Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Conference-USA Preview


Not surprisingly, Conference-USA was dominated by unbeaten Memphis once again last season. Of course, it was supposed to be the year when another team actually tested the Tigers and even made a run at them at the standings. Well, unless 12 double-digit wins and a four-game cushion was testing Memphis, Conference-USA is still a playground that breeds Memphis success. Tulsa finished at 12-4, with UAB, UTEP and Houston all finishing with double-digit wins. Memphis won the conference tournament, leaving C-USA as a one-bid league, as Tulsa and UAB were sent to the NIT with UTEP and Houston going to the CBI. This year will be different, though -- this will be the year that Memphis falters in league play and likely loses their first-place spot.

1. Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane are poised to take down Memphis this season behind the inside-outside duo of Ben Uzoh and Jerome Jordan. Prediction: NCAA
2. Memphis: Without four starters and head coach John Calipari, the Tigers likely won't repeat. New coach Josh Pastner does still have some talent on his roster, though. Prediction: NCAA
3. Houston: The Cougars are going to be a threat to win every night because of their outstanding wing combo of Aubrey Coleman and Kelvin Lewis. Prediction: NIT
4. UTEP: The Miners lose Stefon Jackson, but Randy Culpepper and Arnett Moultrie return and Louisville transfer Derrick Caracter will be eligible. Prediction: NIT
5. Marshall: The Thundering Herd struggled with injuries last season, but they return a talented starting lineup, led by forward Tyler Wilkerson. Prediction: No Postseason
6. SMU: The Mustangs finished in last-place a year ago, but guards Paul McCoy and Derek Williams and big man Mouhammad Faye will lead a turnaround. Prediction: No Postseason
7. UAB: The third-place Blazers lose Robert Vaden and three other starters, but transfers Kenny Cooper, George Drake and Elijah Millsap will slow the decline. Prediction: No Postseason
8. East Carolina: The Pirates are another team that is poised for a big step forward. Brock Young is a terrific passer and Darius Morrow is a budding star. Prediction: No Postseason
9. Tulane: The Green Wave have a very solid backcourt in Kevin Sims and Kris Richard, and JC transfer Aaron Holmes will make an impact. Prediction: No Postseason
10. Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles were a disappointment last season, but USC transfer Angelo Johnson and R.L. Horton are a talented backcourt. Prediction: No Postseason
11. Rice: Although the Owls return four starters from last season, they were only 4-12 in the conference last season and need to improve in a hurry. Prediction: No Postseason
12. UCF: Star Jermaine Taylor is gone, and the freshmen duo of Marcus Jordan and Nik Garcia will have to carry the load from opening day. Prediction: No Postseason

Player of the Year: Jerome Jordan, C, Tulsa

All-Conference Team:
G- Ben Uzoh, Tulsa
G- Randy Culpepper, UTEP
G- Kelvin Lewis, Houston
G/F- Aubrey Coleman, Houston
C- Jerome Jordan, Tulsa

Second Team:
G- Elliot Williams, Memphis
G- Paul McCoy, SMU
G- Brock Young, East Carolina
F- Tyler Wilkerson, Marshall 
F- Arnett Moultrie, UTEP 

1 comment:

  1. In your prediction of the UTEP Miners, you omitted the names of Julyan Stone, third year starter, and newcomer Jeremy Williams. Not to mention Christian Polk, transfer from Arizona State, as well as JC transfer Myron Strong. Although the Miners are picked to finish third behind Tulsa and Memphis, don't be surprised if they win the conference and make it to the big dance. Games at Oklahoma, Mississippi, Texas Tech, and at home against BYU will be telling signs of a possible invite.