Sunday, June 1, 2003

C-USA scrapping two-division alignment


So UC will see less Marquette, more Louisville

By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer

It's not official yet and remains subject to change, but it appears the University of Cincinnati's "mirror opponents" in Conference USA next season will be Louisville, DePaul and Charlotte.

That's good news for UC fans who want to see as much as they can of the UC-Louisville rivalry, but bad news for those who also hoped to play two games every season against Memphis, another longtime rival.

The league will scrap its two-division alignment next season in favor of one 14-team league. UC will play its three mirror schools twice during the regular season, once at home and once on the road.

The Bearcats will play every other C-USA school only once. That includes Memphis, which the Bearcats will play at home next year, and Final Four participant Marquette. There's no word yet on whether the Marquette game will be played at home or away.

Considering how Marquette has dominated the Bearcats in recent years, playing the Golden Eagles only once a year may be a good thing for UC.

Marquette beat UC twice and has won five of the last seven over the Bearcats dating to the 2000-01 season.

UC's schedule for next season is still a long way from being completed, but in addition to the six home-and-home games with Louisville, DePaul and Charlotte, plus the other 10 games against C-USA opponents, the Bearcats have commitments to play Dayton at home, at Xavier, Miami at U.S. Bank Arena, Clemson at home and at Valparaiso.

That leaves six games to be scheduled, several of which will be arranged for television.

NBA PROSPECTS: Former UC center Donald Little has been invited to this week's NBA pre-draft camp in Chicago. Leonard Stokes worked out Wednesday for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He also has workouts scheduled with the Los Angeles Clippers, Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. Stokes was still waiting to hear if he would be invited to Chicago.

HONOR ROLL: Six UC men's basketball players have been awarded C-USA's Commissioner's Academic Medal.

Tony Bobbitt, Eric Hicks, Kareem Johnson, Armein Kirkland, Jamaal Lucas and Chadd Moore all made the list with cumulative GPAs of 3.0 or better through the winter quarter.

Six members of the UC women's team also made the list: Micah Harvey, Meghan Hillman, Leslie Knoch, Sara Piepho, Miranda Smith and Anne Stephens.

MARTIN ON COVER: Former UC star Kenyon Martin, who has helped lead the New Jersey Nets to the NBA Finals, is on the cover of the June 9 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Martin is averaging 20.7 points and 9.1 rebounds in the playoffs.

BAD TIMING: With the college conference landscape likely to undergo a major reconfiguration, Tulane University's board of trustees is trying to decide if it should keep its athletic programs in Division I, drop football or move all of its sports to Division III.

Tulane, a member of C-USA, loses about $7 million a year on its athletic department, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

If Miami, Boston College and Syracuse leave the Big East as expected, the recent publicity about the state of Tulane's athletic program won't help the school as it jockeys for position in the new environment.

---

E-mail bkoch@enquirer.com




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