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Crash hits home for USF official

By ANTONYA ENGLISH

Revised February 1, 2001

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 31, 2001


TAMPA -- The Oklahoma State plane crash has deeply affected many people in college sports.

South Florida associate sports information director Fred Huff worked with Oklahoma State soccer coach Karen Hancock when they were at Southern Illinois. Hancock's husband, Will, was among the 10 people -- including two men's basketball players and team support staff members -- killed when the plane crashed in a snowstorm Saturday while returning from a game in Colorado. The couple has a 3-month-old daughter.

Huff became friendly with Will Hancock, 31, when the two worked in the Sun Belt Conference. Huff said he learned of the tragedy Sunday morning.

"It was just disbelief," Huff said Tuesday.

Huff has been in sports information since 1988. His father, Fred, is the sports information director at Southern Illinois and has been in the business since 1960.

"Just think of all the planes he has been on," Huff said.

South Florida travels to games via commercial flights.

"When you get on the plane, (a crash) goes across my mind every now and then," Huff said. "When you fly commercial, it doesn't as much, but I think when you fly those smaller planes, you think about it more. Of all the plane crashes, this is the first one that really hit home. "You just think every day in the week there are so many teams in the air, especially on Saturday. ... It's a story that just hits home with everybody we know -- every SID, every trainer, every manager. It's a close-knit group."

NEEDED: A FEW MORE WINS: The men's basketball team is off to its best conference start in history, but the Bulls are No. 52 in the RPI rankings. The RPI attempts to objectively rank all 318 Division I teams based largely on winning percentage, strength of schedule and opponents' schedule strength. The NCAA uses it to compare, select and seed teams for the tournament. The NCAA doesn't publish its RPI, but its system factors in bad wins, bad losses and where a game was played.

So not only does a team need to beat good teams, it needs teams it is playing to win. And many teams in Conference USA aren't helping the cause.

Cincinnati, which has played the 17th-toughest schedule in the nation, is No. 26 in the RPI. But Southern Miss is No. 45, Marquette 55, Charlotte 76, Saint Louis 83, Memphis 84, Louisville 110 (with the 27th-toughest schedule) and DePaul 123. Texas, which the Bulls defeated in December, is No. 15, and Wisconsin, another opponent, is No. 4.

"We're 13-6, and if we continue to play well, we've got a good shot of going to the NCAA Tournament, and that was our goal this season," USF coach Seth Greenberg said. "It's not guaranteed, but we've got to continue to play good basketball."

PRINGLE EVALUATED: Redshirt freshman pitcher David Pringle was scheduled to have an MRI exam Tuesday on an elbow. Pringle, who was expected to bolster the middle relief corps last season, strained a medial lateral ligament and pitched three innings. The MRI was expected to determine the cause of his current trouble, but the injury is not expected to be as serious as last season's.

The Bulls played an intersquad game Tuesday afternoon and have three more before the season begins Feb. 10 at Stetson.

- Antonya English covers South Florida athletics. She can be reached at (813) 226-3389 or english@sptimes.com.

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