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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Joey Dorsey's Consistent Inconsistency

Dorsey's inconsistency vexes

By Jim Masilak
November 30, 2006

Twice during the second half of the University of Memphis' 86-60 victory over Arkansas State on Wednesday night, the crowd at FedExForum lavished Tiger forward Joey Dorsey with standing ovations.

But following another maddeningly inconsistent performance from the 6-9, 260-pound junior, his teammates and coach John Calipari expressed growing frustration with a player who all too often shows only the rarest glimpses of his considerable potential.

"He can be so much better than what he sometimes plays like," senior guard Jeremy Hunt said. "When he plays to his potential, he knows he's a real superstar. I don't see why he wouldn't want to come out and do that every game."

Dorsey scored all 10 of his points during a breathtaking 2-minute, 24-second stretch after halftime during which he followed a layup and a pair of free throws with three straight slam dunks.

Prior to that outburst, however, Dorsey's only contribution came in the form of two rebounds and a technical foul for his part in a tussle with Indians center Theo Little.

Dorsey played just nine minutes in the first half after picking up two fouls and failing to take a shot from the field.

"He's a huge part of this team. (But his inconsistency is) what makes us mad at him," sophomore guard Antonio Anderson said. "We tell him he should be doing it the entire game. If he plays like (he did in the second half), it'll be the best thing for us."

Although he pulled down 13 rebounds in the season-opening win over Jackson State, Dorsey has not had more than seven boards in any of the four games since.

While he came in averaging a respectable 8.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game for the 14th-ranked Tigers (4-1), those numbers have largely been posted during spurts similar to the one he had against ASU (4-5).

"Joey's very explosive. He can go off at any time," Anderson said. "He's my friend, my teammate, and he's playing real good at times.

"Everybody goes through slumps. Maybe he's going through his. He's just got to get out of it."

Dorsey's second-half awakening Wednesday didn't last long, either. He fouled out with 9:15 left with 10 points and seven rebounds to his credit.

While Calipari also expressed concern with the play of forwards Robert Dozier and Pierre Niles, he saved his most stinging critique for Dorsey, who is consistent only in his inconsistency.

With sophomore forward Kareem Cooper still suspended, it is imperative that the Tigers get more consistent production from their most seasoned post player.

"It's going on three years now," Calipari said. "We've got to get these other guys ready just in case. We're trying to win at the highest level. If that's the way it is, and it ain't changing, we'll deal with it."

Dorsey declined an interview request after the game, but his teammates had plenty to say in his stead.

"We get frustrated with him because we know what he's capable of doing. We think he's the best rebounder in the country," sophomore guard Chris Douglas-Roberts said. "We all say something to him. We congratulate him when he's doing something good and when he's in lackadaisical mode, we tell him.

"Some games we just have to be patient with him. That's just Joey."

Given his physical gifts and undoubted talent, Hunt suspects it won't be long until Dorsey finds his stride.

Hunt, however, also added this caveat: It will only happen if Dorsey decides he wants it to happen.

"If you want to be a superstar at this level of basketball, if you score 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds), of course Coach is gonna want you to do that every night," Hunt said when asked if he thought Dorsey might be afraid of success.

"Once he realizes he's capable of living up to those expectations, it's gonna be real ugly."

-- Jim Masilak: 529-2311

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