Oct. 26, 2007
Irving, Texas- - The University of Houston men's basketball team has been picked to finish second in Conference USA during the 2007-08 season in a poll of league head coaches. The Cougars and UAB tied for second in the poll, while defending champion Memphis is the preseason favorite to win the C-USA regular-season crown according to the coaches.
The Cougars return two All-Conference USA players in Robert McKiver and Lanny Smith, and will have three other seniors on this year's roster. McKiver earned a spot on the Preseason All-C-USA in this year's poll after being named an All-Conference USA First-Team selection last season when he averaged 19.2 points per game and set school records for most three-point field goals in a game and single season. He also handed out 112 assists to lead the team.
Smith was an All-C-USA Third-Team choice in the 2005-06 campaign before sitting out most of last season with a foot injury. He is a three-year starting point guard and received a medical waiver to return this season.
Houston also returns Dion Dowell and Marcus Malone from last season's starting lineup. Dowell averaged 11.1 points and 5.8 rebounds after joining the team in late December. Malone chipped in with 7.2 points per game. They are joined by fellow senior postman Tafari Toney, who averaged 3.0 points and 2.6 rebounds after undergoing preseason knee surgery.
Memphis returns all five starters from last year's team that advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight for the second straight year. The Tigers feature Preseason All-C-USA selections Chris Douglas-Roberts and Joey Dorsey. Douglas-Roberts is this year's preseason C-USA Player of the Year after led the Tigers with 15.4 points per game. Dorsey was the 2007 C-USA Defensive Player of the Year and led the league in rebounding last season.
UAB returns senior Paul Delaney III, a 2006-07 All-Conference USA First Team selection and a coaches' choice to the C-USA Preseason Team. Delaney ranked among the league leaders in points (15.5), assists (5.2), steals (1.9) and minutes (37.1) last season. The Blazers also return starters Lawrence Kinnard and Frank Holmes, while transfers Walter Sharpe (Mississippi State), Robert Vaden (Indiana) and Channing Toney (Georgia) join UAB's roster in 2007-08.
Southern Miss comes off its first 20-win season (20-11) under fourth-year head coach Larry Eustachy and the Golden Eagles were picked to finish fourth by the coaches. Sophomore Jeremy Wise was selected to the C-USA Preseason Team.
Tulsa also posted 20 wins (20-11) in 2006-07 and was picked fifth by the coaches. The Golden Hurricane returns 70.4 of its scoring from a year ago, including its top two scorers in senior Rod Earls (11.2 ppg) and sophomore Ben Uzoh (9.9 ppg).
2007-08 PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis, G, 6-5, Jr., Detroit, Mich.
2007-08 PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
Paul Delaney III, UAB, G, 6-2, Sr., Decatur, Ga.
Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis, G, 6-6, Jr., Detroit, Mich.
Joey Dorsey, Memphis, F, 6-9, Sr., Baltimore, Md.
Robert McKiver, Houston, G, 6-3, Sr., New Haven, Conn.
Jeremy Wise, Southern Miss, G, 6-2, So., Jackson, Miss.