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Saturday, December 30, 2006

So Readers, Who is Your Tiger MVP So Far This Season and Why?

I want to hear from some of you who are reading this blog. I'll give you my MVP in a few days, but first let's hear about your opinions.

My Commentary on the Lamar Game

It is funny, because I didn't think the Tigers were as bad as the media
said in the first half of the game Thursday night. I went to the game
and then watched the game tape for the first half when I got home that

Did the Tigers miss a lot of really easy shots - yes. Did the free throw
shooting really suck - yes. Was the 3 point shooting poor once again -
yes. So where do you think I saw positives?

Ok, at one point in the first half Memphis had 7 assists on 8 field goals.
That is very efficient team-oriented ball. I'll take that. Memphis didn't
keep up the pace, but still managed to have 17 assists on 32 field
goals for the game.

I was also very encouraged by the defense. I know Lamar was only 5 and 7
going into this game, but I thought they played pretty good. Remember
their best two players are juco transfers. That normally means they get better as the season progresses as they get used to playing with their new teammates in a new system.

Memphis held Lamar to 22% shooting in the first half. I also think they forced 13 turnovers in the first half.

I was disappointed that Memphis couldn't seem to pull away in the first
half. The Tigers actually lead 25 to 13 at the 10 minute mark of the
first half, but went into a lull after that and were out scored 15 to
13 over the next 10 minutes.

Ok, so what about the players.

I thought CDR looked really good. Has was very consistent and had excellent moves getting to the bucket. He is the glue for this team.

While Antonio didn't do much offensively, he had a really solid game with 8 assists, 4 steals and a block in 21 minutes.

Between the two of them, the Tigers got 24 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals and a block. Very solid. CDR did the scoring and the rebounds while Antonio did the rest.

I was happy with Doneal Mack's game. He wasn't able to keep the hot hand he held at the MTSU game, but he played well and Cal rewarded him with 16 minutes.

again I thought Kareem Cooper was gamer. Did you see him step out to
about 12 feet and hit a little jumper from the right side? The guy has
several nice offensive moves. As I've mentioned before. He is a great
compliment to Joey Dorsey.

Look at their combined numbers: 10 of 16 FGs, 3 of 6 FTs, 16 RBs, 23 points, 5 TOs, 3 Blocks, 2 steals. Other than the turnovers, that is a nice contribution.

Jeremy had an off night, but he did hit a big 3 pointer early in the
second half that seemed to be the spark the Tigers needed. He also was
7 of 8 from the free throw line.

Andre Allen returned to his former self (save the Arizona game, it was his career offensive game). 0-2 FGs, 0-1 3pts, 0-2 FTs, 2 RBs, 1 assist, 1 TO, 2 steals. I sure hope Allen isn't on the floor in close games down the stretch.

Watching Robert Dozier is frustrating to me because I see these flashes of brilliance and then other times I'm wondering what he is doing. He seems to get lost for long stretches.
He has developed several very nice post spin moves. I'd like to see him
initiate the move a bit quicker because I think the delay he takes
allows the defense time to predict what is about to happen and gives
time for weak side help. I believe if Robert will start his move sooner
he'll score more often or get fouled.

Defensively, I was pretty happy with the Tigers. They are now ranked #9 nationally in total defense by Ken Pomeroy. I think the Tigers should have out rebounded Lamar by at last 5 or 6, but they were tied, 49 a piece.

I did like the assist to turnover ratio, 17 to 12.

Of course the free throws were awful, 17 of 31.

Unfortunately, I won't see the Cincinnati game until Friday night. I'm traveling Thursday night.

Hunt Is Spartplug As Tigers Hold Off Lamar

Hunt is sparkplug as Tigers hold off Lamar

(22) Tigers 87, Lamar 62

By Dan Wolken
December 29, 2006

It's been the worst-kept secret in town. Anybody who has watched the University of Memphis in recent weeks could have deduced that a starting role for senior guard Jeremy Hunt was only a matter of time.

Thursday, Hunt got his start. Sort of.

Starting the second half in place of foul-plagued Antonio Anderson, Hunt needed just one sequence -- and one scorer's table -- to spark the No. 22-ranked Tigers once again in an 87-62 victory over Lamar University.
Though Thursday wasn't one of Hunt's best overall performances this season -- he scored 12 points and went 2-for-13 from the field -- two plays early in the second half showed how invaluable he's been for Memphis, which improved to 10-3.

With the Tigers struggling to pull away from Lamar (5-8) and failing to establish a favorable pace, Hunt hit a 3-pointer with 16:35 left that gave Memphis a 48-32 lead. Then, seconds later, he dove into the scorer's table to intercept an outlet pass, leading to a transition opportunity that Robert Dozier converted for a layup, igniting the announced crowd of 16,154 at FedExForum and sparking Memphis to a second half that looked much better than the first.

"The key play in the game was when Jeremy Hunt dove for that ball," sophomore center Kareem Cooper said. "From there, we picked it up. Once he did that, it was all clicking and clicking."

For Memphis, clicking in the game's final 16 minutes helped cover up some of the scars from the first 24.

Against Lamar, the Tigers reverted tobad habits: Missing layups, failing to secure rebounds and making just 1-of-7 free-throws in the first half.

Though the Tigers led 38-28, it was perhaps their worst 20 minutes since Dec. 6, when they lost 76-58 at Tennessee. Fortunately for Memphis, Lamar wasn't much better, going 7-for-32 from the field and 10-for-17 from the free-throw line. The Cardinals, coached by former Memphis assistant Steve Roccaforte, also committed 14 turnovers in the half and 24 total.

"We played great defense but our offense was just terrible," sophomore guard Chris Douglas-Roberts, who scored a team-high 19 points, said. "When you hold a team to 26 percent you should be up at least 20 points"

Despite the Tigers scoring 50 points in the paint and committing just two second-half turnovers, Lamar was the more aggressive team on the boards and routinely beat the Tigers to loose balls. And Tigers coach John Calipari could only imagine how much better than 43.2 percent Memphis would have shot the ball if only it had made half the two-footers it missed.

"Any time you're disgusted with a 25-point win, you probably have your expectations pretty high," Calipari said. "We just played... I don't know how we played. To watch it, it's painful. We're not going to be able to do that to teams in our league, to just say we'll press and play and jam it in there. You've got to play offense and make plays and make layups and make open shots. Defensively, I saw some good stuff, but we've got a ways to go."

Hunt has been the exception to Calipari's frustrations all season. Though he had an off shooting night against Lamar, he's been the Tigers' most consistent player and even found a way to impact the game when he wasn't scoring in bunches.

Despite starting the second half, Hunt said he wouldn't lobby to make it permanent.

"Coming off the bench is good too because I want to just do what I do, and I can do that starting or coming off the bench. It doesn't matter," Hunt said. "(Anderson) had three fouls, so it was just a one-time thing. It was good. I just had to pick it up."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Official Box Score - Memphis 87, Lamar 62

Lamar vs Memphis
12/28/06 7:00 pm at Memphis, Tenn. (FedExForum)
VISITORS: Lamar 5-8
31 Todd, Currye........ f 4-11 3-5 2-4 3 4 7 2 13 1 4 0 2 26
33 Sanders, Lamar...... f 2-8 0-2 4-8 4 6 10 5 8 3 3 1 1 31
42 Davis, James........ c 8-17 0-1 4-6 3 2 5 5 20 2 6 2 2 28
21 Hopkins, Darren..... g 2-13 1-5 2-5 1 4 5 3 7 4 7 0 1 34
23 Barrow, Matthew..... g 1-4 1-1 0-0 1 4 5 4 3 0 2 0 0 34
01 Chappell, Brandon... 3-8 2-6 2-4 0 1 1 1 10 1 0 0 1 25
03 Mahoney, Shane...... 0-1 0-0 1-2 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 4
55 Nwevo, Lawrence..... 0-2 0-0 0-2 5 5 10 4 0 0 1 0 0 18
TEAM................ 3 3 6 1
Totals.............. 20-64 7-20 15-31 20 29 49 25 62 12 24 3 7 200
TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 7-32 21.9% 2nd Half: 13-32 40.6% Game: 31.3% DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 4-10 40.0% 2nd Half: 3-10 30.0% Game: 35.0% REBS
F Throw % 1st Half: 10-17 58.8% 2nd Half: 5-14 35.7% Game: 48.4% 9

HOME TEAM: Memphis 10-3
02 Dozier, Robert...... f 4-11 1-2 4-6 2 6 8 3 13 3 1 2 5 28
32 Dorsey, Joey........ f 5-7 0-0 1-3 3 4 7 3 11 0 3 1 1 24
01 Kemp, Willie........ g 2-5 2-3 2-4 0 2 2 2 8 3 2 0 1 28
12 Anderson, Antonio... g 2-5 0-1 1-3 1 1 2 3 5 8 0 1 4 21
14 DOUGLAS-ROBERTS, C.. g 9-16 1-2 0-0 3 4 7 2 19 0 0 0 0 30
04 Niles, Pierre....... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0+
05 Hunt, Jeremy........ 2-13 1-6 7-8 1 5 6 2 12 1 1 0 1 23
15 Allen, Andre........ 0-2 0-1 0-4 1 1 2 1 0 1 1 0 2 14
20 Mack, Doneal........ 3-6 1-4 0-0 1 2 3 3 7 1 2 0 0 16
42 Cooper, Kareem...... 5-9 0-0 2-3 5 4 9 3 12 0 2 2 1 16
TEAM................ 2 1 3
Totals.............. 32-74 6-19 17-31 19 30 49 22 87 17 12 6 15 200
TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 16-40 40.0% 2nd Half: 16-34 47.1% Game: 43.2% DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 5-13 38.5% 2nd Half: 1-6 16.7% Game: 31.6% REBS
F Throw % 1st Half: 1-7 14.3% 2nd Half: 16-24 66.7% Game: 54.8% 8,1
Officials: Curtis Shaw, Steven Pyatt, Kyle Neve
Technical fouls: Lamar-None. Memphis-None.
Attendance: 16154
Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total
Lamar......................... 28 34 - 62
Memphis....................... 38 49 - 87

Points in the paint-LU 22,MEM 50. Points off turnovers-LU 8,MEM 32.
2nd chance points-LU 13,MEM 17. Fast break points-LU 7,MEM 28.
Bench points-LU 11,MEM 31. Score tied-2 times. Lead changed-3 times.
Last FG-LU 2nd-02:32, MEM 2nd-00:43.
Largest lead-LU by 2 1st-19:33, MEM by 27 2nd-04:53.

#22 Memphis 87, Lamar 62

No. 22 Memphis Handles Lamar, 87-62
Douglas-Roberts leads with 19 points.

Dec. 28, 2006
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -Chris Douglas-Roberts had 19 points and seven rebounds, and No. 22 Memphis overcame a slow first half to beat Lamar 87-62 Thursday night.

Douglas-Roberts, the Tigers' leading scorer, shot 9-of-16 from the field and was one of five players to score in double figures for Memphis.

The Tigers (10-3) built their lead to 22 midway through the second half and coasted to their fourth win in the last five. The Cardinals shot just 31 percent.

Robert Dozier scored 13 points and Kareem Cooper finished with 12 points and nine rebounds for Memphis. Jeremy Hunt also had 12 points and Joey Dorsey added 11.

James Davis, the Cardinals' bulky 7-foot-1 center and leading scorer at 17.2 points a game, led Lamar (5-8) with 20 points. Currye Todd added 13.

The game was a showdown between teacher and pupil. Lamar first-year coach Steve Roccaforte was an assistant on the Memphis staff under John Calipari from 2001-03.

Memphis led 38-28 at halftime after a sloppy first half. Douglas-Roberts led the Tigers with 13 points. No Cardinals were in double figures.

Lamar used a pressing defense to disrupt the Memphis offense early. The scrambling Cardinals caused four early turnovers, and the Tigers missed six of their first seven shots from the floor. The inefficiency had Calipari up screaming at his team and shuffling players, trying to find the right combination.

Eventually, Memphis began connecting from long range against Lamar's zone, building a 12-point lead midway through the first half.

Former Tiger Player/Head Coach Larry Finch Replica Jerseys On Sale

Larry Finch Replica Jerseys On Sale
All proceeds to go to the Finch Foundation.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Champion Awards has produced a Larry Finch replica jersey that is being sold at home Tiger basketball games and online at Fans can begin purchasing the jerseys at the Tigers' Dec. 28 home game versus Lamar.

All proceeds from the selling of the jerseys will go to the Finch Foundation.

Mike Bowen, president and CEO, wanted a way to give back to a childhood idol, Larry Finch, and came up with the idea of the replica jersey to have people make donations to the Finch Foundation while also showing support for the program.

Cal Faces Former Assistant Steve Roccaforte Tonight

Cal faces ex-aide tonight

By Dan Wolken
December 28, 2006

John Calipari won his 350th game last Saturday, but tonight he will reach a different kind of career milestone.

One he would just as soon do without.

For the first time in his 15 years as a college head coach, Calipari will face one of his former assistants when Steve Roccaforte brings Lamar University into FedExForum to play the University of Memphis.

And regardless of the outcome, Calipari knows it won't be any fun to face Roccaforte, who spent three years as a Tigers assistant before going to Lamar, where he is in his first season as Billy Tubbs' successor.

"I want to get the game over with," Calipari said. "If he beats us, I'll be absolutely out of my mind. And if we beat him, it's, 'Ehhhhhh.' You're beating somebody you hope is getting wins, and that's why I don't like playing them. But it's a good game as a 'buy' game for them and it's an easy trip here."

To understand why Calipari dislikes playing his former assistants and coaching friends, you must understand the emotional involvement he has every night one of them plays.

Following a Memphis practice or game, one of his first tasks is getting a score update from Lamar or UTEP, where former assistant Tony Barbee is in his first year as head coach.

According to Roccaforte, when he recorded his biggest victory to date on Dec. 13 by beating Brigham Young, he already had a congratulatory phone message from Calipari by the time he walked off the court.

Roccaforte, who was an assistant at Lamar when the Cardinals played at FedExForum last season, said he expects to feel some difficult emotions tonight.

"This is my first head coaching job but it's my alma mater, so it's a unique situation," Roccaforte said. "Every time they play I watch them because (Memphis) is where I came from, and when (Calipari) got the job, I came with him on the first staff and I'm proud of that."

Though Roccaforte isn't thrilled about facing Calipari, he said playing the game is financially beneficial for the program and good preparation for the Southland Conference.

"Do I like playing him? No. Do I like seeing him? Yes," Roccaforte said. "And we talk quite a bit, especially since I got the job. He's been a really good friend and a great person to get advice from."

Roccaforte and Calipari are such good friends, Lamar used the Finch Center to practice on Wednesday. As Roccaforte was writing some notes to himself after practice, Tigers senior Jeremy Hunt came running to surprise him with a hug.

"He recruited me here, so I had to go talk to him," Hunt said. "It is (strange), but it's just how it is now. He's a good coach. I loved him when he was here, and I still love him now."

At the very least, tonight will be good emotional preparation for Calipari, who will go through it again on March 1 when the Tigers play at UTEP in a Conference USA matchup.

"It's not a good feeling to even start the game," Calipari said. "You know I'm worried about us. And then I'm playing the game without any thought about former (assistants). I'm worried about us getting better and us setting the tone of how we're trying to play.

"But after it's over, you don't have the same enjoyment."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365


No. 22 Tigers vs. Lamar

When, where: Today, 7 p.m., at FedExForum

TV, radio: WLMT (30), WREC-AM (600)

Tickets: 678-2331

Mack Finds His 3 Point Shot

Mack finds his 3-point shot, heats up Tigers

By Dan Wolken
December 26, 2006

Freshman guard Doneal Mack admits to a bit of homesickness during his first semester at the University of Memphis, but for a while, his teammates and coaches were truly worried it was a more serious situation.

For several weeks, the quiet 19-year old would sleep hours and hours on end, sometimes half the day or more, going to class, practice and little else.

Saturday, Mack might have finally awakened.

After failing to get off the bench in Wednesday's loss at Arizona, Mack responded against Middle Tennessee State by scoring a career-high 18 points with five rebounds and making 4-of-7 from 3-point range.

"It's like the rim was the ocean for him," senior Jeremy Hunt said. "He shot the ball really well, hustled, played good defense and did everything we're asking him to do."

It was the kind of explosive performance No. 22 Memphis had been waiting on from Mack, a top-50 recruit from Statesville, N.C., who initially signed with Florida but was denied admission after a paperwork snafu and ended up as the top-rated player in the Tigers' freshman class.

"I was in a comfort zone," Mack said. "It felt good, laughing out there and having fun. When you're having fun and hitting shots, it's a great feeling."

Perhaps it will be a turning point for Mack, who Memphis coaches believe will be a very good college player in time due to his jaw-dropping athleticism and ability to shoot from distance.

But so far, Mack's jump shot hasn't been consistent -- he's 29.8 percent for the season on 3-pointers -- and hasn't done other things to coach John Calipari's satisfaction.

"Doneal Mack was 2-for-16 at the shootaround before Arizona," Calipari said. "I watched it. Now, would you play him? Would you be like, 'I can't wait to get him in'? If he's going to go 2-for-16, not grab (loose) balls and be an OK defender, you can't play that guy. And I told him that."

One of the issues Mack still struggles with, admittedly, is that his confidence -- and thus, his entire game -- yo-yos depending on how well he's shooting.

Against MTSU, Mack swished his first 3-point attempt (and three out of his first four), and all the sudden he was hustling to loose balls and aggressively going after rebounds. In other games, he's sagged after missing a shot or two.

"I'm the type person, I'm a rhythm player," Mack said. "If I miss my first shot, sometimes I kind of get down. I need to get out of that. But once I hit my first shot, my confidence builds, and once I start hitting them, it's like, OK, I'm feeling it now. I'm not playing timid, I'm driving, playing defense."

In recent days, Calipari has been stressing pre-game preparation, urging players to spend time visualizing success on the court. And then, after a performance like Mack's on Saturday, to repeat whatever routine led up to it.

"Where has that been?" Calipari said. "I taped the halftime warmup to see how guys are warming up. I like watching tape anyway, so it's not a big deal. What I'm trying to say is, this isn't for funsies. You're not in high school. Prepare yourself for something special.

"Whatever you did to get ready for this game, that should be your routine to get yourself ready."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365


Tigers' next game

What: No. 22 Memphis vs. Lamar

When: Thursday, 7 p.m., FedExForum

TV-radio: WLMT-TV (Ch. 30); WREC-AM (600)

My Commentary on the Middle Tennessee State Game

Last night, I was able to watch the game tape on the Middle Tennessee State game from last Saturday. I was able to listen to the first half of the game live while I was driving last weekend, but watching the game film was considerably different than hearing the radio broadcast.

The radio broadcast (WREG AM 600, Dave Woloshin and Hank McDowell) came across much rosier than the reality of what I saw on the television. Yes, I thought the Tigers probably had one of their best games of the year. Just the 3 point shooting alone produced that. But, what sounded like a defensive thrashing looked less fierce on the television.

I was very excited about the mature play of both Willie Kemp and Donnell Mack. Both had their best games of their young careers. They were the big difference here.

Jeremy Hunt was again "Mr. Consistent". CDR recovered nicely from his flu game versus Arizona. I was very happy to see him hit two nice 3 point shots.

I thought Dozier, Anderson and Cooper were all pretty good. Cooper's low post moves are a delight after watching Dorsey. Don't get me wrong, I like Dorsey for blocks, rebounds and some junk baskets; but, as far as an offensive ability (and fast break dunks don't count), I'll take Cooper. The two of them compliment each other.

If you watched the Tigers last year, you saw them get bored during the conference schedule and begin playing just over the level of their competition. That is, of course, a worry for this team. No disrespect to MTSU and Lamar, but the Tigers are bigger, stronger, more talented and better than these guys.

I want to see Memphis win both halves of every game. If Cal is smart and properly motivating these guys they will view every game as four quarters and attempt to win all four quarters. That will help keep these guys sharp. It will help eliminate periods of lackluster lulls.

Memphis can only do so much to impress the NCAA committee. The best thing they can do is put teams away early and keep up the intensity the entire game.

Memphis' next goal should be to go undefeated in conference play. That will mean something to NCAA Selection Committee.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Former Tiger Rodney Carney Scores Career High 25 for A.I. less- Philadelphia 76ers

Former Tiger Sean Banks Playing for the NBA DL Anaheim Arsenal

Sean Banks Becomes Latest Weapon For Anaheim Arsenal - NBA

ANAHEIM, Calif., Dec. 18, 2006 The Anaheim Arsenal has acquired forward Sean Banks and waived forward Jerry Dupree.

Banks, 6-8, 210, who played collegiately at Memphis, was an early entry for the 2005 NBA Draft, but was not selected. Signed as a free agent by the New Orleans/Okla. City Hornets, he was assigned to the Tulsa 66ers of the D-League on Nov. 17, 2005.

Banks played in 12 games for Tulsa before being released by the Hornets on January 5, 2006, averaging 22.4 minutes, 12.7 points and 3.3 rebounds. He spent the summer of 2006 playing with Grises de Humacao in Puerto Rico, averaging 16.4 points and 5.1 rebounds in 24 games.

He was a first-team All-Conference USA selection as a freshman, as well as CUSA and Freshman of the Year in 2003-04 after averaging 17.4 points and 6.5 rebounds. As a sophomore he averaged 14.5 points and 5.8 rebounds.

Dupree played in 11 games for the Arsenal, averaging 14.7 minutes, 4.3 points and 3.3 rebounds.

Banks is expected to be in uniform when Anaheim (4-7) travels to Fort Worth (6-1) on Friday

Gary Parrish, CBS, "Five Teams that Needs a Visit From Santa"

Five teams that need a visit from basketball Santa
Dec. 26, 2006
By Gary Parrish
CBS Senior Writer

What Santa should've brought: How about a brain for Derrick Caracter? The talented forward has been a disaster at Louisville, and he's now at home, sent there by Rick Pitino because he doesn't work, listen or do anything else a freshman should do when he has a national championship coach trying to help get him to the NBA. It's unclear whether Caracter will return. But if he's smart -- and that's a big if, even bigger than Caracter before he admirably dropped 50 pounds and got into shape at Louisville -- he'll re-evaluate his situation, show some humility and finally become the basketball player everybody so badly wants him to become. Otherwise, he can call fellow New Jersey native Sean Banks and see how things are going with the Anaheim Arsenal.

Ohio State
What Santa should've brought: How about a healed right wrist for Greg Oden? A 7-0 center, Oden is a monster in the paint, and whichever NBA team is lucky enough to get him could have a shot to win NBA titles in five years. Still, the Ohio State freshman isn't so overwhelming that he can handle the best with his dominant hand basically off-limits, and that was obvious Saturday when Florida's Al Horford and Joakim Noah taught the kid a lesson and proved he was human. Oden won't see a frontline like that unless he faces Florida again in the NCAA Tournament; that's the good news. But we won't know how truly great the Buckeyes can be until their phenom again has full use of his right hand.

What Santa should've brought: How about a shooter? The first time I spoke with Vance Walberg about his innovative offense that has been adopted by Memphis, the current Pepperdine coach explained that for things to run perfectly a team needs two drivers, two shooters and a big man who can run. Last season, Memphis had three guys who could drive (Darius Washington, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Shawne Williams), four guys who could shoot (Washington, Williams, Rodney Carney and Antonio Anderson) and a big man who could run (Joey Dorsey). Consequently, the Tigers finished 33-4 and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. But of those shooters, only Anderson is still around, and he's shooting 23.4 percent from 3-point range this season compared to 36.5 percent last season. As a team, Memphis is making only 31.5 percent of its 3-point attempts, and of the regulars only Jeremy Hunt is sinking more than 33.3 percent. So it's no wonder the Tigers are 9-3 with only one good win (against Kentucky). It's because they're running an offense averaging 24.6 3-point attempts per game, but they're making just 7.8 of them.

What Santa should've brought: How about some games on the West Coast? While you have to admire Mark Few's willingness to schedule tough the season after losing Adam Morrison and J.P. Batista, the slate of games has clearly taken a toll. Already, the Zags (based in Spokane, Wash.) have been to New York twice (to play North Carolina and Butler in November; to play Duke last week) and to suburban Atlanta once (to play Georgia on Dec. 16), and next week it's another trip east for a Jan. 3 game at Virginia. Given Gonzaga's 9-4 record (and terrible performance against Georgia), it appears all the traveling is too much. But the good news is that the Zags should be more than prepared for league play, and all the neutral site games will make the NCAA Tournament format seem familiar. For those in search of a silver lining, that is it.

What Santa should've brought: How about some chemistry? There is no reason a team featuring Demetris Nichols, Eric Devendorf, Paul Harris, Josh Wright and Terrence Roberts should be 0-3 against the only three schools it's played that are seemingly capable of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Alas, Syracuse is, and two of the losses (to Wichita State and Drexel) came at home. Regardless, the Orange are still 10-3, and they still have a Hall of Fame coach in Jim Boeheim capable of figuring everything out. Because of that, I believe this team will get straight, but there's no denying things aren't going as planned.

C-USA Conf Members RPI and Records

SMU (7-1) #17
Memphis (9-3) #23
UAB (7-5) #64
Tulsa (7-2) #125
Houston (5-5) #137
Southern Miss (4-2) #148
UCF (6-2) #154
Rice (3-4) #162
Tulane (4-4) #207
UTEP (7-6) #223
Marshall (3-8) #226
ECU (2-6) #324

Conference #10
Non conference aggregate record: 63-47 vs. Division 1

2006-2007 Lamar Cardinals Basketball Outlook

Change is the order of the day for Lamar Cardinals basketball. Steve
Roccaforte has replaced coaching icon Billy Tubbs on the sidelines.
Roccaforte had spent the previous three seasons as Tubbs’ top assistant and
recruiting coordinator, and Tubbs will remain as the school’s director of athletics.
The Cardinals return two starters and five letterwinners from last
year’s 17-14 squad that finished tied for fourth place in the Southland
Conference standings with a 9-7 mark. Lamar advanced to the semifinals of
the SLC Tournament before losing at top-seeded and eventual tournament
champion Northwestern State.

Roccaforte will have the unenviable task of replacing Alan Daniels,
who led the team and the conference in scoring for the second straight season
at 23.5 points per game. In fact, the Cardinals return just 24 percent of
their scoring and 13 percent of their rebounding from last season.

The recruiting haul landed five junior college transfers and three freshman
that will need to have an immediate impact for the Cardinals to contend
for the conference championship. The class was heavy in frontcourt players,
which was definitely a need area with the departure of four players that were
6-9 or taller.

Led by junior college All-America center James Davis (7’0”, 300-
pounds), the Cardinals added five players that are at least 6’6” and weigh at
least 230 pounds. That should bolster the team’s interior defense and


Senior Brandon Chappell (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen HS) and junior
Matthew Barrow (Baton Rouge, La./Southern Lab HS) are the lone returning
starters for the Cardinals.

Chappell (6-0, 172) played in all 31 games last season, making 23
starts. He averaged 8.1 ppg and 3.3 rpg, and led the team with 124 assists
(4.0 apg). He was second on the team with 57 three-pointers made and shot
41.0 percent (57-of-139) from three-point range.

Barrow (6-4, 185) started 24 of 26 games before missing the final five
games with a season-ending knee injury. He is the team’s leading returning
scorer at 12.3 ppg. He averaged 2.4 rpg and was second on the team in
assists with 99 (3.8). He shot 41.8 percent from the field and 83.3 percent
(80-of-96) from three-point range.

Also returning to the back court is senior Dee Burchett (Memphis,
Tenn./Southwest Tennessee CC). Burchett (6-3, 200) was slowed by a sore
knee early in the season and played in just eight games.

Junior college transfers Darren Hopkins (Baltimore, Md./Panola JC)
and Currye Todd (Byhalia, Miss./Northwest Mississippi CC) are expected to
provide some scoring punch and long-range shooting. Hopkins averaged
17.0 ppg and 4.0 apg as a sophomore last season at Panola JC.
Todd (6-4, 190), who redshirted last season while completing his
degree requirements, averaged 13.0 ppg and 5.0 rpg as a sophomore at
Northwest Mississippi CC during the 2004-05 season.

Shane Mahoney (Simi Valley, Calif./Stoneridge Prep), a 6-1, 175-
pound point guard, averaged 9.4 ppg, 5.1 apg and 3.1 rpg this season. He
scored over 1,000 points and dished out over 500 assists during his prep


Lamar, who lost nearly its entire front line from last year’s team, added
five players to reload the front court. All five players weigh at least 230
pounds, which is expected to help the Cardinals rebounding and interior

The front court additions are led by junior college transfers James Davis (Minneapolis, Minn./Schoolcraft JC), Lamar Sanders (Hickory,
Miss./Northwest Mississippi CC) and Stephen Musa (Lagos,
Nigeria/Redlands CC).

Davis (7-0, 300) ranked 18th in the country in scoring at 21.2 ppg and
12th in rebounding at 12.1 rpg, and shot 67.9 percent from the field. He was
named first-team NJCAA All-America selection and first-team all-region.
Sanders (6-6, 240), who redshirted last season while completing his
degree requirements, averaged 18.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg and shot 69.0 percent
from the field as a sophomore in 2004-05. He earned NJCAA All-America

Musa (6-9, 245) was slowed by a foot injury last season and averaged
4.0 ppg and 4.1 rpg. He shot 52 percent from the field and helped Redlands
post a 27-6 record and advance to the regional finals.

The Cardinals also added high schoolers Franklin Reed (Coldspring,
Texas/Coldspring HS) and Coy Custer (League City, Texas/Clear Creek

Reed (6-8, 280) averaged 21 ppg, 14 rpg and 12 bpg last season as a
senior. He helped Coldspring reach the Class 3A regional final for the first
time in school history.

Custer (6-10, 235) averaged 13 ppg, 9 rpg and 3.1 bpg and was a unanimous
All-District 24-5A selection. He helped Clear Creek post a 28-9
record and advance to the regional quarterfinals.


Lamar will be embarking on its 55th season as a four-year institution.
The Cardinals open the regular season Nov. 11 with a home game against
Texas Southern, which will be earliest start to the season in school history.
Lamar travels to College Station for Texas A&M’s Tournament where
the Cardinals will play the host Aggies, Saint Louis and Louisiana Tech in a
round-robin format.

The Cardinals return home to host the University of New Orleans and
St. Gregory’s before embarking on a three-game road trip with games at
Tulsa, Oral Roberts and Rice.

Lamar closes out the non-conference schedule with home games
against Brigham Young, Northern Illinois and Louisiana College, and road
games at Wyoming and Memphis.

There are lots of changes in the Southland Conference schedule and
format for the 2006-07 season. Louisiana-Monroe left the league to join the
Sun Belt Conference while the conference welcomed Texas A&M-Corpus
Christi and Central Arkansas.

The 12-team league will be split into two six-team divisions. Lamar is
in the same division as McNeese State, Nicholls State, Southeastern
Louisiana, Northwestern State and Central Arkansas. The other division will
be Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, Texas-Arlington, Texas-San
Antonio, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Texas State.

Lamar will play the other five team’s in its division twice, once home
and once away, and will play schools from the other division once, three
home and three away. The Cardinals will play Stephen F. Austin, Texas
State and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at home and play Texas-San Antonio,
Sam Houston and Texas-Arlington on the road.

The SLC Tournament will be played at the Campbell Center in
Houston, which marks the first time since the 2000-01 season that the tournament
will be contested at a neutral site. The top two teams from each division
and the next four teams with the best record will advance to the eightteam
tournament. The tournament winner will receive the league’s automatic
bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Info on Lamar's Junior Forward Lamar Sanders and Center James Davis

Lamar Sanders

JUNIOR COLLEGE: Played for coach Don Skelton, who is now a Lamar assistant coach, at Northwest Mississippi CC ... Averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds as a sophomore in 2004-05 ... Shot 69% from the field, 75% from the free throw line and 38% from three-point range ... Named NJCAA first-team All-American ... Helped Northwest Mississippi post a 30-4 overall record and a 12-0 mark in conference play ... Helped the Rangers win the Region XXIII championship, place seventh at the NJCAA National Tournament and finish the season ranked No. 4 in the final NJCAA poll ... As a freshman, averaged 13.6 ppg and 7.2 rpg, and was named Region XXIII freshman of the year ... Shot 65% from the field and scored in double-figures in 25 of 34 games ... Led the team with 66 blocked shots ... Helped team post a 30-4 record (11-1 in conference), win the Region XXIII championship, advance to the Sweet 16 of the NJCAA National Tournament and finish the year ranked No. 7 in the final NJCAA poll.

HIGH SCHOOL: Played for coach Paul Henry at Hickory Flat HS ... As a senior, averaged 29 ppg and 14.7 rpg, and scored a career-best 62 points in a game ... Named first-team all-state as a junior and senior.

James Davis

JUNIOR COLLEGE: Played for coach Carlos Briggs at Schoolcraft CC (Livonia, Mich.) ... As a sophomore, averaged 21.2 ppg (18th in country) and 12.2 rpg (12th in country), and shot 67.9% from the field ... MCCAA player of the year ... Named MVP of the regional tournament ... Named NJCAA first-team All-America and first-team all-region.

HIGH SCHOOL: Played for coach Brett McNeal at Minneapolis North HS ... Averaged 19 ppg, 17 rpg, 4 bpg and 4 apg as a senior ... Helped North HS post a 29-2 record and win a state championship ... Named MVP of the state championship game ... Named first-team all-state and all-city.

Lamar Set to Play at No. 22-Ranked Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Coming off a big home win over Northern Illinois, Lamar University is set to play its second game this season against a ranked opponent as the Cardinals play at No. 22-ranked Memphis Thursday at FedEx Forum. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

Lamar is 5-7 overall is coming off a 74-53 win over Northern Illinois on Dec. 20 and has won two of its last three games. Memphis is 9-3 overall and is coming off an 86-46 home win over Middle Tennessee State on Saturday. The Tigers are ranked No. 22 in the AP Top 25 poll and No. 23 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll.

This will be the fourth meeting between Lamar and Memphis with the Tigers holding a 2-1 all-time series advantage. Memphis won last year's meeting, 108-83, on Nov. 28, 2005. The Tigers won the first-ever meeting, 67-45, on Dec. 15, 1959 in Memphis and Lamar won the second meeting, 82-69, on Dec. 2, 1968 in Memphis. Lamar coach Steve Roccaforte spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Memphis (2000-03) under current coach John Calipari.

Junior Lamar Sanders set season highs of 21 points and 17 rebounds in the Cardinals' win over NIU. It also marked his fifth double-double of the season. Sanders is second on the team in scoring at 13.0 ppg and leads the team and the Southland Conference in rebounding at 9.9 rpg. He also ranks sixth in the SLC in assists (3.67) and second in field goal percentage (.606).

Junior James Davis is coming off a good all-around game against NIU with 14 points, five rebounds, six assists, three steals and a season-high four blocked shots. He leads the team and ranks second in the SLC in scoring at 17.2 ppg and is second in rebounding at 8.5 rpg.

Junior Darren Hopkins is the only other Cardinal averaging double-figures at 12.9 ppg, which ranks 16th in the SLC. He also ranks fourth in three-point percentage (.453) and sixth in three-pointers made per game (2.42).

Lamar is averaging 70.7 ppg and is shooting 41.2 percent from the field, 36.9 percent from 3-point range and 62.5 percent from the free throw line. The Cardinals have a minus-3.7 scoring margin, a minus-1.3 rebound margin and a minus-0.6 turnover margin.

Chris Douglas-Roberts leads Memphis in scoring at 15.6 ppg and is shooting 55.1 percent from the field and 70.4 percent from the free throw line. Jeremy Hunt is second on the team in scoring at 13.1 ppg and has come off the bench in every game. He is the team's top three-point shooter at 40 percent (28-of-70).

Robert Dozier is the only other Tiger averaging double-figures at 10.9 ppg and is averaging 5.8 rpg. He is shooting 52.6 percent from the field and 76.5 percent from the free throw line. Joey Dorsey leads the team in rebounding at 9.6 rpg.

Memphis is averaging 81.6 ppg and is shooting 45.9 percent from the field, 31.5 percent from 3-point range and 60.5 percent from the free throw line. The Tigers have a plus-14.8 scoring margin, a plus-6.2 rebound margin and a plus-3.3 turnover margin.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I'm on Vacation Until Wednesday, Won't See MTSU Game Until Then

I won't have a commentary on the game today as I'll be out of town and won't get to see the game film until Wednesday. More later.............

Tigers Play Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders Today

Holiday's over for U of M pressure

By Dan Wolken
December 23, 2006

When the University of Memphis began this season, coach John Calipari thought the team might have to use its full-court press to make up for other shortcomings.
But deep into December, the No. 18 Tigers have used the press less and less, practically abandoning it in Wednesday's 79-71 loss at Arizona.

So when the Tigers take the FedExForum floor today against Middle Tennessee State, it's clear what their most pressing issue will be.

"We haven't used it in a while, but we're going to start our press (today)," assistant coach John Robic said. "We have to get back to that. That's something as a staff we've talked about, to regain our identity a little bit."

Last season, Memphis installed its run-and-press system, which quickly became part of the program's fabric as the Tigers rolled to a 33-4 record.

But Memphis has struggled at times this year to get much out of its press, especially against quality opponents like Georgia Tech and Tennessee, neither of which were rattled by the Tigers' pressure.

Even Austin Peay had a fairly easy time breaking the press for about 20 minutes on Dec. 14 after committing a handful of turnovers early.

One of the reasons, senior guard Jeremy Hunt said, is general confusion.

Though a full-court press can often look like nothing more than chaos, it's actually an intricate system in which every player on the court must understand his responsibility, or else give up an easy layup in transition.

"I think we need a lot of work on the press," Hunt said. "We still have a couple guys, including myself from time to time, who get messed up. We're sometimes lost on the press, but as long as we get back and play halfcourt defense and hold a team to the percent we want them to, we'll be good."

For Memphis, which can use up to 10 players in a given game, speeding things up with a press seems like a natural fit, especially in Conference USA, where the Tigers can win many nights simply by having more athletes than the opponent.

That the Tigers have gotten away from it lately isn't by choice.

Against Arizona, Memphis backed off the press partly because sophomore guard Chris Douglas-Roberts was suffering from a stomach ailment. But that was only part of the story.

"We couldn't get in it, to be honest with you," coach John Calipari said after the game. "We were trying to get in it, and we couldn't."

One of the reasons, Robic said, is that Arizona was getting the ball inbounds too quickly for Memphis to set up in a press.

"It worked the one time we used it; early in the game we got a turnover," Robic said. "They get the ball in so fast that, it's tough to press a team that does that. And with Chris being sick and starting the game off right there, we just didn't think he had the energy to be able to do it. We had the game going up and down fast enough anyway. Normally when we press it's to get teams to play faster than they normally do."

Sophomore guard Antonio Anderson said today would be a prime opportunity to get some work in on the press with just three games left until C-USA play begins.

"We backed off a little bit because Chris was sick and he's a big part of it there up front with me," Anderson said.

"Some guys don't know it too well like we do, since they put it in last year and we were here for that. That was a big part of it. We'll be back in it (today). Chris is feeling a whole lot better and he's moving better, so we'll be in it."

-- Dan Wolken, 529-2365

Friday, December 22, 2006

More Commentary on the Arizona Game

For those of you who did not see the game, I did see it. It was carried on Fox Sports - Pac 10 Network as part of a double header with Washington vs. LSU following.

I'll be a bit more detailed in my analysis since many of you may not have seen the game film.

Memphis started out the game a bit tight in my opinion. They missed several 2 and 3 foot shots to start trhe game, but were still able to build a mild lead early as Arizona struggled. Chase Budinger, their very talented freshman, didn't seem to be in the game early and Marcus Williams picked up several personal fouls early.

There was an early sequence when both teams ran up and down the floor with a series of steals, layups, dunks and no breaks in the action. While Arizona seemed to hang with the Tigers, Lute Olson clearly decided that running all out with Memphis was not a good idea. After that Arizona seemed to control the tempo more to their liking.

Andre Allen was an early spark hitting 2 3-pointers. As I watched him spot up for the first shot, I was saying "no don't shoot...........great shot". His early play along with excellent play from Jeremy Hunt gave the Tigers their best lead.

Hunt had several dribble drives and hit a very nice tear drop floater from the right side on a fast break. The Tigers scored on two other fast breaks where the crowd wanted charging calls. One was Andre Allen and the other CDR. Both were probably good no calls.

Joey Dorsey had several nice put backs and had eight rebounds in the first half. He did pick up two early fouls and Cal took him out, but, he came back in with about 8 or 9 minutes and played more even with the 2 fouls.

The Tigers closed the half pretty strong. Andre Allen was fouled on a 3 pointer and actually hit two of three free throws. He looked like he really knew what he was doing. Amazingly, the announcers didn't pick up on his very low season free throw average.

Coming out of the break, Arizona scored a few basket as Chase Budinger really started to get into the flow of the game. He hit several short range jumpers and Ivan Radenovic had one or two three point plays in the lane.

Memphis went cold from the outside going 0 for 10 in the first 15 minutes of the second half. Where Memphis had been pretty aggressive driving the lane in the first half, they just rotated the ball around the horn in the second half and settled for 3 point jumpers. Memphis found itself down 9 and 11 points on several occasions.

Jeremy Hunt then took over scoring seveal times including 2 3-pointers late to keep it close. Kareem Cooper was very solid in the later stages of the 2nd half on offensive boards and short post moves.

Memphis made one final run cutting the lead to 4 points with just under 2 minutes to go. Arizona was called for a walk and Memphis had a chance, but Andre Allen came rushing down the court and threw up a very wild shot in the lane (which was very crowded). Arizona rebounded and was fouled quickly.

Arizona was very strong from the free throw line, which basically eliminated any chance Memphis had to catch up.

Antonio Anderson had two nice dribble drives in the first half but was awlful from the outside. He threw up a 3 point attempt in the second half that literally missed the rim and the backboard. The Arizona crowd instinctively started chanting "airball". It was very bad.

To me Robert Dozier was the biggest disappointment, followed by Antonio Anderson. CDR was sick and was a step slower than normal. Allen, Hunt and Cooper all had very good games. Dorsey was ok, but he committed too many fouls and his tendency to pull the ball down low and then go up for a lay up or dunk resulted in a few tied up balls and some offensive charges.

Andre Allen Doubtful for MTSU game Following Mild Concussion

Tigers' Allen released from hospital after mild concussion

By The Commercial Appeal
December 22, 2006

University of Memphis junior point guard Andre Allen suffered a mild collision at practice today and was released from Methodist Hospital this afternoon after being examined, the school said.

Allen collided with teammate Jeremy Hunt in practice at FedExForum this afternoon. He was transported by ambulance to Methodist Hospital, examined and then released after the diagnosis. Hunt was on the floor after the collision for about 10 minutes and got up rubbing his head, but was pronounced fine by emergency medical personnel on the scene.

Hunt will likely play Saturdday against Middle Tennessee State at FedExForum at noon; Allen is considered doubtful and will be evaluated daily by the school's medical staff.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

My Commentary on the Arizona Game

Well, if you read my keys to victory the other day, I'd say I was pretty accurate. The Tigers did three of the five items I believed were key to garner a victory. They shot well enough from 3 point range to win (30%ish), they hit their free throws (at least 65%) and the Joey Dorsey/Kareem Cooper combo was pretty solid (save the turnovers and missed layups). However, I also said they needed to have 13 turnovers or less (they had 16) and lastly I said they had to have double figures from CDR, Antonio Anderson and Jeremy Hunt. Only Hunt came through.

Where the hell was Robert Dozier? Yes, I know he played, but where was he. It was like he wasn't present on the floor. Star players can't disappear in games. I mean you can maybe not have a great game occasionally, but you can't disappear. Look at Dozier's numbers, 1 of 5 FGs, 0 of 2 3FGs, 4 RBs, 2 AST, 1 TO in 29 minutes. If you aren't going to contribute in scoring because your having an off night, you have to step up in other ways - rebounding, defense, assists, leadership (being vocal).

Ok, enough on Robert.

CDR - he was sick. What can you say? Yesterday on talk radio I heard people complaining that even guys hurt or sick have to step up in big games. I heard at least two different people refer to Michael Jordan being sick in the NBA finals against Utah. Come on people...........your comparing CDR to Michael Jordan. That is one, not fair, and two, just plain stupid. CDR is a good player, but he is a sophomore on a Top 20 to Top 25 type team. He is no Michael Jordan, not even a shadow of Michael. Give the guy a break. When I have the flu, I could care less if I even pay my mortgage.

Now, if you've been reading this blog for any time at all, you've heard me bash Andre Allen. So, with all due respect...........Andre, excellent game. My hat is off to you. Without you and Jeremy Hunt, Memphis gets blown out. Now, I do have to make a point that with Memphis only down 4 with the ball, you were wild, out of control, and made an awlful drive to the basket in heavy traffic. I'm not saying Memphis wins if they score there, but, well it certainly ended any chance to make it interesting.

Jeremy Hunt............thank you. 8 of 16, 4 of 9 3 pointers, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, no turnovers. And, Jeremy wanted the ball in the second half. He was the leader of the team.

Kareem Cooper is working his way into a starting role. Find anything bad with his game. I challenge you. He may not be as good a defender as I'd like to see, but he doesn't commit dumb Joey Dorsey like fouls. Cooper has great soft hands and he has some pretty nice post moves. Cooper really makes this team much, much better.

So, am I disappointed about the loss, yes, of course. But, I feel ok about it. I am the most concerned about our RPI position heading into conference play. The Tigers are #24 today, but that is most likely the lowest position we will see for the remainder of the year. The Tigers have three more games against teams with higher a RPI than they have (Gonzaga #15, SMU #21 twice). The Tigers are lucky that SMU is playing so well; however, their RPI will drop a lot also. Their remaining non-conference games are against Oklahoma #105, North Carolina A&T #295, Texas Pan American #254, and Brown #201.

The Tigers have the following non-conference foes: MTSU #216, Lamar #236, Cincinnati #143, and Gonzaga #15.

#18 Memphis 71, #9 Arizona 79

No. 18 Memphis Loses 79-71 to No. 9 Arizona in Fiesta Bowl Classic
Tigers suffer third defeat of season.
Dec. 20, 2006

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Chase Budinger and Ivan Radenovic led a second-half surge that lifted No. 9 Arizona to a 79-71 victory over No. 18 Memphis in the Fiesta Bowl Classic on Wednesday night.

Budinger scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half when Radenovic had 12 of his 18 as the Wildcats (9-1) erased a five-point deficit to win their ninth straight game in their first meeting with a nationally ranked opponent this season.

Mustafa Shakur led the Wildcats with 23 points and had six rebounds and five assists.

Jeremy Hunt led the Tigers (8-3) with 21 points, including 4-of-9 from 3-point range. Andre Allen added 15 points and Kareem Cooper had 11 for Memphis.

Joey Dorsey, the Tigers' big forward, had eight points and five rebounds but played only 18 minutes and fouled out with 3:41 to play.

Arizona went 24-for-31 from the free throw line compared with 7-for-10 for Memphis.

After going 6-for-11 from 3-point range in the first half, the Tigers missed their first 10 from beyond the arc in the second half.

"We quit penetrating the zone," Allen said. "We were just passing the ball around the horn and that hurt us. We should have kept doing what we were doing in the first half, and that's penetrating the zone and making open shots."

Down 38-33 at halftime, the Wildcats outscored Memphis 22-8 to start the second half. Radenovic had two three-point plays in the run, and his two free throws gave Arizona a 55-46 lead with 13:13 to play.

Antonio Anderson's driving layup cut it to 58-55 with 9:54 to play, but the Wildcats scored the next eight points to go up 66-55 on Daniel Dillon's layup with 7:41 left.

Cooper's three-point play on a rebound basket cut Arizona's lead to 75-71 with 2:05 to play, but two free throws by Budinger and two by Shakur in the final 1:33 sealed the victory.

Consecutive dunks by the 6-foot-9, 260-pound Dorsey gave the Tigers a 33-27 lead and they were up five at the half. But Arizona caught up in a hurry as Budinger hit a 3-pointer, then a Memphis turnover resulted in a fastbreak dunk by Jawann McClellan tied it at 38 1:12 into the half.

Radenovic's three-point play with 17:10 left put the Wildcats ahead 43-42, their first lead since it was 4-2.

The Fiesta Bowl Classic had been a four-team tournament for the past 21 years, but the format was changed to make it a one-game matchup of elite programs.

Allen was 3-for-3 and Hunt 2-for-2 from 3-point range in the first half.

Memphis coach John Calipari was critical of the effort shown by some of his players but said the game was a learning experience.

"This is what we are - a young team that's still learning, that I'm learning about," Calipari said. "Over the long haul, this team can be a good team. We're just OK right now."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Must Win Situation for the Tigers, Keys to Victory

I not implying this is a must win game for Memphis..........I am saying out right that this is a must win game for Memphis.

Memphis only has a handful of games that will make a difference in the RPI and the eyes of the NCAA Tournament Committee. So far they are 1 and 2 in those games (Georgia Tech - Loss, Kentucky - Win, Tennessee - Loss).

After tonight the Tigers only have Gonzaga (on the road where the Zags never, and I repeat never lose).

Unfortunately, Conference USA is still pretty weak with Houston a lowly #122 in the RPI and UTEP #222 (poor Tony Barbee). Yes, there are a few bright spots - SMU #29, UAB #36, Tulsa #78, but I'm not convinced those numbers can stay there.

Keys to victory

1) Must shoot better than 30% from 3 point range
2) Must shoot better than 65% from the foul line
3) Must limit turnovers to under 13
4) Must get 14 points and 14 boards from Dorsey/Cooper combination
5) Must get double figures from CDR, Anderson and Hunt

Tigers Need Big Win in Big Game vs. Arizona

Tigers need big win in big game vs. Arizona

University of Memphis coach John Calipari says tonight's showdown with Arizona isn't a big game, but he sure doesn't want to watch his team let a rare opportunity to secure a high NCAA Tournament seed get away. After tonight, Gonzaga will be the only ranked opponent left on the Tigers' schedule.

By Dan Wolken
December 20, 2006

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Today there are two more chances. Tomorrow, only one will be left.
Sure, the University of Memphis might very well sweep through Conference USA this season, be one of the country's hottest teams come March and have legitimate claims to a high seed in the NCAA Tournament.

But realistically, few December games could be bigger toward that end than tonight's, in which the No. 18 Tigers play No. 9 Arizona.
Though Memphis will leave here with one more chance to significantly improve its resume -- at Gonzaga on Feb. 17 -- even that game won't match this one in terms of opportunity for the Tigers to form their national reputation.

"It's not such a big game, it's a quality game," junior point guard Andre Allen said. "If we win ... it could change our seed."

That pretty much has been the theme for Memphis (8-2) this week. Coach John Calipari has stressed that tonight's game is huge if the Tigers can win, but they won't be penalized by a loss given that Arizona (8-1) is ranked No. 1 in the

RPI and only loses 1.5 home games per year on average under coach Lute Olson.

However, Memphis already has two losses to borderline top-25 teams -- by 18 points at Tennessee and to Georgia Tech on a neutral court -- making it impossible to envision a scenario in which the Tigers can earn a top-four NCAA seed without beating either Arizona or Gonzaga.

"If we win, it's huge," said Calipari, whose team also has a Jan. 4 home game against Cincinnati of the Big East Conference. "If you don't, you just lost on the road to a top-ranked team who never loses here who has a chance of doing some unique things.

"When you play ranked opponents, you are playing for your seed. This is an important game because it's the next one. It's not a big game. It's not a league game for either of us. Is there more importance because of seeding? Yeah, but if you ask them, it's the same thing."

In some ways, tonight is almost as crucial for Arizona, which has a 41-1 record in the Chase Fiesta Bowl Classic, the official designation for this game.

Though the Wildcats will obviously have a chance to win the Pac-10 and earn a top seed, they are yet to face a ranked team this year despite a demanding schedule that already includes victories over Illinois and Louisville.

"I think we look at it as, it could set us up for a No. 1 seed in the tournament," Arizona sophomore forward Marcus Williams said. "You say 'one game at a time,' but with the strength of schedule, it puts us in position to accomplish that."

Another potential subplot to this game is Arizona sophomore guard J.P. Prince, the former White Station star who was recruited by Memphis and Vanderbilt before signing with the Wildcats.

Prince's career, however, hasn't blossomed thus far. He's played just three games this season and has reportedly been battling an undisclosed illness; meanwhile, speculation has swirled that he's considering a mid-season transfer.

Arizona didn't make Prince available to the media on Tuesday, but he did talk to reporters Sunday after the Wildcats beat Houston 87-62, a game he didn't play in but did watch from the bench.

According to the Tucson Citizen, when asked about the possibility of a transfer, Prince said, "We'll see how things go."

Whether Prince plays or not, the Tigers shouldn't lack the motivation to put forth their best effort of the season.

"It's hard to play on the road but I don't believe any of us should have pressure," freshman guard Doneal Mack said. "We've got a chip on our shoulder. Nobody respects us, so we should play with no conscience. I think if we win this, it can change our season."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

Former Tiger Darius Washington's Ex-Girlfriend Wants Child Support

Ex-Tiger's ex-girlfriend wants child support

By Ronald Tillery
December 20, 2006

Darius Washington Jr. is filling up box scores for a Greek professional basketball team these days.

But Washington, a former University of Memphis standout, isn't scoring points with his son, Darius III, the child's mother alleges.

Bianca Brunetti, 20, claims that Washington hasn't supplied financial or any other assistance for their 1-year-old child since August, and she has petitioned the Shelby County Juvenile Court for child support.
Brunetti also provided The Commercial Appeal with documents that show Darius III receives public assistance -- $95 a month.

"It hurts that he could do his first child like that just because we're not together," Brunetti said. "I'm not doing this because of me. I don't want people to know all about me and Darius. I'm doing this for my son. He doesn't know who his daddy is. It's sad how Darius changed. I'm tired of him getting away with things and not taking care of his responsibility."

Washington, 21, plays for PAOK in Greece.

He wasn't drafted by the NBA, but the NBDL's Austin Toros made Washington a first-round pick in the minor league. He chose to play in Europe because those contracts often pay six figures. In the NBDL, Washington stood to earn only a fraction of his Greek salary.

Washington disputed Brunetti's claims. The point guard indicated he will return to Memphis soon in hopes of settling a dispute that he said has as much to do with Brunetti preventing him from seeing Darius III.

"I have and I will continue to always support and love my son," Washington said.

"I have been in Europe the last two months, and when I return, I plan on filing a motion for joint custody. It is unfortunate that it has come to this point between his mother and I. ... I am disappointed that she would say these things about me, but I know people say and do things that are untrue when their feelings are hurt.

"Obviously our relationship did not work out and her feelings are hurt. He is still my son and I love him and will take care of him as best I can. It is sometimes difficult because I am just beginning my career and this is an emotionally charged situation, but I hope with the help of the legal system I can gain control of it very soon and carry out what is best for our son."

Brunetti said she is employed and is still enrolled at the University of Memphis. She acknowledged living with the Washingtons at their Orlando-area residence from May-July. Brunetti said she received $200 from Washington during an August visit while he worked a summer-league stint with Dallas. Washington's family also gave her $260 that month.

Brunetti insists that's the last time she received money for their son.

"I'm not a gold digger. I'm digging the wrong hole if I am," Brunetti said. "His family pretty much helped me with the baby from birth until about July. It's just that now he feels as though he has no responsibility. I don't care what people think of me. This is about my son."

Brunetti said her relationship with Washington ended in August after he called off their engagement.

"I should have listened to my parents," Brunetti said. "I was being hard-headed. I was in love."

-- Ronald Tillery: 529-2353's Lester Munson on Carl La Mondue and Former Tiger Shawne Williams

Web of trouble
Agent gets tangled in alleged payments to clients
Posted: Monday December 18, 2006 2:14PM; Updated: Monday December 18, 2006 3:03PM

Carl La Mondue, a 40ish lawyer in Norfolk, Va., did well in the early stages of his search for clients. He guessed right that a couple of guys named Williams would make it to the pros. Early in 2004, he connected with Shawne Williams, a basketball star at the University of Memphis, who later signed with the Indiana Pacers. Also in '04, he connected with Jimmy Williams, a cornerback at Virginia Tech, who eventually signed with the Atlanta Falcons.

According to lawsuits La Mondue filed in November against both players, he began to shower each of the Williams boys (they are not related) with cash. He began, he says in sworn statements, with a Western Union payment of $222 to Shawne on March 25, 2004. He started Jimmy with $600 from an ATM withdrawal on Nov. 24, 2004.

In the 28 months after the first Western Union transfer to Shawne, La Mondue says that he paid nearly $105,000 to the two athletes in 157 separate transaction. And it didn't work. Both signed with other agents.

In a decision that he may already regret, La Mondue decided to file the lawsuits to get the money back. The universities and the NCAA are investigating La Mondue's claims. If what he says is true, the players may have violated NCAA rules that prohibit agents' gifts to players.

In a series of impressively prepared court papers, La Mondue itemizes what he says he paid to each player. In '05, for example, he claims he spent $54,997 on Jimmy Williams, including $45,644 in cash payments and ATM withdrawals from various banks. Among the other payments he cites are a $1,500 fee for a court appearance, $310 for a tattoo and $293 for installation of a stereo with a remote control. In an amazing three days in July '05, La Mondue says, he paid Williams $10,500.

La Mondue's alleged payments to Shawne in 2005 included $22,598 in cash and another $6,621 for things like air fares, hotel expenses and a set of tires. In a remarkable show of generosity, La Mondue says he gave Shawne $5,000 in cash on Christmas Day '05.

La Mondue's total outlay to the two athletes in '05, he asserts, was $84,216, or more than $7,000 per month. Becoming a sports agent was an expensive dream for La Mondue, but the money may be only the beginning of the losses.

Neither the players nor their agents want anything to do with La Mondue's story. Ethan Locke, an experienced and well-regarded agent who represents Jimmy Williams, refused to discuss the alleged payments with Happy Walters, another estimable agent who represents Shawne, would say only that La Mondue's claims were "frivolous."

Most experts agree that canons of ethics governing the legal profession bar the use of cash advances to facilitate the signing up of a client. The federal Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act of 2003 prohibits "providing anything of value to a student athlete ... before the student athlete enters into an agency contract." The NBA and NFL players' unions also prohibit loans or gifts to student athletes as part of an agent's recruiting effort.

La Mondue may be in trouble on a number of fronts, and he seems to know it. Although he stated his cases against the athletes in exquisite detail in the lawsuits, he voluntarily dismissed both cases, the Shawne case on Nov. 15 and the Jimmy case on Dec. 7. In the dismissal orders, he used language ("dismissed with prejudice") that prevents him from ever refiling the cases.

He also is declining to discuss the money he claims to have given to the athletes. He did not respond to phone messages, a FedEx letter and a fax from In his only public comment to anyone since he filed the lawsuits, he told The Virginian-Pilot newspaper that he "did not want to comment on this" and that "these matters are private." There is, of course, nothing private about a public lawsuit.

La Mondue wishes it were private, but agents and sports lawyers across the U.S. are talking about La Mondue's mistakes and misfortune. It's a reminder to all of them of something they have known -- the toughest part of the sports agent business is recruiting and keeping clients.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

No Sure Thing With Arizona's (Memphian) J.P. Prince


Rivera: No sure thing with Arizona's Prince
Tucson Citizen

If Arizona sophomore J.P. Prince were as evasive on the court as he is in the locker room, he'd probably be playing 20 minutes per game.

That's, of course, if his recovery from an illness would allow him to get on the court at all.

Prince, who hasn't played in a month, dressed Sunday for the Wildcats for the first time after missing the previous five games because of his illness.

Will he play Wednesday? Who knows?

But he says he'll be at McKale Center when No. 9 Arizona faces No. 18 Memphis, Prince's hometown team, at McKale Center.

"We've got a game Wednesday,'' he said, implying that he'll be there.

Never mind there is some thought Prince is thinking about a possible transfer.

When asked about all the speculation of a transfer, he said, "We'll see how things go.''

When asked if he's not ruling it out, he said, "I'm not saying nothing. We'll see how things go.''

Nothing ever seems definite with Prince. He could have ended the speculation, but he kept things lingering.

At least he'll have a front-row seat - from the bench - when his buddies from Memphis come to town to face the Wildcats.

"I play with them every day,'' he said of his summer days in Memphis.

But will he play Wednesday? If the last month is any indication, it's not likely. Even Arizona coach Lute Olson dismissed a question about Prince at the end of his news conference Sunday.

Prince said he has been out with an illness that hit him over the spring and had him out of school for about a month.

He said he lost 35 pounds from the ordeal, and he was pencil-thin when he got here. UA's media guide lists him at 186 pounds.

The illness resurfaced a month ago and has limited him to a few practices and no minutes since the New Mexico State game on Nov. 19.

"I'm just trying to get back healthy,'' Prince said. "I started to work (in practice) this past week.''

Prince said he gets tired easily and he's still trying to put on weight.

"I'm still trying to rebuild my entire body back,'' he said. "When you're in the hospital for a long time and you're trying to play major college basketball, there's a lot of wear and tear. "I'm just taking precautions. Some days are better than others.''

And that's on and off the court.

Steve Rivera's e-mail:

The Bounce: Add Wildcats to Calipari's Killer Skein

The Bounce: Add Cats to Calipari's killer skein
STEVE RIVERA and The Associated Press
Tucson Citizen

Memphis basketball coach John Calipari isn't ready to ax his team's schedule maker quite yet.

His young Tigers have faced Oklahoma, Georgia Tech, Kentucky and Tennessee. Next, No. 18-ranked Memphis visits No. 9 Arizona on Wednesday.

Calipari likes the guy who drew up the murderous schedule.

"He's me," he said, smiling. "He's not very smart."

But like Arizona coach Lute Olson, Calipari said he likes facing tough teams in the nonconference schedule. It helps down the road.

"We're all trying to get a high seed in the NCAA Tournament," Calipari said. "The only way you do that is by playing good people.

"If we win (Wednesday), it's a huge game. It's important in how we play and the level of opponent. You want to learn about your team and the only way you do that is against good teams that are well-coached. You can't do that against Popcorn State."
Tucson? McKale Center?

Calipari has been a head coach for 14-plus years and has never faced Olson.
Calipari, however, has been to Tucson before, although he had to think about it a second.

He was an assistant for the University of Pittsburgh in the mid-1980s. Pitt played in Tucson for the first and second rounds of the 1987 NCAA Tournament. The Panthers lost in the second round to Oklahoma.

Tucson-style greeting

As is typical for the annual Fiesta Bowl Classic, the visiting teams are greeted at the airport by a mariachi band.

Players from the opposing teams are always caught off-guard; Memphis was no different.

"When I came off the plane, I was like, (surprised)," said senior Jeremy Hunt. "I asked coach, "Do they do this all the time?' I was like, 'wow.' People here are very nice."

Calipari just laughed.

"It was kind of like them asking me, 'Are these cactus real?" Calipari said.

Arizona's Budinger Ignores the Pressure

Arizona's Budinger ignores the pressure

By Bruce Pascoe
Special to The Commercial Appeal
December 19, 2006

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The blond, curly locks, Southern California hometown and surfer diction are your first clues that Chase Budinger is easygoing. The other is the stat sheet.

Arizona's superbly skilled wing forward spent his first few months in college being compared to former Wildcat and NBA star Sean Elliott -- by his coach, of all people. Then Arizona coach Lute Olson, whose Wildcats will host the University of Memphis Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. (CST), told Budinger after a 17-point opening game at Virginia that he needed to be a new version of Elliott and take charge of a team loaded with veteran talent.

Budinger's response: He dropped 32 points on Northern Arizona in his next game and quickly became Arizona's leading scorer. He bumped shoulders with a physical Illinois team in his sixth game, coming up with 22 points and eight rebounds, and he collected another 17 points in Madison Square Garden against Louisville in game seven.

Pressure? Nah. Just fun.

''He's a very laid-back kind of guy,'' Olson said. ''Virginia was a carnival atmosphere, with them opening their new arena, and I didn't think he was uptight about that. We played Illinois at US Airways Center (in Phoenix), and that's a situation that could bother a freshman a little bit, but it didn't bother him. Then he gets to Madison Square Garden, the mecca of college basketball, and he didn't look like he was nervous there.''

Along the way, Budinger's early performances have drawn attention from Sports Illustrated and USA Today, not an easy accomplishment on a team that starts five NBA prospects.

His response is typically, well, laid-back. He says things like ''Um, I just play,'' and shrugs about all the hype.

''I never thought I'd be doing as well as I am,'' he said. ''I just try to keep it up and do what I'm doing. The main thing right now is that we're winning games.''

Arizona, 8-1 and ranked ninth by the Associated Press, has won eight straight since its 93-90 loss at Virginia on Nov. 12 because it has multiple weapons: a quick, improving point guard in Mustafa Shakur, a strong spot-up shooter with Jawann McClellan; an explosive forward in Marcus Williams and a crafty, perimeter-minded big man in Ivan Radenovic.

The Wildcats also have Budinger, a guy who can fill box scores from virtually anywhere from the floor. He has the highest shooting percentage among UA perimeter players at 57 percent, is third in steals (six), third in rebounds (5.9 per game) and shoots free throws well enough (80 percent) that Olson asked him to take technical shots against Illinois. He's also second in blocks, with seven, thanks in large part to a set of world-class volleyball skills that could land him on the U.S. Olympic volleyball team in 2008 -- if he isn't already in the NBA by then.

Though Budinger lost his team scoring lead slightly to Radenovic after he actually showed a few nerves, scoring just five points in a homecoming game at San Diego State on Dec. 9, there is no evidence to support the idea that he might care.

''He doesn't want to talk a lot,'' Radenovic said. ''He doesn't have a big head. He's a guy who works hard every day in practice, learns something every day, and when it comes to the game he performs at a high level. He rebounds and takes open shots. He doesn't force anything.''

In short, he's a sponge. A very talented sponge. Tell him something and he won't forget it. Sure, he doesn't play defense like Olson wants him to, but he's improving. In fact, during his offensive off-night in San Diego, Budinger was credited for sound defensive play that helped hold the Aztecs to 32.8-percent shooting.

He also rebounded from that San Diego State game with a typically efficient offensive effort in the Wildcats' 87-62 win over Houston on Sunday: 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting.

''The great thing with Chase is he's coachable,'' Olson said. ''He wants to learn, and he accepts what you're trying to do with him. He's never making excuses for anything. He does a great job in terms of handling the ball, he's done a great job of shooting, and he has done a nice job on the boards.''

Olson just hopes he has a chance to keep coaching Budinger for a while. Unlike in Elliott's late 1980s era, college stars with NBA skills don't last long in school these days.

Budinger said he's not thinking of the NBA now, and those around him say he's committed to at least two years at Arizona. Still, Olson knows anything could happen.

''There's no question that he's an outstanding talent and is going to be an outstanding basketball player -- for us, we hope -- for a number of years,'' Olson said. ''That's always a problem with the high-quality players when you get them. You just hope you get to keep them long enough so they can mature and get ready to make a career at the next level.''


Next for No. 18 Tigers

Opponent: No. 9 Arizona

When, where: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. CST, at Tucson, Ariz.

TV: Fox Sports Net

Tiger Athletic Department Has $1.3MM Deficit

U of M athletic department has $1.3M deficit

By Phil Stukenborg
December 19, 2006

The University of Memphis athletic department operated at a $1.3 million deficit for the 2006 fiscal year, or about $500,000 more than the previous year's shortfall of $808,000.

Figures obtained Monday showed the athletic department reported revenues of $25,473,118 for the fiscal year ending June 30. Expenditures were $26,812,809 for an operating deficit of $1,339,691.

The difference will be covered by the university.

''The university is giving us a subsidy,'' said Tiger athletic director R.C. Johnson. ''I think they understand with rising scholarships costs, Title 9, and adding another sport (softball), it's not realistic for us to cover it all. Now we get a subsidy at the beginning of each year.''

Football brought in $4.9 million in revenues in 2005 and had $6.9 million in expenses, while men's basketball brought in $4.6 million and had $4.4 million in expenses. Men's basketball was the only sport to operate in the black (plus-$217,000), but it did something it rarely does: fall below $1 million in profit.

Men's basketball had recorded a surplus of at least $1.1 million each of the past six years. The reduction in the surplus this year had more to do with new accounting practices in a re-configured Conference USA. Basketball television revenue and football revenue, which used to go to the individual sports, was reclassified and appears as "Other Revenues" on the UofM's "Schedule of Revenues, Expenditures and Transfers for Intercollegiate Athletics."

"Other Revenues" jumped from $2.4 million in FY2005 to $3.7 million. Men's basketball revenues dropped by roughly the same total: from $5.5 million last year to $4.6 million.

Other sports were relatively unchanged from the previous year. Women's basketball ($1.1 million), volleyball ($725,000), baseball ($703,000) and the program's newest addition, softball ($648,000) all operated at deficits of $600,000 or more.

Johnson said it's always been his goal for athletic department fundraising -- which reached $5 million during the fiscal year -- to offset scholarship costs. He said that used to be $5 million, but now has increased to $6 million.

''That's what we'd like (as our goal) now,'' Johnson said.

Johnson said each 1 percent increase in tuition translates to about $52,000 in scholarship costs.

''And we've been having six to nine percent tuition increases over the past few years,'' Johnson said. ''Last year there was a five percent increase in tuition, which was about $250,000 in increased costs.''

The athletic department posted significant gains in several areas. License fees increased from $723,000 in FY2005 to $1.6 million. General gifts went from $5.9 million to $6.5 million.

Johnson said the athletic department will work off a $26 million budget for the 2007 fiscal year.

-- Phil Stukenborg: 529-2543

AP Story on Tank Beavers Murder

1 killed, 3 wounded in shooting at Huntsville restaurant

The Associated Press

HUNTSVILLE -- A man eating at a TGI Friday's restaurant pulled a gun and opened fire, killing one man and wounding three others, when he became angry at another customer for looking at his female companion, police said Monday.

Police said Jamal Roydrick Woods, 21, of Huntsville, was arrested early Monday in a vehicle and charged with murder in the death of Tanqueray "Tank" Lavonacheke Beavers, 21, a former standout basketball player at Athens High School.

Police spokesman Wendell Johnson said Woods was at a table with three friends around 9:10 p.m. Sunday when he became angry at another customer looking at his female companion.

"According to witnesses, Woods approached the man, asked him a question, then pulled out a gun and allegedly shot Beavers and three others," Johnson said in a statement.

The three people wounded in the shooting were identified as Thurston Duran Turner, 27, of Athens, Autora Frias Rogers, 21, of Athens, and William Timothy Reliford, 33, of Hazel Green.

Johnson said one was in critical condition but declined to identify which one.

He also said the restaurant was "well-occuppied" and that a customer who was not at the table Woods approached was among the wounded. He declined to identify the bystander.

Woods and the three friends who had been with him at a table fled the popular restaurant on University Drive, with the three friends tracked to a hotel by a Huntsville police dog-tracking team. Johnson said they were detained and questioned.

Hours later, Johnson said, Woods was found in a vehicle in south Huntsville, arrested and booked on a murder charge.

He said the investigation is continuing and additional charges could be filed.

The TGI Friday's restaurant did not immediately reopen. Amy Freshwater, a manager at the restaurant, said police asked her not to comment on the shooting.

Jeremy Hunt Is One Tough Dude

December 17, 2006, 09:45 PM

Jeremy Hunt is one tough dude

Folks, I won't lie to ya. For a couple minutes during practice today, I thought senior Jeremy Hunt's season -- and career -- were over.

Luckily, he emerged from a collision with freshman Pierre Niles apparently unscatched and finished practice at seemingly full speed. But given Hunt's injury history, which reads like War and Peace, I can tell you that I was not the only person in Finch Center holding his breath while Hunt was down on the floor for a couple minutes in pretty severe pain.

Here's the short version of what happened: The Tigers were doing a 2-on-2 drill in which the guard handling the ball either goes in for a layup or passes to a big man. Niles was trying to make a defensive play on Hunt but got tangled up with him. Hunt fell to the floor hard, and Niles stumbled down, landing right on top of Hunt's legs with pretty much all of his 290 pounds.

I've seen a bunch of practice collisions in my years covering sports, and I'll tell you that this one did not look good. It was a very unfortunate play on Pierre's part, and there was a big air of relief when Hunt was able to walk it off. I talked to him after practice, and he said he would be fine.

Posted in Tiger Basketball by Dan Wolken

#10 Arizona 87, Houston 62

UA men's basketball: No. 10 Arizona 87, Houston 62
Cats find the right balance
All five starters in double figures as Arizona wins

By Bruce Pascoe
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona

The balanced boxscore speaks volumes about Arizona's team effort Sunday, but all you really needed to see was one play.

In the second half of No. 10 Arizona's 87-62 victory over Houston at McKale Center, Mustafa Shakur broke downcourt with the ball while Marcus Williams trailed behind him. Then, instead of laying up or dunking the ball himself, Shakur lofted it neatly off the glass and left it for Williams, who finished with an emphatic slam.
The dunk gave the UA (8-1) a comfortable 57-40 lead with 14:46 to go, furthered Williams' second straight double-double and was perhaps the most satisfying of Shakur's eight assists.

As it turns out, Shakur wanted to playfully get Williams off his back after driving downcourt with Williams behind him on a similar play last week at San Diego State — and scoring a somewhat generic basket himself.

"He said 'You gotta look better than that,'" Shakur said. "That's how Marcus is. He thinks he's another Vince Carter."

Instead of firing verbal shots back, though, Shakur fired Williams the ball.
"I told Marcus, 'Next time, be ready — if you're behind me, I'm gonna throw it off the glass,'" Shakur said. "He just knew that I was going to throw it up."
Knowing his players must have had some form of communication was a relief to coach Lute Olson, who might have otherwise preferred a much safer shot. At that point, while the Wildcats were leading, the high-scoring Cougars (4-3) had shown the potential to give them a scare.

Houston pulled within a point of Arizona, 24-23, in the first half and attempted 41 three-pointers for the game. But the Cougars made only 29 percent from three-point territory and 31 percent overall, while the Wildcats out-rebounded them 58-26.
As a result, Olson was able to start clearing the bench with 2:46 left and smiled about the Shakur-Williams play afterward, noting how it fired up a particularly responsive crowd, the first sellout of the season in the 14,545-seat McKale Center.
"The only thing Marcus has to do is (beware of) hanging on the rim," Olson said. "If this was a Pac-10 (officiating) crew, it would have been a technical."

Williams finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds after posting his first career double-double on Dec. 9 at San Diego State with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Ivan Radenovic, meanwhile, put together his 13th double-double, with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Chase Budinger added 15 and Houston native Jawann McClellan scored 10.

Moreover, the Wildcats discovered a rather helpful bench for a change. Guard Daniel Dillon and forward Jordan Hill both earned 15 minutes, with Dillon adding six points and Hill six rebounds.

Even though he is a Houston native playing in his first game against the Cougars, McClellan didn't make the game about him. Nobody did.

"Everybody played well tonight," McClellan said. "Our bench came in and gave us great minutes. We're just playing good as a team right now. If you look at the stats, everyone is producing in every category."

In other words, it was the kind of effort Olson could have expected long before the season started. He knew he had a deep roster and he knew he had talent, athleticism and length.

Then, once he saw the way his players interacted with each other, he knew the possibilities were even greater.

"They really enjoy playing together," Olson said. "They enjoy making a good pass more than getting it in the bucket. I said before the year began that this team would have great chemistry and they really enjoy each other."

For a change, Olson also had the luxury of playing his entire team except reserve guard J.P. Prince, who suited up for the first time in five games. Prince has been out for mostly unspecified reasons but said after the game that he is still recovering from a month-long hospitalization last spring that cost him a 35-pound weight loss.

The subject of speculation about a possible transfer, Prince smiled when asked about his immediate future and said Wednesday's game against his hometown Memphis Tigers is "still on my schedule'' but declined to specify what he meant.
"You'll find out sooner or later," Prince said.

Former Tiger Guard Tank Beavers Murdered

Former Tigers Guard Found Murdered In Huntsville Alabama

One time Memphis Tigers guard Tanqueray "Tank" Beavers was found dead Sunday night at TGI Friday's on University Drive in Huntsville Alabama.

Beavers was one of two patrons shot to death, while two others were injured in the shoting. No arrests had been made as of Monday afternoon.

The former All-State performer signed with the University of Memphis in 2004. He was the career assists leader at Athens High School.

Beavers played sparingly as a freshman for Memphis during the 2004-05 season and ended up quitting the team because of a lack of playing time.

The 21 year old had been working construction in Huntsville.

CDR Wins C-USA Player of the Week Honors

Chris Douglas-Roberts Wins C-USA Player Of The Week Honor

Memphis Tigers Guard/Forward Chris Douglas-Roberts has been named the Conference-USA player of the week for games played prior to December 17th.

CDR had a career-best performance, with 28 points and five assists in a Dec. 14 victory over Austin Peay. With the 88-63 win, No. 19 Memphis improved to 8-2 on the season. Douglas-Roberts shot 10-of-12 from the field and hit 8-of-10 free throw attempts.

The sophomore bested his previous career-high of 26 points and currently leads the Tigers, and ranks eighth on the conference scoring chart, with 16.7 points per game.

This is his first C-USA Player of the Week honor.

Article on Kareem Cooper

Tigers' Cooper struggled before finding a place to belong

December 17, 2006

When Terry Wilson first met Kareem Cooper he had the very same thought most people do.

"That's a big dude," he said, and then he went back to his business.

Wilson is a correctional officer in Capitol Heights, Md. Four summers ago, Cooper spent a week living with Wilson's neighbors, the Nolans, whose son, Jasmine, played with Cooper at Laurinburg Institute.

"He seemed like a nice enough guy," said Wilson, 45. "I didn't think anything of it."

Cooper went off to play at a basketball camp. Two weeks passed.

Then, at 2 a.m. one morning, Wilson's phone rang.

"It was Jasmine's grandmother," Wilson said. "She told me that someone was sitting out in front of her house and she was scared and would I go check it out."

Wilson dressed and strapped on his gun. He walked, slowly, to the front of the Nolan's house.

"When I got closer, I realized it was Kareem," Wilson said. "He was just sitting there with his duffel bag, waiting for light. I asked him what he was doing there. He said he didn't have anywhere else to go."

What's a thug?

Is a thug someone who robs a bank? Who beats up a pizza delivery guy? Is a thug someone who gets in trouble and is black rather than white?

The other day, this newspaper ran a letter to the editor about the Memphis basketball program. It used the word thug four times.

"It sure was fun watching the lowly University of Tennessee beat the (tar) out of the UofM thugs last night in college basketball," the letter said. " It really is hard to believe that the coaches and schools, much less the NBA, continue to allow thugs to play college basketball. John Calipari cannot even keep his thugs' mouths shut during a basketball game. My suggestion to the UofM is start making their students take the ACT exam to enter college. Maybe that would sort out the thugs from players like Dane Bradshaw."

Oh, Bradshaw, who plays for Tennessee, happens to be white.

"Yeah, I saw the letter, we all did," said Memphis guard Chris Douglas-Roberts. "People call us thugs because we all come from the neighborhood. But what's thug about us? We're a bunch of guys who are on the right track. The way I look at it, it doesn't matter where you grew up, it matters where you are now."

At this, Douglas-Roberts nodded toward Cooper, 22, on the other side of the locker room, surrounded by reporters and microphones. Cooper is a vast man, 6-11 and 290 pounds. But on this day, his first game back from indefinite suspension, the biggest thing about him was his smile.

"I'm sooooooo lucky," he said. "A lot of people have done things for me to be here again. I can't let anyone down. Now that I've gotten a second chance, I'm not going to do anything to screw it up."

It was great stuff, refreshing to hear, and only time will tell if it's true. Sean Banks had a second chance. You remember how that worked out. Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith had a second chance. He was last seen accepting the Heisman Trophy in New York.

So is Banks a thug? Is Smith? Or are they -- like Cooper -- kids who grew up in potentially crippling circumstances and had to decide if they were going to give in or grow up?

"Kareem doesn't use his life as an excuse," said Wilson. "He takes a long time to open up about it. But if you saw him sitting on the stoop that night ..."

Wilson ultimately invited Cooper to gather his things and come sleep at his house.

"It turns out," Wilson said, "everything he owned was in the duffel he had with him."

Wilson woke his wife, Andrea. The three sat in the den and talked a good long while. At the end of the conversation, Wilson said something to Cooper the kid had never heard before.

"You can stay as long as you like," he said. "As long as you do your best, you'll never be without a place to stay again."

Wilson cleared out an upstairs room for Cooper. He moved a TV in there, a dresser, a bed.

"He even gave me a key," said Cooper, as if it were the most valuable thing in the world.

A key symbolizes stability. A key symbolizes a home.

"I still don't know everything about how he grew up," said Wilson, "but I know it wasn't like you or me."

Cooper was born in Washington, D.C. He knows his father's name is Robert, but that's all he knows about him. His mother "had issues," said Cooper, and you should feel free to fill in the blanks.

So Cooper bounced from place to place, until he grew bigger than anyone else in the neighborhood, when various coaches said he could stay with them.

"They'd let him say stay as long as he could play for their teams," Wilson said. "When he got too old to play for one coach, another coach would say 'You can stay with me until you're too old.' That's how he grew up."

Cooper lived with Wilson a solid month before heading back to Laurinburg. As the two drove south to school, Wilson was startled -- "I actually was frightened," he said -- by a burst of wailing from the passenger seat.

"I thought something was really wrong," Wilson said. "Here was this 7-foot kid crying uncontrollably. I had to pull over, I had no idea what was happening. After a while, he told me that this was the first time in his life someone really loved him."

The two started talking every day by phone. Cooper started referring to Wilson as his father. Wilson started referring to Cooper as his son.

"I have five other children," Wilson said. "They all consider Kareem their brother. At work, people ask about my son, Kareem. Kareem calls my wife 'Ma.'"

One day, Wilson asked Cooper for his shoe size, because he wanted to send him some shoes as a gift.

"Uh, 18," Cooper said.

Not long after, Wilson went to visit Cooper at Laurinburg. The new shoes were still in the box.

"It turns out he didn't know his shoe size," Wilson said. "He had never been to a shoe store. He wore whatever coaches gave him. When I asked him his shoe size over the phone, he just guessed."

There would be small, revealing moments like this throughout the new few years. Cooper is huge, as big as two men. But many things, he simply doesn't know.

So he would hide behind a persona, slouching and aloof. Cooper refused to talk to reporters last year. He was arrested for possession of marijuana.

"The way he's always protected himself is to not care," Wilson said. "That way, when something doesn't work out, it's OK because he didn't care. It's a survival technique for him."

And, of course, it's utterly self-defeating. Because the surest way to make certain something doesn't work out is not to care about whether it does or not.

"It's a vicious cycle," said Wilson, "but I really believe the last few months have changed him."

Calipari suspended Cooper for an unspecified violation of team rules earlier in the season, but people close to the program say Cooper -- not Hashim Bailey -- was involved in the infamous water-bottle incident.

But it wasn't just that, it was the attitude, the arriving late to team meetings, the blowing off of classes.

"I deserved it," said Cooper. "If it wasn't for my teammates, I might never have made it back."

Douglas-Roberts and Antonio Anderson went to Calipari and said they thought the coach should reinstate Cooper. Calipari agreed.

In the two games since, Cooper has been a revelation, collecting nine points and seven rebounds in 15 minutes against Ole Miss, and 11 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes against Austin Peay.

And he's smiling as he does it, encouraging teammates and volunteering to do the post-game radio show.

"I don't want to people have the vibe that I'm some sort of mean guy," he said. "I know I've made mistakes. I also know that I'm on a thin piece of ice, and if I make one more mistake, it's guaranteed to break."

So, is Cooper a thug? Or a kid from the neighborhood who seems to be on the way to salvaging a future from his past?

Wilson, back in Capitol Heights, has a pretty good idea. After Cooper's first game back, he sent Calipari a text message.

"Thanks," it said. "You just saved that kid's life."