Hoops teams could practice, play at junior college

New Orleans athletic director Jim Miller is leaning toward having his men's and women's basketball teams stay, practice and possibly compete at Tyler Junior College in Texas.

Miller told ESPN.com on Saturday night that he wants to have both basketball programs at the same school as soon as possible. UNO men's coach Monte Towe told ESPN.com earlier in the day that he had strong contacts at Chipola JC in Florida. But Miller said his assistant athletic director, Dr. Kathy Keene, would be relocating to Tyler after Hurricane Katrina to be with her brother, who is the tennis coach.

"We're fortunate that most schools are only a week into the fall semester," Miller said by phone from Baton Rouge, La., where he has resided since the storm.

"We'd like to get everyone in school soon," Miller said. "People in the conference [Sun Belt] have expressed a willingness to help us like at Middle Tennessee State and Western Kentucky but we're trying to find the best option. We want to turn to some sort of normalcy."

Miller canceled the volleyball season Saturday. The next sport that he has to deal with is cross country. Miller said UNO runners would compete unaffiliated but then compete for the Privateers at the conference championship meet on Oct. 28.

Miller said it's too hard to determine the damage to the UNO campus. He said he has looked at satellite imagery on the Internet and talked to people who have been in the area.

"The parking lots weren't inundated with water so there might be something to salvage," Miller said of the campus that sits right near Lake Pontchartrain and near by the 17th Street Canal levee that broke Tuesday, flooding the city.

Miller said he's not conceding that the basketball teams would have to play all of their games on the road. He said there is a possibility that the Privateers could play games in Jefferson Parish where there are two arenas, one near the airport in Kenner. But he doesn't expect to be in Orleans Parish in the fall term (there won't be fall classes, either).

As for Miller's house, what happened to his belongings?

"My house is a few blocks from the 17th Street Canal and I know my golf clubs are in my car in my garage which is under 20 feet of water," Miller said. "I lost everything. I have three days' worth of clothes, but people didn't live so we're more fortunate than most.

"It's overwhelming and the sad part of this [is] that when anyone thinks of New Orleans now they won't think of Jazz or the Saints or anything else, they'll think of the sinister storm that destroyed an American treasure," Miller said.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.