The Dig: 2011 Conference USA Championship Tournament Week Edition

UTEP is getting ready to welcome the C-USA Nation. Photo courtesy of UTEP's Office of Student Affairs.

In The Dig:  Its' C-USA Tournament Madness in the Dig as UAB cuts down the nets; UTEP's ticket office is having glitches; Memphis limps to their C-USA regular season finish; and Texas Tech has fired Pat Knight.  Will Billy Clyde Gillispie get called to the Hub City?

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Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

Feels Just Like Home.... In Dallas?  UTEP's Tim Floyd was very pleased with the crowd at Moody Coliseum on hand to see UTEP beat SMU.

Floyd said. "That felt like a home game or at least a neutral site. Our crowd was great. Randy (Culpepper) didn't get the shots up he liked and that's a credit to the SMU defense. Christian scored it for us today and Gabe (McCulley) did a good job on (Papa) Dia, fought him all day."

Bad Timing:  Single game tickets are on sale now but note that there is a computer glitch causing issues right now.  If you're in line, there might be a long wait.

Mo Money:  The C-USA Tournament is expected to have a $3.5 million dollar impact on the El Paso economy.  

Right Where We Belong:  UTEP earned a bye game n the tournament for the fourth time in six years in the C-USA.  Here's some history for you.

  The Miners have earned a top-four seed and first round bye in the tournament for the fourth time in six seasons as a league member. UTEP was seeded third in 2006, 10th in 2007, sixth in 2008, fourth in 2009 and first in 2010. UTEP's all-time record as a no. 3 seed in conference tournaments is 2-3 ((lost to Hawaii 66-65 in the 1995 WAC Tournament; beat SMU 74-70 and lost to Tulsa 59-56 in the 2001 WAC Tournament; beat Southern Miss 66-47 and lost to UAB 63-60 in the 2006 C-USA Tournament) 

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The UAB Blazers

We Are the Champions:  I love it when I stumble onto a site dedicated to a C-USA team.  Right in time for the tournament, I found Blazer TV, which is a heck of a site with multiple authors dedicated to covering Blazer sports.  They posted this video of UAB players deservedly cutting down the nets.  Check out their site here.


Gotta Win 3 More:  Mike Davis talked with the Birmingham news about UAB's at-large hopes.

"We won the conference championship," Davis said. "The committee is a lot smarter than me. They have a lot of things they can look at but I'm just happy to win the (outright) conference championship. It's never happened until this point. We can't control (what the tournament committee does), all we can say is what we've done and what we need to do.

Can UAB Beat UTEP in El Paso?  USA Today notes that UAB's road to the field of 68 goes through UTEP, who is 17-2 at the Don Haskins Center. 

The Memphis Tigers

Downward Spiral?  The Memphis Commercial Appeal's Geoff Calkins doesn't like what he sees in the Memphis Tigers basketball team right now.  If you don't like Memphis, read this.

The Tigers struggled to beat a team that had lost 12 of its previous 13 games, finally subduing Tulane, 66-61. "I've never had a bad win," said Pastner. This might well have been the first. Tulane came in 3-12 in Conference USA. Tulane had an RPI of 239. The Tigers were looking to make a statement headed into the conference tournament. The actual statement: "We're pretty much a mess."

I'm With Josh:  Memphis coach Josh Pastner thnks this is the best the league has been since the realignment.

The Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Time to Shine:  The Tulsa World's John Klein knows that winning the C-USA Tournament is Tulsa's next challenge.  Doug Wojcik thinks the Hurricane are game.

The Golden Hurricane must win three games to reach the NCAAs. "If we shoot it well (we can win C-USA)," said Wojcik. "We've played well down there in El Paso."

Southern Miss Golden Eagles

Dismissing Tulane:  The Hattiesburg American's Patrick Magee has his eyes set on Memphis.  

Southern Miss should be able to take care of rival Tulane and set up the big match with Memphis on Thursday. If the Golden Eagles can finally beat Memphis in a neutral setting, that could give them a major boost of confidence headed into the semifinals.

The Marshall Thundering Herd

That Must Have Felt Nice:  The Herd closed their 2011 regular season by dismantling Donnie Jones and the Central Florida Knights.  This game had it all.  A sellout crowd of over 9,000 was there to see a battle with ejections, and two villains:  A.J. Rompza and Jones.

When Jones made his first visit in the villainous role of Central Florida coach, the Knights found themselves behind a 61-37 woodshed in the second half. Not even four straight 3-pointers gave them a prayer in an 83-69 Marshall victory. It was a satisfying result for the sellout crowd of 9,036, who divided time between booing Jones and his irascible point guard, A.J. Rompza. The latter was involved in an incident that led to the ejection of the Herd's Dago Pena

No Harm, No Foul:  Speaking of the Dago Pena and Rompza scuffle, the C-USA announced that Pena won't be suspended.

Campaign Season:  Doug Smock thinks DeAndre Kane deserves to be named the C-USA Freshman of the Year. 

Kane already has earned an honor, which we should see this week. Without doubt, he should become the second Marshall player in a row to be named freshman of the year.

The Houston Cougars
No Aubrey Coleman This Time:  The Houston Cougars don't quite have the firepower they had last season.   Sam Khan, Jr. of the Houston Chronicle isn't too confident in what he sees.

Inept defense, some costly turnovers and losing the battle on the boards have been among the issues plaguing the Cougars as of late and those things reared their ugly heads again as the Owls cruised to the victory and the season series sweep, their first since 1993 and just second all-time.

Random But Noteworthy

Billy Clyde Back in the Game?  Speculation has been rampant for several months now that ex-UTEP coach Billy Gillispie would be a top candidate for the Texas Tech Red Raiders basketball job.  Well, Tech fired Pat Knight this morning.   Yup, the coaching carousel is officially off and running....

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