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Wednesday, October 13, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 37

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C-USA expands; Midnight Madness set for Friday

Sports Opinion

By Rohith Nandagiri

The waiting is over, and it is official: Texas Christian University is now a part of Conference USA and Southern Methodist University is not ... yet.

C-USA wanted to be in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and it has now entered the market. But as any Dallas/Fort Worth-area resident would tell you, there is more interest in SMU than TCU simply because of the history.

Barry Watson/The Daily Cougar


Early Smith (shown here against the University of Texas last season) and this year's Cougars will show off their skills on Friday at the annual Midnight Madness festivities.

SMU, as part of the old Southwest Conference, was put on the "Death Penalty" because of severe NCAA violations. Before that, though, it had a solid track record in football and basketball. It has produced players in the NFL like Eric Dickerson, Craig James and Jerry Ball, and Jon Koncak in the NBA.

I would simply rather see SMU rather than TCU. SMU recently built a new stadium for its football team and is looking to get back to the days of old, when it was a football power. SMU is generally considered a good school for academics, and it would be nice to have a school like that in C-USA.

It would be a welcome addition to a conference with such schools as the University of Alabama-Birmingham and Southern Mississippi -- not exactly the Harvards of the South.

Also, the other sports that SMU has are usually pretty good. Its tennis program is ranked in the top five in the nation. One of their players, Toby Hansson from Sweden, is on his way to become an outstanding pro just like Richey Renenberg.

The golf program has produced good talent, and its volleyball and other teams are generally very competitive. The swimming and diving teams are outstanding, and the track and field is well above average.

Plus, it is a beautiful campus with a lot flavor.

Denommé out

Just when there was a lot of optimism about this season for UH soccer, the team's star goalkeeper, Michelle Denommé, went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

She was the key part of the defense for the Cougar soccer team, and her leadership and staunch defensive play have helped the Cougars achieve the level of success reached in their first two seasons. They are still undefeated in conference play.

It will be up to the young players to step up and pick up the slack for their fallen leader. Players like Kristen Hogan and others must be able to keep up the offensive attack in order to take the pressure off the defense.

Midnight Madness goes live

There is just something about Midnight Madness that brings out the wild and crazy stuff.

Two years ago, Tau Kappa Epsilon and Sigma Nu were involved in a brawl. Last year, the madness was sold out when Clyde Drexler was announced as head coach.

This year, there is some excitement because of some incoming talent, but not nearly at the level of last year. The Cougars have added Bernard Smith, who transferred from the University of Texas. George Williams, Mr. Basketball in the state of Texas last year, enters as a freshman and will probably see ample playing time.

They will be paired with all-conference candidates Gee Gervin and Kenny Younger. Gervin was C-USA's leading scorer last year and looks to increase his scoring output at the off guard position. He should be able to free himself up for a shot, because he will not be asked to handle the ball as much with the addition of Bernard Smith.

There is a lack of depth at the post positions. Early Smith might not be at full strength, and the loss of William Stringfellow will hurt more than anyone can imagine.

And to top it off, sharpshooter Treva Crosby is out for the season because of a bum shoulder. But Chad Hendrick looks to be ready to go after a subpar year last season. Hendrick is the best athlete on the team -- he can do it all, much like Drexler used to do. He just needs to play within himself and not create too many turnovers.

Festivities are set to begin at 10:30 p.m. Friday with many activities, including a media free throw contest.

Oh, Carolina ...

The 3-2 Cougars travel to Chapel Hill to face "the best 1-4 team in the country."

Indeed, UH head football coach Kim Helton is right. The North Carolina Tarheels have lost to No. 24 Virginia (20-17), No. 1 Florida State (42-10) and No. 7 Georgia Tech (31-24 OT). According to Helton, they could have easily beaten Virginia, and the Tarheels will be a tough task for the Cougars.

"We need to play our best game of the season to beat them," Helton said. "They have as much talent as Florida and Florida State."

It all depends on which Cougar team shows up. They have yet to win a road game this season, and it might send a message to the conference to beat a big-name Tarheels squad.

Mike Green might play, but linebacker Arthur Gissendanner is out for the season. Those two were instrumental on special teams, as well as Green being a great back to relieve Ketric Sanford. If Green does not play Saturday, Leif Penn will take his place. Penn rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown last week against a decent Cincinnati team.

Speaking of the Bearcats, they have been as up and down as a Baywatch episode. They beat in-state rival Kent, lost to mighty Troy State (31-24), beat real powerhouse Wisconsin (17-12) and then lost a close one to Ohio State (34-20). Then they lost in the waning moments to the Cougars.

The Cougars are going to be in a war Saturday. They need good production from quarterback Jason McKinley and another good effort from their defense. The Cougar defense is ranked No. 19 in the nation.

The game is scheduled for broadcast 12:30 p.m. on The Tube, Channel 55.
 

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