Tag:C-USA
Posted on: September 28, 2011 4:54 pm
 

Larry Eustachy earns extension at Southern Miss

By Matt Norlander

Many times, with true contrition and resolve, you can make it again in America after a public downfall. Just look at Southern Miss, who has given Larry Eustachy a three-year contract extension, per ESPN.com's Andy Katz. Terms of the deal have not yet been announced.

The Golden Eagles went 22-10 last year, and overall, Eustachy has a record of 117-104, with three 20-win seasons. He's coached there since 2005. He has yet to take the team to the NCAA tournament. The only postseason berth came in the lowly regarded CIT, in 2010.

Eustachy left Iowa State in 2003 after pictures of him surfaced drinking with co-eds. It was truly one of the first instances of the Internet changing the way sports figures could act in public. Many lessons were learned, and bad (stupid) behavior still gets caught on camera in today's era, but less frequently than it did during the halcyon days of half-witted behavior (2004-2007ish). When Eustachy was caught, it was truly a much more innocent time.

He became one of the first sports figures to lose his job over something that became known via the Internet. It was bad for Iowa State, but so much worse for Eustachy, who came to grips with the fact he was an alcoholic. Nevertheless, his coaching was so valued, he only had to wait two years to land on his feet in D-I again. He stuck to rehab, and Southern Miss hasn't looked back since.

Eustachy had one year left on his deal, but with the way contracts work these days, that might as well be no time at all. The Golden Eagles will most likely run atop the Conference USA with Memphis, UAB and Marshall this season. That league's not likely to produce four NCAA tournament teams, but many see that quadrant of clubs to be the ones with the best chance at being on the bubble come early February.

There's another possible bit of big news coming for Southern Miss. From Katz's report:

In addition, a source said a decision was due soon on reinstating Kentucky transfer guard Darnell Dodson by mid-year. Dodson had been booted off the Wildcats team after the 2009-10 season by coach John Calipari, who did not give a reason. Dodson transferred to Southern Miss and was enrolled this past January, but in late April, Eustachy announced Dodson had been dismissed from the Golden Eagles as well, and also did not give a reason.

If Dodson's name rings a bell, it should sound an alarm instead. He was initially kicked off the team after being charged with stealing from a frat house at Southern Miss' campus in April. That was never officially the reason, but it was definitely the reason.

Seems Dodson -- who definitely has the talent to earn a lot of minutes in C-USA -- may get yet one more shot. What was that I said about America earlier?

Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: September 14, 2011 11:59 am
Edited on: September 14, 2011 4:37 pm
 

Trippin': Saint Louis puts the pieces together

By Jeff Goodman

Rick Majerus went and sat in the bleachers.

The doctors advised the Saint Louis head coach, who had a stent inserted back in early August, not to coach on the team's recent trip to Canada. Jim Whitesell replaced Majerus on the sidelines, which wasn't easy for the veteran, outspoken head coach. "There was no positive with having to sit in the bleachers and not be able to coach," he said.

The team, which continues to battle injuries, went 3-2 on the trip. 

What Majerus learned: "We've probably got to be more restricted with some of the players and what we enable some of them to do, playing to their strengths. I'm used to an eight-man rotation, but I may wind up going with a nine-man rotation this year." 

Who stood out: "I can't really say that one player stood out; that would be erroneous." 

What concerns him: "Our health and after that, it's our total commitment to defense. We seem to have one guy breaking down."

-- Kwamain Mitchell, who was suspended all of last season, played well in the first four games before suffering a back injury which required X-Rays and an MRI. Majerus said he's hopeful that Mitchell, who wasn't on campus for the first semester a year ago and didn't practice the entire season, is finally healthy enough to return to workouts today.

-- With Mitchell back in the fold, look for the point guard spot to be split between he and Mike McCall, the sophomore guard who led the team in scoring a year ago as a freshman.

-- Senior guard Kyle Cassity didn't play on the trip due to a bone fracture.

-- Junior forward Cody Ellis needed stitches over the weekend following an off-court incident. Majerus didn't know all the specifics, but said he was informed it involved jumping over a fence. "Doing what kids do," he said.

-- Sophomore guard Jordair Jett also missed the final game after hyper-extending his knee.

-- Freshman Grandy Glaze only practiced twice and played sparingly on the trip.

-- Majerus was raving about the future of 6-foot-11 freshman John Manning. "He has great hands and is very bright - both in the classroom and on the court. He's not afraid of contact. In fact, he embraces contact. He catches everything and has nice touch."

-- The NCAA didn't allow freshman guard Emmanuel Tselentakis to practice or go on the trip. However, Majerus said he is eligible to play this year.

-- This will be the first season since taking over the program that Majerus will have the full allotment of 13 scholarship players. 

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 4, 2011 10:02 am
Edited on: February 4, 2011 2:52 pm
 

Whatever happened to Conference USA?

Tim Floyd and Randy Culpepper can lead UTEP to the Big Dance

Posted by Eric Angevine

For years, the only team that mattered in Conference USA was Memphis. The Tigers had historically been a good to great team anyway, but John Calipari brought star power and the attendant riches in talent and support that go along with it. Starting in 2005, when Cincinnati, Marquette, Louisville, South Florida and TCU left the fold, Memphis topped the league standings four years running, going undefeated in conference play the final three seasons of Cal's tenure. Memphis was an apex predator of a program, and C-USA's other programs got a little fame out of the deal in the same way that the gazelle co-stars with the cheetah in a National Geographic documentary.

These days, Josh Pastner still has Memphis humming, but the 16-0 seasons are -- at least temporarily -- a thing of the past. Last year, it was another Calipari protege, then-UTEP coach Tony Barbee, who captured the league title. This season, the Miners are there again, but with veteran head coach Tim Floyd in charge. In fact, the league's retreads are bunched around Memphis in the standings, with Floyd and former Iowa State leader Larry Eustachy (with Southern Miss) slightly ahead of the Tigers, and Mike Davis (Indiana to UAB) and Matt Doherty (UNC to SMU) nipping at his heels. Jeff Lebo (ex-Auburn) and James Dickey (ex-Texas Tech) are in the mix as well.

Now, this could have gone very differently. One of the most baffling collapses of the season thus far must be owned by the UCF Knights. The Knights were 14-0 and ranked in the national Top 25 on January 5, having just beat Marshall for their first C-USA win of the season. It was also their last C-USA win of the season, as they added six straight losses to the ledger, including a home flame-out against league doormat Rice. It has been a stunning reversal of fortune for a team that upset in-state big boys USF, Florida and Miami along the way. The Knights quite simply became one of the most turnover-prone teams in the nation, seemingly overnight.

With the Knights falling off the face of the planet, C-USA's chances for two bids to the dance have gone to practically nil. UTEP, currently leading the league with a 5-2 record, has ugly losses to Pacific, Georgia Tech and, most recently, Tulsa to overcome. Eustachy's non-conference losses to Ole Miss and surging Colorado State aren't devastating, but three losses to league foes of varying strength put the kibosh on Golden Eagle hopes for an at-large. Memphis will go to Spokane to play Gonzaga this weekend in what could have been a real resume-booster if the Zags weren't also a shadow of their former selves.

If it's to be a one-bid league, then the league's best representative would have to be UTEP. With Floyd directing Randy Culpepper (above) alongside fellow seniors Julyan Stone, Christian Polk and Jeremy Williams, the Miners could be rounding into prime giant-killing shape.

For the future of the league at large, however, things must change. Memphis, UAB and Southern Miss can solidify the upper echelon of the league if they can find some consistency, meaning they should only lose to one another if they want to be taken seriously. The teams in the middle of the conference seem to often be able to challenge in the league race as well. It's tough to champion parity in a league like this one, because the outside world tends to view it as mediocrity. The NCAA selection committee knows what's up, though, and they'll no doubt notice that Memphis, UAB and Southern Mississippi have RPI numbers above 60, with the Blazers' 45 standing out. UTEP and Marshall are in the 60s.

The seeds are there for this league to more closely resemble the Mountain West or A-10 than the Horizon League. In fact, kenpom.com currently has C-USA ranked eighth in his conference standings based on the average rating of its member teams, just under the SEC and just above the A-10. Establishing three or four consistently dangerous teams at the top, and winning some of those big non-con matchups in the future will go a long ways toward balancing the ledger a bit, and getting this league to live up to its multi-bid potential.
 
 
 
 
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