Five questions about C-USA basketball
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
1/05/11 at 6:41 AM
How has UCF replaced Memphis as the most-talked about team in Conference USA?
The Knights (13-0) are one of seven unbeaten teams in America and ranked No. 18 in the AP poll entering Wednesday's home game against Marshall.
The start may be attributed to first-year coach Donnie Jones, who coached Marshall last season. Jones got the UCF players to buy into his system right away.
"It's a credit to those guys," Jones said. "They've been dedicated and focused on getting together and accepting roles."
Is Memphis experiencing growing pains?
The freshman-dominated team is 11-2 entering league play.
"At this time, 60 percent of our minutes are played by freshmen," Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. "No other team (in the top 25) is close to that. What that means is we're a young team and we're filled with youth ... they continue to get better."
Pastner said he is hopeful the team will continue to get better.
"We have not peaked out, and we have room for growth and improvement," he said.
How is UTEP, with all of its seniors, handling new coach Tim Floyd?
The defending champions are 12-3 this season and open league play against visiting Tulsa.
"We have a bunch of veteran players that are very good players and were left to us by Tony Barbee," Floyd said. "We're playing eight seniors that are getting the majority of the minutes. These guys have won before, so we don't have to go through (teaching them how to win).
"They've been receptive to what we are trying to teach and starting to see results."
Could Southern Miss be the team to beat by the season's end?
Definitely. Behind former Oklahoma State player Gary Flowers, the Golden Eagles are 11-2, picked up a nice win at California and could have defeated Ole Miss.
Defense and rebounding have been the team's strengths. If the squad can pick up its offense, it will be a tough team to beat.
How different is Houston, last year's C-USA Tournament champion, under James Dickey?
The Cougars are adjusting to Dickey's style, which places more emphasis on defense.
Under former coach Tom Penders, Houston was an up-tempo team that went up-and-down, looking for the first available shot while forcing turnovers on defense.
Dickey, a former Oklahoma State assistant and head coach at Texas Tech, is more methodical, and the Cougars are responding. In time, Houston could be a good team under the veteran coach.
Original Print Headline: Five questions about C-USA