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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Joey Dorsey......A Foul Situation

A foul situation

Calipari says if Dorsey can't stay on court, Tigers forward may become sixth man

By Dan Wolken
December 8, 2006
There were no illusions at the beginning of this season that University of Memphis forward Joey Dorsey would suddenly, as a junior, reverse all the enigmatic tendencies that in his first two years often betrayed his copious physical talents.
But in the wake of Wednesday night's 76-58 loss to the University of Tennessee, the frustration with Dorsey reached a new level. Though Dorsey had an almost unbelievable 13 rebounds in his 15 minutes, the more important statistic was his five fouls.

Though Dorsey's play by no means was the only reason No. 16-ranked Memphis fell to 6-2 at the hands of its state rival, the fact that Dorsey picked up two quick fouls in the first 2:09 was crucial because it forced the Tigers to operate short-handed the rest of the night.

After the game, coach John Calipari expressed disappointment in Dorsey's performance and talked about possibly making changes for Saturday's game at FedExForum against Ole Miss.

The Tigers were given Thursday off and will reassemble today for their first practice following the Tennessee debacle.

"Either we've got to learn to play without him or make him a backup, a sixth, seventh, eighth man," Calipari said.

It has become a familiar scenario to Calipari. Foul trouble has been Dorsey's nemesis his whole career, and especially this season.

But never before has Memphis needed Dorsey so much. The reality of this roster is that it's thin on the front line, especially with freshman Pierre Niles still struggling to catch up following knee surgery that forced him to miss nearly three weeks in the preseason.

One of the most telling statistics against UT was that Niles played just six minutes despite Dorsey's foul trouble.

Going into the season, the plan was for 6-11 sophomore Kareem Cooper, who played 11.1 minutes per game last season, to be a viable backup at center. But Cooper hasn't been available due to a suspension in the preseason for violating team rules.

Though Calipari brought Cooper back to practice on Nov. 25, he has not allowed Cooper to play. Asked Wednesday night whether Cooper was close to playing, Calipari said:

"We'll have to get back and see. (Dorsey's situation) is not why Kareem will come back."

Not having another viable big man has troubled Memphis before. Against Georgia Tech in the EA Sports Maui Invitational, Memphis led by 16 points at halftime. But when Dorsey and forward Robert Dozier both got in foul trouble, Memphis went to a small lineup that couldn't pull in rebounds, and the game ultimately spiraled out of control.

And what really irked Calipari about Dorsey's foul trouble Wednesday is that the second one was completely avoidable.

After Dorsey drew a foul going after an offensive rebound, he and UT guard JaJuan Smith stared each other down, immediately drawing technical foul calls on both of them. In other words, a very positive play quickly turned into a devastating one.

"It's not about being a man," Calipari said. "It's about being smart. (Dorsey) didn't say anything. He looked at the guy, but the point is, don't even do that. He didn't say anything, didn't swear. If he looks at you, walk away. You've got to be a man and walk away.

"And so it's just, every time -- Georgia Tech and this game, he goes down, what happens? So now, what do we do? If he can't change, I've got to do something. It's disappointing."

UT freshman forward Duke Crews, who was matched up against Dorsey on several occasions, said the Vols were intent on disrupting him.

"My intent was to go in there and do my best to shut him down, take him out of his game," Crews said. "I didn't do anything out of the ordinary. Anything he did, I did. I just played his game and I played it better, and he got kind of upset."

Etc.: Golden Child Ministries, run by former Tiger Detric Golden, is starting its "Assist-a-Kid" campaign during the Christmas season. Anyone interested in participating should call (901) 644-2646.

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

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