Posted on: March 29, 2010 3:51 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2010 3:52 pm

UTEP's Caracter will enter NBA Draft

It remains unclear who will be UTEP's next coach.

But this much is clear: He won't coach Derrick Caracter.

A source close to the UTEP program told CBSSports.com on Monday that Caracter informed the staff he was entering the NBA Draft even before Tony Barbee left for Auburn last week. There is no timetable for a formal announcement, the source said. But Caracter's imminent exit ensures the UTEP team that won C-USA without any seniors won't return intact. The more important question is whether the new coach -- whom most believe will eventually be either former USC coach Tim Floyd, Texas assistant Rodney Terry, UTEP assistant Randall Dickey, or former Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie -- can keep Arnett Moultrie and Randy Culpepper from transferring or pursuing professional opportunities. A source said that's one of the reasons Dickey is now being considered, because school officials believe he has the best chance of keeping everybody except Caracter on campus.

Caracter averaged 14.1 points and 8.1 rebounds this season.

UTEP finished 26-7 after losing to Butler in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Posted on: March 24, 2010 9:15 pm

Auburn hires UTEP's Barbee

UTEP coach Tony Barbee has accepted an offer to become Auburn's next coach, CBSSports.com has confirmed.

An official announcement is expected Thursday.

Barbee spent four years at UTEP and led the Miners to a Conference USA title and NCAA tournament berth this season. He was an assistant under John Calipari at Memphis before accepting the UTEP job. Some obvious candidates to replace Barbee at UTEP are Sam Houston State's Bob Marlin, former USC coach Tim Floyd and former Kentucky and UTEP coach Billy Gillispie.
Posted on: February 8, 2010 9:07 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2010 9:37 pm

The Poll Attacks

AUSTIN, Texas -- We're about to tip here at the Erwin Center.

It's Kansas vs. Texas.

So consider this your pregame Poll Attacks .

AP poll: All I do each Monday is look at the AP poll, find a team getting votes that shouldn't be getting votes, identify the guilty party, write about it, and that's pretty much how the Poll Attacks work.

Simple stuff.

It's not my fault if the guilty party repeats itself week after week after week.

I tell you that because here we are again, back focusing on the Idaho Statesman's Nick Jezierny, a future first-ballot Poll Attacks Hall of Famer. Not only does he have Northern Iowa ranked 12th, which is ridiculous on about 58 different levels, but he also has Wichita State ranked 21st, which is ridiculous on about 158 different levels.

(Let me say this: I don't mind people ranking UNI even though I'm not ranking UNI. No. 12 seems awful high, sure. But whatever. If you're impressed by a team running away with its league and stacking wins even though it lacks quality wins, fine. By now you know I care about quality wins way more than I care about the number of wins, but I recognize not everybody thinks the way I think. So, again, if you want to rank Northern Iowa, rank away. It's a perfectly reasonable thing to do. But Wichita State?)

You can't rank Wichita State.

And this is coming from a guy who likes Gregg Marshall. But the record is the record, and the record is 20-5 with the best win being a home win over a Texas Tech team that's ninth in the Big 12. Meantime, two of the losses are to Creighton (12-12) and Drake (11-14). So how Nick can look at Wichita State and see a team that should be ranked 21st is beyond me. But I gave up trying to make sense of this stuff long ago. Now I just poke fun at it.

Coaches poll: It's OK to not rank a C-USA school; I don't have one ranked either. But if you're going to put a C-USA school on your ballot, shouldn't it be the school that's leading C-USA? Of course it should! But somehow the coaches gave UAB seven points, Tulsa four and first-place UTEP zero despite the fact that UTEP won at UAB two weekends ago and beat Tulsa by 14 points last weekend.

(Couldn't Tulsa's Doug Wojcik at least put the Miners at No. 25?)

UTEP is 17-5 overall with an 8-1 league record, and yet the coaches have the Miners as C-USA's third-best team. It's crazy. And if I live to be 167 I still won't know how Tulsa is getting votes. Sure, the 18-5 record looks nice. But the best win is against Oklahoma State, and three of the losses are to Missouri State, Nebraska and Nevada.

Thus, Tulsa shouldn't appear on anybody's ballot.

And they sure as heck shouldn't appear on a ballot that doesn't also include UTEP.
Posted on: January 21, 2010 12:43 am
Edited on: January 21, 2010 12:53 am

UTEP ends Memphis' C-USA winning streak

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- UTEP beat Memphis here at FedExForum on Wednesday night.

Thus, the 64-game Conference USA winning streak is over.

Memphis had the ball in the final seconds with a chance to tie. But that chance resulted in a Willie Kemp turnover, and when Christian Polk sank a pair of free throws the Miners -- with three starters from Memphis -- exited the court with a 72-67 win. Afterward I talked to UTEP coach (and former Memphis assistant) Tony Barbee about it, and he was predictably pleased -- just like Randy Culpepper, the Memphis City Schools product who got a huge steal and layup in the final minute to create a cushion for the Miners. Then I packed my stuff, got in my car and drove out of downtown while listening to the Tigers postgame show, and the callers presented one reason after another for the streak ending at 64, many of which revolved around the pressure of the streak itself.

But that's not really true.

Want to know why Memphis lost for the first time in 65 C-USA games?

It's because Memphis was out-manned for the first time in 65 C-USA games.


End of streak.

"I think so, too," Barbee responded when I told him I thought he had better players than Memphis, and -- don't get it twisted -- he didn't mean it in a disrespectful way. Barbee went on to talk about the dominance of the Memphis program, everything it lost when John Calipari left for Kentucky, and the fact that Josh Pastner is recruiting at a level that'll have the Tigers nationally relevant again soon. "But this is a rebuilding year," Barbee said. "No coach ever wants to say it. But Josh knows this is a rebuilding year."

Credit Barbee for nailing it.

It would've been easy for him to stand there and act like he just beat a Memphis team like the Memphis teams led by Rodney Carney or Chris Douglas-Roberts or Derrick Rose or Tyreke Evans, but that's not the type of Memphis team he beat. Rather, he beat a Memphis team that lost its top four scorers from last season as well as a recruiting class that would've included John Wall, Xavier Henry, DeMarcus Cousins and Darnell Dodson, and it's not going to be too difficult for teams with two pros -- like UTEP has with Arnett Moultrie and Derrick Caracter -- to beat that kind of team, even if said team plays in jerseys with "Memphis" stitched across the front.

That said, it's still a big win for UTEP.

It's a win that put the Miners' talent on display on a larger-than-usual stage, a statement-win that suggests UTEP is good enough to win C-USA and make the NCAA tournament for the first time in Barbee's four seasons. Beyond that, it was special for the Memphis guys in the UTEP uniforms -- specifically Moultrie, Culpepper and Jeremy Williams, none of whom were seriously recruited by Memphis out of high school.

They combined for 34 points against the Tigers.

So the Memphis streak was basically broken by Memphis products.

"It's big for them because they grew up wanting to play for Memphis," Barbee said. Later, Culpepper echoed that thought, and added that he had actually been pulling for the Tigers to win their first three league games so that he could play a role in ending the C-USA winning streak.

"I wanted them to win all their games," Culpepper said. "I didn't want anybody to beat them until we got our chance."

That chance came Wednesday night.

"And we were ready," Culpepper said. "It's a great win for us."
Posted on: December 12, 2009 2:49 pm

Caracter cleared to play Sunday for UTEP

Derrick Caracter, once considered among the best high school players in the country, has been cleared to play at UTEP, Miners coach Tony Barbee told CBSSports.com on Saturday.

Caracter will debut Sunday against New Mexico State.

The 6-foot-9 forward spent his first two years of college at Louisville, but never met the standards set forth by Rick Pitino. After his sophomore season, Caracter was essentially asked to leave the program. After a period of uncertainty, he landed at UTEP primarily because of Barbee, who had recruited the New Jersey native while serving as an assistant at Memphis under John Calipari.

UTEP is 5-0 heading into Sunday's matchup with New Mexico State. Caracter averaged 8.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in 16.9 minutes per game during his final season at Louisville. He is officially listed as a junior who should be eligible the rest of this season and all of next season.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 26, 2009 10:33 am
Edited on: October 26, 2009 10:33 am

Admitting mistakes with the player rankings

You're bound to have mistakes when you start ranking players 25, 30 or 40 deep at different positions.

It even happens to me.

So in an attempt to be a stand-up guy, I'm here to acknowledge three mistakes in the player rankings, all of which were oversights and nothing more. To be clear, I'm not interested in arguing about whether somebody ranked 21st should really be 16th, because things get pretty subjective when you get past the top three or four at any position. Plus, those debates are so last week. But I did leave off three guys who absolutely should've been included, and I'd like to set the record straight right now.

Mistake No. 1: Jordan Crawford (Xavier)

Crawford averaged 9.7 points two years ago as a freshman at Indiana, and there's reason to believe he'll improve on those numbers this season at Xavier. In fact, he could challenge Dayton's Chris Wright for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year honors.

So why did Crawford not make the shooting guards and wings list?

Because I'm stupid, that's why.

Mistake No. 2: Arnett Moultrie (UTEP)

Moultrie averaged 8.8 points and 8.2 rebounds last season and was the best freshman in Conference USA not named Tyreke Evans. He's a 6-foot-11 forward who used that body of work to earn an invitation to play for Team USA this past summer in the FIBA under-19 World Championships.

So why did Moultrie not make the big forwards and centers list?

Because I'm stupid, that's why.

Mistake No. 3: Arinze Onuaku (Syracuse)

Leaving Onuaku out was the most frustrating of all because I love this dude. He's a big-bodied post player who shot 29.8 percent from the free throw line last season, which is hilarious. But he also averaged 10.3 points and 7.3 rebounds, and those are nice numbers for a guy who isn't the focal point of anything.

So why did Onuaku not make the big forwards and centers list?

Because I'm stupid, that's why.
Posted on: March 30, 2009 4:14 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2009 4:19 pm

Calipari pushing Barbee as possible replacement

John Calipari is scheduled to meet with a prominent Memphis booster late Monday afternoon, at which time he is expected to make a pitch for UTEP coach Tony Barbee to succeed him at Memphis if Calipari indeed leaves Memphis for Kentucky, a source close to Calipari told CBSSports.com.

The source said Calipari would promise to help Barbee keep parts of the team and recruiting class intact.

Barbee played for Calipari at UMass and assisted him at Memphis until taking the UTEP job in 2006.

He's 53-43 in three seasons at UTEP.

A source close to the Memphis program said Calipari assured Barbee last offseason that if he pulled out of the UMass search and cleared the way for Memphis assistant Derek Kellogg to land that job that Calipari would push Barbee as a possible successor at Memphis. Barbee quickly pulled out, Kellogg got the UMass job, and now Calipari is making good on his word, trying to help Barbee at Memphis.

Posted on: January 22, 2009 3:36 pm

Caracter enrolled at UTEP; could play next season

Tony Barbee confirmed Thursday to CBSSports.com that Derrick Caracter is enrolled at UTEP, paying his own way and on track to play for the Miners in December of next season.

"He started classes Monday," said Barbee, the UTEP coach who was making his first public comments on the subject.

Caracter is best-known as the highly touted prodigy who signed with Louisville out of high school but never reached his potential for a variety of reasons spanning from his weight to constant run-ins with Rick Pitino. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 8.3 points and 4.5 rebounds at Louisville last season, but grade issues and a nudge from Pitino paved the way for an exit from the team that now looks like a Big East contender.

How did UTEP get involved?

Barbee recruited Caracter out of high school while he was an assistant at Memphis. So the former aid to John Calipari has long been familiar with Caracter, and he had him come in for a visit in December. Once all the financial aid requirements were met, Barbee said he decided to offer Caracter a chance to restart his once-promising career.

"Every 17 year-old and 18 year-old has made mistakes, and when you're a high-profile recruit those mistakes get magnified on the national scene," Barbee said. "But just like any other 17 year-old or 18 year-old kid, he deserves a second chance, and I think he wants to do the right things."

Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com