C-USA: Working the Room

By David Scott - October 19, 2006

MEMPHIS - The last 60-90 minutes got a bit away from your Hang Time hanger-on, and for that we must apologize.

We're pretty confident we can lay the blame at the feet of Houston head coach Tom Penders, who got us enthralled in a wide-ranging conversation of everything from heart medications to international basketball to - and this really got us - some memories of going to long-ago Celtics practices to "steal" plays and philosophies from Tom Heinsohn and Red Auerbach.

We also got trapped by a serious internal debate that UAB's new head man, Mike Davis, is having over whether or not he should allow his young son and his wife to procure a dog. "I don't want it, I don't want it on my property and I don't want to hear about it," laughed Davis, as he unbuttoned his suit coat, took it off and began to relax after surviving his first C-USA media day.

In other words - you can fully expect the Davises to be adding a dog to the household in the very near future.

After the jump is some random scribblings form the Hang Time notebook following our table-to-table bounce around.

We're heading over to the FedEx Forum for tonight's live CSTV broadcast of Full Court Press (6-8 p.m. EST), so you can expect continued updates through the early evening and leading up to Hang Time's newly announced initiative: Operation Eat Ribs.

* Pre-season Player of the Year selection, Morris Almond, was engaging and forthright and not the least bit shy about what his dalliance with entering the NBA Draft did for him over the summer.

"The switch went on for me this summer when I was (competing) against some of the (NBA Draft entrants)," said Almond, the Powder Springs, Georgia native. "I saw that the difference between me and some of them was that they came from programs that were winning. That's when I knew my job wasn't done and that I haven't really accomplished anything."

Almond also confessed that the Owls (who went 12-16 last year) Nov. 14 game against Gonzaga as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off in Spokane, Wash. is a huge game for him. "I told the team - 'I really want that one.' It's a great game to start the year and we can get some attention if we win that one. And the thing is, we CAN do it."

Hang Time offers Almond's respsonse as a solid answer to the the emailed question from Hang Time hanger "rice insider15" who asked: "A game against Gonzaga gives the Owls a chance to step onto the big stage. Is this game too early in the season, or do they think that the Almond/Lorenzo Williams duo can shock the Zags and make it to Madison Square Garden?"

Rice Head Coach Willis Wilson hears the concern of the game being a bit early in the season, but he also knows that those games (and others against either Colorado State or Baylor; North Texas, Oregon and Utah) will give him a great gauge of where his team is at heading into conference play. "We've got a good break in December where we'll be able to work on the things that we need to do better."

* Another recurirng question form readers and reporters alike is the need for C-USA teams to schedule better and more prominent non-conference games (as pointed out eloquently by emailer "vthockey," who wrote, in part: ". . . how much have CUSA coaches changed their philosophy about scheduling opponents with the rise of the CAA and the MVC - who are very precise about their opponents. Are they worried about slipping behind conferences previously seen as below them if they don't find better opponents?"

Certainly, the concern is there from league members that the re-configured C-USA has lost some of its national oomph. Commissioner Britton Banowsky, in fact, addressed it in his opening remarks. "We spent considerable time on the non-conference scheduling in hopes of getting a higher RPI for the league," said Banowsky. "There is no more important sport to us than men's basketball and we fell that the league is at a healthy point right now.

* We'll have more soon, as we FedEx ourselves over to the FedEx Forum.

Hang loose. . .

Posted by David Scott at 04:14 PM on October 19, 2006

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