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January 19, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments




The Morning Dish – Monday, January 19th

Remembering Dr. King: Today is the holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of our nation’s greatest civil rights leaders. With the work inspired by King and others dedicated social equality, college basketball looks different than it did just half of a century ago. The amount of diversity on the court would probably bring a smile to King’s face. But like most other sports in this country, diversity still needs work in power positions such as coaches, athletic directors and university presidents.

Death in the Family: College basketball lost a member of its hard-working officiating crew when referee Tony Herndon collapsed during the Division III game between North Carolina Wesleyan and Shenandoah Saturday night. Herndon collapsed early in the second half, apparently in the midst of a heart attack. He was taken to Winchester Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. Our thoughts and prayers go to the family and friends of Herndon.

Mo’ Money: Memphis coach John Calipari will be seeing green for three extra years because the school extended Calipari’s contract through 2010. Calipari has an 81-35 record in four seasons at Memphis. He has brought in many talented recruits, some of whom have jumped to the NBA before ever arriving on campus. Calipari promises to bring Memphis back to glory, even if it is glory in a talent-depleted Conference USA. As Memphis continues to become a force, look for a major conference to make a play at grabbing Memphis.

Police Report: Louisville assistant coach Kevin Willard apparently celebrated the Cardinals victory over Tulane in excess. Police arrested Willard early yesterday morning and charged him with driving under the influence of alcohol when he failed a sobriety test.

Extra Work: Although there were only nine Division I games yesterday, two went into overtime. Virginia picked up its first ACC victory with a 76-67 win over Florida State. Senior guard Todd Billet led the Cavaliers with 26 points. Meanwhile, junior guard Jerry Johnson scored 35 points to lead Rider over Niagra, 93-90. Johnson made two free throws to put Rider ahead for good in overtime.

King of New York: Manhattan continues to dominate MAAC competition behind senior guard Luis Flores, a transfer Rutgers probably would love to have back. Flores is one of the NCAA’s most unheralded and prolific scorers, averaging 22.4 points per game this year. Flores led Manhattan past Fairfield, 89-69, scoring 27 points. Senior center Rob Thomson led Fairfield with 19 points and 13 rebounds, his third double-double of the season.

Quiet Storm: Villanova continued to play well against the unintimidating St. John’s Red Storm, winning 85-74 as the Wildcats’ starters accounted for all but three points. Freshman guard Michael Nardi scored a game-high 23 points and sophomore guard Allan Ray added 21 points to lead Villanova in the victory. Sophomore guard Darryll Hill led St. John’s with 20 points and seven assists.

Good Thing They Have the Patriots: Because Massachusetts’ men’s basketball program is near the bottom of the barrel in the NCAA’s talent-rich vat of schools. The Minutemen lost to Duquesne 88-62 as sophomore guard Jack Higgins scored a career-high 24 points for Duquesne. Massachusetts has won five games this season, which is 11 fewer than the New England Patriots have won. The Patriots went 14-2 in the NFL’s regular season and won their second playoff game yesterday against the Indianapolis Colts to advance to the Super Bowl. Also, kudos to the Carolina Panthers for using defense to beat the Philadelphia Eagles to reach their first-ever Super Bowl.

Tonight’s Menu:

• The best game of the night has soon-to-be-formerly No. 1 Connecticut looking to hand No. 13 Pittsburgh its first loss of the season and bounce back from the weekend loss at No. 10 North Carolina.

• Atlantic Sun conference fans should note the game between Belmont and Central Florida, two of the better teams in the conference. Meanwhile out west, three great games will determine early positions in the Big XII and Mountain West conferences. No. 12 Oklahoma visits coach Bobby Knight’s No. 21 Texas Tech Red Raiders, as Texas Tech looks to remain undefeated in Big XII play. BYU hosts Wyoming, and Utah plays Colorado State, as the two schools from Utah look to separate themselves from their MWC peers.

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