Inside Marshall Sports

C-USA projections, March 1

Tulane beat UTEP (nice going, Miners), so here’s the new chart:

1. Memphis 16-0
2. Tulsa 12-4
3. UAB 12-4
4. Houston 10-6
5. UTEP 9-7
6. UCF 7-9
7. Marshall 7-9
8. Tulane 7-9
9. East Carolina 5-11
10. Rice 4-12
11. Southern Miss 4-12
12. SMU 3-11

Marshall gets the middle spot in that three-way tiebreaker. It is treated as a “miniconference,” with UCF 2-1, Herd 2-2 and Tulane 1-2. Another note: It is tempting to re-project the East Carolina at UCF game, to give it to the Pirates. Jermaine Taylor has little help in Orlando, it seems.

The remaining schedule (Add an hour for Eastern — all these are Central)
Wednesday, March 4
Rice at Marshall ……………………………..6:00p
(4) Memphis at Houston (CBS C) ………7:00p
Southern Miss at SMU (MetroSports) .7:00p
UCF at Tulsa ………………………………….7:05p
UAB at UTEP ………………………………….8:05p

Saturday, March 7
Tulane at (4) Memphis (CSS)…………….Noon
Marshall at UAB……………………………..2:00p
Tulsa at Rice ………………………………….3:00p
East Carolina at UCF ……………………….6:00p
SMU at Houston ……………………………7:00p
UTEP at Southern Miss …………………..7:00p

MU takes a jab from Memphis

While waiting for the phones to explode on this lovely Friday night in Charleston, I’ve been reading up on the Memphis-UAB game. Here’s a blog item I tripped over from the Commercial Appeal’s Dan Wolken, written before the Memphis-UTEP game. (Read carefully)

Projected C-USA finish

With 3 games left for most, here’s my stab:

1. Memphis 16-0
2. Tulsa 12-4
3. UAB 12-4
4. Houston 10-6
5. UTEP 10-6
6. UCF 7-9
7. Marshall 7-9
8. Tulane 6-10
9. East Carolina 5-11
10. Rice 4-12
11. Southern Miss 4-12
12. SMU 3-11

The remaining schedule (Add an hour for Eastern — all these are Central)
Saturday, February 28
Southern Miss at (4) Memphis (CSS) …Noon
Houston at Rice ……………………………..3:00p
UAB at East Carolina ……………………….6:00p
UCF at Marshall ……………………………..6:00p
Tulsa at SMU (MetroSports) …………….7:00p
UTEP at Tulane ………………………………7:10p

Wednesday, March 4
Rice at Marshall ……………………………..6:00p
(4) Memphis at Houston (CBS C) ………7:00p
Southern Miss at SMU (MetroSports) .7:00p
UCF at Tulsa ………………………………….7:05p
UAB at UTEP ………………………………….8:05p

Saturday, March 7
Tulane at (4) Memphis (CSS)…………….Noon
Marshall at UAB……………………………..2:00p
Tulsa at Rice ………………………………….3:00p
East Carolina at UCF ……………………….6:00p
SMU at Houston ……………………………7:00p
UTEP at Southern Miss …………………..7:00p

I am picking:
— Marshall to hold serve at home at lose at UAB.
— Memphis, UAB and Tulsa to win out.
— UTEP to win at Tulane but lose at home vs. UAB.
— UCF to beat East Carolina.
— Southern Miss to lose out, including to SMU, and then fire the coach.

Just a leftover note

An item I held out of my Friday morning notebook, strictly for space…

Houston seems likely to play in the postseason, though its loss to Marshall damaged the Cougars’ already-slim NCAA tournament chances. It was a good guess that the Cougars needed to win all its non-Memphis games and find a way to upset the Tigers, whether at home March 4 or at the C-USA tournament.
With a tumble to third in C-USA and their RPI ranking swelling to 95, the Cougars may fall off the radar completely. But Penders didn’t seem concerned with that, anyway.
“I don’t want to pull a Jim Mora here,” he said. “We were picked for seventh by everybody, coaches, media, magazines. We lost five senior starters. There’s not a team in America, playing Division I basketball, that lost more starters than we lost — Kansas, you name it. It’s a new team, and we’re 7-4 in conference play and 16-8. I haven’t even talked about that.
“We’re a year away, but I’m happy for anything we can do this year on a positive side. We can win 20 games with this team, get to a postseason tournament, have a fantastic year.”

And here’s a funnier item from Penders, who drifted off on a tangent:
“In my first year at Houston, we were picked 14th, finished 9-7 and in a four-way tie for fourth. But I didn’t get a vote for coach of the year and I’m still heartbroken over that. They gave it to Rick Pitino, like he didn’t have the talent.”

… One of the better coaches on the circuit, IMO.

Look for MU-WVU on Oct. 17

That would be nice ‘n’ late in the schedule, now wouldn’t it be? At least that would add a touch of scenery to the most boring drive in America, I-79 to Morgantown.

That has yet to be announced by WVU, and there is still some good ol’ TV-related horsetrading going on. Marshall may be headed for a mid-week road game, which wouldn’t be bad for the season-ticket package. So … assuming the rotation sticks, that would be UTEP, UCF, Tulane or Memphis. Hmmm….

Looking at MU’s nonconference slate

It really wasn’t bad. Consider:
— East Tennessee State, tied for first in Atlantic Sun, 11-3 league, 17-7 overall.
— West Virginia, 9th in the Big East.
— Old Dominion, 5th in Colonial.
— Morehead State, leading Ohio Valley.
— Ole Miss, 3rd in SEC West.
— UT-Arlington, 5th in Southland West (still 5-4 in league)
— San Diego, 4th in West Coast.
— Boston U., 1/2 game out of America East lead.
— Tennessee State, not so good in OVC.
— Morgan State, leading MEAC.
— Green Bay, 2nd in Horizon.

— oh, did I forget Dayton? 2nd in the Atlantic 10, last I checked.

Even WVU Tech and the Cumberlands made it to the NAIA rankings.

DJ should shoot for something like that every year, don’t you think?

Other ramblings … watched most of the second half of Memphis-Tulsa … sheesh. The Tigers have become really, really good again. They survive their trip to UTEP, they’ll finish with another xx-0 season in Conference USA… And it was sad to hear of the re-retirement of Bob Pruett. He had a rewarding but very tough year at Virginia. His best accomplishment, to hear it from Cavalier followers: recruiting in the Hampton Roads area. I haven’t been down that way in a few years now, but I’ve long had the feeling that the Hokies took over that talent-rich part of Virginia.

Coach Fello and other items

Didn’t talk to the new defensive line coach until I was coming out of a high school basketball game (George Washington smacking around Parkersburg, if you care)… He’s excited, as you can imagine — “I feel like it’s Christmas Eve,” he said — and he’s coming to town for good early Tuesday afternoon.

It’s pretty certain Glen Mason put in a good word for Fello with Coach Snyder, but Rick Minter did, too. Fello nearly went to work for Minter at Cincinnati once upon a time, but got another job offer at the last minute from Kansas State (I hope I got that right, I’m flying without a net right now).

He’s been up and down and all around, but he has a solid base of experience. And I think he’s got a pretty good unit to work with, whether it goes 4-3, 3-4 or multiple…

I, too, was amused that somebody tried to explain Marshall’s (lack of) television exposure without talking about the abrupt death of the old Thundering Herd TV Network.

Let’s get this straight: Even if the C-USA deal with CBS College Sports completely precluded local packages (as we’ve learned, it does NOT), the league’s athletic directors would still have to be held accountable for allowing that to happen. Again, Marshall’s reduction in TV exposure is the biggest disappointment of the Bob Marcum era.

(I heard from somebody else that there will be a change of guard during the summer, as I have been suspecting.)

The Herd’s game Saturday against Tulane was the last of the season on any TV outlet, unless something comes up. I find that preposterous.

You may remember me grousing about how WVU’s women’s team gets more airtime in the Charleston end of the TV market. I haven’t rolled out this latest insult: SMU has a local deal with an outfit called Metro Sports, with 14 games on the tube in the Metroplex.

Keep in mind that Marshall would pull *much* better ratings in this market than SMU pulls in Dallas. There is no C-USA team more buried in its market than SMU.

I’m not terribly excited about the Herd playing an NAIA school in mid-February, either, but this should be a well-placed game. The upcoming schedule is not easy: a trip to El Paso on Saturday, followed by a home game against Houston. If you can shake loose to watch the latter, you should — the Cougars and Tom Penders are fun to watch. Of course, the Herd has yet to beat those guys since realignment, much like it hasn’t beaten Memphis.

Markel’s shot

Markel Humphrey’s 74-foot shot is a finalist for the ESPN DirecTV play of the month. It will take some effort to stuff the ballot box — the Cardinals’ flea flicker is running away with the poll after 34,950 votes.

Wednesday in C-USA basketball, etc.

UTEP 62, Houston 55 — You think the Aubrey Coleman suspension didn’t hurt a little? UTEP stormed by the Cougs in Hofheinz Pavilion in the second half, a huge roadie for the Miners. Arnett Moultrie, not Stefon Jackson or Randy Culpepper, led UTEP with 19.

Tulane 61, Rice 59 — Green Wave rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit and won at the buzzer on a fast-break layup by Kevin Sims.

Tulsa 75, UAB 74 — Battle of your next two visitors to the HC, and it was a thrilla in Tulsa! Jerome Jordan gets the buzzer-beater for the Golden H’cane, which was behind 49-38 at one point in the second half. UAB, if not gassed by its lack of depth, will come to Huntington a little miffed.

UCF 70, SMU 45 — Take away Derek Williams, and the Puny Ponies went 10-of-46 from the floor. Jermaine Taylor scores 22, A.J. Rompza has 11 assists for the Knights.

Memphis 85, East Carolina 64 — Tigers take No. 48 in a row, this time making it look easy on the road. Antonio Anderson pumps in 26.

And here are your standings:
Memphis 6-0 (home to Houston at 1 p.m. Saturday, on CBS C)
UCF, Tulsa 4-2
Houston, Southern Miss 3-2
UTEP, UAB, Tulane 3-3
Marshall, East Carolina 2-4
SMU, Rice 1-5

So… there sits the Herd in the No. 9 seed. Ten games left, but sheesh!

On tap for the a.m. edition: I will have a rare Thursday column, which will be on Doug Legursky, he of the Steelers’ practice squad. He, unlike another Steeler we all know, returned my phone call so he gets the good press. And after all his bad luck at Marshall, doesn’t he kind of deserve a Super Bowl ring?

Finally, here is a college player-of-the-year straw poll from the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette. I voted on it, but boy, am I rusty on the national scene… Six weeks to the Wooden Award deadline.

Quick note from SMU game

Won’t be blogging tonight… deadlines are coming into play.

Will the following players wake up?
Tirrell Baines — 5-of-21, 12 points, 11 rebounds in last five games total.
Chris Lutz — 5-of-28 (1-of-17 from 3), 10 points, 6 assists, 12 turnovers in last five games.
Shaquille Johnson — 1-of-8 vs. Tulsa.
Tyler Wilkerson — 5-of-12, 15 points, 7 rebounds in last two games.

Football-wise, will anybody be left on the Marshall football staff? Shannon Morrison is off to Bowling Green, and Jerry Azzinaro could well be heading to Oregon… I’ve been in contact with a reporter out in Eugene today….

Enjoy the game.