Today in C-USA

Time to catch up on the rest of C-USA…


Muhammad steals show for Bearcats


Blue Demons start slow, finish fast

East Carolina

Pirates bursting with confidence


A Hawaiian punch

Now Cards’ trip to Maui is paradise lost


Marquette slows Flashes

Saint Louis

Bills finally discover paradise

SLU turns it over in final 3 minutes

Billikens fall to Austin Peay in opener of Paradise Jam

I’m posting this since the Memphis Commercial-Appeal is a register-to-enter website. Much of the writer’s analysis of the Tigers’ loss to Syracuse seems applicable to the Niners.

[b][i]Tigers can’t come through in late going

No one appears ready yet to step up for Memphis[/i]

By Gary Parrish
Memphis Commercial-Appeal
November 21, 2004

NEW YORK – Tie score. Eight minutes left. This was the time for the stars to rise, take over and will their team to a win, by any means necessary.

Because that is, after all, what stars do.

They create separation down the stretch. They get shots. They make shots. They lock up on defense and walk off the court winners.

Just like Hakim Warrick and Gerry McNamara did for Syracuse.

Just like nobody did for the University of Memphis.

“We had veterans who made big plays down the stretch,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said after his Orange beat the Tigers, 77-62, here at Madison Square Garden late Friday night. “Memphis has experienced players. But we have veterans.”

Though there is no shame in losing in November to the fifth-ranked team in the country, the Tigers’ loss in the title game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic exposed a deficiency. When Memphis needed a bucket or a stop to stay close late, nobody seemed capable of getting either.

While Warrick and McNamara were picking things apart, creating open looks and sinking them, the Tigers’ go-to guys were just sinking, in general. Consequently, Syracuse won going away, and by the look of the box score it would be hard to tell this was actually a close game for 32 minutes.

In the final eight minutes, the Orange scored 26 points and held Memphis to 11. Stressing the point, Memphis allowed 26 points in the final eight minutes and scored only 11.

“Our issue is our investment in practice,” said John Calipari, whose 24th-ranked Tigers are 3-1 heading into Tuesday’s home game against Arkansas State. "Until we invest our life savings in practice, we’re going to have a hard time winning games like this. Because when it’s 51-51 with (eight) minutes to go, we don’t have enough of an investment to say, ‘We’re winning this thing. We’re taking this.’

“But as soon as we catch that and we buy into it as a team, including our best players, then this stuff gets scary. Then we’ll look forward to seeing Syracuse again in March.”

When the Tigers got into similar situations last season, one of two things would happen.

Either Antonio Burks took over, and created shots for himself. Or Burks took over and created opportunities for Sean Banks.

Now, Burks is gone, which means somebody – or two somebodies – has to develop into a legitimate crunchtime threat.

Banks and Rodney Carney are the two most likely candidates, but neither did so against Syracuse. While Warrick and McNamara took over like a duo that has won a national title, both of the Tigers’ talented wings faltered down the stretch.

Warrick was posting up and getting short floaters and dunks. McNamara was driving and drawing fouls, or coming off screens for open jumpers.

In contrast, both Banks and Carney were settling for 3-pointers. And though that’s a fine approach when they’re dropping, it’s basketball suicide when they’re not.

Chalk Friday up as suicide.

“We had some chances to get them, but we didn’t execute down the stretch,” Carney said. “We’re still a pretty good team, but we need some fine-tuning. Syracuse showed us what we need to work on and certain things we need to do. But in my opinion we are still a very good team. Once we get this stuff down, we’ll be OK.”[/b]