Burks and Anderson Take Home C-USA's Top Individual Basketball Honors
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Memphis senior guard Antonio Burks has been named the Conference USA Player of the Year for the 2003-04 season, while UAB head coach Mike Anderson has been named the Ray Meyer Coach of the Year recipient, it was announced today in Cincinnati, site of the 2004 Kelly Tires Conference USA Menís Basketball Tournament.
Burks, who earlier this week was named First Team All-Conference USA, is the Tiger first player to garner C-USA Player of the Year accolades. He leads the conference in steals with 67 (2.48) and is second in the league in assists, averaging 5.33 per contest. Burks is Memphisí second-leading scorer, averaging 16.5 ppg. He only needs seven points to reach 1,000 career points to become the fourth player in the Tigersí storied tradition to post 1,000 points, 450 assists and 170 steals. A finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, Burks is the first Memphis player to win a Player of the Year award since Tiger great Anfernee Hardaway captured back-to-back Great Midwest MVP honors in 1992 and Ď93. An NABC Second Team District 7 selection, he helped the Memphis to a share of its first conference title since sharing the inaugural Conference USA title with Cincinnati in 1996. Memphis (21-6, 12-4 C-USA) is the No. 2 seed in the C-USA Tournament and will play the winner of the Southern Miss-Saint Louis contest on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN Plus).
Anderson, in his second season at UAB (19-8, 12-4 C-USA), led his Blazers to share of a 2003-04 Conference USA regular-season crown, their first league championship since winning the 1990 Sun Belt title. In two seasons, the Birmingham, Ala., native has compiled a record of 40-21 (.656), including directing an eight-game improvement last year, the best single season turnaround in school history. With a 21-13 mark in his first campaign, Anderson was one of three first-year head coaches to win at least 20 games in his first season. Under his guidance, UAB has led Conference USA in steals the last two seasons, including 316 this year, which leads the nation. In his first season on the job, Andersonís Blazers led the country in steals. They also lead the league in assists this year with 472.
Under his guidance, UAB is poised for its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1999. Last year, Anderson and the Blazers came within one game of qualifying for the NIT semifinals. UAB, the No. 4 seed will play the winner of the Tulane-Charlotte match up on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET (ESPN Plus). In the 2003 Kelly Tires Conference USA Tournament, Anderson and the Blazers made an incredible run to the championship game, including an upset win over top-seeded Marquette in the quarterfinal round, before falling to Louisville in the title tilt.
2003-04 CONFERENCE USA PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Antonio Burks, Memphis, G, 6-0, 195, Sr., Memphis, Tenn. (Hiwassee College)
2003-04 CONFERENCE USA RAY MEYER COACH OF THE YEAR
Mike Anderson, UAB (40-21 in two seasons)