C-USA Basketball coaches pick Frogs to finish 4th in National Division
Oct. 30, 2002
Coming off its seventh straight Conference USA regular-season championship, Cincinnati was picked as the favorite to win the 2002-03 C-USA crown as selected by the league's 14 head coaches. Marquette's Dwyane Wade was tabbed as the Conference USA Preseason Player of the Year.
The Bearcats, who also captured the 2002 C-USA Tournament title, are the favorites to win the American Division. Cincinnati made its 21st appearance in the NCAA Tournament and set a school record for single-season victories with 31 during the 2001-02 season. Defending NIT Champion Memphis was the coaches' pick to win the National Division.
Wade, an All-Conference USA first team selection last season, averaged a team-best 17.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game last season to lead the Golden Eagles to their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1997. Wade, a 6-4 guard, helped Marquette to a 26-7 record, its best finish since the 1975-76 campaign and the sixth-highest single-season victory total by a Conference USA squad. Wade also led the league in steals with 79.
Louisville's Reece Gaines, another All-C-USA first team member last season, was selected to the league's preseason all-conference team. Gaines, a 6-6 guard, led the Cardinals with a team-high 21.0 points, 114 assists and 44 steals. The conference's top returning scorer, Gaines led Louisville back to the postseason with an NIT appearance.
Cincinnati's Jason Maxiell, the 2002 Conference USA Sixth Player of the Year, provided the Bearcats with a spark off the bench in their run to the C-USA regular-season and tournament titles last year. Maxiell, a 6-7 forward, averaged 8.1 points while grabbing 6.8 boards a game. Maxiell ranked among the conference leaders in blocked shots (50) despite coming off the bench.
Saint Louis' Marque Perry was an all-conference second team pick last year after leading the Billikens in scoring (14.1) and minutes played (32.8). Perry, a 6-1 guard, is Saint Louis' first returning all-conference selection since Erwin Claggett and Scott Highmark embarked on their senior season in 1994-95.
Rounding the 2002-03 Conference USA Preseason All-Conference team is DePaul's Andre Brown. The 6-9 forward/center led the Blue Demons in scoring (14.5), rebounds (9.4) and field goal percentage (.503). Over DePaul's final nine contests last season, Brown logged 36 minutes per game while averaging 15.5 points and 12.0 rebounds per outing.
The University of Louisville and Freedom Hall will be the hosts for the 2003 Conference USA Tournament, March 12-15. The first round, quarterfinals and semifinals will be carried on ESPN2 and ESPN Plus, while CBS will air the championship game on Saturday, March 15 at 11:40 a.m. EST.
2002-03 CONFERENCE USA COACHES PRESEASON POLL
1. Cincinnati, 2. Marquette, 3. Louisville, 4. Charlotte, 5. Saint Louis, 6. East Carolina, 7. DePaul.
1. Memphis, 2. Tulane, 3. Houston, 4. TCU, 5. South Florida, 6. Southern Miss, 7. UAB.
Preseason All-League Team * - Preseason Player of the Year
*Dwyane Wade, Marquette, G, Jr., Oak Lawn, Ill.
Reece Gaines, Louisville, G, Sr., Madison, Wis.
Jason Maxiell, Cincinnati, F, So., Carrollton, Texas
Marque Perry, Saint Louis, G, Sr., Chicago, Ill.
Andre Brown, DePaul, F/C, Jr., Chicago, Ill.