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The Daily Dig: And Then There Were Four Edition

El Pasoan's and UTEP fans across the country are going to find it extremely difficult to focus at work this afternoon.  A Friday, with the #21 UTEP Miners playing in the C-USA Semi Final at 2:00 p.m.  My recommendation? Take a late, but very long lunch.


Quality Rest:  The best part of UTEP's win against UCF was the fact that UTEP was able limit the minutes of several key players.

"Once again, as I've said all year long, depth is our strength," Barbee said. "We were able to rest some guys and Myron played the most minutes with just 27. Obviously, it's not like I'll be concerned about fresh legs tomorrow."

Chasing the DreamUTEP hosted their Pro-Day Event yesterday providing a stage for UTEP athletes to showcase their talent before NFL scouts.

Brown, the only Miner at last month's NFL combine, ran a 4.45 after clocking a 4.56 at the combine. "I was faster," Brown said. "I felt good back in my home stadium. It was fun. ... I'm ready, whether it's as a free agent or as a draft pick."

The Rumor MillChicago area papers are starting to run with the Tony Barbee speculation.  Oddly, they all seem to be most excited at the fact that Barbee may be able to bring Rod Strickland along with him. 

Tony Barbee, UTEP head coach and former assistant to John Calipari at Memphis, also could be a possibility. Barbee could bring Kentucky assistant Rod Strickland, a DePaul star in the '80s, with him.

One Last Prize:  UTEP track star Blessing Okagbare already has a Bronze Medal, but now she wants to become a National Champion.

Okagbare has yet to win a national championship. There's been a pair of runner-ups, a third place, a fourth, but no title. In 2008, she won her Olympic bronze medal a month after winning NCAA bronze.


Air Jordan:  The Tulsa World's John Klein knows that TU will only go as far as Jerome Jordan will take them. 

TULSA LOOKS LIKE the best team in Conference USA when Jerome Jordan plays like the best player in the league. Jordan, who has alternated between brilliant and puzzling this season, was at his best on Thursday night against Marshall.

All Eyes on UTEP: Doug Wojcik knows that to beat UTEP you have to stop Culpepper & Caracter.

"They are playing at a high level and have a lot of weapons," Wojcik said. "We have to do a great job on (Randy) Culpepper and (Derrick) Caracter. Granted, Culpepper is the player of the year. Derrick Caracter is the difference maker.


Giant Killers:  Houston has a great scorer, but now the Cougars believe they can win the C-USA Tournament as a team.  Don't forget the Cougars are the only C-USA team to beat UTEP this season.

"We can beat anybody," UH coach Tom Penders said. "There’s no question in my mind. We just had our ups and downs, a lot of injuries, a lot of illnesses. Everything bad that could happen has happened this year, yet we never lost faith."

Clutch:  Tom Penders has some nice things to say about his superstar Aubrey Coleman.

Tom Penders is an unabashed admirer of Aubrey Coleman. "Most exciting player I've ever coached," Penders said.

Ice:  Here's Coleman's shot if you missed it.


Bad CallThe Memphis Commercial  Appeal's Geoff Calkins doesn't know why Elliott Williams wasn't on the court during the crucial final series of the game against Houston.  For that matter, neither did Williams.

Pastner used his final timeout to set up the Memphis defense. He took Williams out and put Roburt Sallie in. Why? "For defense," said Pastner, which will surely raise some eyebrows back home. Williams is a 6-4 athlete who happens to be the Tigers' only first-team All-C-USA player. If Houston scored, Memphis would need to hit a last-second shot to win. Pastner couldn't find a spot on the floor for that guy? Really? "Coach's decision," said Williams. "Coach's decision," Williams said, again.


Now it Feels Like March:  With Memphis and UAB knocked out of the tournament, the C-USA auto-bid is ripe for the taking.  Larry Eustachy thinks USM has a good shot to steal it.

"We have a lot of work to do," Eustachy said. "It’s a good start. We are 80 minutes from going to the NCAA Tournament and that’s how I feel. We can do it."

C-USA is DeepEustachy also believes that C-USA gets a bad wrap from the media.  This isn't last years C-USA, there is some depth here.

"I promise you that I watch (No. 8) New Mexico play and if we could play New Mexico on a neutral site somewhere, I’m telling you we would play them to the wire and we’re the sixth place team in this league," Eustachy said. "I mean this league has been so distorted the last few years because of what Memphis has done. The teams from second on down never got any credit.


Ouch:  Mike Davis was really, really disappointed with the way the Blazers played against USM.  Some of these quotes are just plain awesome.  Read how he blasts his team here.

"Every guy we put in got softer and softer," Davis said. "We would have liked a guy to come off the bench and say ‘I want some minutes. I want to play.’ But they were like, ‘Please coach, take me out. This is a little bit too hard for me today.’"

And the Hits Just Keep on Coming:  I have to wonder what the UAB administration thinks of some of Davis' quotes.  Davis bashes his team's effort but I couldn't find any quotes where he puts a share of the blame on himself.

"I told our guys we don’t deserve to go to the NCAAs or the NIT playing like this," said Davis, who team fell to 23-8. "It frustrates me saying that. If we gave this kind of effort in this game, what about the next game?" Later, Davis added: "I don’t want to put the team in a situation where we’re going to come in and do this. It’s embarrassing to be part of."


Fading Away:  Marshall had an incredible basketball season.  The final score might not show it, but they played Tulsa tough until they just went ice cold down the stretch.

This time, what had shaped up to be the Thundering Herd's best season in 22 or more years stalled in a rain of 10 straight missed shots and three turnovers. That allowed Tulsa to go on a 16-0 run and go on to an 80-64 quarterfinal victory.