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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Former Tiger Waki Williams Playing Professionally in Mexico

Correcaminos bring home pair of victories

By ROY HESS, The Brownsville (TX) Herald

The Matamoros Correcaminos left on a road trip last Thursday mired in a three-game losing streak. They returned home in a better frame of mind on Sunday after having won both of their weekend games.

"Those two victories helped us a lot because it’s so hard to win on the other team’s court in this league," first-year Matamoros coach Mariano "Bean" Ayala said.

On Saturday night, the Correcaminos prevailed over the Gambusinos of Fresnillo 95-94 in a game that went down to the final seconds. That victory came a night after the Correcaminos posted a 93-82 win at the Barreteros of Zacatecas.

The two victories improved the Correcaminos to 9-7 in Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional (LNBP) action.

The Barreteros, who lost to the Reynosa Correcaminos 110-89 on Saturday night, are now 5-11, while the Gambusinos are 3-13.

Matamoros remains tied for ninth place in the overall LNBP standings. The 24-team league’s top three ballclubs as the LNBP season reaches its midway point are the Lobos Grises of Durango (15-1), the Correcaminos of Reynosa (13-3) and the Soles of Mexicali (13-3).

On Saturday night against the Gambusinos, the Matamoros Correcaminos trailed 24-19 after one quarter, 53-48 at halftime and 73-71 after three periods. The Correcaminos outpointed the Gambusinos 24-21 in the final quarter to earn the narrow victory behind 30 points from Mike Gardener, 27 from Noe Alonzo and 19 from Waki Williams, a 6-foot-9 forward who is a new addition to the team.

Ayala said Williams just graduated from the University of Memphis and is replacing Gerald Burris on the Correcaminos’ roster. Williams played his senior year for the 33-4 Tigers last season.

"Waki is a very smooth rebounder and a great addition to the team," Ayala said. "He’s a lot like Noe — cool, calm and collected on the basketball court."

Meanwhile, it was quite a productive weekend for Gardener, a 5-11 point guard from Detroit. Against the Barreteros on Friday night, he led the Correcaminos with 38 points, while Alonzo added 28 and Williams 12.

Unlike Saturday night, the Correcaminos led at the end of every quarter against the Barreteros.
Matamoros will try to extend its two-game winning streak to three when it plays host to the Pioneros of Cancun (6-10) at 8 p.m. on Thursday at the Multidiscipline Gym on the Universidad Autonoma of Tamaulipas campus in Matamoros.

The Correcaminos will play host to La Ola of Mexico City (9-7) on Saturday night before going back on the road for a pair of games next week.

Almamy Thiero Leaves Memphis for Post Graduate Year

Almamy Thiero Enrolls at Duquesne Memphis graduate takes advantage of new transfer rule to attend grad school and play for the Dukes in 2006-07

Aug. 28, 2006

Head men's basketball coach Ron Everhart announced today that 6-10, 255-pound forward Almamy Thiero (ahl-mah-MEE cheer-O) has enrolled in graduate school at Duquesne and will play for the Dukes this season. Thiero, who competed his undergraduate degree at the University of Memphis in May, played in 28 games in three seasons for the Tigers from 2002-03 through 2005-06. He missed the 2005-06 season while recovering from an ACL injury suffered in the summer of 2005. He will have one season of eligibility at Duquesne.

"We are pleased that Almamy has decided to continue his education at Duquesne," said Everhart of Thiero. "He had some tough luck with injuries at Memphis and is looking forward to a fresh start. Almamy is a veteran of major college basketball at the highest level. We expect him to provide leadership and guidance for our younger players."

Thiero, a native of Mali, West Africa, played his first full season in 2004-05 after seeing limited action in his first two years due to injuries. Thiero's collegiate career got off to a rough start when he suffered a stress fracture to his tibia in November of 2002. Following surgery, Thiero played a total of two minutes in two games before a decision was made to petition the NCAA for a medical redshirt which sidelined him the remainder of the year. He had a second surgery on the leg during the summer of 2003.

Thiero missed the majority of the 2003-04 season after he was diagnosed with blood clots found near the lungs in mid-December. He saw action in three games prior to the discovery of the medical condition.

In 2004-05 - Thiero's only healthy season at Memphis - he averaged 0.5 points and 1.7 rebounds in 23 games highlighted by a seven rebound performance against Syracuse.
Thiero, whose full name is Almamy Seny Amadou Yattabary Thiero, averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds per game and was named team MVP as a senior for Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham, N.C. He averaged 18 points and 14 rebounds as a junior.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Derrick Rose Narrows List to Memphis, Kansas, DePaul, Indiana and UCLA

Rose lists KU among final five

By Gary Bedore, Lawrence (KS) Journal World
Sunday, August 27, 2006

Chicago Simeon High senior Derrick Rose has narrowed his list of prospective colleges to five: Kansas University, Memphis, DePaul, Indiana and UCLA.

Rose’s brother and AAU coach, Reggie Rose, told the Chicago Sun-Times that Derrick, a 6-foot-4 point guard, is in the process of setting up five campus visits.

“The decision was made by Derrick and the family,” Reggie Rose said of paring the list to five — a list that doesn’t include Illinois.

“We felt that these were five schools that were a fit for him. We’ve contacted all five and are setting up visits.

“We want the school that is the best situation for him where he will be comfortable. When you go to college you have to feel like you fit in at the school. On the court, Derrick would be comfortable anywhere he chooses. And I’ve seen some kids make career decisions on little things like what color a team wears.”

Reggie Rose said, contrary to rumor, Memphis is not the leader.

“The Memphis rumors are all over. There is no school ahead now, but people are saying a lot of negative things,” Reggie Rose said. “All I know is (the Tigers) were (ranked) in the top five last year and had two first-round (NBA draft) picks. Derrick is a let-me-prove-you-wrong kid.”
Reggie Rose told the Sun-Times his brother might take unofficial visits to Marquette and Notre Dame, which have also shown interest.

“Those schools are close, and we don’t want to miss anything,'' Reggie Rose said.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Former Tigers Interested in Calipari Staff Positions

Former Tigers interested in coaching roles
Calipari lets players know he's willing to help them join ranks

By Jim Masilak, Memphis Commercial Appeal
August 24, 2006

Nathaniel Root isn't sure whether he'll be given the opportunity to join John Calipari's staff at the University of Memphis. But the former Tiger basketball player certainly is pleased to be under consideration -- even if it is for an entry-level position that promises little pay and long hours.

With as many as three positions to fill following the departure of Tony Barbee and Milt Wagner to Texas-El Paso and Ryan Miller to Pepperdine, Calipari has been reaching out to a number of former Memphis players to gauge interest in at least one of the vacant positions. Calipari has met with Root and fellow former Tigers Marcus Moody and Shyrone Chatman in regard to the opening left by Miller, who served the past three seasons as assistant coordinator of basketball operations.

"I thought it was good of him," Root said. "I don't know what's gonna happen or what he's gonna do with it. But I think it's a good thing when you look to your former players first and, if they're not interested, then you look elsewhere."

Whether he gets the job or not, Moody, like Root an aspiring college coach, was pleased to get some face time with Calipari.

"I just think it's a good thing he's giving former players an opportunity," said Moody, a third-year assistant at Overton High. "It's definitely something I'm interested in. If you want to coach at the Division 1 level, you're gonna have to start low and work your way up."

Chatman, who's working for TennCare in the Tennessee Department of Human Services, said he was "honored to be considered for the position and that coach Cal had me in mind."

"It's something I'd be interested in because it's a chance to get back into something I've been doing all my life," Chatman said.

Calipari said he isn't quite sure what he's going to do with the position.

"I may be able to help one of those guys. I'm trying to figure out how we can do that," he said. "If all three of them want to be coaches some day, whether it's with us, with Tony and Milt at UTEP or with (former Tiger assistant Steve Roccaforte at Lamar), we'd all like to give those guys an opportunity to get in the profession."

Root understands that opportunity -- at first, anyway -- is more likely to involve scouting and compiling highlight videos than going on the road and recruiting as a full-time assistant.
"You're not gonna start off making millions," Root said. "You've got to pay your dues. When I started playing ball there, I paid my dues. After a couple years, he (Calipari) gave me a scholarship.

"I think this is something I'm ready to handle and take on."

-- Jim Masilak: 529-2311

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Published 2006-07 Roster (excluding Jeremy Hunt)

2006-07 Roster

15 Andre Allen
5-10/205 Guard JR Memphis, Tenn./Booker T. Washington

12 Antonio Anderson
6-6/190 Guard SO Lynn, Mass./Laurinburg (N.C.) Prep/MCI/Lynn Tech

Hashim Bailey
6-10/290 Forward/Center FR Paterson, N.J./Passaic Co. Tech/The Patterson School

42 Kareem Cooper
6-11/285 Forward SO Washington, D.C./Laurinburg (N.C.) Prep

32 Joey Dorsey
6-9/265 Forward JR Baltimore. Md./Laurinburg (N.C.) Prep/Douglass

3 Chris Douglas-Roberts
6-6/190 Guard SO Detroit, Mich./Northwestern/Cass Tech

2 Robert Dozier
6-9/215 Forward SO Lithonia, Ga./Laurinburg (N.C.) Prep/Lithonia

Willie Kemp
6-2/165 Guard FR Bolivar, Tenn./Bolivar Central

20 Travis Long
5-8/135 Guard SO Dumont, N.J./River Dell

Doneal Mack
6-5/175 Guard FR Statesville, N.C./Statesville Christian School

11 Chance McGrady
6-2/180 Guard SO Auburndale, Fla./Dr. Phillips

Pierre Niles
6-8/290 Forward FR Memphis, Tenn./Ridgeway/The Patterson School

30 Jared Sandridge
6-2/170 Guard SR
Memphis, Tenn./Christian Brothers/Angelina College

Shawn Taggart
6-10/230 Forward SO Richmond, Va./Mt. Zion Christian Academy/Iowa State University

50 Almamy Thiero
6-10/255 Forward RS SR Mali, West Africa/Mt. Zion (N.C.) Academy

0 Clyde Wade
/185 Guard RS SR Memphis, Tenn./Winchendon (Mass.) School/Kingsbury

Tre'Von Willis
6-4/200 Guard FR Fresno, Calif./Washington Union

John Calipari - Head Coach
Derek Kellogg - Assistant Coach
John Robic - Assistant Coach
Andy Allison - Asst. to Dir. of Basketball Operations
Richard Hogans - Director of Performance Enchancement

Memphis Fans Split over University's Decision to Reinstate Jeremy Hunt

I listened to several callers on Memphis sports talk radio this afternoon give their opinion on the affairs of Jeremy Hunt. Based on the reaction, I'd say many Memphians are against the University's decision saying Hunt does not deserve a 3rd chance on the Tiger's team.

I know a pastor in the inner city of Memphis who is a mentor to Jeremy and thinks highly of the young man. I respect "Tony's" judgment and would lean to his opinion.

Certainly Jeremy's prior conduct is suspect (at least what the media has reported). However, I believe that surviving the inner city of Memphis is difficult enough. I'm impressed that the kid took his punishment being kicked off the team 12 months ago and still chose to finish his degree. I seriously Jeremy will play basketball after this season - certainly at no high professional level. That college degree will change his life. Did Coach Calipari tell Jeremy he would reinstate him for a 5th year? Of course none of us know the answer and only Dr. Shirley Raines and staff could approve such an action anyway.

Does Memphis need Jeremy Hunt on this team? Well, certainly his 5th year senior leadership could be a plus after the loss of five players on last year's team (yes it was five - 3 seniors [ok, Simplice Njoya was kicked off the team mid year, but he still counts] and 2 underclassmen)

Consider this season's current roster

1 5th Year Senior - Jeremy Hunt
2 Red-Shirt Seniors - Almamy Thiero and Clyde Wade
1 Senior - Jered Sandridge
2 Juniors - Andre Allen and Joey Dorsey
6 Sophomores - Anderson, Cooper, CRD, Dozier, Long and McGrady
5 Freshmen - Bailey, Kemp, Mack, Niles and Willis

Also Shawn Taggart is a Sophomore but must sit out 2006-2007

Likely Starters
1 - Andre Allen, Jr.
2 - Antonio Anderson, So.
3 - Chris Douglas-Roberts, So.
4 - Robert Dozier, So.
5 - Joey Dorsey, Jr.

Likely 2nd Team
1 - Willie Kemp, Fr.
2 - Doneal Mack, Fr.
3 - Jeremy Hunt, Sr.
4 - Pierre Niles, Fr.
5 - Kareem Cooper, So.

Jeremy Hunt Reinstated to Tiger Basketball Team

Hunt Reinstated To Tiger Basketball Team
Aug. 22, 2006

MEMPHIS, Tenn.-- - Jeremy Hunt, who received his undergraduate degree from the University of Memphis this month, has been reinstated as a member of the Tiger basketball team and will be eligible to play during the 2006-07 season.

After careful review by the University administration, including the fact(s) that he has completed his degree and that he has shown maturity in meeting all behavioral, social and academic requirements, Hunt's request to play out his final year of eligibility at the U of M has been granted.

A native of Memphis, Hunt lettered for three years at guard for the Tigers while starting 26 of 66 games played. He sat out the 2005-06 season serving a one-year suspension for violation of team policy. A 6-4 graduate of Craigmont High School, Hunt has scored 625 points in his career, averaging 9.5 points per game. He tallied a career-high 24 points in a Memphis victory over Northeastern in March of 2005 and grabbed a career-best 12 rebounds in a contest with Villanova in 2004.

Tigers Reinstate Jeremy Hunt

Tigers reinstate Jeremy Hunt

By The Commercial Appeal
August 22, 2006

Jeremy Hunt, who was dismissed from the University of Memphis basketball team before the 2005-06 season, was reinstated today, the school announced. In a statement, the school said, "After careful review by the University administration, including the fact(s) that he has completed his degree and that he has shown maturity in meeting all behavioral, social and academic requirements, Hunt’s request to play out his final year of eligibility at the U of M has been granted."

Hunt, a 6-4 graduate of Craigmont High School, played three years, starting 26 of 66 games for the Tigers at guard, and averaged 9.5 points per game. Hunt's problems came off the court. He was arrested in January 2005 and charged with misdemeanor assault after an incident with an ex-girlfriend. He missed two games in the 2004-05 season because of that.

He was then suspended indefinitely last September after being involved in a physical altercation on Beale Street. Hunt stayed in school and graduated this month. He still has a year of eligibility remaining.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Former Tiger Dajuan Wagner Attempting Comeback to Professional


By DICK JERARDI The Philadelphia News

Dajuan Wagner was "The Messiah." He scored 100 in a high-school game. He averaged 42.5 points as a senior at Camden High. He scored 3,462 points in high school, the most in New Jersey history. He scored 25 points in the McDonald's All-American Game at Duke.It was never a question of whether Wagner would score, but how much. Nobody could stop him. He just did what he wanted when he wanted.

Then, his body began to fail him. He had stomach pain. He was fatigued. He lost weight. He lost his appetite.

All that was happening while he spent a year in college at Memphis and 3 years in the NBA. He tried all kinds of treatment. Nothing worked for long. It just kept getting worse.

He was eventually diagnosed with colitis, inflammation of the colon or large intestine. Last October, he underwent major surgery at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.
"He was very, very sick when he left the Cleveland Cavaliers [in 2005]," said Dr. Joel Bauer, who performed the surgery. "We did an operation on him and basically he's recovered phenomenally."

How phenomenally?

Last week, Wagner had 65 points on Wednesday in the Cherry Hill League, including 15 threes. The next night, he had 67 points at Drexel in the Rankin/Anderson League. Now, 132 on consecutive nights will get your attention.

"He's regained a lot of his strength," Bauer said. "The guy's built like an animal. He looks more like a defensive back than a point guard or shooting guard. The last time I saw him, he looked fabulous. From my point of view, from the gastrointestinal surgery, he's made a complete recovery."

Wagner plays for Team Camden in Cherry Hill. Former Temple star Mike Vreeswyk, 39, plays for Team Philly. After losing 25 pounds, Vreeswyk said: "I've been playing as good as I've ever played."

So, apparently, is Wagner. Only his best is better than almost everybody who has ever played in this area.

"He's unbelievable," said Vreeswyk, the designated bomber for the Owls team that rose to No. 1 in 1988. "It was amazing what he was doing on the floor. We have a pretty good team. We started sending two guys at him. He was either going around two guys or over two guys, shooting from just deeper. He must have shot 80 percent for the game, probably more. He was getting to the basket at will.

"He just single-handedly beat us. The cherry on the cake was that he hit a three-pointer with like 3 seconds left to win the game. He's in shape. He doesn't say a word on the court. I was on the court and I was kind of amazed at what he was doing."

They "held" him to 35, only because Wagner did not shoot unless it was necessary. Last he looked, Vreeswyk was the second- or third-leading scorer in the league.

"He didn't miss much," Vreeswyk said. "No question he can play in the NBA again."

When he left the NBA, it was a question if Wagner would be able to do anything again.

"The symptoms for [colitis] are diarrhea, bleeding, tremendous weight loss and weakness," Bauer said. "It can get worse than that, but that's what he had. Even a normal person, not somebody with the physical-activity level that he has, can be decimated from this. You lose 30, 40 pounds. You have no energy. You're anemic. It's terrible."

Trying to play in the NBA with that?

"You can't even work at a normal job," Bauer said. "I couldn't do my job with this. It's impossible."

Wagner was scheduled to play at Drexel around 8:30 last night. He arrived around 9. No problem. The game wasn't ready to start anyway. And it wasn't going to start until Wagner got there.

Dr. Dave Scheiner, who runs the league, said the game would begin after Wagner answered a few questions.

"It just feels good to be playing," Wagner said. "When you've been doing something your whole life and they take it away from you... I'm just happy I'm playing.''

Drexel's gym had cooled down to about 110 degrees by game time. There was no air moving. It was somewhere between oppressive and Hades.

Wagner had 25 after 15 minutes. He broke four ankles on the same hesitation dribble and then finished off a lefthanded and one. He was shooting step backs from Market Street. Today, he is more skilled than anybody on the Sixers except Allen Iverson.

"I've never played in anything like this," Wagner said during a timeout while standing in front of a fan that was mostly window dressing. But he kept playing.

This was Wagner's third game in three nights.

"I need it,'' he said.

Wagner and his team blew a big lead in the fourth quarter, wilting in basketball hell and lost the game, 122-114. Wagner finished with 57.

"An off night," said Scheiner, aka Dr. Foot.

Wagner remembers having stomach problems as far back as 12th grade.

Back then, Wagner had a touch of baby fat. Not now. He is cut. And he got there the hard way.
"It was hard because I started off from scratch," Wagner said.

The surgeon removed his colon and, according to Wagner, "made me a new one." It works way better than the old one.

"That was the worst," Wagner said of his illness. "I don't think it can get any worse than that. You've got to go through stuff in life.''

Said John Calipari, his college coach at Memphis: "His stomach was bad here. At certain times in the morning, he really was almost cramped up. You always wonder why isn't he eating right. So he had some of it here.

"We were just like, 'Rub some dirt in it, you'll be all right.' You know how it is. We're like, 'Come on, you're soft.' What it was is the kid was probably in pain that would double you and me over. We just didn't know."

Really, nobody knew.

In his lone season at Memphis, Wagner averaged 21.2 points, had 32 against Temple in the NIT semifinals and was the NIT MVP as Memphis won the championship.

"When he was with us, he was squinting all the time," Calipari said. "I'm like, 'What is this squinting about?' We find out later he needed contacts. All those years, he's scoring 70, 80 points and he can't even see the basket. What is that about?"

The 6-2 Wagner can see these days. He can also function. And he can still ball. He is a shooting guard in the classic sense. He will shoot 'em up. And he will make enough.

"I've called three [NBA] clubs right now to tell them to send somebody down there," Calipari said. "If he's back to that, there are teams out there that love guards that can score. They're not worried about defense. They're worried about points on the board. Well, he'll do that. There's no question he'll do it."

Wagner did it for a time in the NBA, but his condition really gave him no chance to succeed.

Cleveland took him with the sixth pick in the 2002 NBA draft. He missed his first 14 games with what was called a bladder infection. He missed the last 20 games with a torn meniscus in his right knee. In the games he played, he averaged 13.4 points. He had a seven-game stretch when he averaged 24.1 points. He could do it, if he had the chance to do it.

The next season, with LeBron James now on the team, he was out for the first 2 months after arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. He averaged just 6.5 points. He played only 11 games the next season, averaging 4.0 points. Cleveland did not pick up his option. He was out of the league last season.

He got $7.4 million in guaranteed money from his rookie contract, but this was "The Messiah." This ending simply would not do.

So Wagner is on his way back. His Camden teammate and best friend Arthur Barclay recently gave Calipari a report.

"I had a call from Arthur Barclay and he said, 'I watched him and my mouth was hanging open. It's like the old days. He's back and he's better than he was,' " Calipari said. "The thing I've always said about Dajuan Wagner, he has an unbelievable heart, just a wonderful heart, just like his dad."

Milt Wagner is on Calipari's staff at Memphis. Like his son, he was a star at Camden. He won a national title at Louisville and an NBA title with the Lakers. Their games are different. Their toughness is not.

"The greatest thing is, the kid never lost his confidence," Calipari said. "To be able to say, 'I'm going to make another run at this,' instead of blaming and being mad. It's because the kid's got a great heart... 'This has happened to me. I'm going to deal with it. And I'm going to make this work.' "

Drexel coach Bruiser Flint has seen Wagner a few times this summer in the Rankin/Anderson League.

"His body looks great," Flint said. "It looks tight. I think he's the same. There's not much defense in the league. They don't guard anybody but you know the difference between him and the other guys that's playing. There's a significant difference."

And it does not take a basketball savant to notice the talent. Or the will.

"I kept fighting," Wagner said. "If I were a lot of people, I would have quit, but I ain't no quitter. I'll be back."

Wagner figures he will get into a couple of NBA camps. If not there, he has feelers from overseas, including one from Maccabi Tel Aviv.

After all he has been through, the best news for Dajuan Wagner is this: He turned 23 on Feb. 4.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

UTEP Hires Tony Barbee, Milt Wagner to Join Staff Also

Aug 14, 9:52 PM EDT
UTEP Hires Barbee to Be Basketball Coach

By ALICIA A. CALDWELL Associated Press Writer

EL PASO, Texas (AP) -- Tony Barbee was hired Monday to be the new basketball coach at Texas-El Paso.

The 35-year-old Barbee spent the past six years as an assistant at Memphis. He will take over for Doc Sadler, who left last week to coach Nebraska.

Barbee is the first black head coach at UTEP, a school credited with helping break down the color barrier in college sports. Sporting a new UTEP tie and lapel pin, Barbee said his first priority is continuing "a rich and winning tradition."

He has already spoken to Don Haskins, the former UTEP coach who led the 1966 Miners to the NCAA championship and made history by starting five black players in the title game against an all-white Kentucky squad. Barbee is looking forward to having Haskins continue to have a role in the program.

"My style is built on one thing, and it's winning in March," Barbee said. "Winning in March starts with defense."

Bob Stull, UTEP's athletic director, said Barbee was selected from a strong field of candidates in part because of his reputation as a top recruiter.

Stull also talked with former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson, a native of El Paso who played for Haskins in the early 1960s. Richardson supported UTEP's decision to hire Barbee.

Barbee said he was "still taken aback" by the offer to lead a Division I team. He was offered the position on Sunday and immediately accepted.

He thanked his wife, Holly, "the head coach of our family," and Memphis head coach John Calipari, who Barbee played for at the University of Massachusetts.

After college, Barbee played in Spain and France. He started his coaching career at Massachusetts in 1996 and moved on to Wyoming.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Barbee May Take Milt Wagner with Him to UTEP

Memphis assistant Barbee to take over UTEP

Aug. 13, 2006
By Gary Parrish, CBS Senior Writer

Memphis assistant Tony Barbee will replace Doc Sadler as the coach at UTEP, a source with knowledge of the situation told CBS Sunday. An official press conference in El Paso could come as early as Monday.

Barbee interviewed with UTEP athletic director Bob Stull on Saturday morning in Dallas. He was selected over multiple candidates, among them Kansas assistant Tim Jankovich, Texas assistant Rodney Terry and LSU assistant Butch Pierre.

A 35-year-old graduate of UMass, Barbee is known as a great recruiter, and is the man responsible for landing much of Memphis' talent in recent years, including NBA first-round pick Rodney Carney. He will compete in Conference USA against his mentor and college coach, John Calipari, and do so from what is likely the second-best job in the league.

Barbee inherits a program that is rich in tradition, yet short on relevant returnees from a squad that went 21-11 overall -- 11-3 in Conference USA games -- last season. Gone are the Miners' top four scorers, including frontcourt standouts Jason Williams (15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game) and John Tofi (13.9 points and 9.2 rebounds). The best returning players are senior point guard Kevin Henderson (started all 31 games last season) and wing Stefon Jackson, the latter of whom endured a broken jaw early during his freshman campaign but recovered nicely to average 8.0 points in 25.2 minutes per contest.

Maurice Thomas, a 6-8 sophomore forward, is the only other current Miner who scored a point last season. He averaged 3.1 points in 10.6 minutes per game.

As far as completing a staff, a source told CBS that Barbee will likely try to keep current UTEP assistant David Anwar, who has been the Miners' link to the East Coast. Anwar is the former coach at Lutheran Christian Academy in Philadelphia, and was the key to UTEP landing four prospects from Philadelphia who are on the 2006-07 roster, among them Jackson and Thomas.

It's also possible Barbee could -- with the expected-blessing of Calipari -- take Milt Wagner with him to UTEP, the lure being a more prominent role on staff. Wagner has been the director of basketball operations at Memphis since Calipari took over prior to the 2000-2001 campaign, working last year behind Barbee and fellow assistants Derek Kellogg and John Robic.

Tiger Assistant Coach Tony Barbee Expected to be Named Head Coach at Texas El-Paso

Barbee to coach at Texas-El Paso

By Jim Masilak, Memphis Commercial Appeal
August 13, 2006

University of Memphis assistant Tony Barbee will be introduced within the next 48 hours as the new head coach at Texas-El Paso, a source close to the situation told The Commercial Appeal today. Barbee, an Indianapolis native, will succeed Doc Sadler*, who left UTEP after two seasons to become the head coach at Nebraska.

This will be the first head-coaching job for the 35-year-old Barbee, who spent the past six years on John Calipari’s staff at the U of M and earned a reputation as a top recruiter. Barbee, who met with UTEP athletic director Bob Stull in Dallas on Saturday morning, was one of several candidates reported to have been considered for the job, considered one of the best in Conference USA.

Among them were UTEP assistants Tony Benford and Randall Dickey, Sam Houston State coach Bob Marlin, Texas A&M assistant Alvin Brooks, Kansas assistant Tim Jankovich, Texas assistant Rodney Terry and LSU assistant Butch Pierre.

Former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson, a UTEP alum who has not coached since 2002, was expected to meet with Stull today .

Barbee, who played for Calipari at UMass from 1989-93 before becoming his assistant at the U of M, will now get to match wits against his mentor when the Miners meet the Tigers in C-USA play.

"He helped me build UMass as a player, and he’s helped me build Memphis as a coach," Calipari said.

Barbee served as an assistant at UMass and Wyoming before coming to the UofM before the 2000-01 season.

Long considered a future Division 1 head coach, he interviewed for the Murray State job in April and was mentioned in connection with an opening at Ball State.

Attempts to reach both Barbee and Stull for comment Sunday were unsuccessful.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Tiger's Non-Conference Schedule Completed

Early tip-off set for Tiger basketball opener in Maui

John Calipari isn't concerned about his Tigers' morning tip-off for their opening game of the Maui Classic against Oklahoma. An early trip to the islands should help the players acclimate.

By Jim Masilak, Memphis Commercial Appeal
August 4, 2006

The University of Memphis basketball team can forget any late-night luaus when it travels to Hawaii in November for the Maui Invitational. Pairings for the eight-team, pre-Thanksgiving tournament were announced Thursday morning, with the Tigers receiving an eye-watering 9:30 a.m. (1:30 p.m. CST) first-round wake-up call against Oklahoma on Monday, Nov. 20. "At that time, whoever's most ready to play that early in the morning will usually win," said Tigers coach John Calipari, who isn't too concerned about the early start. The Tigers, who are 4-0 all-time against the Sooners, will fly to Hawaii on the Friday before the tournament, giving them plenty of time to adjust to the made-for-ESPN tip-off time.

"It'll end up being just like an afternoon game for the kids," Calipari said Thursday before flying to Los Angeles, where he is scheduled to appear on ESPN's "Rome is Burning" with Jim Rome today at 3:30 p.m. "It's not a big deal."

The other game in the Tigers' half of the Maui bracket pits Georgia Tech against Purdue.
Should the Tigers advance to meet the Yellow Jackets in the semifinals -- or in the losers' bracket -- it would pit them against former Mitchell High star and one-time UofM target Thaddeus Young, Tech's highly regarded freshman forward.

"It would be interesting," Calipari said. "We've got a young team, including some really talented freshmen, and they've got two good freshmen (in Young and guard Javaris Crittenton)."
In the other half of the bracket, Kentucky will meet DePaul and UCLA, which beat the Tigers in last season's Elite Eight, will take on tournament host Chaminade.

"It's gonna be a great field," Calipari said. "You're talking about four or five potential top-25 teams that are all going to be very young."

Awaiting on dates

The Tigers' list of non-conference opponents for the 2006-07 season is now set, but the dates for some of those games have yet to be finalized.

In addition to contests at Tennessee, Arizona and Gonzaga, the UofM will host Ole Miss, Cincinnati, Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee, Manhattan, Jackson State, Lamar and Arkansas State, assistant coach Tony Barbee confirmed.

While dates have been announced for the games at FedExForum against Manhattan (Dec. 2), Austin Peay (Dec. 15) and MTSU (Dec. 23), potential conflicts have arisen with the announcement of the NBA's regular-season schedule.

The Grizzlies are scheduled to play 7 p.m. home games on each of those dates against defending champion Miami, Atlanta and Utah, respectively.

"We'll probably do some of those games in the afternoon," said Calipari, who is excited about a non-conference schedule that, including the game against Oklahoma, will feature at least four teams that participated in last season's NCAA Tournament.

"When you're talking about the teams we're playing, you're talking about some of the best in the country," Calipari said.

The Conference USA regular-season schedule has yet to be released, but the Tigers will play 16 league games this season, up from 14 a year ago.

With eight league games and eight non-conference games at the FedExForum, they will play a total of 16 home games.

The UofM will also host the C-USA Tournament in March.

California dreaming

Like most assistants, Ryan Miller dreams of one day running his own program.

If the former UofM assistant coordinator of basketball operations needed additional motivation, he got it upon joining Vance Walberg's staff at Pepperdine.

"You've got to make seven figures to live out here (in Malibu, Calif.)," Miller said. "I can't afford anything."

The older brother of Grizzlies guard Mike Miller, Ryan is relishing the chance to work alongside Walberg, a longtime friend of Calipari who has served as an offensive muse for the Tigers' coach.
"It's a great opportunity," Miller said. "(Walberg) came in three or four years ago to watch practice and we struck up a good relationship ... When he got the job, he thought it would be a good fit."

Calipari, who has long extolled Walberg's virtues as an offensive innovator, said he was delighted for Miller.

"He was really good for us," Calipari said. "He had a good rapport with the players, he helped with scouting and did all our highlight tapes.

"He was really, really good and I'm excited for him."

-- Jim Masilak: 901-529-2311

Friday, August 11, 2006

Great Article on Old ABA Basketball

Former ABA owners still cashing NBA checks

By Jonathan Abrams Los Angeles Times
August 1, 2006

LOS ANGELES -- Roughly once a month, the NBA cuts 31 checks to NBA teams as revenue from its multibillion-dollar national television contract. There are only 30 NBA franchises, so who gets the extra check?

Advertisement The money goes to brothers Ozzie and Dan Silna, co-owners of the long-forgotten American Basketball Association team, the Spirits of St. Louis. Thirty years ago, Ozzie Silna, with attorney Donald Schupak, negotiated a deal that cleared the way for the ABA to merge with the NBA.

It ranks as one of the best sports deals in modern times, one that has paid the Silnas about $168 million and continues to pay off.

"I would have loved to have an NBA team," said Ozzie Silna, 73, a Malibu resident and environmental activist. "But if I look at it retrospectively over what I would have gotten, versus what I've received now, then I'm a happy camper."

Part of the Silnas' deal called for them to receive one-seventh of the annual TV revenue from each of the four ABA teams entering the NBA. The deal turned out to be so lucrative that several NBA teams have tried to break it, without success.

"We honor the deal," said Donnie Walsh, the Indiana Pacers' chief executive. "I can't say we haven't met and tried to settle it. But it's the greatest deal known to man. What more can you say?"

The key line in the Silnas' TV contract that makes NBA executives cringe reads: "The right to receive such revenues shall continue for as long as the NBA or its successors continues in its existence."

In other words, the deal lasts as long the NBA does.

Another key component is that Silna, anticipating the NBA expanding, capped the brothers' portion of shared television revenue at a maximum of 28 teams. The other NBA teams share their revenue among all 30 teams.

The Silnas' contract stands ironclad, despite occasional court challenges. Harry Weltman, former general manager of the Spirits, argued to the Supreme Court in 1991 that he was entitled to a share of the revenue to no avail.

Still, the four ABA teams now in the NBA -- the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, New Jersey Nets (formerly the New York Nets) and San Antonio Spurs -- have spent plenty in legal fees searching for wiggle room out of the Silnas' contract.

"I think nearly every single attorney and sports executive from those four franchises has taken a look at the deal to see if they can break it," said Gary Hunter, a former Nuggets executive. "I've yet to talk to anybody who can say it can be broken. Every year, when it came down to take a look at the budgeting process we would all just shake our heads."

Three decades ago when the Silnas struck their deal, the renegade ABA, known for its red-white-and-blue ball, three-point shots and star Julius Erving, was struggling financially.
In 1976 the ABA reached a merger deal with the NBA. The NBA agreed to take four of the six teams from the dismantling ABA. The Spirits and the Kentucky Colonels were not invited to join the league. However, the ABA owners needed to reach unanimous approval for the merger to take place.

John Y. Brown, owner of the Kentucky Colonels, quickly accepted a $3.3 million buyout as compensation. That deal was also offered to the Silnas.

But Ozzie Silna kept haggling for more, and he finally reached a deal in a swank Massachusetts hotel room. The Silnas would get $3 million, plus a share of the TV revenue from the four teams entering the NBA.

"When we accepted the arrangement, the big thing was that the NBA had television" and the ABA didn't, said Silna. "But still, the TV revenue was minuscule compared with baseball and the NFL."

Initially, the contract netted the Silnas about $300,000 a year as the NBA struggled with spotty attendance and weak TV ratings -- until the '80s, when Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan catapulted the league to a higher profile.

As the NBA's popularity rose, so did the league's TV contract and the Silnas' cut. For the NBA's last contract, they averaged $15 million a year.

"The process never even entered our minds of how high it would get," Ozzie Silna said. "We just wanted a piece of the action."

They are due an even larger jackpot from the NBA's current contract, which began in 2002. That six-year, $4.6 billion deal with ABC/ESPN and TNT could earn them upward of $24 million annually, according to Silna.

Without having to dole out salaries or money on stadium leases, the Silnas earn more each season than most NBA teams.

Silna is quick to point out that today's NBA teams are worth hundreds of millions. Indeed, the Lakers are worth $529 million, and the lowly New Orleans Hornets are valued at $225 million, according to Forbes.

The irony is that Ozzie Silna said he never thought the Spirits would be one of the ABA teams that folded.

The Silnas, who originally earned their money as textile manufactures, purchased the North Carolina franchise and moved it to St. Louis in 1974. The colorful team featured future NBA players Marvin Barnes, Maurice Lucas and Moses Malone and young radio announcer Bob Costas.

Attendance stagnated in the team's second year, and it soon became apparent the Spirits would not survive the impending merger. In all, the Silnas spent about $5 million on the Spirits.
In 1982, after several years of cashing TV checks, the Silnas came close to accepting a new buyout. The NBA offered them $5 million over eight years, but the Silnas countered with a demand of $8 million over five.

The league balked at that number, so the Silnas have kept cashing in.

Former Tiger Antonio Burks Weighs His Options

Ex-Griz Burks is weighing his options

By Ronald Tillery, Memphis Commercial Appeal

August 8, 2006

Former Grizzly Antonio Burks sits, waits and counts.

Burks, a Memphis native, says four NBA teams have expressed interest in him. He acknowledges that the NBA's development league and Europe are among three options.

Yet the 6-foot point guard sounds convinced that he'll get a second chance to prove that his first NBA suitor was wrong. The Grizzlies chose not to re-sign Burks after two seasons.

"But I know where I'm supposed to be," Burks said Monday. "I'll get back. I'm just waiting on those (other) teams to decide."

Burks played in 81 regular-season games over two seasons with the Grizzlies. He averaged 2.3 points, 1.3 assists and 9.7 minutes. Revered for his hard-nosed defense and end-to-end quickness, Burks eventually fell out of favor partly because of offensive struggles.

"I've been working out and I feel good about my game," Burks said. "I've got my jump shot falling again."

If no NBA team makes him an offer, Burks is more inclined to play in the D-League rather than travel overseas. He's not ruling anything out, though.

That's a lesson Burks learned this summer.

If Burks had it to do again, he would have played summer-league ball.

"I didn't play in the summer league because the teams interested in me said I didn't need to," Burks said. "But I should have played so I wouldn't have to wait like this. That's OK. I still know where I'm supposed to be."

-- Ronald Tillery: 529-2353

SMU......The Duke of Dallas ???

Blog Q&A With ... SMU's Matt Doherty

As the first in a series of blog Q&As with college hoops figures leading up to the season, I spoke with new SMU coach Matt Doherty, who may be the first blogging coach in the history of college basketball -- even if he's only writing the Mustang Hoops Blog twice per month. (If he has a predecessor, let us know in the comments.) We covered a variety of topics, from the "Cuban" genesis of his blog, to his rep in Dallas, to his plan for rebuilding the Mustangs' program.

SI: How did you decide to become a blogger?

Matt Doherty: When I got to SMU, [Dallas Mavericks owner] Mark Cuban and his stockbroker, a guy named Charlie McKinney, an SMU grad who's involved with a youth basketball program called the Dallas Heroes, came over to my office and talked. It was cool; we sat around for at least an hour, and I picked [Cuban's] brain about a lot of things, like marketing basketball in Dallas. I just sat there with paper and pen, taking notes. One of the things he said was to have a blog, because it's a great way to interact with fans, and be honest and insightful -- and you don't have to talk only about basketball. Mark told me that, from his blog, he gets lots of great ideas from fans about how to better run or market his team, so I decided to start one of my own.

SI: I see you've blogged about everything from SMU, to the Mavs, to misplacing rental cars on the summer recruiting circuit. How has it been going so far?

MD: Like Mark said, it's fun, and it gets you to tell your story the way you want to tell it, because not every quote gets put in the paper. There's a lot of value in that, but I realize you have to do it consistently. Coach Dean Smith had a saying: "Start how you finish." If you're going to commit to something, do it. In July I did it two times, and might continue twice a month, because it does take a good hour of concentration to do it. I enjoy writing; I have a bit of a sarcastic style sometimes.

SI: What has the feedback been like?

MD: I'm getting notes from fans all over the country. A lot of Carolina people, actually. I don't know if it got linked on a Carolina website or what....

SI: Are they harassing you?

MD: You know, they're actually wishing me well. There have been notes saying, "Sorry about what happened in Chapel Hill," or saying thanks for helping build the team that won the championship [in 2005]. Some people who I haven't communicated with in a while tracked me down through the blog. Old friends. It's cool, and I'm definitely going to continue it during the season, but I might bring in a guest or one of my assistants to help me keep it up.

SI: There was a list of the "50 Most Powerful People in [Dallas] Sports" that ran this summer in the Dallas Observer, and you were No. 23 -- one ahead of Dirk Nowitzki. Too high? Too low? Or just right?

MD: Well, when they put T.O. at No. 1, I thought it lost all credibility, because it's hard to beat Mark Cuban or Jerry Jones. But to be frank, even though I don't put a lot of stock in those, to be mentioned was kind of neat. There's a new day in SMU basketball, and Dallas is recognizing that, and hopefully we can put a product on the floor that validates my ranking. But it's not like I went to bed the night [the story ran] thinking, "I'm the man," because there are certainly people like Cuban, Jones, Troy Aikman and Dirk who are far more prominent. I'm just a new guy on the block.

SI: Are you using any kind of model for rebuilding the program?

MD: I'm using the Duke model. We're not a quick-fix kind of place; we're not going to load up on transfers or juco players. We want to build a foundation. When Mike Krzyzewski got to Duke, he had one or two recruits his first year. The second year he brought in Johnny Dawkins, Mark Alarie and Dave Henderson, and he played them all early, and they got their butts kicked. The next season Tommy Amaker came in; they still lost, but not as bad. And in the fourth year, everything clicked -- they beat us [North Carolina, where Doherty played] when we were ranked No. 1, and went on to the NCAA tournament. The next year, Duke was in the Elite Eight, and the next, the Final Four. That's the model we're using.

SI: Duke and SMU ... interesting.

MD: It's eerie how similar SMU and Duke are -- and this is coming from a Carolina guy. Moody Coliseum reminds me a lot of Cameron Indoor, and we're really similar in terms of academic profile and alumni base. I tell recruits, we're the Duke of Dallas.