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Friday, November 03, 2006

Geoff Calkins Commentary on Tigers Lack of Outside Shooting

From beyond the arc, shooters are missing in action

Geoff Calkins, Memphis Commercial Appeal
November 3, 2006

For advice about shooting, who better to ask than T-Head? You know, Taurean Moy, the former Booker T. Washington star, who once set the national high school record of 24 3-pointers in a game.

So, T-Head, what do the Tigers need to do to improve their 3-point shooting?
"They've got to get in the gym," he said, "and keep on shooting it."

There you go, lads. The rest is up to you.

Not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with opening your exhibition season with a 113-63 beat-down of LeMoyne-Owen.

"A lot of good stuff there," said Memphis coach John Calipari, and he was right.

The Tigers looked athletic, deep and snappy in their new uniforms. They're a lock to go back to the Elite Eight.

OK, they're a lock to go back to the Elite Eight if they get to take all their shots from within three feet.

Beyond that distance, well, you know how Hashim Bailey is alleged to have thrown that water bottle at a Memphis student?

It's not a big surprise it didn't hit her.

The Tigers took 29 3-pointers Wednesday night. They made five. Suddenly Seth Davis doesn't look like the one who's off the mark.

Davis, of, stopped by an early Memphis practice and wrote that "of all the major college practices I've witnessed over the years, (the Tigers) was one of the worst collective shooting displays I've seen."

Calipari dismissed it as one bad practice. Wednesday, he revised that somewhat.

"We've had two bad shooting days," he said.

Ahhhh, now it's two.

"If we made about five more threes and shot about 30-percent from three, what is it, about an 80-point spread?"

Actually, 5x3=15. The Tigers won by 50. And 50+15=65.

So if the Tigers had made five more 3-pointers, then the spread would have been 65. And if the Grizzlies had made five more free throws, then they would have beaten the Knicks the other day.

But you do what you do. What the Tigers did Wednesday wasn't good enough for an elite team.
Willie Kemp was 0-for-4 from behind the arc. Doneal Mack was 0-for-6. Tre'Von Willis was 0-for-3. Chris-Douglas Roberts was 0-for-2.

Of the regulars, only Antonio Anderson hit half his deep balls (2-for-4). When the fans started cheering for Jaren Sandridge, it was hard to know why.

Did they just want to see Calipari empty his bench? Or did they think Sandrige might help from the outside?

Sure enough, Sandridge went into the game and hit his only 3-pointer, bringing the Tigers final total to five.

That's exactly as many 3-pointers as Moy hit for LeMoyne-Owen, by the way, in 11 (instead of 29) shots.

So again, T-Head, any other thoughts?

"It's just an exhibition," he said.

And that's almost certainly true, and important, and the overwhelming theme in the Memphis locker room.

The Tigers are loaded with talent, all kinds of talent, and they have players who should be able to hit from long range. Anderson can shoot 3-pointers. So can Mack and Willis and Kemp and Douglas-Roberts and, geez, even Allen at times.

But let's not pretend outside shooting doesn't matter. Or have we already forgotten a certain game against UCLA?

In last year's Elite Eight game, the Tigers were 2-for-17 on 3-pointers. If they had made five more 3-pointers in that one, they would have advanced to the Final Four.

And that's why this matters, precisely because the stakes are so high. The Tigers have enough talent to be an elite team. Part of being an elite team is knocking down outside shots.
They didn't do that Wednesday. Here's hoping it doesn't become on trend.

"They'll be fine," said T-Head, which is comforting.

The guy isn't known to miss much.

To reach Geoff Calkins, call at 901-529-2364 or e-mail.

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