MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Despite the loss of his three top scorers, Memphis' John Calipari was confident Thursday as he and other Conference USA coaches got together to talk about the upcoming season.
"We've got a good core of guys coming back, six guys, and we've got a good core of newcomers, so I think we're going to be fine," Calipari said.
In their preseason predictions, conference coaches picked the Tigers to be the top team in the league, as it was last season. Gone from last year's 33-4 squad are Rodney Carney, Shawne Williams and Darius Washington, who combined for 53 percent of the Tigers' scoring and led Memphis to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA playoffs. Calipari will be counting heavily on sophomores Chris Douglas-Roberts, Antonio Anderson and Robert Dozier.
"I don't know if they're all going to be scorers, but those are the three who will play probably as many minutes as they can play," Calipari said at the league's preseason media day.
The Tigers will also have senior guard Jeremy Hunt back in the lineup. Hunt was suspended from the team last season after he was charged with slapping and kicking a former girlfriend. He was allowed to avoid a criminal trial on a condition of staying out of further trouble. Calipari said Hunt will contribute badly needed experience.
"Two years ago or three years ago, he may have been the best guy we had on our team," Calipari said, "but he's been hurt throughout his career. He's just been beat up."
Hunt is healthy entering the new season. Conference coaches put Houston at No. 2 in preseason standings, and Texas transfer Dion Dowell said coach Tom Penders is preparingthe Cougars for a fast-paced attack.
"I'm glad I made the move," said Dowell, who still must sit out the fall semester. "I'm looking for a controlled, run-and-gun offense. It's a scorer's dream."
Tulane coach Dave Dickerson said his team appears to be over the trauma of being run out of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.
"Last year at this time, we came to this very event being displaced at Texas A&M," Dickerson said. "What a difference a year makes. Being home has served us well. Our kids love the university. They want to be there."
With the loss of leading scorer Quincy Davis, Dickerson expects to spread the scoring around.
"Our perimeter play has gotten better and our overall team speed has gotten better. It will allow us to do more things than we did last year," he said. "This year, we'll depend on a more fast-paced, perimeter attack as well as an inside game."
Mike Davis, UAB's new coach, said he's had only a few practices with the Blazers and is still "going home every night trying to figure out what to do the next day."
Any major adjustments in the Blazers' style?
"We'll have to wait and see," said Davis, who spent six seasons at Indiana. "Right now, it's too early to tell."