Sunday, July 20, 2003

College Basketball Insider


Cornette savoring Butler run

By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer

When the final horn sounded and he knew his college basketball career had finally come to an end, Joel Cornette paused to drink it all in one last time.

The Butler Bulldogs, who had taken a No. 12 NCAA Tournament seed and advanced to the Sweet 16, had just lost to Oklahoma in the East Regional semifinals.

Four months later, Cornette still smiles when he talks about what that team accomplished.

"It's an experience that I'll never forget, no matter how much time goes by," he said. "I definitely savored it while I was going through it, because I didn't know which game was going to be my last, so every win in the tournament to me was special."

Cornette, a St. Xavier High School graduate, was a starting forward on the Butler team that knocked off No. 5 seed Mississippi State and No. 4 seed Louisville. He had 21 points and eight rebounds against the Sooners in his final college game.

Now armed with a marketing degree, he's exploring options that would enable him to play professionally, perhaps overseas. If that doesn't work out, he may return to Butler as a graduate assistant next season.

He learned a few things at Butler about college athletics.

"You learn very early on that it's a business," Cornette said. "As a college athlete, you have very little say as to what goes on around you. We aren't given the power we deserve as the athletes who make the NCAA as an organization go.

"But it's hard because they're the body that runs it all. As students, it's a hard thing to challenge. They're the guys paying the bills. They're the guys signing the TV contracts. It's hard to go at a giant. Something needs to happen, but I don't know how you go about it."

Cornette said he favors monetary compensation for student-athletes.

"We do enough to earn a little something," he said.

A STEP UP: If UC ends up joining a new conference along with Louisville and the six football-playing schools in the Big East, the Bearcats are likely to find the competition more challenging than what they faced the past eight years in Conference USA.

The new league would include two schools - Syracuse and Connecticut - that have won national titles in the past five years.

But the Bearcats have held their own against their prospective league members. They're 0-1 vs. UConn, having lost to the Huskies in the 1995 NCAA Tournament, and have never played defending national champion Syracuse, but they're 6-1 vs. Pitt, 6-4 vs. West Virginia, 6-1 vs. Rutgers, and 1-1 vs. Boston College.

SUMMER LEAGUE: While the UC and Xavier players have been displaying their skills in the Deveroes Summer League, Miami players have been putting on a show in a summer league being played at Lebanon High School.

Guard Juby Johnson leads the league in scoring with 27 points per game. He's averaging 5.0 assists and 4.1 rebounds.

The RedHawks' five freshmen are playing on a team that went 9-0 during the regular season. They'll play next at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the tournament quarterfinals. Semifinals and the final are scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Here are the averages of the five Miami freshmen: Eric Van Buskirk (Loveland High School) 13 points, 6.5 rebounds; Tyler Jones (Grant County) 5.0 points, 1.2 rebounds; Monty St. Clair (Roger Bacon) 4.8 points, 5.2 rebounds; Nathan Peavy (Chaminade-Julienne) 11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists; and Doug Penno (Kettering Alter) 4.5 points, 2.2 rebounds.

E-mail bkoch@enquirer.com




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