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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Good Info on C-USA Meetings, League Scheduling and State of Tennessee Recruiting

Hoops holiday

Conference USA spring meetings get under way this week in Destin, Fla., but there probably won't be any major men's basketball items on the agenda, especially with the 2009 C-USA Tournament off the table (it was awarded to Memphis in March).

"We've made improvements in every area over a three-year period," assistant commissioner Chris Woolard said. "Our conference RPI and non-conference winning percentage has gotten better every year. We went from one team to five in postseason. Eight teams made improvements in the RPI. There are a lot of trends that are headed the right way with what we're doing right now. ... I don't see a lot of big issues."

Scheduling is always a big topic when the league's coaches get together, and there will undoubtedly be a push from some of the lower-tier teams to increase the league slate from 16 games to 18 or perhaps even 22 to make it a full round robin. That idea is highly unlikely to get much traction.

The bigger focus will likely be on non-conference scheduling, where it's difficult for postseason contenders like UAB and Tulsa to get home games against top-level competition. UAB coach Mike Davis said last season he was going to push for the league to engage another conference for a multi-team challenge, though it's unlikely Memphis would participate because of its ability to schedule marquee games.

"Guys have to keep experimenting with their non-conference schedules," Calipari said. "It's the most important thing; more important than whether we play on a Thursday and Saturday or Wednesday and Saturday, whether we have travel partners, whether we play 22 games. Everything we've done the last three years, we've gotten better as a league."

There could also be some discussion about switching up the teams that play each other twice during the league schedule as opposed to just once. (Translation: A few teams would rather not play Memphis twice.) But Calipari will likely push to keep Houston, Tulsa, UAB and Southern Miss as mirror opponents since they project to be postseason-quality teams next season.


Here's yet another measure of the strength of the college basketball programs in Tennessee. Out of the top 100 players in the rankings for the 2008 recruiting class, at least 11 will be playing college basketball in the state. Memphis and Vanderbilt have each signed four, while Tennessee has signed three. That number could increase if the Tigers get a commitment from No. 11 Devin Ebanks, who is finishing up his official visit today. Florida is the only other state that's close with nine players signed among its three power programs; North Carolina and California have seven each.

Reach Dan Wolken at 529-2365; read his blogs on the Tigers at

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