Sunday, July 18, 2004

Journey has made Pilgrim stronger

Purcell product looks forward to helping UC

Click here to e-mail Bill
Mike Pilgrim keeps telling himself that everything works out for the best in the long run and that adversity will only make him stronger.

That's how he feels now that he's back in good standing as a member of the University of Cincinnati basketball program, but it wasn't so easy to adopt that attitude last winter when he saw his freshman season go up in smoke.

Pilgrim, a 6-foot-7 forward from Brewster (N.H.) Academy and Purcell Marian High School, began the season by suffering a stress fracture in his foot early in preseason practice, then discovered in January that he had been declared an academic non-qualifier because of questions over his test scores, rendering him ineligible to play as a freshman.

He can get that year back if he earns his degree in the next three years.

"Not in my wildest dreams did I think anything was going to happen like that," Pilgrim said, "but I think it worked out for the best. With all the struggles, there's always progress."

Pilgrim said he tried to keep his game sharp by playing in pickup games around town whenever he could find suitable competition. But that's not the same as participating in structured practices.

"For me, or any competitor, not to play is very heartbreaking," Pilgrim said. "Knowing that you can't do anything about it is pretty much what I was dealing with, just seeing everybody else out there having fun playing a game they love, playing for UC and coach Bob Huggins. That put a damper on my year."

Pilgrim, who averaged 13.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots at Brewster in 2002-03, said he probably wouldn't have come back to play last year, that he would have chosen to take a redshirt because of his foot injury.

Still, he said he was "shocked" to learn about the discrepancy over his test scores.

But that's all over now. He did the academic work he needed to become eligible and says he's looking forward to playing for UC this season.

"I don't feel like I lost anything," he said. "I'm building up my strength. I'm stronger now than I was last year and I'm hungrier than ever. Whatever the team needs me to play, I'm going to play."

Through it all, Pilgrim said, he never doubted that he eventually would get to play for UC, which could have awarded his scholarship to someone else this season.

"They were real loyal," Pilgrim said. "They always told me a scholarship was there for me."

BEYOND NO. 1? Memphis coach John Calipari, never at a loss for words, is expecting big things this season as the Tigers move into the new, 18,400-seat FedExForum they'll share with the NBA's Grizzlies.

And he's never shy about reminding anyone who will listen how good the Tigers could have been if not for early NBA defections.

"You now have other teams around the country going through what we were going through the past three years," Calipari said, "with players either not coming or leaving early. We had four players do that, and if those four were playing, we'd be the consensus No. 1 team in the country right now. We'd be way beyond No. 1."

Among the Tigers' losses were Dajuan Wagner, Amare Stoudemire, Kendrick Perkins and Qyntel Woods.

Memphis will leave The Pyramid, its home court since 1991-92, with a 21-game home-court winning streak, the nation's fourth longest.

The Tigers were 173-42 at The Pyramid.



As team turns corner, hopes and sales soar
Bengals' new look scores even before season starts
Take a VR tour of a Bengals luxury suite
Desktop wallpaper

Reds: Dunn's HR saves day
Photos of Saturday's game
LHP Claussen seems to be ripe for callup
Club puts Griffey on gag order
Reds chatter

500 homers or 300 wins?
Cardinals' Womack brings success
Scott Rolen: Halfway to Cooperstown?
Injuries never far from discussion
Workout encouraging for Chicago's Prior
Devil Rays release 40-year-old McGriff
NL: Maddux's 297th comes on shutout
AL: Tejada goes 3-for-4 as O's defeat Rays
AAA: Louisville 4, Syracuse 2

Journey has made Pilgrim stronger
Scouts at college coaches' service
Summer, AAU coaches can make profit
Jones reunited with his biggest critic - Shaq
Clay upsets Pappas to win trials decathlon

Annual favorites will try to extend dominance today

Unlikely Yank leads British
Mickelson's under-control style paying off
Tiger back in majors title hunt
James, Pate enter Kroger Classic

Expectations for Athens less than Olympian
USADA on lookout for steroids
U.S. track team, hurt by doping, still a powerhouse
2004 Summer Olympics schedule
Olympics guide, multimedia

Armstrong wins stage; Tour title in sight
Tour De France photos, maps, multimedia

Top of the 2nd
What's up with that?
Quick chat with ... Boxing's Chris Webb
Test your sports trivia knowledge

Sports digest
Sports today on TV, radio

Which is your favorite local annual event?

Mail This Story (Click here) Send this story to a friend.

vs. South Florida (3-4)
• 1:00 p.m. Sat. Nov. 20
• Nippert Stadium
• Radio: WLW-AM 700


Paterno Won't Coach Penn St.-Temple Game

Paterno Won't Go to Penn St.-Temple Game

Spurrier Shadow Looms Large in Florida

No. 15 Rutgers Bracing for Historic Game

Hurricanes Stunned by Teammate's Murder

Big East logo
UC joins Big East
• A special section of complete coverage, as the UC Bearcats join one of the nation's elite sports conferences.


Terps Sign Gary Williams Through 2010-11

Bob Knight Approaches Winning Milestone

Buckeyes' Oden Content to Wait for NBA

Larranaga Enjoy Spoils of Final Four Run

Hansbrough Leads AP's All-America Team

AP's Preseason All-America Team

Gators Runaway Preseason No. 1 in Poll

Gators Return Starters to Defend Title

Texas Tech's Jackson Returns to Practice

Sutton Released From Hospital in Okla.


Paris Headlines AP's All-America Team

ACC New Powerhouse in Women's Basketball

Maryland Tops AP Women's Basketball Poll