Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Midconfans News 3/26/2006

MIKE HUTTON COLUMN: Falu fallout: Ex-Valparaiso star finds himself on smaller stage--The Post-Tribune

March 26, 2006

Tony Falu was the most gifted player to pick up a basketball at Valparaiso University in the last 10 years.

He was, the one guy, with the exception of Bryce Drew, who lived up to the preseason publicity that was lavished on him — when he felt like it.

Valparaiso beat out the rest of the country for the 6-5 point guard from San Jacinto Junior College in Texas (he was from Puerto Rico) because of Wilo Colon, an assistant the Crusaders had hired to help them mine Puerto Rico for talent.

Arizona coach Lute Olson called him a “handful” after he scored 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting against the Wildcats in a heartbreaking 74-70 loss for Valparaiso.

A poker-faced Roy Williams left Allen Field House in January of 2002 after Falu spurred a second-half comeback that put Kansas’ 81-73 victory in danger in the final five minutes.

Falu scored 18 points that day and then brazenly told the media the result would’ve been different on a neutral court.

Those were his good days.

On his bad days, which occurred frequently, Falu refused to pass to open teammates, argued with the coaches, took wild shots and disappeared for long stretches.

It all came to an end on a cold winter night at Chicago State.

Valparaiso coach Homer Drew, miffed because his team wasn’t sharing the ball, ordered them to take five passes before they shot.

Falu didn’t listen. He fired one up on a wide-open shot. Drew pulled him from the game.

And then Falu told Drew he was done playing for VU. Drew didn’t give him a chance to reconsider. That night, he had Sports Information director Bill Rogers fax out a release saying that Falu quit.

Aside from a few words about leaving for personal reasons that evening, Falu hadn’t talked publicly about what happened, aside from a few brief words the night he left.

Four years later, Falu said the problems he exhibited on the court had nothing to do with basketball.

He was going through a divorce in the fall of 2001 and he wasn’t himself.

It all spilled into his relationship with the team.

Falu, who hasn’t talked to Drew in a long time, said that “he basically saved my life. He stood by my side in the most difficult time of my life. Any other coach would’ve kicked me off the team for what I did.”

Why is this important? Because whatever problems Falu had then are behind him now.

He transferred to St. Mary’s College in San Antonio, a Division II school, and averaged more than 20 points per game in his last season.

He received a B.A. in sports science last year and now he’s working on his masters in education while teaching high school Spanish. He wants to get into coaching.

Falu figured out, at some point, that he liked playing without all the expectations that he was burdened with at the Division I level.

He also said he still has Valparaiso in his heart.

And, of course, he stills remember that Arizona game like it just happened.

Contact Mike Hutton at 648-3139 or

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Midconfans 3/22/2006

MVC fuss 'amuses' CBS' Packer--The Chicago Tribune/span>

January wins set season--The Tulsa World

By MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer

Turning point for ORU was two road victories in January.

Two games in January that didn't seem like much at the time were among the most important of Oral Roberts University's basketball season.

Coming off four straight nonconference road losses, the Golden Eagles opened Mid-Continent play with wins at Southern Utah and Chicago State.

Each had only one win at the time. But each proved to be one of the Mid-Con's most surprising teams in 2006.

They were the same road foes Indiana-Purdue couldn't beat in the last week of the regular season, allowing ORU to tie for the conference title.

The early-January road wins also represented a turning point.

"They were huge," ORU coach Scott Sutton said. "They got us off to a 2-0 (conference) start, and we were able to get some confidence back and build some momentum. They were probably the most important wins until we got to the later part of the season."

It wasn't the first or last time the Eagles (21-12) were forced to regroup by challenging circumstances. Their nonconference schedule ranked among the nation's toughest, and injuries sidelined several key players. Ken Tutt, Chris Riouse and Jonathan Bluitt missed 10, seven and three games, respectively.

The Eagles played through every rough spot to claim the school's first NCAA Tournament berth in 22 years. It can be debated whether last year's 25-8 team was better or more successful overall -- or whether the 2006 team, with most of the same players, underachieved.

But there was no comparison in the way the teams finished. ORU's season ended not in the misery of a last-second loss in the conference tournament but in celebration.

"As good as last year's team was, all people wanted to talk about was what happened at the end," Sutton said, referring to the 2005 loss to Oakland (Mich.) in the Mid-Con championship game.

"This team played its best at the end, and I think that's how it will be remembered. Did we play as well as I thought we would early on? No. Did we fight through injuries and adversity? Absolutely, and I'm proud of how our kids responded."

ORU's season reached a low point with successive December losses at Louisiana-Lafayette, Utah State, Oklahoma and Minnesota. Louisiana-Lafayette shot 61.5 percent, high for an Eagle foe all season, to win 95-74. Utah State won 65-64 on two foul shots with 4.4 seconds left.

The Eagles gained confidence in an 81-73 loss at nationally ranked OU by leading in the second half and having a chance to win until the closing minutes. They gained more confidence in a 67-54 loss at Minnesota by staying in the game despite shooting a season-low 33.3 percent.

The wins at Southern Utah and Chicago State were the first of 16 in the final 21 games. Another low came in the 70-65 loss at eighth-place Western Illinois, but the Eagles refocused to win five straight.

ORU had to regroup again after traveling thousands of miles to endure an 88-74 BracketBusters thrashing by Montana, which upset Nevada in an NCAA first-round game.

After the Montana loss, the Eagles again peeled off five straight wins, ending with the Mid-Con title.

Mike Brown 581-8390

30 Caleb Green 33-33 224-425 52.7 3-10 30.0 235-308 76.3 53 290 686 20.8
04 Larry Owens 33-33 156-298 54.0 20-55 36.4 80-123 65.0 104 261 412 12.5
01 Ken Tutt 23-18 110-279 39.4 52-124 41.9 54-65 83.1 53 47 326 14.2
45 Mickey Mich. 33-30 93-207 44.9 3-8 37.5 27-37 73.0 52 1423 216 6.5
14 Jon. Bluitt 30-29 62-169 36.7 39-108 36.1 51-69 73.9 124 56 214 7.1
02 Chris Riouse 26-0 69-149 46.3 57-123 46.3 9-15 60.0 21 27 204 7.8
13 Moses Ehambe 24-0 35-92 38.0 30-73 41.1 7-10 70.0 9 28 107 4.5
10 March. Vealy 30-0 44-90 48.9 1-13 07.7 10-25 40.0 18 83 99 3.3
52 Yemi Ogunoye 33-17 37-86 43.0 1-9 11.1 19-36 52.8 41 94 94 2.8
22 Eric Fowlkes 30-4 26-59 44.1 4-12 33.3 23-40 57.5 42 45 79 2.6
33 Andrew Meloy 18-1 10-38 26.3 8-25 32.0 7-8 87.5 11 25 35 1.9
Total 33 866-1883 46.0 218-560 38.9 522-736 70.9 528 1215 2472 74.9
Opponent 33 819-1867 43.9 182-518 35.1 428-621 68.0 371 1059 2248 68.1

Nov. 19: Utah State, 72-67 OT (L)
Nov. 23: So. California 68-48 (W)
Nov. 25: Marquette, 73-70 (L)
Nov. 26: Monmouth, 62-54 (W)
Nov. 29: St. Gregory's, 90-52 (W)
Dec. 3: Tulsa, 68-52 (W)
Dec. 7: Missouri State 88-76 (L)
Dec. 11: No. Colorado 79-66 (W)
Dec. 15: La.-Lafayette 95-74 (L)
Dec. 20: Utah State 65-64 (L)
Dec. 28: Oklahoma 81-73 (L)
Dec. 31: Minnesota 67-54 (L)
Jan. 2: Chicago State 74-65 (W)
Jan. 4: Southern Utah 84-79 (W)
Jan. 7: Western Illinois 83-66 (W)
Jan. 9: Valparaiso 80-60 (L)
Jan. 14:IUPUI, 86-76 (W)
Jan. 19: Oakland 74-63 (W)
Jan. 24: Western Illinois 70-65 (L)
Jan. 26: Centenary 74-53 (W)
Jan. 30: UMKC 74-56 (W)
Feb. 2: Southern Utah 89-57 (W)
Feb. 4: Chicago State 69-58 (W)
Feb. 9: Oakland 90-53 (W)
Feb. 11: IUPUI 80-75 (L)
Feb. 16: UMKC 86-79 (W)
Feb. 18: Montana 88-74 (L)
Feb. 23: Centenary 83-57 (W)
Feb. 25: Valparaiso 87-78 (W)
Mar. 4: Western Illinois 60-53 (W)
Mar. 6: Valparaiso 77-58 (W)
Mar. 7: Chicago State 85-72 (W)
Mar. 17: Memphis 94-78 (L)

Season in Review: High points--The Tulsa World

By MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer

ORU clinched its first NCAA Tournament berth in 22 years with an 85-72 win over Chicago State in the final of the Mid-Con tournament.

The Eagles also tied for a second straight regular-season Mid-Con crown. Their best nonconference win was a 68-48 drubbing of Southern California of the Pac-10 Conference in the Great Alaska Shootout.

Low points: The Eagles' record plunged below .500 with four straight December road losses. In January, the Eagles played one of their worst games in a 70-65 loss at eighth-place Western Illinois.

Looming question: Can ORU return to the NCAA Tournament next season, after losing Jonathan Bluitt, Larry Owens and Mickey Michalec among six departing seniors?

Caleb Green and Ken Tutt return along with a solid supporting cast and promising redshirts and recruits. Junior guard Adam Liberty is waiting in the wings after sitting out his transfer year from Wichita State.

Notable: Bluitt finished with 509 career assists, second in school history.

Green became the first two-time Mid-Con Player of the Year since Valparaiso's Bryce Drew in 1996-97 and 1997-98. Tutt was MVP of the conference tournament with 63 points in three games.

Owens was the Mid-Con Defensive Player of the Year and an all-conference first-teamer.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Midconfans 3/21/2006

Seeds proving to be merely numbers--The Chicago Sun-Times

'Little guys' worthy, but their fun is likely done--The Daily Southtown

SUU fires Hillock as women's

NCAA appearance should benefit OU--The Detroit Free Press

Grizzlies look back, look ahead--The Oakland Press
By DUSTIN FRUCCI Special to The Oakland Press

ROCHESTER — Ending a season in the NCAA tournament is the goal of every Division I program in the country, and it’s happened twice in the last five years for the Oakland University women’s basketball team.
OU lost to top seed Ohio State, 68-45, in the first round of the NCAA tournament Sunday, but just being there was more than what was expected from a team that finished the regular season 8-8 in the Mid-Continent Conference.
“We turned things around at the end of the season,” junior forward Nicole Piggott said. “Winning the (Mid-Con) tournament was our goal after that. You send your seniors out the right way, you accomplish your goals and you build momentum for next season.”
It was important for OU to build momentum for next season, because the Golden Grizzlies will be without two of the best players in program history.
Graduating senior guards Jayme Wilson and Anne Hafeli were huge reasons why OU ended its season where it did.
“They’ve been great players here,” head coach Beckie Francis said. “They led us with their actions, and they’re always lifting up the players around them. This team is going to miss them.”
Wilson finished her career at OU as the school’s sixthleading scorer with 1,785 points. She is also the school’s second player to garner all-Mid-Con honors in each of her four seasons.
Hafeli has 1,467 career points, eighth on the school’s all-time list. Her performance in the Mid-Con tournament — 20 points and seven rebounds a game — earned her MVP honors.
With the two four-year starters on their way to “bigger and better things,” Francis will look to a group of young players to lead her team.
“We’re going to need some of our younger girls to develop quickly,” Francis said. “Fortunately, I think we have some of those girls in place.”
Three freshmen expected to make contributions are guards Riikka Terava, April Kidd and Jessica Pike. Terava played well at point guard early in the season, and Kidd started all three Mid-Con tournament games, averaging six points a game. Pike is the best outside shooter of the trio and will be looked to for more scoring.
OU also will welcome 5-foot-9 guard Melissa Jeltema out of Grand Rapids Christian. Jeltema played on three City League championship teams and earned honorable-mention all-state accolades in Class A.
Jeltema is the only recruit OU has coming in next year, but Francis thinks she has the ability to contribute right away.
Though OU will be inexperienced on the perimeter, juniors Piggott and Bonnie Baker will return to control the middle. Piggott is a likely preseason all-Mid-Con selection, and Baker is considered OU’s best defender.
According to Francis, how deep OU is in the middle will depend on the development of freshmen Jessica Knurick and Kelly Lyons and sophomore Bethany Jury. All three are at least 6-1 and would bring a much-needed presence to the paint.
For now, OU is going to sit back and let everything that’s happened in the last three weeks sink in.
“We’re going to enjoy what we’ve accomplished this year,” Francis said. “I’m so proud of this team and how they handled everything this year. It’s been really exciting.”

Western adds weekly podcast to lineup--The Macomb Journal

MIKE HUTTON COLUMN: Palm reading doesn’t line up with this year’s NCAA brackets--The Post-Tribune

March 21, 2006

Here is the conspiracy theory that Jerry Palm fears most about the NCAA Selection Committee.

That the pool of people who make the picks are unduly influencing the process instead of abiding by a strict standard of accomplishment.

In general, Palm, who has run out of his Schererville home for 13 years, has been an advocate for the way the NCAA has made selections. The committee members are thorough, they are fair and they are unbending in their principals. Sometimes, they make mistakes. But not very often.

This is the way it has to be when the future of some coaches could hinge on whether their team makes the field of 65.

But Palm believes that the selection committee lost its head this year in ways that are unprecedented. And it doesn’t have anything to do with four teams from the Missouri Valley Conference getting a bid.

Typically, Palm can pick the field of 65 to the number. Occasionally, he’ll have a bubble team or two that he misses on.

In 13 years, he said there have only been two complete whiffs: New Mexico in 1999, which is the lowest RPI team (74) without an automatic bid to make the tournament; and last year, when UAB was selected because the committee deemed that they were a difficult team for which to prepare.

This year, however, Air Force, Utah State and George Mason were handed the kind of gifts that only come along once a decade or so.

They were given at-large bids at the expense of teams such as Missouri State, Cincinnati and Creighton.

The Falcons’ lucky tourney entry came about even though they only beat one NCAA Tournament team, San Diego State.

It certainly didn’t happen because they lost twice to Wyoming, the seventh-place team in the Western Athletic Conference.

“There really isn’t anything good to say about Air Force,” Palm said. “But once they let them in, any team is part of the discussion.”

In Utah State’s case, the committee watched it take Nevada, a No. 5 seed, to overtime in the Western Athletic Conference finals and was impressed enough to give it a No. 12 seed in the Washington D.C. Regional.

Both teams were defeated easily in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by Illinois and Washington, respectively.

Palm’s beef with George Mason came because starting point guard Tony Skinn was suspended for the first game of the tournament after elbowing a Hofstra player in the Patriot League championship game.

Cincinnati, meanwhile, had its bubble burst, according to the committee, partially because starting point guard Armein Kirkland was out with an injury.

Even with the injury, the Bearcats finished 8-8 in the Big East and beat Syracuse down the stretch.

Palm doesn’t know why the lapses happened this year but he does know that all three teams had someone either directly or indirectly connected with those schools on the selection committee.

He wants to believe that this year was just a blip. That the selection committee had a bad day.

Because believing the alternative really isn’t an option.

Contact Mike Hutton at 648-3139 or

Hillock let go at SUU--The Spectrum


Western Sports Network Adds Podcasts to Broadcasting Lineup--Western Illinois Athletics

Monday, March 20, 2006

Midconfans News 3/20/2006

CollegesThe Chicago Sun-Times

OHIO STATE 68, OAKLAND 45: The top-seeded Buckeyes (29-2) went repeatedly to 6-5 Jessica Davenport, who had a double-double in the first half and finished with 19 points and 18 rebounds -- a school record for boards in an NCAA tournament game.

NCAA Women's Tournament Roundup--The Daily Southtown

Ohio State 68, Oakland 45

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Jessica Davenport, the Big Ten Conference's Player of the Year, had a double-double in the first half and finished with 19 points and 18 rebounds as the top-seeded Buckeyes (29-2) beat Oakland (15-16).

Senior Hafeli concludes her career in fine style--The Detroit Free Press

Ohio State brings Oakland back down to earth--The Detroit Free Press

For most fans, NCAAs are still about big schools

Powerful Buckeyes too much for Grizzlies--The Oakland Press

OU seniors go out on a high--The Oakland Press

PALACE NOTEBOOK--The Oakland Press
Time to stash OU’s special floor
By KEITH DUNLAP and BILL ROOSE Of The Oakland Press

AUBURN HILLS — If you watched the NCAA tournament games at The Palace in person or on TV, it was hard to miss.
The gigantic advertisement for Oakland University that covered nearly the entire court was well worth the expense, school officials say.
Unfortunately, the beautiful floor, which was specifically made and brought to The Palace for the six NCAA games, might be headed back to its maker, Horner Floor, in the Upper Peninsula.
OU senior associate athletic director Tracy Huth said the school received special permission from the NCAA for the floor’s design, which included a mammoth “Oakland University” written in cursive.
“People have seen it, they like it,” Huth said. “We’ve got the games against Michigan State here in a few years. We’re hoping that a couple, two, three years, down the road, we can expand our building and have a practice facility. That would be a natural place to store it, but right now, we have a storage issue.”
Beginning next season, the Grizzlies enter a five-year contract to play the Spartans. The Grizzlies’ two home games will be played at The Palace during the 2008-09 and 2010-11 seasons. If the school can find suitable storage, it will keep the floor and use it for the OU-MSU games in Auburn Hills.
“We had originally agreed to allow (Horner Floor) to broker the floor; they could find somebody else that wanted to buy it,” Huth said.
An immediate issue surrounding the floor called for its removal from The Palace so that the Pistons’ floor can be re-installed prior to tonight’s NBA game against Atlanta.
Following Sunday’s last game, the floor — which cost OU an estimated $85,000 — was loaded into a semi-tractor trailer and awaited its fate.
“The floor has been beneficial from the standpoint of the calls that I’ve gotten from the administrators on campus, that have said, ‘We couldn’t ask for anything more,’ ” Huth said. “It certainly has generated some exposure for us.”
Home of the Braves
It’s been 12 years since Bradley did away with its Indian mascot and all Native American references to its athletic department.
Despite those changes, the NCAA cited Bradley and 17 other schools for nicknames that the association deems “hostile and abusive.”
Last year, the NCAA ruled that schools with insensitive Native American nicknames or mascots are prohibited from using these mascots and logos at NCAA-sponsored events.
Next month, Bradley officials hope to get a reprieve from the NCAA Management Council, which is scheduled to hear the Braves’ final appeal.
Bradley was the only school at The Palace this weekend without a mascot.
Gansey cramps up
West Virginia senior and second-leading scorer Mike Gansey entered this weekend’s games worried about an abdominal strain that he suffered in a Big East tournament loss to Pittsburgh last week.
On Sunday, that was the least of his health concerns.
With 7:26 left to play and his team ahead 53-40, both of Gansey’s calves cramped up on a missed layup attempt. Northwestern State was then 5-on-4 the other way and took advantage when Clifton Lee hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 53-43 with 7:18 remaining.
Gansey had to leave the game to get massaged and returned shortly thereafter, but had to leave the game again with cramps with just over four minutes remaining.
He didn’t return, but the Mountaineers managed to hang on without him.
“For us to win the game while I had cramps, that’s a credit to my teammates,” Gansey said.
Sunday crowd
Even though Kansas and Iowa fans returned second-round tickets to The Palace following their teams’ first-round exits on Friday, Sunday’s games (one session) drew 19,689 fans.

Ohio State 68, Oakland 45--The Indy Star

Ohio State was too big, too strong and too athletic for 16th-seeded Oakland at Mackey Arena.
The top-seeded Buckeyes (29-2) took advantage of a huge size disparity inside, going repeatedly to 6-5 Jessica Davenport and 6-1 Debbie Merrill as they rolled in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Davenport, the Big Ten Conference's Player of the Year, had a double-double in the first half and finished with 19 points and 18 rebounds -- a school record for boards in an NCAA Tournament game. Merrill had 23 points, four rebounds and four assists.
They combined to hit 20-of-29 shots while the rest of the Buckeyes were 12-of-40.
Oakland (15-16), the Mid-Continent Conference champion, was led by Nicole Piggott with 14 points and eight rebounds. It was the Golden Grizzlies' second NCAA Tournament appearance.

Oakland Falls 68-45 to Ohio State in NCAA First

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Midconfans 3/19/2006

Odds are stacked against Grizzlies--The Detroit News

OU's Marshall gets a shot at starting for Mavs--The Oakland Press

OU doesn’t fear the Buckeyes--The Oakland Press
By PAULA PASCHE Of The Oakland Press

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Ohio State may be on a 19-game winning streak, but the Oakland University women’s basketball team does not concern itself with such a statistic.
The Golden Grizzlies are brimming with confidence as they prepare to play the Buckeyes in the first round of the NCAA tournament tonight at Purdue’s Mackey Arena.
It was less than two weeks ago that Oakland, a No. 6 seed, beat the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 seeds to win the Mid-Continent championship and gain a ticket to the Big Dance.
It does not matter much to the Grizzlies that they are a No. 16 seed tonight, facing No. 1 seed Ohio State.
“Obviously, we’re coming in with no pressure, we’re not the favored team by any means. I don’t think we look at our seed at all,’’ forward Nicole Piggott said Saturday. “We don’t look at it as we’re not as good as them because we’re seeded 16th and they’re No. 1. We all play the same game. It’s just who’s playing better on that day.’’
Along with the top seed and the win streak, Ohio State will have a size advantage, and it starts with 6-foot-5 All-America center Jessica Davenport.
Piggott, who is 5-11, is the tallest starter for the Grizzlies.
Again, they do not seem intimidated by the prospect of shutting down Davenport, who averages 18.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
The Grizzlies won the conference title over Western Illinois and 6-foot-7 Zane Teilane.
“We’ve gone against 6-4, 6-5 centers all year. We’re just going to do what we do and not change anything,’’ Oakland coach Beckie Francis said.
“We worry about what we’re going to do and let them adjust to us. Maybe (Ohio State coach Jim Foster) will yank out one of his taller players and go smaller because he can’t match up. We’re not going to change anything we do.”
The Grizzlies pride themselves on defense. If a team features a tall center, they don’t concede the game.
“We do have a lot of experience playing against taller girls. We help each other out a lot,’’ Piggott said. “I think we have good, solid defense. As far as changing anything, we’re going to come in and do what we’ve done all year. It seems to be working fine.”
Foster has done his homework on the Grizzlies.
“They play very well together. I think they’re a very patient team on offense,’’ Foster said. “They beat some very, very good basketball teams down the stretch to win their league. Obviously, they’re playing their best basketball at the right time of the year.”
He has his team in the right frame of mind, too.
“Just make sure you keep your focus, because it’s one (loss) and done,’’ Davenport said.
The Oakland women have been working with a sports psychologist since the holidays. Before they left campus, the psychologist had a talk with the team. His message was that they must believe they can win on any given day.
Apparently, he got his message across.
“It doesn’t matter who it is. Obviously, they’re a great team. Any team we play would be a great team,’’ senior guard Jayme Wilson said. “So we’re going to look at it as another game and do what we need to do to win.’’
The Oakland Press/JOSE JUAREZ

Francis cheered on by old coach--The Oakland Press
By PAULA PASCHE Of The Oakland Press

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Beckie Francis had quite a cheering section during Saturday’s light practice at Purdue’s Mackey Arena.
Sitting between her mom and her husband (Oakland University president Dr. Gary D. Russi) was Francis’ high school basketball coach, Joyce Rockefeller, from Germantown, N.Y.
Francis is 6-0 with Rockefeller in attendance at two previous Mid-Continent tournaments.
This is Francis’ second NCAA tournament appearance as OU’s coach, but a first for Rockefeller, affectionately called “Rocky” by Francis.
Nerves will not be an issue tonight for Rockefeller.
“No, I’m not nervous. They’ve worked hard to get here, and I know they’re going to make a good showing,’’ Rockefeller said.
She said when she told her grandson about the early round upsets in the men’s NCAA tournament Friday, he had something to say about that.
“Nan, there’s going to be a much bigger upset on Sunday night,’’ he told her.
A No. 16 seed has never topped a No. 1 seed in either tournament.
They meet again
Ohio State coach Jim Foster and Francis are big fans of each other.
This is not their first meeting. When Francis took the 2002 Oakland women’s team to the NCAA tournament for the first time, the Grizzlies played Vanderbilt — which was coached Foster.
“I think Beckie is a terrific coach. I think her team is playing very, very hard, they play unselfish,’’ Foster said.
Francis shared similar words.
“(The Buckeyes are) very patient, they’re very well coached. I think they’re going to run the same stuff, but he might throw us a curveball,’’ she said.
Mackey experience
Playing at Purdue’s Mackey Arena is nothing new for the Buckeyes, but it has not always been a positive experience.
Ohio State’s last loss — by two points to the Boilermakers — came here on Jan. 1. Since then, the Buckeyes have won 19 straight. They beat Purdue to win the Big Ten tournament championship in Indianapolis.
Oakland does not play in Big Ten-size arenas often, but the Golden Grizzlies don’t seem intimidated by the thought.
“It just adds to the excitement of the experience,” Oakland senior guard Jayme Wilson said. “We know it’s going to be a challenge. We’re just going to try to stick to what we do and give them a game.’’
Kampe makes the trip
Greg Kampe, Oakland’s interim athletic director and men’s basketball coach, made the trip here with the women’s team.
He spent Thursday and Friday at The Palace, where Oakland is the host of the NCAA regional. He said he’s gotten a lot of positive feedback on the new floor that was installed at The Palace for the weekend. At center court, “Oakland University” is painted so large that it’s hard to miss.
With two upset games at The Palace on Friday, the floor got plenty of television time.

Drew rebuilding Baylor's program--The NWI Times

Wins could have helped--The Tulsa World

By MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer

More victories may have meant a higher seed for the Eagles.

One way the Oral Roberts basketball team might have dealt with top-seeded Memphis is not to play the Tigers.

The Golden Eagles played well in their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 22 years, but the Tigers played better Friday and rolled to a 94-78 first-round win.

Afterward, head coach Scott Sutton gently reminded his players what an extra regular-season win or two might have meant.

"Those games in November and December, and even when you get into the conference season, mean more than trying to win a conference title. When you get to this point, it can really help your seeding," Sutton said Saturday by cell phone as the Eagles traveled home from Dallas.

"Take away one of our losses, or probably any of them, and give us a win, I almost assure you we wouldn't have been a 16 seed. There's a chance we could have been a 13 or a 14, and as we saw (Friday), it would have been a lot easier to beat a third- or fourth-seed than one of the nation's top teams."

ORU had chances to win both Utah State games and had one of its worst outings in a loss at Western Illinois, the Mid-Continent Conference's eighth-place team.

"Hopefully we'll get back in this same position next year and we'll have a better seed," Sutton said.

He expects the Eagles to be good again, even though they played their last game with seniors Larry Owens, Jonathan Bluitt, Mickey Michalec, Chris Riouse, Eric Fowlkes and Andrew Meloy.

ORU has a solid returning nucleus with Caleb Green and Ken Tutt back for another year, and Sutton is encouraged by the team's recruiting. The Eagles signed three players in November and will probably add two more this spring.

Perhaps the most promising newcomer is already on campus. Adam Liberty sat out the 2005-06 season after transferring from Wichita State. The 6-foot-2 junior will take over at point guard for Bluitt, who finished as the second-leading assist man in school history.

"I think (Liberty) will be a different kind of point guard. He's a kid who could have really helped us in that (Memphis) game because he is similar to the type of athlete Memphis throws out there. I like the way he plays." Sutton said.

"With Caleb and Ken, you have a chance to win a bunch of games right there. I think Moses Ehambe is going to elevate his game in the offseason and Yemi Ogunoye is going to continue to improve. I was really pleased with how (Marchello Vealy) played for being a freshman. I thought he really battled (in Friday's game). I think Marchello would have to play a big role for us next year."

Owens will probably be the hardest senior to replace because he is 6-7, athletic and versatile. Much of what he did for the Eagles couldn't be measured statistically, although Owens ranked among the Mid-Con leaders in several categories.

"It's like when we lost (Luke Spencer-Gardner) from last year's team. We couldn't replace the toughness he brought to the team, but we got better in other areas. Larry stepped up his game and our bench got better. Larry will be hard to replace, so we'll have to get better in other areas."

Shawn King, a 6-10 shot-blocking center, arrives from Carl Albert State College to replace the 6-10 Michalec. Sutton said 6-4 freshman Jeremy Hazell, from the Bronx, N.Y., has athletic ability similar to Owens, although he is not as big, and is probably a better offensive threat. The Eagles also signed high-scoring Muskogee High guard Dominic Gaines. All three could contribute next season.

The Eagles will have the same advantage next March that they had the last two, with the Mid-Con Tournament being played in Tulsa the next two years.

Sutton wants his players to remember the experience of playing in the NCAA Tournament. "I think it will motivate them to work harder because once you get a taste of it, you want to get back every year."

Mike Brown 581-8390

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Midconfans News 3/18/2006

--The Chicago Sun-Times

NCAA Tournament Roundup--The Daily Southtown

Memphis 94, Oral Roberts 78

DALLAS — Conference USA player of the year Rodney Carney had 19 points and Andre Allen matched his season high with 11 — all in a late first-half spurt that put Memphis ahead to stay.

Even though Memphis (31-3) entered the NCAA tournament as the only team other than Duke with 30 wins, some thought the Tigers might be the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed.

Then, the Tigers were down 33-29 late in the first half and really did seem vulnerable.

But with their 3-point shooting and balanced scoring — five players in double figures — the Tigers had plenty to withstand Oral Roberts (21-12) in their first game as a top seed. Memphis tied a school record for wins, matching the 1984-85 team that went to the Final Four.

The Tigers play Bucknell in the second round of the Oakland Regional on Sunday.

OAKLAND REGIONAL--The Detroit Free Press

Memphis 94, Oral Roberts 78: Conference USA player of the year Rodney Carney had 19 points and Andre Allen matched his season high with 11 -- all in a late first-half spurt that put Memphis (31-3) ahead to stay.

The Tigers' youth showed early as they trailed, 33-29, late in the first half.

The Tigers fought back with strong three-point shooting, finishing with 11 triples. The Tigers shot 60% from the field (37 of 61).

Caleb Green had 19 points for Mid-Continent Conference champion Oral Roberts (21-12).

NCAA WOMEN: OU goal: Return to the dance--The Detroit News

Memphis' Allen surprises Oral Roberts--The Detroit Free Press

AT THE PALACE--The Oakland Press

Whoa - how did OU pull that one off?

It stretches nearly from 3-point line to 3-point line and the letters, in cursive writing, are huge. It reads "Oakland University,² and it is dominating the television screen during these games at The Palace.

Oakland built a special floor for this weekend and may move it to its own arena following this event. The "Oakland University" on the fl oor is a huge billboard for OU, which is the official host of the Auburn Hills regional. It was approved by the NCAA.

"It's worked out great," OU senior associate athletic director Tracy Huth said. "The Pistons' fl oor had a lot of things on it and would have been difficult to cover. So we built the new floor."

This event could provide the school with a nice payday. Oakland could clear as much as six figures. The Palace gets 10 percent of the revenue as a rental fee. Oakland could get as much as 10 percent of the revenue. When it's held at a campus venue, the school gets 20 percent of the revenue.

But it's notoriety OU was seeking the most. The court provides that.

"After making the tournament last year, it gives us another splash at a time of the year when the attention is the most on college basketball," Huth said.


Memphis 94, Oral Roberts 78: Conference USA player of the year Rodney Carney had 19 points and Andre Allen matched his season high with 11 -- all in a late first-half spurt that put Memphis ahead to stay.

Even though Memphis (31-3) entered the NCAA tournament as the only team other than Duke with 30 wins, some thought the Tigers might be the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed.

Then, the Tigers were down 33-29 late in the first half and really did seem vulnerable.

But with their 3-point shooting and balanced scoring -- five players in double figures -- the Tigers had plenty to withstand Oral Roberts (21-12) in their first game as a top seed. Memphis tied a school record for wins, matching the 1984-85 team that went to the Final Four.

The Tigers play Bucknell in the second round of the Oakland Regional on Sunday.

Tigers roll by ORU--The Tulsa World

By MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer

The Eagles lead by as much as four in the first, but are down by 12 before halftime.
DALLAS -- Like Moses from afar, Oral Roberts University glimpsed the basketball promised land Friday but couldn't enter.

A tribe of giants called the Memphis Tigers blocked their path.

In a scenario the Golden Eagles feared most, the regional top-seeded Tigers played like the national-title contenders they seem to be. They answered ORU's best offensive spurt with a furious counter-blast and rolled to a 94-78 first-round NCAA Tournament win over the 16th-seeded Eagles at the American Airlines Center.

The Tigers (31-3) advance to play ninth-seeded Bucknell on Sunday for a Sweet Sixteen berth. The Bison beat eighth-seeded Arkansas 59-55.

ORU, making its first NCAA appearance in 22 years, ended the season at 21-12.

Memphis used only two men under 6-foot-5, but the smallest played a huge role.

Andre Allen, a 5-foot-10 sophomore who made only 15 3-pointers all season, made three in a 77-second span of the first half. He ignited a 20-2 spurt that turned ORU's 33-29 lead into a 49-35 Memphis advantage. The Tigers led by 12 at halftime and by double digits for most of the final 20 minutes.

"I thought we did enough to give ourselves a chance to win, but (Memphis was) too good," said ORU coach Scott Sutton. "For us to win, we needed a little help from them, and we didn't get it."

The Eagles shot 52.8 percent, best against Memphis all season. But the Tigers shot their season best of 60.7 percent (second best by an Eagle foe). The Tigers used their overpowering size and athletic ability to create the turnovers and easy baskets that made it a comfortable win.

"I don't know if (ORU) shoot(s) that good or we were that bad defensively," said Memphis coach John Calipari. "They just shot 52 percent on us, and (46.7) from the 3-point line. We usually hold people to 37 and 30."

The Tigers led Conference USA in shooting defense this year. And no, they weren't that bad against the Eagles.

They surrounded ORU's Caleb Green with huge bodies and made the two-time Mid-Continent Conference Player of the Year work for every one of his 19 points, which tied Memphis' Rodney Carney for game-high honors.

Forced to shoot more jump shots than normal from outside of five feet, Green made 6-of-14 from the field and 7-of-7 foul shots. When he received the ball in the blocks, he was usually in heavy traffic and had to throw it back out to the perimeter.

It didn't get any better for Green when Memphis subbed 6-11 Kareem Cooper and 6-9 Robert Dozier for 6-9 starters Joey Dorsey and Shawne Williams.

Dozier and Cooper combined for 15 points and 13 rebounds off the bench.

Memphis' size also prevailed on the perimeter, where 6-6 Antonio Anderson, 6-6 Chris Douglas-Roberts, 6-2 Darius Washington and 6-7 Carney always seemed to be flying in the face of ORU's 6-1 Ken Tutt and 6-2 Chris Riouse.

"It was hard for me to get my initial shot off," said Tutt, MVP of the Mid-Con Tournament. "They were a tall team, and everybody out there had long arms."

Tutt and Riouse attempted only nine 3-pointers between them, hitting two each, while senior guard Jonathan Bluitt made 3-of-4.

"I had limited opportunities after my first two shots," Riouse said. "I really couldn't get a good look, except in transition. We knocked down a few of them, but we didn't have enough to pull it off."

Considering how Memphis played, the Eagles would have had to be perfect. They were far from that. Sutton said the Eagles were adequate in avoiding turnovers and keeping the Tigers off the glass, two areas he considered key.

But every turnover and offensive rebound seemed to turn into Memphis points.

Said Sutton: "If you had told me before the game we would only give up 12 offensive rebounds and only turn the ball over 13 times, I would have taken that in a heartbeat. So we did some good things. But they were awfully good tonight."

Memphis opened with an 18-6 blitz, but treys by Bluitt, Tutt and Riouse's two sparked a 27-11 run that carried the Eagles to 33-29 lead. Senior forward Larry Owens capped the surge by blocking a shot at one end and racing to the other end to gather Tutt's alley-oop pass one-handed and score off the glass in the same motion.

Then Allen turned the game around, scoring 11 of Memphis' next 20 points on a layup and three treys.

The first of his 3-pointers erased ORU's last lead at 35-34. The Eagles sagged off and he hesitated before draining a shot from the left wing.

Mike Brown 581-8390

Memphis 94, ORU 78
Oral Roberts (21-12 )

FG 3pt FT O T F Pt A T B S M
Tutt,f 4-11 2-5 1-2 0 0 2 11 4 1 0 0 34
Owens,f 5-7 0-1 3-5 2 11 3 13 1 2 0 1 35
Green,f 6-14 0-0 7-7 2 4 3 19 3 1 1 1 31
Michalec,c 3-6 0-0 1-2 1 4 2 7 0 2 1 0 20
Bluitt,g 3-4 3-4 2-2 0 0 3 11 1 4 0 0 30
Riouse 4-6 2-4 0-0 0 1 0 10 1 0 0 0 16
Ogunoye 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 12
Vealy 2-3 0-1 1-2 1 3 2 5 2 1 1 1 15
Fowlkes 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 2 2 1 2 0 0 7
TEAM 1 1
Totals 28-53 7-15 15-20 7 24 17 78 14 13 4 4

FG% 1H: 15-27 55.6% 2H: 13-26 50% Game: 52.8%
3Pt% 1H: 4-8 50% 2H: 3-7 42.9% Game: 46.7%
FT% 1H: 5-7 71.4% 2H: 10-13 76.9% Game: 75%

Memphis (31-3 )

FG 3pt FT O T F Pt A T B S M
Williams,f 6-9 2-4 0-0 0 1 4 14 3 2 1 1 21
Carney,f 7-14 3-8 2-5 2 5 2 19 0 1 0 1 29
Dorsey,f 2-6 0-0 1-2 1 4 5 5 2 1 0 1 20
Anderson,g 4-4 2-2 0-0 0 3 1 10 2 2 0 1 26
Washingtn,g 5-7 1-3 3-4 0 2 3 14 6 3 0 3 29
Williams 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
Dozier 4-7 0-0 1-2 4 8 2 9 0 1 1 0 21
D-Roberts 2-2 0-0 2-2 1 2 1 6 1 1 0 0 17
Allen 4-6 3-5 0-1 1 1 0 11 2 2 0 2 19
Cooper 3-6 0-0 0-0 2 5 3 6 0 0 0 1 15
TEAM 1 2
Totals 37-61 11-22 9-16 12 33 21 94 16 13 2 10

FG% 1H: 19-32 59.4% 2H: 18-29 62.1% Game: 60.7%
3Pt% 1H: 8-13 61.5% 2H: 3-9 33.3% Game: 50%
FT% 1H: 5-11 45.5% 2H: 4-5 80% Game: 56.3%

Memphis 51 43 -- 94
Oral Roberts 39 39 -- 78

Technicals: None.
Attendance: 19,028

LEGEND: Rebounds (Offensive; Total); Fouls; Assists; Turnovers; Blocks; Steals; Minutes played.

Quote of the Day

"I really liked our balance. We played eight or nine guys a lot of minutes and they all performed. I just keep talking about, 'Be ready for your opportunity because there's a star born in every one of these games.' Today, it seemed to be Andre Allen." -- Memphis head coach John Calipari.
Player of the Game

Memphis guard Andre Allen tied a career high with 11 first-half points, all in a 20-2 run that turned the game around. He had a layup and three treys. His first 3-pointer erased ORU's last lead and followed with treys on two of the next four possessions.
Play of the Game

ORU's Larry Owens blocked a shot and raced to the other end to gather Ken Tutt's alley-oop pass one-handed and score off the glass, all in the same motion.
Up next

ORU said goodbye to Larry Owens, Jonathan Bluitt, Mickey Michalec and three other seniors, but returns junior standouts Caleb Green and Ken Tutt for another season. The Eagles ended their season with a second straight Mid-Con regular-season title and the school's first NCAA Tournament appearance in 22 years.

Tigers proved they deserved the top seeding--The Tulsa World

By JOHN KLEIN Senior Sports Columnist

DALLAS -- Expect a Miracle, the slogan of Oral Roberts basketball, is a lot different than seeing one.

The Golden Eagles, an NCAA Tournament wait of 22 years finally over, needed some divine intervention against top-seeded Memphis.

But there would be no upset of biblical proportions.

Reality was far more powerful than spiritual hope on Friday at the American Airlines Center.

The return of Oral Roberts to the NCAA Tournament was short-lived, a victim of the pure athleticism of Memphis.

"We haven't played a team like that in my seven years at ORU," said Oral Rob erts coach Scott Sutton.

The Tigers, tired of hearing how they will be the first No. 1 seed ousted in the first round of the tournament, made sure they would live to play again on Sunday.

Memphis peppered the Golden Eagles with a variety of styles, pounding it inside, knocking down 3s and getting out for easy transition baskets, as ORU was eliminated, 94-78.

The Golden Eagles played better than their No. 16 seed, pushing the heavily favored Tigers for about the first 30 minutes. Caleb Green may have gained enough in this game to put his name on some preseason All-America lists next fall.

But when Memphis plays to its potential, as it did against ORU, the Tigers are a powerful and overwhelming team.

"We played awfully well for about a 10-minute period in the middle of the first half," said Sutton. "Then, we got the lead and kind of collapsed."

Memphis lived up to its billing, playing as it did early in the season against a difficult nonconference schedule.

That's more than enough to beat most teams, Oral Roberts included.

"When they play as well as they did in this game, we don't have a chance to beat them," said Sutton. "We needed them to have an off night. From what I've seen, they played one of the best games they played all year.

"We did what we needed to do in this game. We shot the ball awfully well. We only had 13 turnovers and only gave up 12 offensive rebounds. But they were awfully good in this game."

Yes, Memphis was good enough in this game to have the analysts rethinking their appraisal of the Tigers. Memphis shot 60 percent, including 50 percent of its 22 3-pointers.

"I think we played with a chip on our shoulder," said Memphis' Antonio Anderson, one of five Tigers in double figures. "We do feel like we've got something to prove."

Still, ORU led for a good portion of the first half, after erasing an early 12-point deficit. Green's two free throws with about four minutes gave the Eagles their last lead at 35-34.

ORU would never get close enough to make it a serious threat. The Tigers hit a barrage of 3s, four in the final four minutes of the first half and their first two 3-pointers of the second half.

That made it a 14-point lead and Oral Roberts kept chipping away but could get no closer than eight the rest of the way.

"I'm not sure either team was happy with their defense," said Memphis coach John Calipari. "It made for some exciting basketball."

It was just the third NCAA Tournament appearance for the south Tulsa school.

However, it signaled the return of ORU to the national stage. The Golden Eagles were a national power, built around high-scoring, high-flying teams in the 1970s.

The two best players on the Oral Roberts team, forward Caleb Green and guard Ken Tutt, will be back for their senior years next season.

If ORU can find some new complementary players, the Golden Eagles should be even better next year.

"They are going to have a good squad next year," said ORU senior Larry Owens. "They are going to be real deep, and they have a good chance to come back here next year."

Given how well ORU has played for much of the past two years, the quick ouster was not welcomed.

Even though a No. 1 seed had never lost to the No. 16 team, many had given some hope that ORU might be able to pull off a stunner.

The theory was that ORU was much better than a 16 seed and Memphis was the weakest of the No. 1 seeds.

That's not the way the game played out. ORU did play above its seed, but Memphis played to its billing.

"I wasn't surprised how tough it was," said Memphis star Rodney Carney. "It is a tournament game. There's going to be a lot of intensity for both teams. This wasn't going to be a blowout."

The Tigers, who had not played well down the stretch of the Conference USA season, took the cynicism of national analysts to heart. They reverted to the earlier season form that had earned them a spot in the top five of the national polls.

What Tulsa saw in an 84-61 loss at the Reynolds Center is what Oral Roberts saw in this game.

Memphis in full flight is a thing of beauty, capable of reaching the top of this tournament.

"Memphis is a great team," said Sutton. "If they continue to shoot the ball like that, then it will not surprise me if they win the national championship."

John Klein 581-8368

Backups' 3-pointers deflate Golden Eagles--The Tulsa World

By BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer

Allen drained three treys in a 77-second span of the first half.
DALLAS -- During his last 16 games before the start of the NCAA Tournament, Memphis backup guard Andre Allen had a combined total of three 3-point field goals.

During a 77-second span of Friday's first half, the 5-foot-10 Allen connected on three 3-pointers. His improbable slew of big shots highlighted a 20-2 Tiger run, and top-seeded Memphis went on to beat Oral Roberts 94-78 in an Oakland Regional first-round game.

With 5:37 remaining in the first half, a Larry Owens layup gave the 16th-seeded Golden Eagles a four-point advantage (33-29). After Allen's three treys energized the Tigers, Chris Douglas-Roberts scored to give Memphis a 14-point cushion (49-35) with 1:16 left in the half.

"I was cheering my butt off on the bench," said Tiger forward Rodney Carney, who led his team with 19 points.

Allen's shooting deflated the Golden Eagles, who had rallied from an early 12-point deficit.

"We fought back and then took that lead, and then kind of collapsed (during) the last five minutes of the first half," ORU coach Scott Sutton said.

A homegrown player from Memphis' Booker T. Washington High School, Allen entered with a scoring average of 3.9 points. Against ORU, he totaled 11 points in 19 minutes.

"You're talking about a kid that has great confidence in his ability, and is a hard-nosed, mentally tough kid," Memphis coach John Calipari said.

Said Golden Eagle guard Ken Tutt: "(Allen) didn't shoot that many 3s this year, but tonight he stepped up. He's a good player, and he stepped up and hit the shots. We didn't adjust early enough to him."

Quality depth is what separates No. 1-seeded teams from most of the rest of the NCAA Tournament field. Memphis reserves Robert Dozier, Douglas-Roberts, Allen and Kareem Cooper finished with a combined total of 32 points on 13-of-21 shooting from the field.

Memphis shot 61 percent from the field overall and 50 percent on 3-pointers. The Tigers, 31-3 and champions of Conference USA, advance to Sunday's second-round contest with Bucknell.

"If (the Tigers) continue to shoot the ball like they did, it wouldn't shock me one bit if they won the national championship," Sutton said. "We haven't played a team like that maybe in the seven years that I've been at ORU. Every kid they bring off the bench can play. They're athletic, they're quick, they're strong."

Recounting Allen's first-half heroics, Sutton said, "We were really concentrating on trying to keep the ball out of the middle of our defense. So, we played off of (Allen) a little bit, and he hits his first one. We take a step up, close the gap a little bit, and he hits his second one. We go from (a four-point lead) to being down 14 points in a matter of minutes."

Bill Haisten 581-8397

ORU Notebook: Memphis had intensity--The Tulsa World

By MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer

Experts across the country wondered if top-seeded Memphis would take 16th-seeded Oral Roberts lightly.

Senior Rodney Carney said it helped the Tigers to watch Thursday's games on television, hinting they might have been more nonchalant about their first-round challenge if they had played on the first day instead of the second.

"We saw the intensity, how certain people play and react to situations," Carney said. "We saw the upsets and knew teams were going to come out there and give it their all, and I think having an extra day to watch prepared us better for what we had to go through."

Doubly impressed: ORU coach Scott Sutton liked how the Golden Eagles played Friday -- and the Tigers.

"I'm proud of my guys. I think we competed against, obviously, one of the best teams in the country. I was so impressed with Memphis. If they continue to shoot the ball the way they did today (37-of-61, 60.7 percent) I wouldn't be shocked if they win the national title."

Tough stretch: The Eagles still had a chance, trailing 70-59 with 10:38 left, but Memphis made 10 of its next 12 shots, boosting the lead to 90-73 with 4:30 left. Most of the Tigers' baskets in that stretch came from Memphis guards driving to the foul line and dumping the ball to open men underneath.

"We did a poor job of letting them drive the middle and then we didn't rotate down and take that pass away," Sutton said. "They got so many easy baskets there late. We had to go to a halfcourt trap and try to change up the game and create some turnovers, but they were bigger than our guards and we couldn't trap them. They'd get the ball to the middle of the floor and go and create and get easy baskets."

Big finish: ORU senior forward Larry Owens ended his collegiate career with 13 points and 11 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season. With his 11 boards, he became the 20th player in school history with 500 career rebounds.

Traffic scare: Cason and Marge Carter, son and mother of ORU athletic director Mike Carter, escaped serious injury in a one-car crash while driving through Durant on the way to the game Friday morning.

Cason Carter, driving his grandmother's Honda Civic, hit a center median after swerving to avoid a spare tire lying in the road that had fallen off another vehicle, Mike Carter said. They were taken for X-rays in Durant and released.

They stayed in Durant, about 90 minutes north of Dallas, to watch the game on television, Mike Carter said.

Tough cats: ORU is now 2-5 against Memphis all-time -- 0-2 in NCAA Tournament action. The Tigers ended the school's previous NCAA trip with a 92-83 win in 1984.

Big assignment: ORU women's radio voice Geoff Haxton said Friday's game was easily the biggest of his young broadcasting career. Haxton subbed for men's ORU broadcaster Mark Neely, who had an ESPN television assignment.

"It's not even close. This time last year, I was covering schools that had class sizes of 20," Haxton said.

He worked previously for KCRC am1390 in Enid, covering area high school football, basketball and baseball.

Encouraging signs: ORU assistant Corey Williams said more recruiting doors are opening as a result of the Golden Eagles' first NCAA appearance in 22 years. The Eagles have two scholarships remaining for 2006-07. They have already signed 6-foot-10 center Shawn King of Carl Albert State College, 6-foot-2 guard Dominique Gaines of Muskogee High School and 6-foot-4 forward Jeremy Hazell of the Bronx, N.Y.

Mike Brown 581-8390

Andre the giant--The Commercial Appeal

Just like namesake, Allen fires clutch shots to lift his teammates--The Commercial Appeal

Dorsey paints work of art--The Commercial Appeal

Grumpy old man--The Commercial Appeal

Tigers replay--The Commercial Appeal

Memphis pulls away from Oral Roberts--The Dallas Morning News

#16 Oral Roberts falls to #1 Memphis in the first round of the NCAA

Golden Eagles Ousted by Memphis in NCAA First Round, 94-78--Oral Roberts University Golden Eagles

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Midconfans News 3/16/2006

Packer won't back off tournament criticism--The Chicago Tribune/span>

WOMEN'S NIT--The Daily Southtown

Illinois 58, Western Illinois 37

CHAMPAIGN — Danyel Crutcher scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Illinois to a rout of Western Illinois in the preliminary round.

Illinois (16-14) held the Mid-Continent Conference regular-season champions to 28 percent field goal shooting and dominated the Westerwinds on the boards, 48-32. The Illini's physical play in the paint bothered Mid-Continent Player of the Year Zane Teilane, who was 4-of-17 from the field.

Western Illinois (23-7) struggled to find its offense in the first 20 minutes, scoring just 12 points. That tied an Assembly Hall record for fewest points in a half by an Illinois opponent.

Senior guard Janelle Hughes (Hillcrest) added 14 points and five steals for the Illini. Crutcher's double-double was her third this season and the fifth of the sophomore's career.

Freshman guard Sarah Miller led the Westerwinds with 12 points. Teilane scored 10 points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.

Illinois will visit Marquette in the first round on Friday night.


Southern Utah

GAINEY SIGNS DOWN UNDER: Tim Gainey, a two-year letterman on the SUU men's basketball team, has signed a contract with an Australian professional team. Gainey, who led the Thunderbirds in scoring during the 2004-05 season, has committed to play for the Warrnambool Seahawks of the Australian Basketball Association.

OAKLAND WOMEN: OU over Ivy League good pick for guard--The Detroit Free Press

Madness@Work--The Detroit News

OU’s Francis makes it back--The Oakland Press
By PAULA PASCHE Of The Oakland Press

AUBURN HILLS — In the little upstate burg of Germantown, N.Y., Beckie Francis played high school basketball and whatever other sport she could fit in.
The experience made her the coach she is today because of one special person — her coach Joyce Rockefeller.
“She influenced me to be a positive coach. She never yelled at me. She coached me in a number of different sports and was always enthusiastic positive, encouraging, never yelled, always believed in me,’’ the Oakland University women’s basketball coach said.
Francis has adopted Rockefeller’s positive style, and with it, she has found success. Her Golden Grizzlies earned a berth in the NCAA tournament by winning the Mid-Continent Conference championship last week.
As a No. 16 seed, they will face No. 1 seed Ohio State in the Albuquerque regional Sunday at West Lafayette, Ind.
“I’m not a yeller, I’m an encourager,” Francis said. “I cringe when I see people yelling at players. I think women and men are different. … I will get into people’s faces, I will motivate. I have a master’s in counseling.
“I try to assess each player, and everybody is motivated differently. I try to use that. Some people need love, some people need tough love, but everything is positive.’’
That positive vibe has crept into the soul of her squad.
The team was positive it could make noise in the conference tournament. It did not matter if it was the No. 6 seed. They believed.
While watching the first game, Greg Kampe, OU’s interim athletic director and men’s coach, could sense it.
“It was very obvious in the first-round game that this team had come together at the right time, which, as a coach, you try so hard to do. … The seniors knew there was a sense of urgency, and they had bought into what Beckie wanted,’’ Kampe said.
Francis is back coaching at Oakland this season after quitting in 2002, shortly after the Golden Grizzlies’ last NCAA tournament apperance. The 1987 graduate of Colgate had coached for five years.
It was a stress-induced health issue that led to her resignation. During that time, she missed coaching so much that it was tough for her to watch any OU basketball game, men’s or women’s.
When coach Eileen Hilliard resigned in August, Francis discussed it with her two doctors, her pastors, her therapist and also her husband, Dr. Gary D. Russi, who happens to be the president of Oakland University.
“We all came to the conclusion that coaching wasn’t what made me sick. It was my fears, it was dealing with some issues I had never dealt with. In therapy and in prayer and things like that, I really dealt with some of those things,’’ Francis said.
“Now I’m more comfortable in my skin. I have more confidence. I don’t fear what other people think. I don’t think I’m going to just die if we lose, and I used to think all those things.’’
She is not on medication and admits she’s keeping things in perspective.
Kampe was the one who hired her and, of course, her health issues concerned him. He got OU’s interim athletic director job toward the end of a national search to fill her position.
“There was no question, if she could do it, I wanted her. And I was convinced (by Francis and her doctors) she could do the job and her health would not be a factor,’’ Kampe said. “It was a no-brainer. There are banners hanging in our arena because she was the coach. Now there are two more.’’
The season was not all smooth for Francis and the 15-15 Grizzlies.
Their strength of schedule was tough, 103rd in the country compared with one in the 300s a year ago. Then they had to learn Francis’ system, which was in stark contrast to Hilliard’s.
“It was really hard to get a new system in, have them believe in it and play tough opponents,’’ said Francis, who was hired in October.
Oakland started 4-9. But Francis didn’t pay attention to that number so much as to how her team was playing.
When the Grizzlies caught on, winning became a habit until the end of the regular season, which they finished with a heartbreaking home loss to Oral Roberts on senior day, then losses at Chicago State and Southern Utah.
“I think they were tired. We had a team meeting. They were whining about it a little bit, I’m being honest. We had to address that it’s a privilege to play basketball,’’ Francis said.
“They regrouped themselves and said, ‘You’re right, coach, we’re taking things for granted, and we’re going to kick it into gear.’ And they did.’’
And as the season wraps up, the players have learned a lot about Francis.
“She’s very positive, she believes in instilling confidence in you as a player,’’ senior guard Jayme Wilson said.
“She’s really caring and committed, and she’s just really enthusiastic about the game of basketball. You can tell she cares about us more than just players, but also as people. It’s good to have someone like that as a coach,’’ Hafeli said.
That’s a lesson Francis learned long ago and obviously has not forgotten.
In fact, she’s having coach Rockefeller come to West Lafayette for Sunday’s game. Not only is Rockefeller a mentor, she’s something of a good-luck charm.
“I’ve flown her into both postseason tournaments we’ve won. She is 6-0,’’ said Francis. That goes up to 8-0 when including the regular season.
“Don’t tell Ohio State that,’’ Francis said. “They can’t have her.’’

Teilane named finalist for national honor--The Macomb Journal

They'll be back--The NWI Times

Illini blow out Westerwinds in preliminary round of WNIT--The Peoria Journal Star

--Chicago State Athletics

Gainey Signs With Australian Team--SOUTHERN UTAH THUNDERBIRDS

Steve Bruce Announces Resignation from Valpo’s Women’s Basketball

Women's Basketball Falls at Illinois, 58-37, in the Preliminary Round of the WNIT--Western Illinois Athletics

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Midconfans News 3/15/2006

Tall order for Oakland U.--The Detroit Free Press

Winds headed to different dance--The Macomb Journal

MEN’S BASKETBALL: In a number of cases, mid-majors get to stay close--The Post-Tribune
March 15, 2006

By Mike Hutton / Post-Tribune staff writer

Too bad Valparaiso didn’t make the NCAA Tournament this year.

It appears this is one time that the NCAA selection committee was receptive to the needs of the mid-major teams — at least to a certain extent.

Valparaiso coach Homer Drew has written a letter or two in the past, urging the deal brokers of the NCAA committee to try to keep his team relatively close so the Crusaders fans could make the trip.

The results? Seattle one year. Arizona another time. Orlando in another instance. Oklahoma City in 1998, when the Crusaders eventually made it to the Sweet 16.

The few times they were relatively close — Cleveland and St. Louis — the Crusaders were matched against Michigan State, which went on to win the NCAA Tournament, and Kentucky.

With all the uproar about the number of mid-major teams that made the tournament, (four from the Missouri Valley Conference and two from the Western Athletic Conference), there hasn’t been much talk about how some of those mid-major teams also stayed relatively close to home.

This year, teams such as Oral Roberts don’t have to travel far. The Golden Eagles play Memphis in Dallas.

The same applies to San Diego State.

While Indiana might be happy that it got a six-seed in the Oakland regional, one thing the Hoosiers need to be wary about is that the Aztecs get to play in an arena in which they’ve already won.

San Diego State beat Utah 72-67 earlier this year at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. San Diego State coach Steve Fisher was happy when he heard the news about where the game was being played.

“We are excited that we play Indiana in the first round,” said the man who led Michigan to the national title in 1989. “I do like the fact that we are going to familiar territory, Salt Lake City, where we played very well and won this year. It’s not going to be a strange environment for our kids and I think that is an advantage to us.”

Said junior guard Brandon Heath: “I don’t know if (playing in Salt Lake City) will be an advantage. It’s good that we get to play in a place that we’ve played in before. I know we’re used to the altitude because so many of our conference opponents play up there.”

From IU’s perspective, the West Coast trips have yielded mixed results in recent years.

In 2002, the Hoosiers started their run to the NCAA title game in Sacramento. In 2001, Mike Davis’ first season as coach, IU suffered a disappointing loss to Kent State in the first round in San Diego.

If you’re a Hoosiers fan, it’s hard not to wonder where they might have gone if Roderick Wilmont’s 10-footer at the buzzer had gone in against Ohio State in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

Michigan State, which finished behind IU in the Big Ten standings but with a higher RPI and more wins (22-11), gets to play its first-round game in Dayton as the No. 6 seed in the Washington D.C regional. The Spartans also lost in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

The Hoosiers were unaffected by the site of the first-round game. This was a team that, until recent weeks, looked like it might not make the tournament at all.

“Everyone is 0-0,” Marco Killingsworth said. “It takes six games to get to the national championship. It’s important for us to go out there and take it one game at a time.”

Contact Mike Hutton at 648-3139 or

How IU has fared out west in the NCAA tournament.

Since 1980, the Hoosiers are 8-3 out west

2002 — Sacramento

W, 75-56 against Utah

W, 76-67 against UNC Wilmington

2001 — San Diego

L, 73-77 to Kent State

1995 — Boise, Idaho

L, 65-60 to Missouri

1992 — Boise

W, 94-55 against Eastern Ill.

W, 89-79 against LSU

1992 — Albuquerque

W, 85-74 against Florida State

W, 106-79 UCLA

1989 — Tucson

W, 99-85 against George Mason

W, 92-69 against Texas El Paso


L, 65-78 Seton Hall

Here is a look at where some of the mid-major teams are playing at in the first round of the NCAA Tournament

Oral Roberts

Seed: 16

Home: Tulsa

First-round site: Dallas

Regional: Oakland

Kent State

Seed: No. 12

Home: Kent, Ohio

First-round site: Detroit

Regional: Oakland


Seed: No. 13

Home: Peoria, Ill.

First-round site: Detroit

Regional: Oakland

San Diego State

Seed: No. 13

Home: San Diego

First-round site: Salt Lake City

Regional: Oakland


Seed: No. 16

Home: Baton Rouge, La.

First-round site: Greensboro, N.C.

Regional: Atlanta

UNC Wilmington

Seed: No. 9

Home: Wilmington, N.C.

First-round site: Greensboro

Regional: Atlanta


Seed: No. 16

Home: Albany, N.Y.

First-round site: Philadelphia

Regional: Washington D.C.

Murray State

Seed: No. 14

Home: Murray, Kentucky

First-round site: Dayton

Regional: Washington D.C.


Seed: No. 15

Home: Rock Hill, South Carolina

First-round site: Greensboro

Regional: Washington D.C.

South Alabama

Seed: No. 14

Home: Mobile

First-round site: Jacksonville

Regional: Minneapolis

Choe's Basketball Diaries--Chicago State Athletics

ORU Atop the Commissioner's Cup Standings After Winter Season--Oral Roberts University Golden Eagles

Teilane Named Region 4 Finalist for 2006 Kodak/WBCA All-America Basketball Team--Western Illinois Athletics

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Midconfans 3/14/2006

Oakland regional capsules--The Chicago Tribune/span>

At Dallas Friday, Sunday

Record: 30-3.
RPI: 4.
Location: Memphis.
Conference: Conference USA.
Record against tournament field: 8-3.
Road record: 11-2. Record in last 10: 9-1.
Impressive victories: Nov. 23, at New York vs. UCLA, 88-80; Dec. 27, home vs. Gonzaga, 83-72; Jan. 18, home vs. Tennessee, 88-79.
Disturbing losses: Jan. 2, home vs. Texas, 69-58; March 2, at UAB, 80-74.
Top players: F Rodney Carney, sr. (17.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg); F Shawne Williams, fr. (13.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg); G Darius Washington, soph. (13.5 ppg).
The skinny: The Tigers were third in the nation in scoring (82.3) and second in margin of victory (15.0) in the regular season. They also led their conference in blocked shots (6.8), steals (10.0) and assists (14.9)-which means they are aggressive all over the court.
Little-known fact: In five years under coach John Calipari, the Tigers are 91-17 (.843) on their home court.

Record: 21-11.
RPI: 131.
Location: Tulsa.
Conference: Mid-Continent.
Record against tournament field: 1-5.
Road record: 7-8. Record in last 10: 8-2.
Impressive victories: Nov. 23, home, vs. USC, 68- 48; Nov. 26, home, vs. Monmouth, 62-54; Feb. 23, at Centenary, 83-57.
Disturbing losses: Nov. 25, home, vs. Marquette, 73-70; Dec. 20, at Utah State, 65-64; Feb. 18, at Montana, 88-74.
Top players: F Caleb Green, jr. (20.8 ppg, 8.9 rpg); G Ken Tutt, jr. (14.3 ppg); F Larry Owens, sr. (12.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg).
The skinny: The Golden Eagles are balanced. In their victory over Chicago State in the Mid-Continent title game, Tutt scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half after Owens scored 16 in the first.
Little-known fact: Oral Roberts is a different team with Tutt in the lineup. Since he returned after missing 10 games because of a broken toe, the Golden Eagles are 11-2.

Sharpen those pencils--The Chicago Tribune

Packer angers NCAA selection chief--The Chicago Tribune

Criticism irks chief of selection panel--The Chicago Sun-Times

OU takes hard road to No. 16--The Detroit Free Press

OU SCOUTING REPORT--The Detroit Free Press

CAT SCRATCH FEVER--The Detroit Free Press

Ohio State waits for Oakland--The Detroit News

Oakland Regional In-Depth--The Detroit News

OU women ready for Ohio State matchup--The Oakland Press
By AL ELVIN Of The Oakland Press

ROCHESTER HILLS — Oakland University women’s basketball coach Beckie Francis will readily admit that she can barely do a two-step. Yet, come this Sunday, Francis and her team will be at “The Big Dance” battling against No. 1 seed Ohio State in a first-round game of the 2006 Division I NCAA tournament. One might say the Golden Grizzlies will be doing the West Lafayette Lindy-Hop.
“Not really,” Francis laughed when asked if she could dance. “I’d better start learning how. My husband told me when we got engaged that we would take lessons.”
There is no better time than the present. The Golden Grizzlies earned a No. 16 seed and automatic bid into the tournament after beating Western Illinois in the Mid-Con tournament finals. But they don’t have long to fine-tune their skills, as they will play the highly favored Buckeyes on Sunday at Purdue University’s Mackey Arena.
The Golden Grizzlies, who head into the tournament with a 15-15 record, learned their fate Monday night while watching the NCAA Tournament selection show on ESPN, along with members of the student body and several hundred well-wishers. An impromptu pep rally was held for the team just before the announcement.
“We know we’re going to beat Ohio State and then we’ll probably get Notre Dame,” Oakland University Athletic Director Greg Kampe quipped.
Added senior guard Anne Hafeli (Bloomfi eld Hills Lahser), “We’re just really excited to play the game and finally find out who we’re playing.
“It’s amazing. Everyone knows about it. Even half my teachers have talked about it.”
As good as the Buckeyes are — their 28-2 record has them ranked No. 2 in the country — Kampe said he was hoping for more of a marquee team.
“You want the biggest name you can get,” he said before the matchup was announced. “I hope we get Tennessee or (the University of Connecticut). Then, Oakland’s name will be with the best in basketball.”
Francis told the assembled crowd that “we couldn’t have hoped for a better team.” That is because of her familiarity with Ohio State Head Coach Jim Foster’s style.
It is because of this that Oakland University hopes the Buckeyes will be dancing to Oakland University’s beat on Sunday.
“I’m actually as excited as you can be excited about playing a No. 1 seed,” Francis said. “It’ll be fun.”
Team manager Ashley Holenka had a different word in mind to discuss Oakland University’s daunting task.
“It’s awesome that we’re going, but it will be a tough matchup,” she said. “Certainly, anything is possible. (The Golden Grizzlies) can win though.”
As impossible as it sounds, a No. 1 seed has, in fact, been beaten in the first round of the Women’s Division I NCAA Tournament. In 1998, then No. 1 seed Stanford lost 71-67 to No. 16 seed Harvard in the first round of the tournament. However, such a trouncing of a top-seeded team has never taken place in the men’s tournament.
Certainly, Francis said, coaching the game will be a lot easier than it was Monday night, sitting 38 minutes to find out where the Golden Grizzlies would be traveling in the coming days.
“That was brutal,” Francis said. “It was torture, only because we really wanted to see where we were going to go.”
And now they know, so it’s time to dance.
“Dance? Can I dance? You don’t want to see it, trust me,” said senior guard Jayme Wilson. “That’s OK. This is great. You grow up watching March Madness on TV, and it’s exciting to be a part of it.”

OU draws Buckeyes--The Oakland Press
Golden Grizzlies play Big Ten champs in NCAA first round at Purdue

By DUSTIN FRUCCI Special to The Oakland Press
ROCHESTER — Following her team’s Mid-Continent Conference tournament championship in Tulsa, Okla., Oakland University women’s basketball head coach Beckie Francis said it would be “awfully ironic” if her team drew Ohio State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The selection committee has a funny way of making things happen.
No. 1 seed Ohio State will play No. 16 seed Oakland in a first-round game in the Albuquerque region Sunday. The game will be played on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.
“It’s exciting, as exciting as facing a No. 1 seed can be,” Francis said. “Deep down, you want to play the teams that have been there and have all the history, but once it sinks in, you realize what you have in front of you.”
Francis considered the matchup ironic because the last time OU was in the tournament in 2002, the Golden Grizzlies played No. 1 seed Vanderbilt, coached by Jim Foster. Foster left Vanderbilt after that season and is currently the head coach at Ohio State.
“We know what they do,” Francis said. “They run the same things Vanderbilt did, so scouting them will be a little easier for us.”
“It’s also nice that we got put in Indiana,” she said. “Our fans should be able to make the short drive, and the team travel will be much easier.
Ohio State (28-2) won the Big Ten regular-season and the tournament titles. The Buckeyes ended the season on a 19-game winning streak and are No. 2 in both major polls.
The Buckeyes are led by two-time Big Ten player of the year Jessica Davenport. The 6-foot-5 junior center led the Big Ten in scoring (20.4), field goal percentage (.662) and blocks (3.50).
OU (15-15) had success against bigger teams in the Mid-Con, but it didn’t face a player like Davenport.
“One thing I will stress to my team is that we can’t worry about how we match up,” Francis said. “We have to worry about what we do and play well. If we do those things, we force them to worry about matching up with us.”
Senior guards Anne Hafeli and Jayme Wilson have been OU’s leaders this season, but they know the competition level is about the change.
“We’re excited to play that caliber of competition,” Wilson said. “We’re going to have to play hard and fight. … We’re going to see what we can do.”
The two will go head to head with Buckeyes senior Kim Wilburn. The Big Ten defensive player of the year is a native of Southfield and attended Birmingham Detroit County Day.
The Golden Grizzlies don’t want to let the magnitude of the NCAA tournament get to them. Francis hopes that her experience in 2002 can take some of the pressure off her team come Sunday.
“I don’t want things to surprise them,” she said. “I feel it’s advantage some of the coaching staff and I have been there before. We’re a proud and confident team, and we need to carry that into this weekend.”
The Oakland Press/JOSE JUAREZ

Oppland, Kone invited to Portsmouth--The NWI Times

Western Illinois women receive NIT bid--The Peoria Journal Star

Western Illinois (23-6), the Mid-Continent regular-season champion, also received an NIT bid.
The WNIT was expanded from 32 to 40 teams this season. The tournament starts with eight preliminary round games starting Wednesday at campus sites.

The championship game is March 31.

Oakland to Play Ohio State in NCAA First

Two Crusaders to Participate in Prestigious Portsmouth Invitational

Women's Basketball to Face Illinois in Preliminary Round of WNIT--Western Illinois Athletics