2009-10 Conference Primers: #8 – Conference USA

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2009


RTC is seeking a 2009-10 correspondent for Conference USA.  If you’re interested, please email us at rushthecourt@yahoo.com

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Tulsa (13-3)
  2. UTEP (12-4)
  3. Memphis (12-4)
  4. Houston (11-5)
  5. Marshall (9-7)
  6. Southern Miss (8-8)
  7. Tulane (8-8)
  8. UAB (6-10)
  9. Rice (6-10)
  10. Central Florida (6-10)
  11. East Carolina (3-13)
  12. SMU (1-15)

All-Conference Team:

  • Aubrey Coleman (G), Houston
  • Arnett Moultrie (F/C), UTEP
  • Jerome Jordan (C), Tulsa
  • Ben Uzoh (G), Tulsa
  • Randy Culpepper (G), UTEP

Impact Newcomer. Will Coleman (F), Memphis

6th Man Kelvin Lewis (G), Houston (not a true “6th man” but could easily be on the first team)
cusa logo

What You Need To Know.  Everyone knows about Memphis’ off-season.  First and foremost, it’s important to know who’s breathing down Memphis‘ neck if they should falter like many are predicting.  Tulsa is a popular preseason pick because of the excellent senior duo of Ben Uzoh and Jerome Jordan, the latter being the popular pick for preseason CUSA Player Of The Year.  Ignore UTEP at your own peril, with a formidable inside-outside duo of their own in the 6’11 sophomore Arnett Moultrie and junior guard Randy Culpepper.  Houston boasts the best true guard combo with seniors Aubrey Coleman and Kelvin Lewis, both averaging around 19 PPG.  Even Marshall and Central Florida look to be improved this season.  Now, keep in mind, this is all IF Memphis actually loses a conference game (we still can’t get over their 61 straight CUSA wins) and trips up.  He might just be 31 years old, but new head coach Josh Pastner will surprise everyone with how easily he takes to his new job.  People might forget that Duke transfer Elliot Williams is eligible for the Tigers now, and he will provide immediate help along with the rim-kissing (literally…there are photos of this) 6’9 260-pound junior-college transfer Will Coleman.  This will be a fun conference to watch this season because the issue isn’t so much that Memphis is free-falling back to the rest of the conference — it’s the fact that the rest of the conference is actually catching up to Memphis.

Predicted Champion. Tulsa (NCAA Seed:  #7). The Golden Hurricane is our choice to supplant Memphis and take the title in Conference USA this season, as Doug Wojcik’s team has been waiting for this opportunity.  If John Calipari, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and so on were currently residing in Memphis, we wouldn’t be considering this, but Memphis’ loss is Tulsa’s gain because they have an exceptionally talented and experienced team returning this year.  Point guard Ben Uzoh and center Jerome Jordan enter the 2009-10 season as two of the best players at their position in the conference, and it’s easy to understand why: Uzoh did a little bit of everything last season, to the tune of 14.0 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.6 APG, and 1.5 SPG in over 35 minutes per game, while Jordan continued to progress toward play-for-pay with 13.8 PPG, 8.6 RPG, and 2.6 BPG on 58.6% shooting from the field.  Justin Hurtt, Glenn Andrews and Steven Idlet also return as key contributors from a team that was 25-11 overall and 12-4 in CUSA, including three losses by a combined four points (especially tough was a buzzer-beating 1-point loss vs. Memphis).  Even if Memphis had remained intact, Tulsa would have still viewed the 2009-10 season as a likely NCAA one, it’s just that now they’re going in as the favorite.

Share this story

RTC 2009-10 Impact Players: Deep South

Posted by zhayes9 on September 29th, 2009


Ed. Note: the previous posts in this series (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Atlantic South) are located here.

It’s time for the fourth installment of our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series, the group of states bordering the Gulf of Mexico known as the Deep South region.   Each week we’ll pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

Deep South Region (FL, AL, MS, LA, TX)


Ed. Note: our assumption is that Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney will not be eligible to play this season.

  • Aubrey Coleman – Sr, G – Houston. Young Mr. Coleman was a controversial pick for our panel, to say the least.  There’s no denying his talent, but the 6’4 rock of a player went national (and viral) last season for his footplant on Chase Budinger’s face during a game at Arizona.  Seriously, that thing made what Christian Laettner did to Aminu Timberlake in 1992 look like playtime in the sandbox.  Coleman served his one-game suspension for the ugly incident, and proceeded to take out any residual anger he might have on the rest of Conference USA to the tune of twelve double-doubles and becoming the only player to finish in the top five in both CUSA scoring and rebounding.  Yeah, rebounding.  At 6’4.  Playing guard.  If that doesn’t give you a clue as to Coleman’s toughness (despite his cowardly act against Budinger), we don’t know what will.  Despite his position, Coleman makes it a common practice to regularly venture into the lane for frequent trips to the foul line on offense and for rebounds on defense (ranks #294 in def reb%).  He also ranked in the top 25 nationally in steals, and we should point out that only three guards in the entire country pulled down more boards per game than Coleman.  About the only part of Coleman’s game that isn’t quite honed is his outside shot (21% on threes), but he doesn’t take many, which shows recognition of his strengths and weaknesses.  With two star players (including Kelvin Lewis) returning for their senior seasons in Houston, it’s safe to say that Tom Penders is sitting on an explosive duo who could lead UH to a successful slate in a wide-open CUSA and its first NCAA Tournament appearance in nearly twenty years.
  • Damion James – Sr, F – Texas. Just three days prior to the declaration deadline for the 2009 NBA Draft, Damion James told Texas head coach Rick Barnes that he’d be returning for a final season in Austin, a decision that drastically alters the expectations of a Longhorns team that underachieved a campaign ago. Texas should be a top-five team in 2009-10 due to an influx of talent from all angles: from returnees like Dexter Pittman, to transfers like Jai Lucas, stud freshmen like Avery Bradley and, most importantly, a senior season from Damion James. James has just about as much pure athletic talent as any forward in the nation featuring an NBA-ready body, constant activity on the glass and an ability to run the floor like few other 6’7 forwards. The issue with James has always been complacency and wavering effort. Often James will hang around the perimeter, settle for outside shots, disappear when his team needs him the most or settle for being a secondary figure when a player with the ability of James should always be The Man. When James is motivated, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player in the Big 12 that can contain him. James finished on the All-Big 12 Second Team his junior season after finishing with 15.4 ppg and 9.2 rpg a year following a sophomore campaign in which James averaged a double-double. James ranked fourth in the Big 12 in rebounding, tenth in the conference in scoring and totaled double-figures on 31 occasions in 2008-09. A player the caliber of James should be right there with Cole Aldrich and Craig Brackins at the top of potential Big 12 POY candidates for the upcoming season. He should be a first round pick and he should average another double-double. One of the reasons I have Texas pegged #2 in the nation preseason is because I trust James to provide that consistent effort for Rick Barnes in search of a very realistic Final Four.
Share this story

Boom Goes the Dynamite: 03.13.09

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2009


Hello hoops fans, and welcome to our first weekday version of your favorite semi-live journal, Boom Goes the Dynamite.  We’re still feeling the effects of that six-overtime Goliath of a game last night, but we’re caffeinated and ready to rock with you all day while we move through what is traditionally the best day of the conference tournament weekend.  It’ll be hard to top what we saw yesterday, though.  Here are a few of the games you should be tracking; as you can see, today is an absolute blockbuster:

  • ACC – UNC vs. Virginia Tech – Noon, Maryland vs. Wake Forest – 7pm, Duke vs. BC, 9:30pm
  • Patriot – American vs. Holy Cross – 4:45pm
  • Big 10 – Michigan St. vs. Minnesota – Noon, Illinois vs. Michigan – 6:30pm, Purdue vs. Penn St. – 9pm
  • Big East – Louisville vs. Villanova – 7pm, Syracuse vs. West Virginia – 9pm
  • Big 12 – Baylor vs. Texas – 7pm, Oklahoma St. vs. Missouri – 9:30pm
  • Mountain West – San Diego St. vs. BYU – 9pm
  • Pac-10 – Arizona St. vs. Washington – 9pm, USC vs. UCLA – 11:30pm
  • SEC – Florida vs. Auburn – 9:45pm

Another couple of PSAs before we get started.  Be sure to check the site throughout the weekend, as we’ll be doing these BGTDs each day, in addition to a revised bracketology on both Saturday and Sunday, all leading to a liveblogging of the Selection Show on Sunday.  We’ll also be putting up the information for RTC’s Second Annual Bracket Challenge later this afternoon.

12:20 pm. Let’s get started here.  UNC looks flat so far against Virginia Tech, and they should, given that Ty Lawson is over on the bench sitting next to Roy Williams.  He is dressed, though, so it wouldn’t surprise us if his Big Toe makes an appearance.  That crafty Roy – always using the element of surprise.  Or something like that.

12:27 pm.  Over at the Big Ten, Minnesota is leading Michigan State 22-20 in a high-scoring game.  Yes, we said high-scoring and Big Ten in the same sentence.  Wow, ESPN is already re-showing the Syracuse-UConn game on ESPN Classic.  Tivo time.  If these two games get worthless, we’re definitely moving back over there.

12:33 pm. They’re really hyping that game from last night – looks like they’re going to show the whole thing on ESPNU at 3pm.  Getting back to business here, Virginia Tech looks poised right now, playing like a team that wants to keep playing in March should be playing.  Carolina looks a little flat, but the question will be whether they can still make a patented run with Lawson sitting.

12:42 pm. Most of the ACC people are annoyed with the conference tournament being in Atlanta this year, but we think it’s refreshing that it’s not in the same old tired venue of Greensboro or Charlotte again.  The home-state advantage that Carolina gets in those two building is ridiculous.  Speaking of advantage, it looked like UNC was about to make a run until Va Tech came down and hit two consecutive threes.  Ed Davis is going to be a player someday.  He has really nice touch around the rim, and his per-40 rebounding average is in the 15 rpg territory!

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Conference USA Wrapup & Tourney Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2009

Memphis passed its last regular season road test and now only has a few games to go to return to the “promised land” that they’ve never really left.

While the Tigers’ dominance over the rest of CUSA is nearly unparalleled in the history of modern college basketball, it doesn’t mean that every other team is chopped liver. Basically anything can happen in a tournament setting and the Tigers have endured a few close calls this year.


So here are the teams as they are seeded and some pertinent info:

#1: Memphis Tigers

Coach: John Calipari

Record: 28-3 overall (16-0 in CUSA)

Players to Watch: G Tyreke Evans, F Robert Dozier, F Shawn Taggart, G Antonio Anderson

Season Highlights: In a year that many thought would be fraught with ‘rebuilding’ and the like, the Tigers continue to look dominant. The arrival of the latest one-year wonder: Tyreke Evans, has allowed the blue and gray not miss a beat from last year’s final four squad. But the veteran leadership of guys like Antonio Anderson, Doneal Mack, Shawn Taggart and Robert Dozier has been a huge factor too. They suffered early-season setbacks against Xavier and Syracuse, but they’re currently riding 20+ game winning streak. There have been a few close calls and at the end of the day they’re still undefeated against the rest of the conference.

They Will Win If: They simply show up and play their game. I don’t want to imply that the Tigers will simply cream whomever they play, because they could well lose. But they’re playing an extremely favorable draw on their home court. This is a recipe for success and it also doesn’t hurt that they’ve won over 50 games in a row against CUSA teams.

First Game: vs. the winner of #8 Tulane/#9 East Carolina; Thursday at 8:30 pm.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Checking in on… Conference USA

Posted by rtmsf on February 25th, 2009

Allen R. of Houston Basketball Junkies is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA.

The moment of truth for Conference USA has come and in the next couple of weeks there will be major tests for the flagship program of the conference:  Memphis.

But the biggest story still is the fact that the Tigers have dominated in a year that for all intents and purposes was supposed to be a down year.

1.) Two More Tests for the Tigers:  There are only 4 games left on their schedule, but 2 of them will pose serious challenges for Memphis, who is currently 12-0 in Conference USA. Last Saturday UTEP gave the Tigers a tough game before losing 70-63. The first challenge will come this Wednesday night on the road against UAB. In a conference desperate for some true rivalries, a heated one is developing between the Tigers and Blazers. The last game ended in an ugly altercation between Memphis players and the UAB student section after a hard-fought Tiger win. There probably won’t be an altercation this year, but I still expect a hard-fought game. Keep in mind that in 2006 the Blazers handed the Tigers their last CUSA loss. If the Blazers don’t stop the Tigers, Houston hosts the Tigers for their last road game of the year and the Cougars will try to recapture the same magic that led to a 2005 upset in Houston.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Checking in on… Conference USA

Posted by rtmsf on February 11th, 2009

Allen R of Houston Basketball Junkies is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA.

Conference Standings.

  1. Memphis:   20-3 (8-0)
  2. Tulsa:   17-7 (7-2)
  3. UAB:   16-8 (6-3)
  4. Houston:   14-7 (5-3)
  5. UCF:   15-8 (5-4)
  6. UTEP:   13-9 (4-4)
  7. East Carolina:   12-10 (4-5)
  8. Southern Miss:   13-9 (3-5)
  9. Marshall:   11-13 (3-6) 
  10. Tulane:   9-13 (3-6)
  11. Rice:   7-15 (2-6)
  12. SMU:   7-14 (1-7)

Slowly but surely, Conference USA basketball has rounded back into the form that’s earned it the nickname of: Memphis and the 11 dwarves in recent seasons.  I don’t want to completely trash every other team in the league, because there are some good teams and good players out there. Just because things are so ‘top-heavy’ in CUSA basketball, that’s not an excuse to completely ignore everyone else.  But the underlying fact remains: nobody besides Memphis has played well enough up to this point to earn a trip to the big dance.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ATB: Define “Game Face,” Mr. Calathes

Posted by rtmsf on February 11th, 2009


First, Some News & Notes.

  • UCLA’s Drew Gordon may be slowed down by back spams in the Bruins’ next game at Arizona St. on Thursday night.
  • Pat Forde shows which schools are basketball-philic through an interesting analysis of attendance and success this season.
  • We give approximately a 1% chance that this girl is actually Duke forward Miles Plumlee’s girlfriend, and approximately 0.01% chance that she goes to school at Duke.  Everybody knows all the Dookies do their chasing of tails over at Carolina (with good reason).
No Way She’s From Duke (photo credit: Uncoached)

Getting Down To Business With Rivalry Week.

  • Kentucky 68, Florida 65. This was the game of the night, by far.  For a while it appeared that Nick Calathes’ “game face” (according to Jimmy Dykes) was going to carry the Gators to their eighth victory in nine tries against UK, but Jodie Meeks’ (23/5) ridiculous nearly-falling-down-then-recovering three from the left elbow, followed by Calathes’ (33/7/3 assts) “choke face” missing all three of his FTs (the last intentionally) that would have tied the game, ensured that wouldn’t happen.  UK staved off what would have been another devastating home loss, and kept their NCAA hopes alive for a couple more weeks, whereas Florida is probably still ok unless they go on a severe drought (not impossible with this mentally fragile group).  But several other interesting things happened in this game.  First, Patrick Patterson was carried off the court midway through the second half with what appeared to be a sprained right ankle, and there’s no word on his status yet, but if he’s out for any significant amount of time, UK could be in serious trouble in the short term.  Second, the call where Walter Hodge was ejected for stepping on Perry Stevenson’s arm in what was clearly (to us) an accidental mis-step was a clear example of the Aubrey Coleman Effect – a month ago he would not have been thrown out of the game for that “offense.”  Finally, does any coach in American despise a sideline reporter as much as Billy Gillispie does Jeannine Edwards?  Seriously, the contempt is palpable.  In recent weeks, he’s spot-analyzed her question (conclusion: bad), pretended not to hear her and made a snide reference to she “would know better than him.”  What’s wrong, Billy G – did Ms. Edwards turn you down for a date at Harry’s?  (to be fair, Edwards is painful to listen to, but it just seems as if Gillispie has an elevated distate for her questions)

  • Michigan St. 54, Michigan 42. MSU gave one of its strongest defensive efforts of the year, holding its rival Michigan to 35% shooting and 17% from three on its home floor tonight.  This was especially true because UM, who had lost six of its last eight, really needed a signature late-season win to showcase along with its early season victories over Duke and UCLA for the NCAA Tourney Committee.  MSU’s Delvon Roe had 14/10 as he continues to make his way back from multiple offseason knee surgeries – if he, along with Goran Suton, Raymar Morgan and an assorted cast of Spartans, are completely healthy come March, this is a different team than the one we saw UNC emasculate at Ford Field back in early December.
  • Villanova 102, Marquette 84. Seems like a long time ago when Marquette was undefeated in the Big East, doesn’t it?  Props to whomever we read today that predicted Villanova (not Marquette) would end up in the top 4 of the Big East Tourney (Katz?  Goodman?).  In a statistical oddity, Villanova hit between 54-59% of every shooting category, which is largely a good thing (except FTs, of course).  The Cats hit 13 threes en route to 59% overall to score 100+ pts for the second consecutive game.   Scottie Reynolds (27/4) and Corey Fisher (21/4) did the most damage, but this game was an offensive player’s paradise – nine players hit double figures.  Marquette was led by (who else?) Jerel McNeal’s 23/4/7 assts, but the Golden Eagles suddenly look like a team with severe limitations defensively.  They get a two-game breather before the crucible hits.

Other Games That Caught Your Fancy.

  • Florida St. 68, Virginia 57.  Is there a Dave Leitao watch yet?  If not, when will there be?  Does 60-55 (24-33 ACC) over four years cut it?  Regardless, UVa lost its eighth consecutive game, and FSU solidified its standing in third place in the conference (tied at 6-3 with Clemson).
  • Providence 77, South Florida 62. PC avoided the fate that befell Marquette at USF, and in so doing, continues to gum up the works in the second tier of the Big East for schools like Syracuse and Georgetown.
  • Texas 99, Oklahoma St. 74. UT easily avoided its first four-game losing streak in a long time by putting four players in double figures, led by AJ Abrams’ 20,and holding everyone except James Anderson (35 pts) down for OSU.
  • Clemson 87, Boston College 77. In a game that would potentially define the relative directions of both of these teams, Clemson played a strong second half behind Terrence Oglesby’s 21 pts (6 threes) and came away with a road win to go to 6-3 in the ACC.  RTC Live was there.
  • Minnesota 62, Indiana 54. The Gophers avoided a letdown loss they couldn’t well afford behind reserve forward Paul Carter’s 22/6 off the bench.  No other Gopher hit double figures.
Share this story

Checking in on… Conference USA

Posted by rtmsf on February 3rd, 2009

Allen R of Houston Basketball Junkies is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA.

  1. Memphis: 18-3 (7-0)
  2. UCF: 15-6 (5-2)
  3. Tulsa: 15-7 (5-2)
  4. UTEP: 13-8 (4-3)
  5. UAB: 14-8 (4-3)
  6. Houston: 12-7 (3-3)
  7. Southern Miss: 13-7 (3-3)
  8. Tulane: 9-11 (3-4)
  9. East Carolina: 10-10 (2-5)
  10. Marshall: 9-12 (2-5) 
  11. Rice: 7-14 (2-5)
  12. SMU: 6-13 (1-6)

“It’s the same old song…”

That isn’t just a line from a classic ‘Motown’ song, but the story of Conference USA basketball summed up in five choice words.

Some things change, but as last week proved, there are some things that always remain the same for a while.

1.) Don’t Boo the Aubrey: In his first game coming off the one game suspension by Conference USA, Houston guard Aubrey Coleman responded to boos and jeers from the Memphis student section by scoring 35 points. The only problem was none of Coleman’s teammates showed up and they combined for a total of 33 points, as the Tigers beat the Cougars 83-68 at the Fed Ex Forum. It was quite evident last Saturday that even in a down year, Memphis has far more talent than even the upper-tier CUSA teams like Houston.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

01.29.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by nvr1983 on January 29th, 2009

Lot of good links today with many of them follow-ups of stories we have reported on in the past.

Share this story

Checking in on… Conference USA

Posted by rtmsf on January 27th, 2009

Allen R of Houston Basketball Junkies is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA.

  1. Memphis: 15-3 (5-0)
  2. Houston: 12-5 (3-1)
  3. UCF: 13-6 (3-2)
  4. UAB: 13-7 (3-2)
  5. Tulsa: 13-7 (3-2)
  6. Southern Miss: 12-6 (2-2)
  7. Tulane: 8-10 (2-2)
  8. UTEP: 11-8 (2-3)
  9. East Carolina: 10-8 (2-3)
  10. Marshall: 9-10 (2-3)
  11. SMU: 6-11 (1-4)
  12. Rice: 6-13 (1-4)

There wasn’t any lack of excitement this week and in some cases that excitement was also coupled with a bit of controversy.

In fact the Houston basketball program tested the adage that “any publicity is good publicity” during this past weekend when they played Arizona. However there were other storylines from the past week of action, albeit a bit less controversial than the aforementioned incident.

1.) Stompgate ’09:  The unfortunate incident that made the most headlines this past weekend began with Arizona forward Chase Budinger drawing a charge call after a collision with Houston guard Aubrey Coleman. After the conclusion of that play, Coleman stepped on Budinger’s face in an act that looked equal parts negligent and malicious. Naturally this act enraged Budinger who was assessed a technical foul for his retaliation following the stepping. But the worst punishment was saved for Coleman, who was ejected for the flagrant foul. After watching the video of the incident and the reactions of both players, I’m convinced that Coleman deserved to be ejected and could have shown a lot more remorse immediately following the act. But the act itself was in my opinion, an attempt to show dominance over Budinger by stepping over him instead of around him. Something went horribly wrong in between and now we have a major headline story. It’s worth noting that Coleman’s had no other incidents this year at Houston or on his previous team at Southwest Mississippi Junior College. In the end, before rushing to crucify the young Mr. Coleman, we all must think of the “he who is without sin” line.  Following the game, Coleman gave what appeared to be a sincere and remorseful apology.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story