College Basketball Nation: New Orleans Privateers

1. Howard Moore was an ambassador for UIC during the NBA draft combine. He was greeting NBA personnel and celebrating the practice facility that was getting plenty of air time on ESPNU. Well, Moore can't exactly say the pre-draft camp being housed on his practice floor in early June was the reason, but he is a believer that it helped land Central Florida transfer Josh Crittle. Crittle, who is from Illinois, had one season left to play after transferring from Oregon and playing one season with the Knights. Crittle put up modest numbers last season (4.7 points and 2.9 rebounds), but at 6-9 he gives the Flames necessary size. The postseason ban at Central Florida allowed Crittle to leave and play immediately. His teammate Keith Clanton decided to stay while two other seniors -- CJ Reed (Georgia Southern) and Marcus Jordan (stopped playing) -- opted to leave. The Flames also picked up Eastern Illinois' Joey Miller immediately after his father, Mike, was fired as head coach. That means the Flames suddenly have two veteran players -- one inside and one outside -- to go with returning leading scorer and point guard Gary Talton, 3-point shooter Danny Barnes, four-man Hayden Humes and 7-foot newcomer Matt Gorski. Valparaiso and Detroit are the clear frontrunners. But with Butler gone, the Flames (3-15 in Horizon, 8-22 overall last season) suddenly will be much more competitive. Moore and the Flames beat out DePaul for Crittle. Now the Flames have legit players on the roster and have a real chance.

2. Xavier athletic director Mike Bobinski reiterated Tuesday that the decision to expel leading returning scorer Dez Wells was a University Conduct Board and had nothing to do with athletics. Bobinski said that the Wells incident, on the heels of the departure for the enigmatic Mark Lyons, won't change recruiting. Bobinski said, "We'll always do the very best to identify prospects that fit at Xavier as students, people and athletes.'' Meanwhile, Xavier's hold on a top spot in the A-10 is about to end. The timing of Butler and VCU joining the conference doesn't bode well for the Musketeers. Xavier will have a hard time staying in the rear-view mirror of those two teams, front runner Saint Louis and re-surging Saint Joseph's and UMass, let alone traditional title contender Temple for one more season before the Owls leave for the Big East.

3. New Orleans' decision to stay Division I and get into the Southland Conference is tremendous for the Privateers and the city that yearns for competitive, higher level teams. But it's unfortunate for the players who left and head coach Joe Pasternack who moved on to be an assistant at Arizona. The players and staff bolted once the program was headed to Division III and then Division II. The school had legitimate financial concerns because of the move out of the Sun Belt. But the Privateers are now ready to be Division I members again, this time in the Southland. It's a shame that the players and staff, especially Pasternack, a native of the city, weren't given the chance to stay without the odd hiccup of indecisions on what NCAA division the school should compete in.

Time well spent for New Orleans basketball

September, 28, 2011
The glitz and glamour of the Final Four will come to New Orleans at the end of this season, with the Louisiana Superdome playing host to one of the world's finest sporting events in another sign of the city's recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

But the cleanup project in New Orleans continues, and for the University of New Orleans basketball team, which is dropping down to Division II status this season as part of the aftermath of the storm, it's a cause the Privateers are going to be a part of.

Over the weekend, the team took part in mayor Mitch Landrieu's "Fight the Blight" volunteer event to spruce up the city.
The first group was responsible for street cleaning, cutting grass, trash removal and demolition on Orleans Avenue. A few miles away, the second group was tasked with cleaning and repainting the outdoor basketball court at Kerry Curley playground in New Orleans East, while also repairing a retaining wall in the playground.

"This was a really rewarding experience for our team and staff," said UNO head men's basketball coach Mark Slessinger. "It allowed us to work hand-in-hand with many other service groups from around the city."

"We really grew as a team and were humbled and honored to improve the quality of life in New Orleans East. It means so much for us to give back to the city that we all love. Every day, our team has to renew our commitment to our team, campus and city. I know there is not a win-loss category for great time or life experiences, but if there was, this was definitely a huge win."

UNO won't be able to compete to play in the Division I tournament that concludes in its city this season, but sprucing things up in town is a civic responsibility the program accepts.

The results of the day's work could be seen immediately, as volunteers saw to it that basketball courts in the city had their lines painted and were left looking much better.

"I thought it was a great experience for our guys to get out and interact with the community," New Orleans guard Brandon Knight said in a statement. "Since Hurricane Katrina, there have been a lot of people needing help who could not get it and I am glad we could help."