C-USA Media Day was held in Dallas at Fox Sports Net Southwest Studios on Tuesday, October 11, 2011. It was an informative and interactive day with the men’s and women’s basketball coaches in C-USA.
I started off the day having breakfast with UTEP’s Coach Tim Floyd. Our conversation was about AAU basketball and the challenges recruiting presents in today’s athletic climate. My colleague, Dan Bonner entered into the conversation a point regarding today’s college athlete. He believes today’s student-athletes, at the top level programs, have not held a part-time job. Their sport has been their job thru high school and college. No 1099 forms, no paying taxes, no punching the time clock, no cashing a check for money they earned on the job. I’ve been taking an informal poll and I think Dan is correct. Haven’t found a kid yet that had a job in high school that is a current student athlete. No wonder they want someone to give them cost of living expenses in college. They are used to people giving them tax-free money!
Anyway, here are my top 10 highlights plus 1 of C-USA Media Day:
1. Houston and Rice have 5’5 point guards that will be a fun matchup to watch. D’Frantz Smart of Rice and Porsche Landry of Houston will be on the national C-USA TV package in February. Both have end to end quicks, can score and distribute. Both want to post the other on the block according to their head coaches!
2. I predict Brittany Carter, pre-season Player of the Year from Memphis, will be in the nation’s top 5 in scoring if healthy. Carter averaged 20 ppg after her transfer year from Georgia and last year 13 ppg while dealing with a foot injury. However this season, Head Coach Melissa McFerrin has given Brittany the green light and the highest percentage of the playbook. Coach McFerrin will ensure Brittany becomes a volume shooter in the Memphis offense.
3. Marshall Head Coach Royce Chatwick, the “Clark Kent” of C-USA, says Tulane’s Fogelman Gym has the tightest rims in the league. He says he has to “quarantine his players” when they road trip to New Orleans because it is easy to get distracted in the “Big Easy”, especially when you are coming from West Virginia.
4. Rice Head Coach Greg Wiliams returns 4 of his top 5 scorers from last year. He has the players to equal the playbook returning. That book might start looking like a phone book with the expanding versatility of Freshman of the year, Jessica Kuster who is working on the three point shot and face up game.
5. UCF Head Coach Joi Williams has taken her program to 2 of last 3 NCAA Tournaments. She also spent the last 2 summers with USA Basketball. Coach Williams also has a “rock star staff” now that long time LSU Tiger Bob Starkey in on the sidelines. What a great “get” for Coach Williams and the development of her program
6. Tulane Head Coach Ed Conroy is going back to his basketball roots and bringing his friend and former boss, Coach Les Robinson to Tulane. Not the same as Gene Keady and Steve Lavin at St. Johns but similar. It appears to be a growing trend for young coaches to gain advance wisdom and experience from their mentors. Don’t get me wrong, Coach Conroy is an excellent teacher and head coach already, but he is making an effort to give back to the game by delving into the past for the benefit of his players. The players win in this scenario.
7. Joye Lee-McNelis, Southern Miss Head Coach makes her players provide 25 hours of community service each semester in an effort to give back to the community. A nice policy in Hattiesburg, Mississippi where she says its’ a great way to connect and create the family atmosphere she wants between her team and community.
8. UAB Head Coach Audra Smith has decided to shorten practices and post practice in the locker room before each workout. She’s discovered there’s more focus and attention to detail if they know what’s ahead and make a choice to work hard for shorter amounts of time. Audra also did a great job reading the promotional tag lines which was fun for all the coaches.
9. Lisa Stockton, the Dean of the C-USA Coaches, say Olivia Grayson is going to thrive in her dribble-drive offense this season. She is 5’8 and plays 1-5. Her nickname is Turtle which is an interesting nickname for a basketball player. Not gonna touch that one!
10. After 22 years of being out of college basketball, Matilda Mossman was hired from Norman High School at Tulsa. I believe there was another successful coach hired from Norman who has gone to 3 Final Fours and won more Big 12 Championships than any other coach. Her name is Sherri Coale.
11. Watch out of UTEP Freshman scoring sensation, Jenzel Nash who averaged 37.7 ppg last year in high school. Now that’s some offense!!
Media Days has a familiar tone each season. Coaches love their teams. They are all optimistic that this will be THE year for them. The things that are familiar for me at C-USA media day are Lisa Stockton is still the coach at Tulane and SMU’s Matt Doherty is still my favorite UNC player.
This race for the women sets up to be very competitive and entertaining. Memphis is picked to win it all behind the play of Brittany Carter and Jasmine Lee. They should have a great chance. Make sure you check out the TV schedule and watch some exciting C-USA bball on Fox Sports Net