2012-13 RTC Conference Primers: Conference USA

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 5th, 2012

Ryan Peters is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA. You can find him on Twitter @pioneer_pride and read his musings online at Big Apple Buckets and Pioneer Pride.

Top Storylines

  • A Conference in Considerable Flux – Before MemphisHoustonUCF, and SMU defect to the Big East – which officially makes a geographic mockery of the Big East’s name – C-USA will have one final season together as a full-fledged “upper-level” Division I conference. With only six NCAA Tournament teams and zero NCAA tournament victories in the past three seasons, however, can C-USA muster together a respectable showing for the 2012-13 campaign that doesn’t rival most mid-major conferences? Memphis is the only virtual lock to go dancing, yet several other programs (see MarshallUTEP, and Tulane) are on the rise and could conceivably end up on the right side of the tournament bubble come March. Still, it may be overly optimistic to think C-USA will break the two-team NCAA bid barrier that has eluded the conference since 2005.
  • A Run Towards Perfection – In his fourth season as Memphis’ head coach, Josh Pastner has an opportunity to do something his predecessor, John Calipari, did with apparent ease for three straight seasons prior – have his Tigers run the table in C-USA. With the conference slightly weaker heading into this season (according to Ken Pomeroy), Memphis has a real opportunity to put up a perfect 16-0 regular season mark against their conference foes. It will still prove to be difficult, especially when facing UCF and Marshall twice as part of their unbalanced schedule, yet Memphis returns four starters and is sitting on a potential NBA lottery pick in Adonis Thomas if the 6’7” small forward can stay healthy for much of the season.

Josh Pastner leads a talented home-grown roster in Memphis’ final season in C-USA.

  • Welcoming Back a Legend – Anytime you can hire a head coach with a resume such as the 71-year old Larry Brown, I guess you have to do it, given SMU’s desperation to hire a big name. After all, you’re talking about a guy with an NCAA championship and an NBA championship on his resume. The problem is – aside from his age and inability to coach through the initial contract at his last three destinations – Brown has been away from the college game for nearly 25 years, when he won the 1988 NCAA championship coaching Danny Manning (who, interestingly, is a new C-USA coach himself) and the Kansas Jayhawks. How much can the Mustangs reasonably expect from Brown under these conditions? The cupboard is bare with the graduation of leading scorer and most efficient player, Robert Nyakundi, and the removal of four players including starting point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas, so you have to wonder if Brown will have the patience to stick around long enough to fully rebuild a SMU program that hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1993. One benefit from Brown’s hiring is that he has assembled an impressive coaching staff, which includes the Mustangs possible head-coach-in-waiting in Tim Jankovich.
  • New Coaching Blood – Including Brown, there are four C-USA programs that hired new coaches this offseason, which makes up a whopping one third of the entire league. The most notable new hires are Brown and the aforementioned Danny Manning, who left his assistant post at Kansas in an attempt to push Tulsa out of complacency. Donnie Tyndall (Southern Miss) and Jerod Haase (UAB) complete the list of coaches. It will be an uphill battle in season one; research has shown head coaches typically struggle in their first season at their newest destination. Perhaps these men can buck the trend and adapt quickly, although the more likely scenario has some of the league taking advantage and pushing ahead of these rebuilding programs for the time being. Well, maybe except for Rice (more on that later)…

Reader’s Take I


Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Memphis (14-2)
  2. Marshall (12-4)
  3. UTEP (11-5)
  4. UCF (10-6)
  5. UAB (9-7)
  6. Southern Mississippi (8-8)
  7. Tulane (7-9)
  8. East Carolina (7-9)
  9. Houston (6-10)
  10. Tulsa (5-11)
  11. SMU (5-11)
  12. Rice (2-14)
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Morning Five: 06.16.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 16th, 2011

  1. Yesterday was a busy day for former UConn forward Jamal Coombs-McDaniel as he not only received a deal from a judge allowing him to enter a state-run drug education program that would leave him without a criminal record (outside of the Internet) and he announced that he would be transferring to Hofstra where he will join former UConn assistant Patrick Sellars (the one who was thrown under the bus in the Nate Miles fiasco).
  2. We are only week away from the NBA Draft and most pundits expect the Cleveland Cavaliers to select Kyrie Irving with the #1 overall pick. Even though most people consider this a weak year overall there are a few people who are quite high on Irving. Basketball Prospectus is apparently high enough on him to write an a post comparing him to Derrick Rose. We don’t think that Irving is even close to the prospect that Rose was coming out of his freshman year (the comparison is probably based on most similar game rather than potential), but it is an interesting analysis.
  3. Over the years Dick Vitale has become somewhat of a lightning rod for fans upset about perceived biases against their teams so much so that they often forget that he was a pretty good college coach (and a lousy pro coach). Detroit, the school that he coached at from 1973-77 and led to the NCAA Tournament in 1977, has announced that it will be naming its court as “Dick Vitale Court at Calihan Hall” during the school’s nationally televised game against St. John’s on December 5, 2011 (more on it here from RTC). We are sort of on the fence with this one. On one hand the program does not have a great track record of success and Vitale got them to the NCAA Tournament, but on the other hand it could be interpreted to be a desperate plea to garner some national attention.
  4. We have been writing about “package deals” for several years now dating back to the sketchy Michael Beasley-Dalonte Hill deal, but assumed that they were going to be less frequent with the NCAA trying to be more vigilant on all fronts. It turns that belief might have been a bit premature as some are questioning a potential assistant coaching job offer to the father of 2012 recruit J-Mychal Reese. According to some reports J-Mychal’s father has offers from Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and LSU. Although he does have nearly a decade of experience as a high school coach some are questioning it and it should be worth following over the next year.
  5. UTEP rising sophomore John Bohannon got himself into a mess over the weekend with an anti-gay tweet stating “#letsbereal it is NOT cool to be gay! (Zro voice) *jordan shrug*.” Bohannon subsequently deleted the tweet and posted another tweet stating “To those who were offended by my tweet a few days ago- Didn’t mean any disrespect by it as I do not judge anybody by their sexual preference and would hope you would not judge me by one tweet. Thank You.” UTEP has not issued a comment other than that Bohannon reportedly issued the original tweet in reference to a lyric by rapper Z-Ro that stated “Seems like today, it’s cool to be gay.” Within the UTEP student community response has been mixed, but mostly negative, which is not too surprising. We are sure that Bohannon will be reminded of this at a more than a few road games during his college career.
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