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August 17, 2007

Hoops notes: Playing the scheduling game

When Western Kentucky Athletic Director Wood Selig was renegotiating Dennis Felton's contract six years ago, he did something unusual.

He granted the successful young coach a relatively low buyout figure ($200,000) in return for a four-game, home-and-home guarantee with whatever school lured Felton away from Bowling Green, Ky.

That's how a Sun Belt team gets an SEC team to make a visit.

But Felton's Georgia team, which has played WKU for the past three seasons twice in Athens and once in Bowling Green and gone 1-2, has "deferred" on the 2007-08 meeting. Neither school has released its schedule, but officials at both have confirmed to Rivals.com that they won't play each other this season.

"We had a case where both schools thought we had certain dates held and we found out they weren't compatible," Selig said. "We couldn't work out a date that made sense. One thing we could agree on was that we'd get a good date for 2008-09."

WKU does have Big 12 team Nebraska visiting Bowling Green and a "home" game in Nashville against SEC power Tennessee.

Selig was very diplomatic about the Bulldogs' deferral of this year's game.

"With Southern Illinois and Georgia coming next year it gives us a real good start on the '08-09 schedule," Selig said.

  • Playing in Conference USA won't stop Memphis from having a high RPI. Dozens of BCS schools have yet to release their schedules, but it's unlikely any will have a tougher nonconference slate than the Tigers. They have home games against Arizona, Georgetown, Gonzaga and Tennessee. They'll face USC in the Jimmy V Classic in New York City, and Memphis is part of the 2K College Hoops Classic with Connecticut, Kentucky and Oklahoma. The Hoyas, Vols and Trojans may all be ranked in the top 15 to start the year.

  • Davidson's Stephen Curry who hit an NCAA freshman-record 122 3-pointers last season will get another chance to prove he belongs among the nation's top guards when the Wildcats travel to UCLA for the Wooden Classic on Dec. 8. Bruins coach Ben Howland has set up another tough schedule, which includes a home matchup with Texas in the new Big 12/Pac-10 Challenge and a road trip to Michigan. New Wolverines coach John Beilein beat the Bruins twice while at West Virginia.

  • It looks like Kansas will have first-team All-Big 12 forward Brandon Rush for its road trip to USC on Dec. 2. Rush, who pulled out of the NBA Draft after tearing an ACL, is expected to return by Dec. 1 just six months after his surgery. The Jayhawks play host to Arizona on Nov. 25 in the Big 12/Pac-10 Challenge.

  • College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins will be making his return to the ACC when the Cougars travel to Florida State on Dec. 18. Cremins spent 19 years at Georgia Tech and is the Jackets' all-time winningest coach.

  • Gonzaga has put together another brutal nonconference schedule with a handful of neutral-court games. The Zags travel to Memphis, face Connecticut in Boston, Tennessee in Seattle and Georgia in Spokane, Wash. The Zags also play host to Washington State, which brings back four of its five starters from a team that reached the Elite Eight last season.

  • Former Indiana star Tom Coverdale recently became an assistant coach at Louisiana-Monroe. Coverdale had worked the previous season as the school's director of basketball operations. Dan Fife, Coverdale's former teammate at Indiana, is the head coach at Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne. The 28-year-old is the youngest head coach in Division I.

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