Freshman Larry Hughes helps Saint Louis to fast start

Men's Basketball Notebook

Anna Sivadasan

With a new college basketball season underway, the Houston Cougars are off to their best start in 11 years.

Seniors Shamahn McBride and Galen Robinson are the two returning starters, but UH has also relied on some young faces to lead its squad.

Sophomore forward Kenny Younger and freshman guard Treva Crosby have been instrumental in Houston's 4-0 start. Younger is playing in his first college season and has performed well above expectations. He has averaged 12 points and four rebounds a game. Crosby was inserted into the starting line-up after point guard Roy Spears went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament against Sam Houston State. The freshman made an instant contribution, hitting the game-winning three-pointer against the Bearkats.

The Cougars' schedule, however, will get tougher this month with games against California, Texas and LSU. In addition, UH will travel to Hawaii for the Hawaii-Nike Festival.

American over National

If preseason expectations mean anything, the American Division of Conference USA will be where all the action is this year. The league split into a two-division format for geographical reasons, but in the process, may have placed the talent and tradition in one division.

UNC-Charlotte (No. 25) and Louisville (No. 19) were the league's two preseason representatives in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. Four of the six teams from the American Division made last year's NCAA Tournament, and four of the five players chosen to the preseason All-C-USA team are from the American Division (the lone exception being Houston forward Galen Robinson).

Saint Louis head coach Charlie Spoonhour said it is a cyclical process that can change from year to year.

"Some years it will look like one division will be stronger than the other, but those things will change and there will be some shifting of power from one division to the other," he said.

Fresh Sensation

You read it here first. College basketball's freshman of the year will be Larry Hughes of Saint Louis University. The 6-5 guard is a dynamic talent and the first McDonald's All-American recruit in SLU history. He was highly sought after by national powers Kansas, Michigan and Syracuse.

In SLU's first four games, Hughes has averaged 21 points, three rebounds and three assists. Spoonhour said Hughes has the ability to play all three perimeter positions and is a big reason the Billikens are off to a 4-0 start.

"I think Larry's given us some offense that we've really needed. He gives us a chance to get good shots at the basket for either himself or by the drawing the defense to him," Spoonhour said.

The Numbers Game

-The DePaul Blue Demons basketball team will travel 13,713 miles before playing its next home game on Dec. 23.

-It has been six years since UNC-Charlotte lost its season opener. The 49ers lost to Miami this year to break the string.

-The last time the Cougars got off to a 4-0 start was 1986.

-Louisville will face eight top 25 teams this year.

-49ers co-captain and small forward Versile Shaw will be out four weeks with a torn left knee ligament.

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