LOUISVILLE -- Steve Logan showed why he was chosen Player of the Year in Conference USA Friday night, scoring 32 points and leading Cincinnati to a 89-79 come-from-behind victory over the University of Memphis. Logans backcourt mate, Kenny Satterfield, added 24 points for the Bearcats, who trailed Memphis 71-67 with 4:28 left in the game.
Cincinnati meets Charlotte on Saturday for the NCAA bid that goes to the winner of the C-USA tournament. The 49ers beat Southern Miss 75-63 in the first semifinal game, setting up an All-American Division championship.
Memphis fell behind 9-0 to open the game and did not pull even until Shyrone Chatman hit a three pointer with 9:40 left in the game. The Tigers will now wait for a bid to the National Invitational Tournament.
I talked to them today, said Memphis A.D. R.C. Johnson immediately after the loss to Cincinnati. They certainly have an interest in our team for two reasons: Calipari and the reputation our fans have for traveling with the team.
Memphis is hosting first and second round games in the NCAA tournament next weekend at The Pyramid. We will have to play on the road for the first week, Johnson said. If we are there for a third game, we can host it in The Pyramid.
Johnson says he expects the Tigers will play a game somewhere in the Mid-South. Speculation has centered around a matchup with Mississippi State in Starkville.
Calipari thought the semifinal game with Cincinnati turned around after Bob Huggins, the fiery Bearcat coach received a technical foul with 5:33 to go in the game. Scooter McFadgon hit one of two free throws to tie the game at 67 all. From that point on, all of the close calls seemed to go the Bearcats way. A offensive foul called on Kelly Wise with 2:29 turned the momentum of the game. Wise had just scored to apparently give Memphis the lead, but the officials ruled the goal no good and Logan hit two free throws to make the score 74-71. Memphis was never ahead again.
Memphis had four players score in double figures. Wise scored 20, Scooter McFadgon had 17, Shamel Jones added 15, and Chatman scored 12 on 5 of 9 shooting. Wise had 10 rebounds, giving him his league-leading15th double-double of the year.
We were up against it after that technical foul, but I thought we fought like crazy, Calipari said. We never quit.
McFadgon played for the first time since being injured at Southern Miss 10 days ago. Were like Oral Roberts, Huggins said. Everybody gets healed for Cincinnati.
McFadgon played 20 minutes, hit 5 of 7 shots from the field, including 3 of 4 from three-point range. He added a dimension to the Tiger offense that had been missing while he was hurt.
Calipari said he is looking forward to NIT play.
I think we started to establish something here this week, the Memphis coach said. At UMass the NIT is where we first established ourselves. I wish we had won today and gone on to the NCAA tournament, but the reality of it is we may not be ready.
C-USA NOTESADDITIONAL TEAMS MEAN SCHEDULING CHANGES
The league announced the format for next years tournament when the league will expand from 12 to 14 teams with the addition of TCU and East Carolina. The same format will be followed as this year. The two teams with the worst conference records will not participate in the tournament.
In a related matter, the league announced that East Carolina would be a member of the American Division and TCU will go to the National. The league will maintain its 16-game conference schedule with each school playing every team in its division twice -- home and away, accounting for 12 of the 16 games. The other four games will come from the other division and will be scheduled by the conference office. League officials have the leeway to match up two of those games, with the other two being part of a systematic rotation.
Look for Memphis to continue playing Louisville and Cincinnati every year as part of the TV package.
DENNY CRUM AND THE ALTERNATIVE PRESS
Denny Crum owns stock in the Louisville Eccentric Observer a member of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. In this week issue LEO's executive editor John Yarmuth wrote about being a friend and partner with someone who is a newsmaker:
"After all the spinning, posturing, demonizing, sermonizing, agonizing, rationalizing, euphemizing, factionalizing Ñ and finally, harmonizing Ñ of the past month, the communitys attention has turned from Denny Crums future to the future of the program he is leaving. Thats as it should be.
For me this was an interesting but awkward situation. At various times during the controversy, I bounced between roles as journalist and advocate, sometimes in the same setting. While I do not feel the need to offer a defense of my activities, it might be useful for me to do some self-analysis for you readers, to whom I owe my primary responsibility. . . .
Crum has been a stockholder in this publication since its birth in 1990, and a friend for more than 20 years. He has never received any income from LEO, although his stock has grown in value. Not once has Denny ever asked me to publish, or avoid publishing, anything about him or the U of L basketball program.
Judging from my mail, the vast majority of LEO readers understood my position and appreciated the perspective we provided. A few were disturbed, to put it mildly, at my admitted bias. The good news is that I am not a friend of Rick Pitino, so unless he wants to invest in LEO, I can write about him with a clear conscience."
RUMOR OF THE DAY
Several people close to the fan support group "The Rebounders" express concern that John Calipari wants the group disbanded. The group was called "The Assistant Coaches" under Dana Kirk but returned to the origianal name when Larry Finch took over in 1986.
"On his first day of retirement from his 30-year job as the University of Louisville's basketball coach, Denny Crum endorsed the candidacy of former Kentucky and Boston Celtics coach Rick Pitino as his successor.
While noting that he is not involved in the process of hiring the next coach, Crum called Pitino "an excellent choice" and added that "I hope they get him."
"He's been successful and brings a lot of energy," Crum said. "He's a great candidate. There are a lot of good candidates out there that could have an interest. Of course, you don't know until you ask." -- From Friday'sThe Louisville Courier-Journal.