Checking in on… Conference USAPosted by rtmsf on December 15th, 2008
Allen R of Houston Basketball Junkies is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA.
The week of final examinations usually equates to a slow basketball week and Conference USA is no exception to the rule.
In fact Houston, Memphis, Tulane, Rice, ECU, UAB, UTEP, Marshall and SMU all refrained from scheduling games during the week.
However there were a few games and storylines worth talking about in this rather uneventful week:
- Hurricane Alert? It’s an absolute mystery to me as to what’s happened to the Tulsa basketball team. They looked great in a 67-56 win over Texas A&M and have completely disappeared since. First they had a puzzling 75-63 loss to a mediocre Ohio team and then didn’t bother showing up in a 69-44 loss to in-state rival Oklahoma. Granted Blake Griffin and that Oklahoma team will make a lot of teams look bad this year. They have just looked bad offensively throughout this streak and can’t seem to get their stud 7-footer Jerome Jordan involved offensively. They couldn’t even blow out lowly Presbyterian College, settling for a 62-48 win.
- The ‘Dez Dispenser. The lone freshman on the Houston roster has done wonders for their offense so far this year. Desmond Wade, who had a decorated prep career at Linden High School in New Jersey, was overlooked by many nearby colleges because of his 5 foot 9 stature. But Wade is proving many of the doubters wrong and so far has averaged 9.3 points and a team-high 6.3 assists per game. He also is second on the team with 33.4 minutes per game and has started every game except the Cougars’ opener. The emergence of Wade is a welcome sign for a Houston team that has lacked consistent point guard play the last two seasons.
- Early Tests for the Tigers. Everyone would agree that Memphis has played the toughest non-conference schedule in CUSA and they’ve gotten some lumps to show for it. The Tigers struggled against #19 Georgetown in a 79-70 overtime loss and seem to keep having the same problems. As a team they shot a measly 34.6% and 26.3% from the three-point line. In the ‘dribble-drive’ offense, the big men will never be a huge part of the offense, but Robert Dozier is struggling to be the man in the low post. Tyreke Evans scored 21 points against Georgetown and is obviously the best freshman in CUSA. But the Tigers need one of their more experienced guys like Shawn Taggart, Doneal Mack or Antonio Anderson to step up. They’ll face stiff tests from Syracuse and Cincinnati before they get to CUSA play.
- Just the Pitts. They have looked a little erratic at times this year, but the Marshall basketball team has a great point guard in freshman Damier Pitts and people are taking notice. The Sporting News named Pitts as one of the “2008-09 Top Freshman You’ve Never Heard Of” recently. So far this year Pitts is averaging 11.4 points and 3.0 assists per game, trailing only fellow ‘Herd freshman Shaquille Johnson in scoring.