Season ticket sales top 13,000
By Dan Wolken
October 26, 2006
University of Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson said the school went over the 13,000 mark in season ticket sales Wednesday, which is ahead of last year's pace. "We're really pleased with that," Johnson said.
The Tigers practiced at FedExForum Wednesday in conjunction with an athletics fund-raising event. All the unsold seats were marked, and there were only about 30 available seats in the lower bowl and 50 on the mezzanine level. FedExForum seats roughly 18,000 for basketball, and having 13,000 seats sold three weeks before the season is somewhat impressive considering only 22 schools last season averaged 13,000 fans per game.
Memphis' average attendance was 14,866 last year, which ranked 13th in the country.
"When we get to that point where every ticket is sold pre-season, that's when we really hit what we're trying to do here," coach John Calipari said. "I don't know if that will take back-to-back national champions; I don't have any idea what it will take, but that's when you really have it rolling. It's a little harder for us here. There's an NBA team, a Triple-A baseball team. We're not here alone but, this is truly a college basketball town and it continues to be that and it does a great job of supporting both the Grizzlies and us. But there can't be five or six schools that have that many season tickets."
The Tigers got their new practice jerseys delivered in time for Wednesday's practice. For sophomore guard Chris Douglas-Roberts, that meant he could finally be reunited with his preferred number, 14.
Douglas-Roberts wore No. 14 in high school, but when he arrived as a freshman last year, he wore No. 3 because senior Simplice Njoya already had claimed No. 14. So with Njoya gone, Douglas-Roberts jumped on the chance to go back to No. 14.
"I feel good in it, too," Douglas-Roberts said. "I'm glad to have it back, I promise."
Douglas-Roberts vacating No. 3 has allowed freshman Tre'Von Willis to claim it, which works out well for all sides since Willis' nickname is "Trey."
With Memphis' national reputation as an average outside shooting team, the Tigers will likely see a lot of zone defenses early in the season.
But even against a zone, the Tigers don't have to settle for jumpers, as Calipari pointed out Wednesday after Memphis spent a portion of practice working on its zone offense.
"What I want to make sure is we're an aggressive team, a great offensive rebounding team and we have some organization to what we're doing versus the zone," Calipari said. "We're only putting in two or three things (for the zone). I'm trying not to put in too many things."
-- Dan Wolken: 901-529-2365