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January 31, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Saturday, January 31st

Stephen F. Austin Player Dies: Stephen F. Austin junior transfer Greg Wallace died Friday after collapsing while shooting baskets at SFA’s home court. Wallace was sitting out this season after transferring from Army and was practicing while the active players and coaches were traveling to Hammond, La. to play a game against Southeastern Louisiana that was scheduled for today. The game has been postponed indefinitely as the team returned home to Nacogdoches, Texas after finding out about Wallace’s death. The cause of death is unknown at this time. Wallace was 22-years-old.

More Conference Shuffling: The long discussed move from Conference USA to the Mountain West Conference by TCU finally is official as they accepted an invitation by the MWC on Friday. The move will be effective for the 2005-2006 season and will come at an exit price of at least $400,000 for the Horned Frogs. If you are keeping score at home, you know that Conference USA will be losing TCU, Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, South Florida, St. Louis, and Charlotte in the next two years. Central Florida, Marshall, Rice, SMU, and Tulsa will move in to take their places. Barring any other conference moves (and based on the last several months, it would not surprise anyone if other moves did happen), the Mountain West will have nine teams after this move is completed.

Suspended: The Southeastern Conference suspended Vanderbilt guard Corey Smith and South Carolina forward Renaldo Balkman for the fight that occurred in the game between their two teams on Wednesday night. Smith’s suspension was automatic because he was ejected from the game for fighting. Balkman was also ejected from the game, but for a flagrant foul, not for fighting. However, the SEC has the right to suspend players for flagrant, unsportsmanlike acts that occur during games. Due to the suspensions, Vanderbilt will be without Smith for their game against Kentucky today and South Carolina will not have Balkman for today’s match-up with Mississippi.

Pitino Stays Quiet: Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has returned to work and will be on the bench for the Cardinals’ game against Marquette today, but he continues to decline to give specifics about the medical condition that forced him to take leave of the team for two days this week. Stating that, “I don’t want to get too overly personal,” Pitino did say that his ailment was nothing serious.

Light Action: Only twelve games were played last night, none involving ranked teams. Princeton played their first conference game of the season, defeating Brown 64-49. In other Ivy League action, Yale defeated Penn 54-52, Columbia destroyed Dartmouth 78-42, and Cornell moved to 3-0 in Ivy League games, beating Harvard 91-79. In the Patriot League, Army got revenge for their football team’s loss by beating Navy, 52-50.

Tonight’s Menu:

• Twenty-one of the teams in the Hoopville Top 25 are in action today on a typical busy Saturday schedule. There are two games matching up two ranked teams, with No. 2 Duke traveling to Atlanta to battle No. 13 Georgia Tech and No. 21 Oklahoma State hosting No. 13 Texas Tech.

• The only two unbeaten teams remaining, No. 1 Stanford and No. 3 St. Joseph’s, both have tough road tests today. Stanford will have to win at Oregon’s McArthur Court in order to keep their perfect season alive. Oregon is 36-2 at home over the last three seasons, so a Cardinal win is far from a sure thing. St. Joseph’s has to tangle with fellow Philly foe Temple. The Owls are a little down this season, but John Chaney is not a coach that you like to see on the opposite bench when you are trying to stay undefeated.

• After snapping their 31-game losing streak, Loyola (MD) will hit the road in an attempt to move their winning streak to two games. The Greyhounds face St. Peter’s, the MAAC’s second place team, so the task does not appear to be easy.

• Other intriguing match-ups include Troy State at UCF in a battle between the top two teams in the Atlantic Sun, along with Xavier at Dayton, Marquette at No. 4 Louisville, and BYU at Utah. Utah will be led by assistant coach Kerry Rupp, who will be the interim coach for the Utes due to the medical problems of Rick Majerus.

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