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Pacific

November 6, 1997

Pacific

NIT teams 96-97

Nevada

League preseason poll

Eastern: Nevada; New Mexico State; Utah State; Boise State; North Texas; Idaho. Western: Pacific; Cal-Santa Barbara; Cal Poly-SLO; Long Beach State; Cal State-Fullerton; Cal-Irvine

What’s New

Four teams will have new coaches, none more experienced than Lou Henson who takes over New Mexico State on an interim basis following the reassignment of Neil McCarthy. Cal-Irvine’s new coach, Pat Douglass, led Cal State Bakersfield to three Division II national titles in the last five years. Cal Poly SLO has a chance to crack the .500 mark, not bad for a school that won one game three years ago.

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COLONIAL

NCAA teams 96-97

Old Dominion

NIT teams 96-97

None

League preseason poll

Old Dominion; East Carolina; James Madison; Virginia Commonwealth; North Carolina-Wilmington; Richmond; William & Mary; American University; George Mason

What’s New

Almost half of the league _ American, George Mason, James Madison and Richmond _ have new coaches and Virginia Commonwealth’s Sonny Smith will retire after the season, handing the reins over to former Tennessee-Chattanooga coach Mack McCarthy. Old Dominion has four starters back but the one who isn’t is two-time league player of the year Odell Hodge. East Carolina has the lock on best trio of names _ guard Alico Dunk and forwards Dink Peters and Neil Punt _ that’s Punt, Dink and Dunk.

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CONFERENCE USA

NCAA teams 96-97

Cincinnati; Louisville; Marquette; North Carolina Charlotte

NIT teams 96-97

Alabama-Birmingham; Memphis; Tulane

League preseason poll

American: North Carolina Charlotte; Cincinnati; Marquette; Louisville; Saint Louis; DePaul. National: Alabama-Birmingham; Memphis; Tulane; South Florida; Southern Mississippi; Houston

What’s New

Two of the more familiar coaching faces are gone with Joey Meyer replaced at DePaul by Pat Kennedy and Larry Finch replaced at Memphis by Tic Price. Cincinnati started practice with NCAA problems all around and point guard Charles Williams ineligible for most of the season and the status of Ruben Patterson up in the air. Louisville is also waiting to hear from the NCAA as it tries to replace its starting backcourt. Saint Louis’ Larry Hughes is expected to be one of the nation’s top freshmen.

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IVY

NCAA teams 96-97

Princeton

NIT teams 96-97

None

League preseason poll

Princeton; Penn; Harvard; Brown; Dartmouth; Yale; Cornell; Columbia

What’s New

Princeton dominated the league under rookie coach Bill Carmody last season and the Tigers have four starters back from that team, but the one that got away was player of the year Sydney Johnson. Penn will rely on last season’s freshman of the year, Michael Jordan. Harvard remains the only Ivy League school not to play in the NCAA tournament.

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METRO ATLANTIC

NCAA teams 96-97

Fairfield

NIT teams 96-97

Iona

League preseason poll

Iona; Loyola, Md; Niagara; Rider; Fairfield; Canisius; St. Peter’s; Manhattan; Siena; Marist

What’s New

The league has two new schools in Marist and Rider and four new coaches with Dino Guadio, who moved from Army to Loyola, the only one with head coaching experience. Iona has to find a way to rebound from last season’s crushing first-round MAAC tournament loss to Fairfield that cost the Gaels their first NCAA berth since 1985. If last games can count for momentum Fairfield has that advantage as the Stags and their 11-18 record gave North Carolina all it could handle in the NCAA tournament.

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MID-AMERICAN

NCAA teams 96-97

Miami, Ohio

NIT teams 96-97

Bowling Green

League preseason poll

East: Miami, Ohio; Bowling Green; Akron; Ohio University; Marshall; Kent; West: Eastern Michigan; Toledo; Ball State; Western Michigan; Northern Ilinois; Central Michigan

What’s New

The addition of Northern Illinois and Marshall will have the MAC splitting into two divisions this season. Longtime Indiana assistant Dan Dakich takes over at Bowling Green and former Michigan assistant Jay Smith is the new man at Central Michigan. Ball State senior Bonzi Wells is the best known name in the league but Eastern Michigan’s 5-foot-5 Earl Boykins is the most exciting player.

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MID-CONTINENT

NCAA teams 96-97

Valparaiso

NIT teams 96-97

Oral Roberts

League preseason poll

Valparaiso; Oral Roberts; Buffalo; Western Illinois; Northeastern Illinois; Missouri-Kansas City; Youngstown State; Southern Utah; Chicago State

What’s New

Oral Roberts and Southern Utah, the last of the major college independents, join the league this season and Oral Roberts comes in off an NIT bid and with a new coach as Bill Self moved across town to Tulsa. Bryce Drew returns to Valparaiso as conference player of the year and one of his backcourtmates will be freshman Marko Punda, a cousin of Toni Kukoc. Nick Knapp, who wasn’t allowed to play at Northwestern because of a heart condition, will play for Northeastern Illinois this season.

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MID-EASTERN

NCAA teams 96-97

Coppin State

NIT teams 96-97

None

League preseason poll

Coppin State; South Carolina State; North Carolina A&T; Florida A&M; Howard University; Maryland-Eastern Shore; Morgan State; Hampton; Delaware State; Bethune-Cookman; Norfolk State

What’s New

Norfolk State makes the jump from Division II to give the MEAC 11 teams. Bethune-Cookman is one of three teams with a new coach, Horace Broadnax, a former player at Georgetown, and among the names on his first schedule are his alma mater, North Carolina and Arkansas. Coppin State has four starters back from the team that shocked South Carolina and scared Texas in the NCAA tournament.

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