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All-Decade team for C-USA basketball


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Tuesday, March 8, 2005

C-USA taps Huggins as its best for decade

By Bill Koch

Enquirer staff writer

Conference USA will announce today that University of Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins is the unanimous pick as the league's men's basketball Coach of the Decade.

If anybody is surprised by that, they haven't been paying attention.

Under Huggins, UC has won eight of the league's 10 regular-season championships and four conference tournament championships. He has won three Ray Meyer Coach of Year awards.

UC has gone to 13 straight NCAA Tournaments and will make it 14 next week. Only Arizona with 20 and Kansas with 16 have a longer streaks.

He's the only coach who has been in the league since its inception in 1995.

Voting was done by a panel of media voters, one from each conference city. The all-decade teams are part of the conference's 10-year anniversary celebration.

"It means I've been here a long time," Huggins said Monday when asked what the award means to him. "It means I've been fortunate to have really good players and really good teams."

What the future holds for him is an open question.

The university took away the rollover provision of his contract last summer when he was suspended for driving under the influence.

Under that provision, his contract rolled over every year on July 1 so that there were always four years remaining. When it didn't roll over last July, he was left with three years left at the start of this season. He'll have two years remaining on July 1 of this year.

Will the university extend that contract after a season in which he has taken a limited team and coached it to a 24-6 record and a No. 21 ranking in the Associated Press poll?

Or will the school let the contract stand as it is, perhaps sending a message in the process?

"You know the kind of relationship he has with this university and city," said UC athletic director Bob Goin, "and what he's done for our basketball and our athletic department.

"I hope he stays here a long time. I hope he's the basketball coach at the University of Cincinnati, that things work out to make him happy and the university happy. I see no reason why that can't take place. I see nothing that stops Bobby and I moving forward to the Big East (next season)."

But Goin's contract expires on June 30, 2006, at which time he will retire. And it's unclear who will make the call on Huggins' contract. Will it be Goin, UC president Nancy Zimpher or the next UC athletic director?

"That discussion hasn't taken place yet," Goin said.

Zimpher, who was out of town Monday and could not be reached for comment, issued a statement through a spokesperson.

"I am delighted that the conference is honoring coach Bob Huggins as Coach of the Decade in recognition of his great work with our UC basketball program and Conference USA," Zimpher said. "Coach Huggins is deserving of this acknowledgment of his success in rebuilding our program as well as his successful win-loss record and our string of NCAA Tournament appearances.

"Bob Goin and I have not discussed any coaches' contracts at this time. Right now, we are focusing on the Conference USA and NCAA Tournaments, this wonderful honor for Coach Huggins and our upcoming entry into the Big East Conference."

Huggins declined to comment on his contract, but made it clear that he wants to remain at UC.

"I like it here," Huggins said. "I've stayed here because I like being here."

When Huggins returned from his suspension last August, Goin said he would be interested to see how the UC coach responded to his mistake.

"I think he needed to sit back and reflect on the direction he was going, like all of us do once in a while," Goin said at the time. "He's had the opportunity to do that. Now we'll take a look and see."

Goin indicated that Huggins has met his expectations.

"I think he's had a great year," he said. "I think he's had a really super year. He's done everything. I'm thrilled for him."

Regardless of what happens with his contract, it's clear that this has been one of Huggins' best coaching jobs.

Before practice began last fall, he lost center Robert Whaley, who was dismissed from the program, and forward Mike Pilgrim, who decided to transfer to Seton Hall.

That left him with a depleted front line.

A few weeks into practice, freshman guard Vincent Banks, who was expected to be a major part of the offense, discovered that there were problems with his test scores. He eventually was designated a partial qualifier by the NCAA and has not played for UC.

And last week, guard Chadd Moore decided to retire as an active player because of back problems. A few days later, guard Nick Williams suffered a sprained left foot, leaving UC with only eight scholarship players - five below the maximum 13 - to compete against Memphis last Saturday.

But the Bearcats have persevered. They've used a stingy defense and a makeshift offense to start the season with 11 wins and are riding a six-game winning streak heading into this week's C-USA Tournament in Memphis.

"We've had to change some of our philosophies as to how we prepare our team because of a lack of numbers," said associate head coach Andy Kennedy. "You certainly don't want to beat the guys down so that we can't compete in games.

"We're not going three hours every day. We've backed off some of that. The way he's handled this group individually has been very, very good. It's certainly not the prettiest basketball, but he always gives us a chance to win."

Of UC's six losses, five have been to teams that are currently ranked among the Top 25.

"You've got to coach the guys that are here," Huggins said. "I can't make them successful. My job is to put them in a position where they have a chance to have the most success. That's what I've always done."

He has been doing it at UC for 16 years. It appears he'll be doing is for at least two more.


Coaches at other Conference USA schools during Huggins' tenure at UC:

Charlotte - Jeff Mullins, Melvin Watkins, Bobby Lutz

DePaul - Joey Meyer, Pat Kennedy, Dave Leitao

East Carolina - Bill Herrion

Houston - Alvin Brooks, Clyde Drexler, Ray McCallum, Tom Penders

Louisville - Denny Crum, Rick Pitino

Marquette - Mike Deane, Tom Crean

Memphis - Larry Finch, Tic Price, Johnny Jones, John Calipari

Saint Louis - Charlie Spoonhour, Lorenzo Romar, Brad Soderberg

Southern Miss - M.K.Turk, James Green, Larry Eustachy

Texas Christian - Billy Tubbs, Neil Dougherty

Tulane - Perry Clark, Shawn Finney

Alabama-Birmingham - Gene Bartow, Murry Bartow, Mike Anderson

South Florida - Bobby Paschal, Seth Greenberg, Robert McCullum


Official release from C-USA:


C-USA Announces Men's Basketball All-Decade Awards

Men's Basketball


Conference USA is celebrating its 10th anniversary during the 2004-05 season. In conjunction, the league is naming a Team of the Decade for each of the conference’s 19 sports. Men’s Basketball is the latest sport to have its All-Decade team released and the squad is led by former Cincinnati star Kenyon Martin, the 1999-00 National Player of the Year and three-time C-USA Defensive Player of the Year. The Men’s Basketball Coach of the Decade award was won by Cincinnati’s Bob Huggins, who has led the Bearcats to eight regular season championships and four tournament titles. Both Martin and Huggins were unanimous selections. Voting on the awards was done by a media panel with one representative in each of the league’s cities.

Cincinnati was the only school to produce three members of the squad, while Louisville and Marquette each had two selections. Charlotte, DePaul and Memphis had one player chosen to the team.


Kenyon Martin, Cincinnati (1996-2000) – PLAYER OF THE DECADE

Probably the most decorated player in C-USA’s first decade…consensus national player of the year as a senior in 1999-00, making a sweep of the Naismith, Oscar Robertson (USBWAA), John Wooden, Adolph Rupp (Associated Press), NABC, Basketball News and Basketball Times, and made everyone’s All-America team…co-National Defensive Player of the Year by the NABC…Unanimous choice as C-USA Player of the Year in 1999-00…Three-time winner of the C-USA Defensive Player of the Year… Averaged 18.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.5 blocks as a senior…Set the UC career blocks record (292) and ranks No. 20 on UC’s career scoring list (1,279)…Second team All-C-USA as a sophomore and first team All-C-USA as a junior…MVP of the 1998 C-USA Tournament.

DeMarco Johnson, Charlotte (1996-98)

1998 C-USA Player of the Year ... two-time first team all-C-USA choice (1996-97; 1997-98); three-time all-league (second team in 1995-96) ... led 49ers to 1997 C-USA White Division title and NCAA second rounds in 1997 and 1998 ... Retired as league's top all-time scorer and rebounder (is still in all-time Top 5 despite playing just three C-USA seasons) ... Two-time all-C-USA Tournament (1997; 1998) ... Two-time honorable mention AP all-America ... League-best 21.1 ppg in 1998 (5th all-time in C-USA) ... 2005 career pts; 926 career rebounds ... 2nd in C-USA w/35 career double-doubles.

Steve Logan, Cincinnati (1998-02)

Consensus first team All-American and finalist for every national player of the year award as a senior in 2001-02…recipient of the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as the nation’s top player 6-foot or under…C-USA Player of the Year in both his junior and senior seasons…named national player of the year by FOXSports.com and CNN/SI.com…MVP of the 2002 C-USA Tournament…named C-USA Player of the Week five time his senior season and national player of the week twice…averaged 22.0 points and 5.3 assists as a senior in leading UC to a 31-4 record and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament…closed his career as UC’s No. 2 career scorer (1,985), second only to Oscar Robertson.

Danny Fortson, Cincinnati (1995-97)

Played only two seasons in C-USA, but his accomplishments rank with many others who had full careers in the conference…C-USA scoring leader as a junior with a 21.4 average, a mark topped by only two other players…his 1,367 career points ranked him No. 13 in C-USA entering the 2004-05 season, with all players ranked ahead of him having played at least 25 more games…two-season career scoring average of 20.7 points ranks third with his rebounding average (9.3) eighth…has C-USA’s fourth best career FG percentage (.578)…consensus first team All-American in 1996-97…finalist of the Naismith and Wooden Awards…two-time C-USA Player of the Year…MVP of the 1996 C-USA Tournament…closed his UC career as the school’s No. 2 scorer (currently No. 3).

Quentin Richardson, DePaul (1998-00)

Conference USA Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year (1999), the first player to accomplish that double feat in league history… first team All-Conference USA in both 1999 and 2000… Three-time league Player of the Week honoree… Two-time All-American mention… Member of the league’s All-Freshman team in 1999… Averaged 10.8 rebounds in C-USA games as a sophomore (fourth-best in league history) and 10.6 as a freshman (fifth-best)… Tied for second all-time in C-USA history for rebounding average (10.2 rpg)… Holds DePaul school record for 3pt. field goals in a season (73 in 1999-00) and is fifth in DePaul history for rebounding average.

Reece Gaines, Louisville (1999-2003)

Fourth all-time at Louisville and third in C-USA history with 1,945 career points ... Led U of L in scoring (17.9), assists (5.0) and steals (1.7) as a senior in 2002-03 when he was named a second team All-America selection and a finalist for national player of the year ... Twice honored on the All-C-USA first team (2002, 2003) ... Double figure scorer in 31 games as a senior and in 99 games for his career ... His 673 points as a junior was the fifth-highest ever in Conference USA ... His 475 career assists rank among the all-time C-USA leaders.

Francisco Garcia, Louisville (2002-current)

Currently averaging 16.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 2.1 steals as one of the most complete players in the nation ... Conference USA Freshman of the Year in 2003 and an All-C-USA first team selection as a sophomore ... Preseason league player of the year this season and a finalist for national player of the year honors ... In the midst of his third season, he already ranks among the Conference USA career leaders in points (1,182), assists (289) and free throw percentage (.832).

Travis Diener, Marquette (2001-current)

Two-time all conference selection (first team – 2004; second team – 2003)… Conference USA all-freshman team selection (2002)… Wooden and Cousy Award finalist in 2004… Wooden and Naismith mid-season all-American, and Cousy Award finalist in 2005… C-USA’s 10th all-time leading scorer (as of 2.6.05)… Ranks second on the school’s all-time assist list… Ranks eighth all-time on the school’s scoring list… School’s all-time leader in three-point field goals… Ninth all-time at the school in steals… Second all-time in free throw percentage and fourth in three-point field goal percentage at Marquette… Second all-time on the Conference USA assist chart.

Dwyane Wade, Marquette (2001-2003)

Two-time all-conference first team selection (2002, 2003)… 2003 Conference Player of the Year… 2003 Conference Defensive Player of the Year… Led Marquette to its first Conference USA Regular Season Championship and the NCAA Final Four in 2003, the school’s third appearance all-time and first since 1977… In 2003 was selected by the Associated Press, USBWA, NABC, ESPN.com, Foxsports.com, and CNNSI.com as a first team all-American…. 2003 Wooden Award All-American and finalist… Six-time conference player of the week selection… scored a school record 710 points during his junior season (2002-03)… ranks second on the school’s all-time scoring average list (19.7 ppg).

Antonio Burks, Memphis (2001-04)

2004 Conference USA Player of the Year ... 2004 All-C-USA first team ... Named ESPN.com’s 2004 C-USA Player of the Year ... Collegeinsider.com and Associated Press All-America selection … Basketball Times All-South Team ... Named to NABC District 7 second team … Bob Cousy Award finalist, an award given to the nation’s top point guard ... Only fourth Tiger with 1,000 points, 450 assists and 170 steals (Andre Turner, Elliot Perry and Otis Jackson were the other three) ... On the Tiger career charts for scoring (No. 34) steals (No. 5) and assists (No. 6) ... Named to All-C-USA third team in 2002-03 ... Tigers posted a 72-24 record in his three years, including winning the 2002 NIT title.


Bob Huggins, Cincinnati (1989-current)

Under Huggins’ tutelage, Cincinnati dominated the first decade of C-USA, winning outright or tying for eight regular season titles and capturing four tournament titles…UC compiled a 111-29 record for a .793 winning percentage through the first nine seasons, 18 more wins than its closest competitor…Cincinnati compiled a 234-62 record (.791) record in all games during this period…UC was ranked in the Top 25 for 124 of 165 weekly polls, earning Top 10 rankings 77 times and holding down the No. 1 spot 15 times…UC earned a No. 1 seed for the 2002 NCAA Tournament and was a No. 2 seed three times…Huggins ranks seventh nationally among active coaches in winning percentage and is 11th in total victories.

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