game last season, and was drafted 12th overall by the Seattle SuperSonics in the NBA Draft this past June.

Tonight’s Menu

• Villanova looks to balance its player suspensions, a midnight start, and the ire of John Chaney as the Wildcats face Temple. As you’ll recall, Villanova tried to move this Big 5 matchup when it learned that many of its players would be sitting out multiple games, even scheduling two D-3 schools in California on their way to the Maui Classic, but Temple would have nothing to do with it. So the game starts around midnight, then Villanova gets on a plane and hopes that all of their players are eligible by next week.

• Meanwhile, Hofstra faces Georgia Tech in the quarterfinals of the Preseason NIT. Up north, Washington State faces VMI in the Top of the World Classic, and Texas-San Antonio faces host Alaska-Fairbanks.

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