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News Nuggets, 03.04.05
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Compiled from staff reports and electronic dispatches

ECU sprint sensation speeds to the big bucks


03.03.05: Burglary rap adds to latest turmoil at South Carolina ... C-USA roundup: 49ers, Cards collide; SLU stuns Tigers ... C-USA basketball standings, scores, schedule & TV ... More...
03.02.05: Tulane, with an eye on ECU, faces Cincinnati ... South Carolina rushing star gets the boot ... C-USA standings, scores, schedule & TV ... More...
03.01.05: Self-recrimination mounts for iconic Temple coach ... Louisville, Charlotte, Cincy climb in hoops poll ... C-USA basketball standings, scores, schedule & TV ... More...
02.28.05: Mother nature stops baseball Pirates' weekend roll ... College baseball coach wins 1,400th game ... C-USA basketball standings, scores, schedule & TV ... More...
02.27.05: Merritt makes splash at C-USA Indoor meet ... C-USA roundup: 49ers, Cards on collision course ... C-USA basketball standings, scores, schedule & TV ... More...
02.26.05: Hapless Campbell searching for end to futility ... Suspended players off Tar Heel football team ... C-USA basketball standings, scores, schedule & TV ... More...
02.25.05: WVU, new league foes spice up ECU football slate ... High-flying Charlotte ready for Southern Miss ... Marquette gets sour taste of life without Diener ... Conference USA standings, scores, schedule & TV ... More...
02.24.05: C-USA roundup: Charlotte gains share of first place ... Tough 'break' in practice ends Diener's season ... Conference USA standings, scores, schedule & TV ... More...
02.23.05: No. 21 Charlotte hosts Memphis in pivotal league matchup ... Diener, DePaul prevail over South Florida ... Conference USA standings, scores, schedule & TV ... More...
02.22.05: State turns defense over to former Syracuse assistant ... Mountain West adopts instant replay for 2005 ... Louisville, Charlotte advance in AP hoops poll ... More...
02.21.05: Fourth-and-10 for legislator's anti-BCS bill ... C- USA basketball standings, scores, schedule & TV ... More...
02.20.05: C-USA roundup: Ailing Bearcats fight off UAB ... C-USA basketball standings, scores, schedule & TV ... More...
02.19.05: South Carolina fined by SEC for fans rushing court ... Shocker boosts Hokies hoops to new pinnacle ... C-USA basketball standings, scores, schedule & TV ... More...
02.18.05: Cards escape Milwaukee with win after Marquette collapse ... Former juco coach charged with conning Louisville ... C-USA basketball standings, scores, schedule & TV ... More...

Unlike the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball, there's no draft of athletes into the most elite level of track and fielding.

Still, there's plenty of cash to go around when the movers and shakers of the international sport spot a specimen worthy of a big investment.

That's the case with East Carolina freshman track star LaShawn Merritt, who plans to take the money and run. Nike will sign the Pirate speedster to a pro contract, ending his college career.

The announcement comes a week before the NCAA indoor track championships where Merritt would have been favored for national titles in the 200- and 400-meter dashes.

According to an ECU release, Merritt signed a four-year contract, which included a signing bonus, with Nike to begin his professional track career after competing in just five collegiate indoor meets.

"The offer was something LaShawn couldn't turn down," said ECU men's track coach Bill Carson. "I tried to advise him to wait until after the season to perhaps enhance his leverage or standing but Nike's package was simply too lucrative at this time. They felt a sense of urgency to market him for competition in June and, when you consider the addition of appearance fees, it became impossible for LaShawn not to sign."

From ECU Athletics and staff reports

Cards thump Charlotte to nail down top seed

LOUISVILLE — Larry O'Bannon turned his final home game into the biggest night of his career.

The Louisville native scored a career-high 33 points — 26 in the first half — to help No. 9 Louisville clinch a share of the Conference USA regular-season title with a 94-82 victory over No. 18 Charlotte on Thursday night.

``Your hometown fans are going to remember you in your last game,'' O'Bannon said. ``I didn't know it was going to be like that.''

The 6-foot-4 O'Bannon, one of three seniors playing in Freedom Hall for the last time, tied a school record for points in a half, hitting his first five 3-pointers.

``Larry O'Bannon had a very, very special night,'' Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. ``It was a Hollywood ending for a nice young man.''

Junior Taquan Dean made six 3-pointers and added 27 points for Louisville (25-4, 13-2 Conference USA), which clinched the top seed in next week's league tournament in Memphis, Tenn.

Ellis Myles had a career-high 10 assists for the Cardinals, who can secure their first outright regular-season Conference USA championship with a victory at DePaul on Saturday.

But the night belonged to O'Bannon, who took over the game during a fast-paced, competitive first half.

Constantly finding gaps in Charlotte's defense, the Louisville native was 9-of-10 from the field in the opening 20 minutes and scored eight points during a half-ending 16-4 run.

Brendan Plavich, guarded by O'Bannon much of the game, hit seven 3-pointers and scored 28 points for the 49ers (21-5, 12-3), who had a seven-game winning streak snapped.

Plavich's fourth 3-pointer gave Charlotte a 25-24 lead, but O'Bannon answered with a 3-pointer a minute later and Louisville never trailed again.

O'Bannon, who scored a career high 30 against Marquette in January, cooled off in the second half, missing three shots. But he set a new career high with a reverse layup with 6:04 left. He was fouled on the play and hit the free throw as the crowd chanted ``Lar-ree! Lar-ree!''

O'Bannon left the floor with 1:01 to go, waving to the fans and embracing teammates as the chant resumed.

``You couldn't ask for anything better,'' he said. ``I never thought of a night like this. You don't dream it up.''

The 49ers made 13 3-pointers but shot 36 percent overall (24 of 66), their lowest output in four games.

Spurrier lays down law on behavior at USC

COLUMBIA — South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has a message for his team: Embarrass the program and you will no longer be part of it.

Spurrier held a brief news conference Thursday to address the Gamecocks' recent string of disciplinary problems.

Just this week, Spurrier kicked leading rusher Demetris Summers off the team and suspended two players police have charged with a campus burglary. Spurrier has told defensive end Moe Thompson and tackle Kevin Mainord that they will not be reinstated if they are found guilty.

And the same goes for offensive lineman Woodly Telfort, who is facing felony charges in the theft of computer equipment from Williams-Brice Stadium.

``I have a policy that says any person who brings complete embarrassment to our football program is subject to not being with us,'' Spurrier said.

The Gamecocks' new coach called this week ``sort of a slap in the face to our football program.'' But, he said, the players should take the blame, not the school or former coach Lou Holtz.

``These things happen everywhere. Unfortunately, it has happened to us,'' Spurrier said. ``I don't think it will affect our team one bit next year.''

Spurrier's hiring in November provided a surge of positive energy for South Carolina, but it's been mostly bad news coming out of the program since.

In the season finale against Clemson — Holtz's final game as coach — the Gamecocks and Tigers got into a huge brawl, which led both universities to withdraw their bowl eligible teams from postseason consideration as punishment.

In January, six players were charged after a total of $18,000 worth of computer and video equipment and framed photographs were taken from South Carolina's stadium Nov. 22.

Then came Summers' dismissal Tuesday and the burglary charges Wednesday. The school won't say what athletic department rule Summers broke, but two newspapers cited anonymous sources saying Summers failed more than one drug test.

Spurrier said he always figured he would lose some players.

``I thought it would be just because of not going to class, not going to study halls and not going to winter conditioning, weightlifting and so forth,'' he said. ``I didn't expect it to be in this manner. But that's the way it happened.''

Mainord, a redshirt freshman, was charged Wednesday with first-degree burglary, a felony that carries a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison. Thompson, a junior, was charged with the same felony Thursday.

The two are accused of breaking into a nearby dorm room while the residents were asleep and stealing a television and DVD player as well as $12, according to arrest warrants.

Telfort, a senior, faces a felony charge of grand larceny. He is accused of taking a $4,000 laptop in November and has been indefinitely suspended.

``His situation is real bad too if those allegations prove out,'' Spurrier said.

The coach said he will still help the players find another team and will end the practice of not allowing South Carolina players to transfer to Clemson or another Southeastern Conference school.

``Any guy that doesn't want to be in our program, he's free to go anywhere,'' Spurrier said.

Two other players charged in the stadium thefts, quarterback Syvelle Newton and lineman Freddy Saint-Preux, have been doing community service and should return to the team by the time spring practice begins March 19, athletics spokesman Kerry Tharp said.

The players have been charged with petit larceny, a misdemeanor, for taking action photos of themselves from the stadium walls.

``We'll get this behind us,'' Spurrier said. ``We don't like it, but we'll get it behind us and we'll move forward because there are a good bunch of guys on this team.''

C-USA standings, scores, schedule & TV

STANDINGS (through Thursday):

TEAM               CONF      ALL
Louisville#        13 2     25 4
Charlotte          12 3     21 5
Cincinnati         11 4     23 6
DePaul             10 5     18 8
UAB                 9 6     19 9
Houston             9 6    18 11
Memphis             9 6    16 13
Texas Christian     8 7    18 11
Marquette           7 8     19 9
Saint Louis        5 10     8 20
South Florida      4 11    11 15
East Carolina      4 11     9 18
Tulane             3 12     9 17
Southern Miss      1 14    10 17

Note #: Clinched top seed in the
        Mar. 9-12 Conference USA
        Tournament in Memphis.


DePaul 53, Saint Louis 49
Cincinnati 89, Texas Christian 74
Charlotte 81, Southern Miss 58
Houston 76, East Carolina 72
UAB 87, Tulane 58
Louisville 53 Memphis 44


No games scheduled.


No games scheduled.


No games scheduled.


Cincinnati 77, Tulane 56
Marquette 76, Houston 55
Texas Christian 70, South Florida 53
Saint Louis 70, Memphis 61
UAB 81, DePaul 80


Louisville 94, Charlotte 82 (ESPN2)


No games scheduled.


Louisville at DePaul 12 PM (ESPN)
Saint Louis at Marquette 1 PM (ESPN+)
Cincinnati at Memphis 4 PM (ESPN)
Texas Christian at Southern Miss 5 PM
Charlotte at South Florida 7 PM
UAB at Houston 8 PM
East Carolina at Tulane 8 PM


C-USA TOURNAMENT, Mar. 9-12, Memphis, TN

Compiled from Conference USA and wire reports.

News Nuggets are compiled periodically based on material supplied by staff members; data published by ECU, Conference USA and its member schools; and reports from Associated Press and other sources. Copyright 2005 and other publishers. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Page Updated: 02/23/2007 12:21 PM


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