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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Kareem Cooper Suspended Infinitely

Tigers' Cooper suspended
Calipari says sophomore center violated team rules

By Dan Wolken
October 31, 2006

University of Memphis sophomore center Kareem Cooper was suspended indefinitely by coach John Calipari on Monday for violating team rules. Calipari declined to discuss specifically why Cooper was suspended and didn't outline when -- or if -- Cooper would come back.

Asked whether the suspension stemmed from a particular incident, Calipari said it was "all-encompassing. I'm not going to be specific ... You draw the line, here it is, this is what we do here." Cooper has not been at practice since Thursday, when Calipari said he was dealing with personal issues.

It's the second time Cooper has been suspended from the team. In January, Cooper was arrested during a traffic stop for marijuana possession. The 6-11 Washington, D.C. native pleaded guilty to the possession charge and was suspended four games.

Calipari said Cooper's situation would be re-evaluated before a determination is made on his future at Memphis.

"We'll probably deal with it in another week or two to figure out what's next," Calipari said. "But at this point, I'm just suspending him, keeping him away from us."

Asked to discuss what Cooper would need to do to return to the program, Calipari said: "That's more in-house."

When Cooper first missed practice, freshman center Hashim Bailey also was absent. Bailey, however, returned Friday and had a breakout weekend in two upbeat scrimmages.

"We're holding guys accountable," Calipari said, describing Bailey's emergence. "You have meetings, and I don't think a whole lot gets done in a meeting. I think a crisis brings about change. But there have been some meetings about what's acceptable and what's not, and I think he's having fun out here because he's doing what he has to do to help the team.

"You can be in the back arguing ... and you're miserable and then you make us miserable and then we don't want you here. We really don't. We don't want you here. Or you come back out here and enjoy this, which is what he's doing, and then all the sudden his teammates love playing with him."

Cooper averaged 4.4 points and 3.1 rebounds in 11 minutes per game last season. He likely would have seen similar playing time this year behind junior Joey Dorsey and freshman Pierre Niles, who is roughly a week away from practicing again after knee surgery.

The Tigers will play two exhibition games -- beginning Thursday at FedExForum against LeMoyne-Owen -- before opening the regular season Nov. 16 against Jackson State.

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365 Ranks Tigers #10, Season Preview

Calipari should keep Tigers competitive

Jeff Goodman /

Season outlook

There's no question that John Calipari's Memphis Tigers lost a ton from last year. Rodney Carney, his 17.2 points per game and senior leadership will be difficult to replace. So will Shawne Williams and his 13.2 points and 6.2 boards. Darius Washington Jr., is also gone. But that's basically addition by subtraction.

Memphis still returns a trio of core players who started plenty of games a year ago. Junior Joey Dorsey is a 6-foot-9, 260-pound man-child who is an imposing force in the paint and on the glass.

Sophomore Chris Douglas-Roberts and Antonio Anderson are fairly similar in their games and their production a year ago. CDR averaged 8.3 points and 3.3 boards while Anderson, also about 6-foot-6 and 185 pounds, put up 7.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists.

"We've got a good group and we have a chance, but we're going to have to do it different than we did it last year," Calipari said. "Rodney could dominate a game athletically and both Shawne and Darius could dominate the game physically. We don't have anyone that can overwhelm you that way."

Both Douglas-Roberts and Anderson are versatile, tough wings who handle the ball well for their size — but don't shoot the ball exceptionally well from long distance.

That'll be one critical key for Calipari. To find someone who can light it up from 3-point land. Anderson's shot has improved and freshman shooting guard Doneal Mack, a late signee after he wasn't academically admitted into Florida, could fill that void.

The point guard situation will be much better than a year ago when Washington had more turnovers than assists. Stocky sophomore Andre Allen (5-10, 200) will battle freshman Willie Kemp (6-2, 170) and both will give the team more stability than when the ball was in Washington's hands.

"We had more turnovers than assists last year," Calipari said. "We've got to take better care of the ball."

Another player who could score points from the perimeter is 6-foot-9 skilled sophomore forward Robert Dozier, who has all the ability to replace Williams — but needs to become more assertive on the offensive end.

Jeremy Hunt, a 6-foot-5 senior who has endured numerous injuries and was kicked off the team a year ago for an off-the-court incident, is back and should get plenty of playing time.

Two freshman big men will be counted upon to contribute immediately. Pierre Niles, who has started to get his body in better shape, is recovering from minor knee surgery and may take some time to get into the rotation while 6-foot-10, 275-pound Hashim Bailey will give Calipari another big body to use off the bench.

"I think Pierre Niles could be the "X" Factor for us because he brings something unique," Calipari said. "He's huge and he can make nine straight free throws. He's got great hands and feet."

Breaking it down

Coach: John Calipari 148-59 (6 years), 341-130 (14 years)

Last Season: 33-4, 13-1 (Conference USA)

Postseason: Lost to UCLA, 50-45, in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament

Why they'll make the Final Four: If a go-to guy develops and Calipari finds a reliable outside shooter.

Why they're getting bounced in the first round: Not enough perimeter scoring.

You don't know him ... yet: Robert Dozier —The 6-foot-9 sophomore was a role player a year ago, but he's as talented as Rodney Carney or Shawne Williams — two guys who were mid first-round picks.

Why you'll want to pay attention before March: Calipari continues to implement Vance Walberg's wide-open system in which the floor is spread and he can take advantage of guards and wings.

Games that will determine their season: Dec. 6 at Tennessee; Dec. 20 at Arizona; Feb. 17 at Gonzaga

Prediction: Second in CUSA; Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Daily Helmsman's View on C-USA

Your tip sheet for '06 C-USA tip-offs

By: Matt Laurie, Sports Editor, The Daily Helmsman, The Univ of Memphis

Only three weeks until Memphis tips off against Jackson St. and starts the defense of their Conference USA title. Last year saw Memphis go 13-1 in conference play with the lone loss coming against UAB in early March.

Let's take an early look at the teams in C-USA.

(24-7 overall, 12-2 in C-USA)
Head coach: Mike Davis
UAB lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Kentucky in a close game 69-64. UAB loses their high-scorer in Marvett McDonald who averaged 14.8 points per game and Cardell "Squeaky" Johnson who totaled 194 assists last year. The Blazers return three starters. Wen Mukubu and Paul Delaney are the Blazers' top returning scorers but have only started 16 games between them.

(21-10, 11-3)
Head coach: Tony Barbee
Former Memphis assistant coach Tony Barbee heads the Miners this year. He inherits a squad that returns only two starters, neither of which averaged more than eight points per game last season. Barbee and the Miners may struggle to make postseason play for the fourth-straight year.

(21-10, 9-5)
Head coach: Tom Penders
Memphis knocked Houston out of the C-USA Tournament last year and with it their hopes of an NCAA berth. Oliver Lafayette returns for the Cougars and brings back 15.7 points per game and his 105 steals. Houston will once again rely on defense to smother opponents and Lafayette is the most dangerous defender in all of C-USA.

(14-15, 7-7)
Head coach: Kirk Speraw
Central Florida missed out on the NCAA tournament for the first time in three years last year and hopes to return to their winning ways. Their top two rebounders, Justin Rose and Anthony Williams, are gone but they added junior college transfer and 6-foot-11 center Stanley Billings who averaged 14 points and nine rebounds per game at the lower level. However UCF wins with defense. Last year they held opponents to 63.4 points per game and should be one of the best defensive squads in C-USA.

(12-16, 6-8)
Head coach: Willis Wilson
The Owls may have the best player in Conference USA leading the charge in Morris Almond. The 6-6 senior guard averaged 22 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last season. After 108 attempts in 28 games, Almond hit nearly 45 percent of his three-pointers last season. Almond will have the Owls' top assist man to helping him out in Lorenzo Wiliams, who totaled 170 assists last season.

(12-17, 6-8)
Head coach: Dan Dickerson
Tulane only lost three players from last year's team and only one started more than five games. Tulane could be a dark horse team in 2006 if they play defense like they did last year. Opponents shot a measly 39 percent last year against the Green Wave.

(11-17, 6-8)
Head coach: Doug Wojcik
Tulsa finished in the middle of the pack last season but return four of their five starters in 2006. They lost their leading scorer in Anthony Price (11.4 points per game), but Price only started in six games. It's only Wojcik's second season, but Tulsa has produced some good coaches, including Nolan Richardson, Tubby Smith and Bill Self.

(12-16, 5-9)
Head coach: Ron Jirsa
Marshall returns four of its five starters, and those four players account for 53 percent of the scoring and 65 percent of the rebounding the Thundering Herd had last year. Marshall showed flashes of a solid basketball team last year beating ninth-ranked West Virginia 58-52 last season and scoring 81 points against Memphis.

(13-16, 4-10)
Head coach: Matt Doherty
The Mustangs return four of their starters from last year including their top three rebounders and three of their top four scorers. Doherty is a very good coach and could help SMU develop into a team that could disrupt the C-USA standings. Bamba Fall, a 7-foot-1 center who weighs in at 200 lbs, blocked 53 shots last year and averaged 3.36 per game in C-USA play.

Southern Miss
(10-21, 3-11)
Head coach: Larry Eustachy
Southern Miss had a miserable 2005-06 season and 2006-07 may not be much better with one returning starter from last season. Courtney Beasley is Southern Miss' lone returning scorer and he happened to lead the team with 10.7 points per game. Beasley was only a freshman last year so he could turn some heads this year. If he gets help from teammates the Golden Eagles could get out of the C-USA dungeon.

East Carolina
(8-20, 2-12)
Head coach: Ricky Stokes
The Pirates were the worst team in Conference USA last year winning only two games. However, they should improve this year returning three of their top four scorers all of which averaged nine points or more per game. Corey Rouse, the lone star from last year's squad will be sorely missed. Tallying 30 blocks and 300 rebounds last season, the Pirates will struggle to replace him. Eight players are their roster haven't stepped foot on the court with an East Carolina jersey on.

Camp Update

Tiger basketball camp report

October 30, 2006

Point, counter-point

Coming into preseason practice, one of the Tigers' biggest questions was whether freshman Willie Kemp or junior Andre Allen would be the team's primary point guard.

Coach John Calipari, however, said Sunday he's now toying with the idea of using them on the court together at times. "It's perfect because they kind of play off one another," Calipari said. "One will shoot it a little better. One is a little longer and will defend in a different way, so you're talking about having two guys that, because of the way Willie's shooting the ball right now, I may play them both together. Willie's shooting the ball as well as anybody we've got on our team right now."

Allen's experience -- and Kemp's inexperience -- has been obvious in early scrimmages. But that doesn't necessarily mean Allen will start the Nov. 16 regular season opener against Jackson State.

Indeed, because freshmen like Doneal Mack and Pierre Niles are likely to come off the bench early in a game, it may make more sense to bring in a veteran like Allen along with them rather than a third freshman.

"(Allen) has a really good feel for how we play, and it just shows," Calipari said. "If you played a halfcourt game, an offense where he wouldn't be able to penetrate or push it, he's not going to be real effective because of his size, but this game for him is perfect. The other thing I told my team, he's really, really smart. He has a feel for what we want, but he can think quickly on the run, which has really helped him."

Injury report

Niles, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Oct. 16, is jumping, jogging and progressing well enough to possibly return to practice in another week.

"It would be an incredible story because he's never been one with a high pain threshold," Calipari said. "It's a big step for him to have knee surgery and come back within the three weeks. He's walking, he's pushing it, and he's doing what he needed to do."

When Niles returns, Calipari said, he'll likely play center. The 6-foot-8, 280-pound Niles moves well enough to play power forward. But with all the practice time he's missed, center might be a more realistic option.

"The (center) position is rebounds, run like crazy, relocate under the basket," Calipari said. "If you rebound it and screen the ball, it's the easiest positionm, really. It's more of an effort position."


Calipari said there was no update on the status of sophomore center Kareem Cooper, who has been absent since last Thursday's practice because of "personal reasons."

-- Dan Wolken

Article on Tre'Von Willis

New guard for Tigers has ability to score
As prep, Willis overcame wide variety of defenses

By Dan Wolken
October 30, 2006

When University of Memphis freshman Tre'Von Willis began dominating high school basketball in Fresno, Calif., opponents would try almost anything to stop him. Double teams. Junk defenses. Every game. For three years.

"They played box-and-one," Willis said. "That was frustrating." Unlike many high-level Division 1 prospects, however, Willis didn't have the sheer size or athleticism to overcome it. He did, however, have the instincts.

And after finishing with 2,842 points -- fifth-most in California prep history -- those instincts are serving Willis well in his first year with the Tigers.

Though Memphis' depth at the wing positions has made competition for minutes intense, Willis is squarely in the mix because he understands the most fundamental element of basketball: how to score.

"He has ways of getting balls down in the basket," coach John Calipari said. "There's guys that are gorgeous players; they look like Tarzan and play like Jane. There's others that, you look at them and they don't look like they should get it done. But the stat sheet says they're efficient, they get it done, and they understand.

"He's getting better. I'm really happy for him. I've got to get him to play a little bit faster and play with the control he's playing under, just a little faster pace."

In some ways, Willis at 6-4 is reminiscent of sophomore guard Chris Douglas-Roberts, who isn't necessarily a physical specimen at 6-6 and 190 pounds but has good body control and is crafty around the rim.

For that reason -- as well as their similar, outgoing personalities -- Douglas-Roberts said he has taken Willis under his wing.

"He can play," Douglas-Roberts said. "He's not the quickest, but he thinks the game, and that reminds me of me."

Out-thinking opponents is what Willis had to do in high school once teams began going to extreme measures to defend him.

He started passing more. He started moving more away from the ball. He went to the offensive glass. He found ways to get open he never needed before. Oh, and he also dished out more than 1,000 assists.

"I really did get doubled every game," Willis said. "It was tough, it was a challenge. I had to figure out new ways to do what I do."

It's pretty safe to say Willis won't garner the same kind of attention at Memphis. Though Hoop Scoop rated him No. 67 among high school seniors last year, he's not even the most highly rated freshman in the program.

But Willis will come in handy this year. He's been among Memphis' best 3-point shooters in nearly every practice, he makes layups and can even play some point guard if necessary.
Calipari said Sunday he envisions nine or 10 players in his rotation, with each playing at least 15 minutes per game.

"I'm a very competitive player, a very competitive person and I'm coming in here trying to do my best," Willis said. "It's great because I can't slack off. I've got to play good all the time and do what I'm supposed to do and things will play out."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Memphis Big Favorite to Win C-USA Title Again

Memphis big favorite to win C-USA title again
Calipari lost bulk of last year’s Elite Eight squad, but Tigers still loaded

Oct 21, 2006
Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Despite the loss of his three top scorers, Memphis' John Calipari was confident Thursday as he and other Conference USA coaches got together to talk about the upcoming season.

"We've got a good core of guys coming back, six guys, and we've got a good core of newcomers, so I think we're going to be fine," Calipari said.

Gone from last year's 33-4 squad are Rodney Carney, Shawne Williams and Darius Washington, who combined for 53 percent of the Tigers' scoring and led Memphis to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA playoffs.

Calipari will be counting heavily on sophomores Chris Douglas-Roberts, Antonio Anderson and Robert Dozier.

"I don't know if they're all going to be scorers, but those are the three who will play probably as many minutes as they can play," Calipari said at the league's preseason media day.

The Tigers will also have senior guard Jeremy Hunt back in the lineup.

Hunt was suspended from the team last season after he was charged with slapping and kicking a former girlfriend. He was allowed to avoid a criminal trial on a condition of staying out of further trouble.

Calipari said Hunt will contribute badly needed experience.

"Two years ago or three years ago, he may have been the best guy we had on our team," Calipari said, "but he's been hurt throughout his career. He's just been beat up."

Hunt is healthy entering the new season.

In their preseason predictions, conference coaches picked the Tigers to be the top team in the league, as it was last season. Houston is No. 2 in the preseason standings, and Texas transfer Dion Dowell said coach Tom Penders is preparing the Cougars for a fast-paced attack.

"I'm glad I made the move," said Dowell, who still must sit out the fall semester. "I'm looking for a controlled, run-and-gun offense. It's a scorer's dream."

Tulane coach Dave Dickerson said his team appears to be over the trauma of being run out of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.

"Last year at this time, we came to this very event being displaced at Texas A&M," Dickerson said. "What a difference a year makes. Being home has served us well. Our kids love the university. They want to be there."

With the loss of leading scorer Quincy Davis, Dickerson expects to spread the scoring around.
"Our perimeter play has gotten better and our overall team speed has gotten better. It will allow us to do more things than we did last year," he said. "This year, we'll depend on a more fast-paced, perimeter attack as well as an inside game."

Mike Davis, UAB's new coach, said he's had only a few practices with the Blazers and is still "going home every night trying to figure out what to do the next day."

Any major adjustments in the Blazers' style?

"We'll have to wait and see," said Davis, who spent six seasons at Indiana. "Right now, it's too early to tell."

© 2006 The Associated Press on Elite Team Point Guards Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo and Nick Calathes

Here is what Elite Team point guards Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo and Nick Calathes all have in common. They have height for their position, great feet and an exceptional feel for the game.

Despite these similarities, there are some distinct differences in how these three prospects get their jobs done. One gets it done with speed and vertical athleticism. Another gets it done with extraordinary body balance and strength. The other utilizes his craftiness and precision.
Let's look at our third team point guard first. Calathes is the type of guy that opponents sneer at during warm-ups. Many probably wonder how can this skinny white kid be a five-star prospect.
Soon after tipoff - when Calathes has drained a 3-pointer from 25-feet, perfectly executed a backdoor cut against an overly exuberant defender, made a 12-foot runner after shot-faking his defender and then hit a teammate with a full-court pass for an easy lay-up - opponents realize his ranking is legitimate.

"It is a very rare occasion when Calathes is not the smartest, most skilled and most competitive player on the court," said National Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer. "He's not much of a leaper. In fact, I don't believe he has ever dunked in a game. But he has great feet and deceptive speed. He knows how to use a screen and has great change of direction and change of pace skills with the ball. Add his ability to shoot the ball from deep, and you have a player that is quite difficult to guard."

O.J. Mayo, the second-team point guard, has been a marked man throughout his career. Perhaps the most recognizable name ever on the high school level, Mayo always draws a defender striving to make a name for himself. And whoever Mayo guards can significantly raise his status if he puts up big numbers. Despite the relentless competition, Mayo has repeatedly come out on top in individual battles.

Along with his exceptionally high skill level, Mayo has used his mental and physical strength to repeatedly best opponents. Often looking like a man playing against boys, Mayo uses his physical strength to control a basketball game from the point guard position. Then when it hits crunch time and the game is on the line, Mayo has the ability to will his way into making plays.
"Mayo reminds me of Chauncy Billups with the way he can muscle into position on the court," Meyer commented. "He is a beast with the ball and can score and pass with precision in traffic. He is also such a great competitor that you always feel that Mayo is in control of whatever situation he finds himself in."

However, as good as Mayo is, first team point guard Derrick Rose is even better. Rose has been nipping at Mayo's heels in the rankings for a couple years. Although much of the beauty of Rose is his upside, this summer his game hit a level that put him on top of Mayo as a prospect.
So, what does Rose have that Mayo does not have? First and foremost, Rose has a level of athleticism that is substantially higher than Mayo or any other point guard on the circuit. Secondly, both Rose and Mayo have the ability to either score or set up their teammates with their passing, but Rose is more of the ideal point guard. He is a setup man who scores when needed, while Mayo comes out looking for his points first.

"Rose has a gear speed-wise and vertically that you just don't often see," commented Meyer. "He can do some breathtaking things with the ball in his hands, and he has better defensive quickness than Mayo. But along with his athleticism, Rose does an unbelievable job making the players around him better. His feel for creating scoring opportunities for his teammates is better than all his contemporaries."

The crafty Calathes, the overpowering Mayo and the speedy Rose have a variety of ways to get results on the court. The primary result the three produce are wins for their teams, and the "W" is always the most important stat for any point guard.

Chicago Sun Times on Derrick Rose's Visit to Illinois

Illini fans give Rose a hero's welcome

October 28, 2006
BY CLYDE TRAVIS Special to the Chicago Sun-Times

CHAMPAIGN -- While there was a lot of excitement surrounding the Illinois Blue and Orange game, there was more excitement generated by the visit of Simeon point guard Derrick Rose to Assembly Hall. After the scrimmage, Rose, the top-rated point guard in the country, announced he would hold a news conference next Saturday to reveal his college choice. The finalists are Memphis, Indiana and Illinois.

Rose's Simeon teammates, Kevin Johnson and Tim Flowers, also are expected to announce their college choices.

Rose had originally stated that Illinois was not one of his top five choices, but changed his mind on Wednesday.

Rose was obviously impressed by the reception that he received from the 12,000 spectators that showed the ''homeboy'' much love.

''I'm glad I decided to come. It was the right thing for me to do,'' Rose said.

Rose made the trip with his brother Reggie and Simeon guard Deon Butler and was joined by Simeon coaches Fred McClinton and Marcus Alderson.

''As I said before, this is a very serious decision in Derrick's life,'' Reggie Rose said. ''We originally thought we were going to leave after the game, but we have decided to stay one more day.''
Rose will watch the Illinois team practice today.

''We have seen some things on this visit and feel more comfortable and welcomed than last year when we made the trip,'' Reggie Rose said.

During several portions of the game, the crowd chanted ''We want Derrick,'' ''Come to our school'' and ''Put Derrick in.'' The crowd also shouted chants for Reggie Rose.

After the game, Derrick Rose got big hugs from two former Chicago Public League players currently with the Illini: Calvin Brock of Simeon and Marcus Arnold of Morgan Park.

Also on hand were former Illini greats Kenny Battle (a close friend of Reggie Rose) and Bryant Notree, a former Simeon guard who was a high school All-American in 1994. Notree played three years at Illinois and finished at Illinois-Chicago.

''Illinois was made for a player like Derrick,'' Notree said. ''He is home-grown, he has talent, appeal and a game to match. Plus the opportunities are second to none when you play for your state school.''

Derrick Rose, who sat back and took it all in, seemed to be quite pleased with the reception.

Cal 'Having a Ball' With Open Style

Calipari 'having a ball' with open style

By Dan Wolken
October 29, 2006

There were times a year ago when the University of Memphis would leave the Finch Center after a preseason practice confused and frustrated, not feeling at all like a team that would ultimately win 33 games. The reason was a new offensive system coach John Calipari installed before last season that is both fast-paced and frenetic but also complex in its spacing and timing.
"Everybody was new to it," sophomore forward Robert Dozier said. "We kind of struggled and slowly got there." Though Calipari insists his current Memphis team isn't as talented and won't physically dominate opponents like it did a year ago, it is at least ahead of schedule in its understanding of the offense.

At one point Friday, during what Calipari later called one of his best practices in awhile, he stopped the action after a series of good plays and exclaimed, "Are you having fun? I'm having a ball!"

Though it was difficult to tell last year as the Tigers averaged 80 points per game, rolled through Conference USA and ran right into the Elite Eight, the preseason was a struggle as Calipari tried to integrate the concepts of a motion offense that is based on creating space and then driving the ball as opposed to a more traditional pass-and-screen attack.

Calipari borrowed the system from Vance Walberg, who went 133-11 at Fresno City College with teams that averaged 104 points per game.

Walberg got a lot of publicity during Memphis' NCAA run last year, and in April he became the new coach at Pepperdine.

Now, intrigued NBA teams are taking a look, a trend Calipari believes will continue. Denver and Atlanta are running some form of the offense, while a handful of colleges have caught on, including UTEP, where former Memphis assistant Tony Barbee landed.

At almost every practice this year, Memphis has hosted high school coaches who want to take a peek.

"It's not something for every coach," Calipari said. "If you have to hold onto 10 strings, it's not for you. If you're willing to hold on to seven strings out of 10, you can do it. If you don't mind the pace of the game being faster, you're fine. If you want it to be (scoring) in the 60s and control the game a little more from the sideline, it's not for you."

Besides needing players who can function at a rapid pace, the key to the offense is spacing. Players are spread out with large gaps between them, almost European-style. That allows good attacking players to drive for a layup or throw the ball to a wing for an open 3-pointer.

Timing is also a key. Though the offense is fast-paced, players are also asked to get in a spot and wait before shifting to a new position.

And experience counts, which is why Calipari has let freshman point guard Willie Kemp practice on a unit with veterans and put the more polished junior, Andre Allen, with freshmen like Doneal Mack and Tre'Von Willis.

"After you get it down pat, it's a great offense to run," Mack said. "If you know where you're going, no team in the nation can defend it.

"There's still some little stuff I have to get down like patience, but I have a good understanding of it. You've got to be patient, in the right place at the right time, and you have to depend on your teammates."

Though players and coaches are clearly more comfortable in the second year running this system, it's unclear how that will translate to the court given the Tigers' significant personnel losses from a year ago.

Also, teams are sure to be better prepared for the Tigers than they were last year, when opponents weren't used to defending that kind of system.

"People still start figuring out, what's the best way to guard it?" Calipari said. "Then we'll make adjustments from what they're trying to do. It's a little bit of a chess match, but you end up being a really, really aggressive team playing this way, which is what I want."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

Camp Report

Tiger basketball camp report

October 29, 2006
Cooper remains absent

Tigers coach John Calipari on Saturday declined to specify when -- or if -- sophomore center Kareem Cooper would return to the team following his third straight day absent from practice.
Calipari did say Cooper wouldn't be with the team the rest of this weekend while dealing with "personal issues." Discussing Cooper on Friday, Calipari said: "He's dealing with some personal issues right now. We'll have to see where that goes."

Cooper, listed at 6-11 and 290 pounds, played 11.1 minutes per game last season and started once. He couldn't be reached for comment.

Recruit talks

Derrick Rose, the Tigers' top recruiting target, visited an Illinois scrimmage on Friday night and spoke to media members afterwards.

Rose, who lives in Chicago, said he would hold a press conference next Saturday to announce his decision between Memphis, Illinois and Indiana.

In August, Rose seemingly eliminated Illinois when he released a list of his top five schools that included Memphis, Indiana, UCLA, Kansas and DePaul.

"Sometimes you think the grass is greener on the other side, but when you go take that look you say, 'It ain't like we think. Let's go take another look.'" Rose's brother, Reggie Rose, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "If Illinois wasn't on the list, we wouldn't even be down here."

Rose is rated as the No. 3 player in the country by Rivals scouting service and the No. 1 point guard. An NBA Draft Web site,, projects Rose going No. 1 overall in 2008.
Memphis coaches can't comment on unsigned recruits.

Big weekend

The Tigers scrimmaged Saturday and will practice again today in what Calipari called a crucial weekend for his team's development.

Memphis plays LeMoyne-Owen in an exhibition Thursday at FedExForum, marking the unofficial beginning of the season. Once that game is over, the Tigers will basically be in regular-season mode. The Tigers open the season officially Nov. 16 against Jackson State.

The next day, they fly to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational.

"After this weekend, we're going to be about 75 percent of (what we need to be for) Maui," Calipari said.

-- Dan Wolken

Camp Report

Tiger basketball camp report

October 28, 2006

Tigers ranked 14th The University of Memphis is ranked 14th in the USA Today/ESPN college basketball preseason coaches' poll, released Friday.

Given the Tigers' considerable personnel losses from last season's 33-4 team, the ranking at the very least validates coach John Calipari's contention that the Tigers are a national program with national aspirations. Connecticut, Texas, Syracuse and Kentucky were all ranked behind Memphis in the poll.

"We don't pay attention to rankings," sophomore forward Robert Dozier said. "It's just a number. We've got to go out on the court and do like we did last year and prove to everybody else we might be a better team than everybody thinks."

Defending national champion Florida was No. 1 in the poll with 30 of 31 first-place votes.

Cooper out again

Though freshman center Hashim Bailey returned to practice Friday after sitting out Thursday to take care of some "personal business," sophomore center Kareem Cooper was absent for a second straight day.

"He's dealing with some personal issues right now," Calipari said. "We'll have to see where that goes."

Calipari declined to elaborate on the situation. "He's dealing with some personal things he has to deal with," Calipari said.

Coach's corner

For the last few years, Calipari has broken up the team into two groups during practice and kept score of certain drills to raise the level of competitiveness.

But Calipari said he's doing it more with this year's team than he has with any other.
Usually, losing a game or a drill means extra running.

"Every drill we do, there are consequences to winning and losing," Calipari said. "I've zeroed in on it more with this team than any other. Because I'm looking at it saying, of all the teams I've had, this has to be one of those teams that their desire to win is off the chain. If we have that, we're going to be all right."

-- Dan Wolken

Tigers Looking to Improve From Free-Throw Line

Tigers take aim at better shooting from line

By Dan Wolken
October 28, 2006

John Calipari has said it so many times this month, it should be part of the local lexicon: His University of Memphis basketball team can't possibly be as good as last season after losing its top three scorers. But here's something Calipari hasn't said. Not only were Rodney Carney, Shawne Williams and Darius Washington his top three scorers, they were also Memphis' top free-throw shooters.

Though free-throw shooting hasn't historically been a calling card for Calipari's teams at both Memphis and Massachusetts, it's even more of a question mark heading into this season, which begins Thursday with an exhibition against LeMoyne-Owen. Of Memphis' seven veterans, only sophomores Chris Douglas-Roberts (74.5 percent), Robert Dozier (75 percent) and Kareem Cooper (84 percent) shot well from the free-throw line last year.

The rest spent a lot of the summer 15 feet from the basket.

"I had to," said junior point guard Andre Allen, who made just 24-of-53 attempts last year. "I was in the mind frame that it didn't matter because, in the thick of it, I knew that nine times out of 10 that Darius would be in the game. Now I know I have a chance of being out there, so now I have to knock them down."

Collectively, Carney, Washington and Williams accounted for 47.5 of the team's free-throw attempts and made 76.2 percent between the three of them. The rest of the team made 61 percent.

"Last year when I got to the line, I wasn't focused at all. I was just shooting," said sophomore Antonio Anderson, who is one of the team's best perimeter shooters but made just 63.3 percent of his free throws. "After awhile, Coach told me to start thinking about it, pick a spot on the right and shoot at that spot, I started making it.

"Now I'm a better free-throw shooter. I've been focusing it and working on it all summer and all season so far. It's going to be an improvement."

Calipari said he usually doesn't fret about free throws because his teams, over his 14 years as a head coach, have been consistently at the 68 or 69 percent mark over the course of a season but clutch when the game is on the line.

"My teams historically have shot the ball really, really well in the last four minutes," Calipari said. "Before that, it's like, 'What are you doing?'"

Though Calipari hasn't devoted a significant amount of practice time to free throws, he has gotten the point across.

In an early practice, he put freshman center Pierre Niles on the line and made him shoot free throw after free throw. The 6-8, 285-pound Niles kept making them, prompting Calipari to exclaim, "See what I want you to do? Get fouled!"

Niles -- sidelined after he had his right knee scoped on Oct. 16 -- could be a key to the playing rotation when he gets to full strength because of his foul shooting.

Junior Joey Dorsey, who figures to start at center, made 39-of-91 free throws (42.9 percent) last year, which was actually an improvement over his 39.3 proficiency rate as a freshman.
Dorsey, however, doesn't want to give up those minutes easily and said he's improved, thanks to a couple of tips from veteran NBA coach Larry Brown.

"He changed my shot around, told me to get the ball up a little higher and get a better arc on it," Dorsey said. "My hand was over the top of the ball, and I didn't have space to get the arc under it. Every day before practice, I shoot 100 free throws, and right now I think I'm probably 70 percent."

That would be a huge bonus for a team that needs every edge it can find to be the national contender it was last year.

"If Joey shoots 55 percent or 60 percent, I'll do two backflips," Calipari said. "With a bad hip."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

Cooper and Bailey Out for Personal Reasons

'Personal business' sidelines 2
Big men absent from practice on Thursday

By Dan Wolken
October 27, 2006

University of Memphis centers Kareem Cooper and Hashim Bailey were absent from Thursday's practice to take care of what coach John Calipari called "personal business." "(Cooper) and Hashim have some things they're taking care of right now," Calipari said.

Calipari declined to elaborate but said they should be back for today's practice. Without Cooper and Bailey, the Tigers were down to just one true big man with junior Joey Dorsey. Freshman Pierre Niles has been out since having arthroscopic surgery on Oct. 16 to clean up some cartilage in his right knee. Niles should be back in approximately two weeks.

The lack of centers in practice gave Calipari a chance to work with his small lineup, which he plans to use some this season.

"Until Pierre comes back, we're going to be a regular-sized team," Calipari said. "We went from being huge to Pierre being down, a couple big guys out and all the sudden you've got four big men not in and so this happens in a season."

Walk-on guard Jared Sandridge also missed practice due to a sore knee.

Recruiting update

Point guard Derrick Rose, the Tigers' top recruiting target, will visit University of Illinois this weekend, according to published reports out of Chicago, his hometown.

Rose, rated the No. 3 high school senior in the country by Rivals scouting service, visited Memphis on Oct. 13 and 14.

Rose was thought to be deciding between Memphis, Indiana and possibly DePaul. In August, Rose released a list of his top-five schools, and it didn't include Illinois.

"Sometimes you have to step back and re-evaluate the whole process,'' his brother, Reggie Rose, told the Chicago Sun-Times. "We don't want to look back after it's all over and too late and realize we made the wrong decision.

"We have discussed it with some close confidants and believe Illinois is a great place. The school has a great (basketball) program and it is in our home state. And no decision would be valid without giving Illinois a serious look."

Per NCAA rules, Calipari can't comment on unsigned recruits.

Nov. 8 is the first day of the signing period.

Odds and ends

The Tigers practiced in front of a crowd for the second day in a row. Wednesday, they hosted a group of potential donors. Thursday, The Rebounders booster club was at Finch Center and had dinner with the team afterwards. ... Walk-on Chance McGrady has changed numbers this season from No. 11 to No. 55. ... The Tigers spent a lot of time working on their full-court press, which had looked ragged early but was much improved Thursday.

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

Friday, October 27, 2006

Former Tiger Antonio Burks Doesn't Pay Traffic Ticket, Lands In Jail, Memphis Media Has a Field Day

Ok, yes it is news, but is it really that big a news? I wasn't even going to put it in this blog, until I read the third article about it. I don't want to be accused of not reporting both sides and I've put the negative things in here before. So, if you care that Antonio Burks didn't pay his traffic ticket and missed his court date and landed in a Germantoen jail then read the rest.

The Daily Helmsman, The University of Memphis

Former Tiger arrested

Antonio Burks, former basketball player, was arrested in Germantown for not appearing in court for a speeding ticket he received.Antonio Burks, a former member of The University of Memphis basketball team, was arrested yesterday afternoon and detained by the Germantown Police Department for failing to appear in court. "Our officers were dispatched to meet another agency at Poplar and Ridgeway to take [Burks] into custody," said Police Captain Lee Covey of the Germantown Police Department.Burks, a former walk-on at The University, was released shortly afterwards on $350 bond.Burks was initially issued a speeding ticket on July 24 for going 59 in a 30 m.p.h. zone. Burks failed to pay the ticket and missed his Sept. 13 court date.

Germantown police issued a warning letter requesting Burks to appear in court Oct. 11 to pay the fine for his ticket. He did not appear for this second court date and a warrant was issued for his arrest on October 16.He is due back in court on Dec. 20.The former 2004 Conference USA Player of the Year averaged 16.0 points and 5.5. assists his senior season, helping lead the Tigers to the second round of the NCAA tournament. He played his first year of collegiate basketball at Hiwassee Junior College in Madisonville, Tenn.Burks, 26, was the 38th overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2004 NBA Draft. He played 57 games over two seasons with the Grizzlies, averaging 2.0 points and 1.3 assists. The Grizzlies did not re-sign the former Memphis Tiger's standout this off-season. Burks signed a non-guaranteed contract with the defending NBA champion Miami Heat on Oct. 2 after he was let go by the Grizzlies. He played in four games for the Heat during the preseason, averaging 3.3 points and 3.0 assists. His chance to play for the Heat ended Tuesday when the team announced they were cutting the point guard.

Students on campus are hoping Burks is not surprised he was arrested."Just because he's a basketball player doesn't mean he should get away with it," said Terrell Randle, a criminal justice major at Remington college and a visitor to The U of M.This point seemed to be the general consensus among students."He should have just paid the ticket," said Ramona Golphin, junior social work major. "He's got enough money to pay for his ticket and all of our tickets, too."Burks base salary last year with the Grizzlies was $641,748.Others thought he could have simply paid the ticket in the first place instead of going to jail."He should have known he was going to get in trouble for that," said sophomore biology pre-med major Kesia Merriweather. "Everyone knows if you don't go to court you are going to get arrested."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Season Ticket Sales Top 13,000

Season ticket sales top 13,000

By Dan Wolken
October 26, 2006

University of Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson said the school went over the 13,000 mark in season ticket sales Wednesday, which is ahead of last year's pace. "We're really pleased with that," Johnson said.

The Tigers practiced at FedExForum Wednesday in conjunction with an athletics fund-raising event. All the unsold seats were marked, and there were only about 30 available seats in the lower bowl and 50 on the mezzanine level. FedExForum seats roughly 18,000 for basketball, and having 13,000 seats sold three weeks before the season is somewhat impressive considering only 22 schools last season averaged 13,000 fans per game.

Memphis' average attendance was 14,866 last year, which ranked 13th in the country.

"When we get to that point where every ticket is sold pre-season, that's when we really hit what we're trying to do here," coach John Calipari said. "I don't know if that will take back-to-back national champions; I don't have any idea what it will take, but that's when you really have it rolling. It's a little harder for us here. There's an NBA team, a Triple-A baseball team. We're not here alone but, this is truly a college basketball town and it continues to be that and it does a great job of supporting both the Grizzlies and us. But there can't be five or six schools that have that many season tickets."

Happy reunion

The Tigers got their new practice jerseys delivered in time for Wednesday's practice. For sophomore guard Chris Douglas-Roberts, that meant he could finally be reunited with his preferred number, 14.

Douglas-Roberts wore No. 14 in high school, but when he arrived as a freshman last year, he wore No. 3 because senior Simplice Njoya already had claimed No. 14. So with Njoya gone, Douglas-Roberts jumped on the chance to go back to No. 14.

"I feel good in it, too," Douglas-Roberts said. "I'm glad to have it back, I promise."

Douglas-Roberts vacating No. 3 has allowed freshman Tre'Von Willis to claim it, which works out well for all sides since Willis' nickname is "Trey."

Coach's corner

With Memphis' national reputation as an average outside shooting team, the Tigers will likely see a lot of zone defenses early in the season.

But even against a zone, the Tigers don't have to settle for jumpers, as Calipari pointed out Wednesday after Memphis spent a portion of practice working on its zone offense.

"What I want to make sure is we're an aggressive team, a great offensive rebounding team and we have some organization to what we're doing versus the zone," Calipari said. "We're only putting in two or three things (for the zone). I'm trying not to put in too many things."

-- Dan Wolken: 901-529-2365

Miami Heat Waives Antonio Burks

HEAT Request Waivers on Antonio Burks and Daniel Horton

MIAMI, October 24th – The Miami HEAT announced today that they have requested waivers on guards Antonio Burks and Daniel Horton.

Burks, who signed with the HEAT as a free agent on Oct. 2, 2006, appeared in four games for Miami during the preseason and averaged 3.3 points, 3.0 assists, 0.75 steals and 0.3 rebounds in 14.5 minutes.

After being signed as an undrafted free agent on July 9, 2006, Horton appeared in five games for Miami at the Pepsi Pro Summer League in Orlando in July and averaged 5.4 points, 2.4 assists and 1.0 rebounds in 17.2 minutes. Horton also appeared in one game for the HEAT during the preseason and recorded six points, four assists and one rebound in 21 minutes.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tigers Practice Update

Calipari: Team set to shoot down reports

By Dan Wolken, Memphis Commercial Appeal
October 24, 2006

Seth Davis, a college basketball writer for Sports Illustrated and studio commentator for CBS, joined the ranks of those wondering whether the Memphis Tigers have enough sharpshooters to be a national contender. After taking in Memphis' practice last Wednesday, he wrote an article about the Tigers on over the weekend and criticized the team's shooting.

"Unfortunately, even a great pressing team has to make open shots once in a while, and I have to say I didn't see a whole lot of splashing going on," Davis wrote. "In fact, of all the major college practices I've witnessed over the years, Wednesday's was one of the worst collective shooting displays I've seen." Though the Tigers' shooting has been questionable at times during practice, coach John Calipari said his team shoots better than people nationally think right now.

"You watch us today, we made a bunch of shots today," Calipari said. "We're one of those teams that, if you think you're just not going to guard people or you think, 'We'll just play zone and give them jumpers,' you're not going to beat us. I don't think we lose that way."

The Tigers seem to progressively make more jump shots each day, with senior Jeremy Hunt, sophomore Robert Dozier and freshmen Tre'Von Willis and Doneal Mack probably the most consistent shooters.

Hunt said Davis just caught the Tigers on an off day.

"He probably saw the 3s we missed that were wide open and felt like, well, we're not a good shooting team," Hunt said. "But what about the ones we make? We take stuff like that and just get better as a team. That should tell guys to get in the gym more, shoot more jump shots, make more shots and shoot the same shot every time and concentrate."

Injury report

Despite being unable to run or do heavy conditioning since his right knee surgery last Monday, freshman forward Pierre Niles' weight hasn't increased.

Niles, whose goal before the injury was to get down to 275 before the season, weighed in Monday at 279.

"My weight ain't no big deal right now," Niles said. "I know I can get that down in a week or two. Right now I'm 279 and by the time I get on the court I'll be 270 or something like that. I'm keeping my weight steady."

In other injury news, Hunt's lower lip was gashed toward the end of practice when he collided with Joey Dorsey. Hunt said he was fine.

-- Dan Wolken: 901-529-2365 Rank Tigers #21

Memphis Tigers

Overall Rank: #21
Conference Rank: #1 C-USA

2005-06: 33-4, 13-1, 1st
2005-06 postseason: NCAA

It says a lot about Memphis when the top three scorers are gone, but the squad is still garnering top 25 accolades. With what will evolve into a deeper team than last year’s Elite Eight squad, Tiger fans have high expectations for another top seed come March.

Who’s Out: Point guard Darius Washington, Jr. and forward Shawne Williams left Memphis early for the NBA. Washington averaged 13.4 points and a team high 3.1 assists last year, while Shawne Williams added 13.2 points and 6.2 boards. The loss of Rodney Carney and his 17.2 points per game may be the most painful of them all. Sparingly used Simplice Njoya and Waki Williams round out the list of players who won’t be suiting up for the Tigers in 2006-2007.

Who’s In: Jeremy Hunt will return for his final season in Memphis. Hunt averaged 9.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 2004-2005 and will provide more experience on the wings. Once again Coach John Calipari is bringing in a solid class of freshmen. Point guard Willie Kemp has all the attributes to be a great team leader. He needs to continue working on his outside shot, but the 6-2 Bolivar, Tennessee product will battle for the starting role. Doneal Mack is a big time scorer. He’s a crafty player who can find the bottom of the net and will do so as a freshman. Tre’Von Willis is a quick, slashing shooting guard and will provide more depth off the bench. Up front Pierre Niles will need to contribute as a freshman. The 6-8, 285 pounder can play either forward position and has the versatility to battle in the post or run the court. Center Hashim Bailey, a teammate of Niles at The Patterson School in North Carolina last year, is another big body to come off the bench this year.

Who to Watch: After starting 25 games and averaging 8.3 points per game as a freshman, Chris Douglas-Roberts is ready to emerge as the star of the perimeter. However, the play of two other returning perimeter players may have a bigger impact regarding how successful this season is for Memphis. Andre Allen isn’t a flashy player or a prolific scorer, but he consistently and steadily ran the point off the bench last year. He averaged 3.0 assists while playing in less than 16 minutes per contest. If that number can improve with more minutes, the Tigers will be in good hands. Antonio Anderson is expected to start at the shooting guard spot, at least early in the year. With the top three long range shooters gone, Anderson will have to maintain consistency from behind the arc.

Final Projection: The depth up front will have to mostly come from the newcomers, but Robert Dozier and Joey Dorsey are a solid starting duo. Dozier started three games as a freshman and the 6-9, 215 pound forward has the size to play under the basket and the skills to play on the perimeter. He’s a solid rebounder and could develop into a good Shawne Williams replacement. Dorsey, one of two returning starters, will handle the center duties. The 6-9, 260 pound Baltimore, Maryland product is a great leaper, a solid rebounder and an excellent shot blocker. Sophomore Kareem Cooper is a good big body off the bench after averaging 4.4 points and 3.1 boards as a freshman. The frontcourt has enough talent to pick up the scoring slack, but the main concern is finding a shooter or two. Hunt, Anderson, Allen and Mack are the candidates to hit the long balls and a couple of those players will have to step up if the Tigers are dreaming of the Elite Eight once again.

Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Andre Allen, Junior, Guard, 4.1 points per game
Antonio Anderson, Sophomore , Guard, 7.2 points per game
Chris Douglas-Roberts, Sophomore, Guard, 8.3 points per game
Robert Dozier, Sophomore, Forward, 5.6 points per game
Joey Dorsey, Junior, Forward, 6.9 points per game

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Dallas Mavericks Waive Darius Washington, Jr.

Mavericks Waive Darius Washington

The Dallas Mavericks announced they have waived rookie guard Darius Washington. Washington appeared in five games for Dallas and averaged 4.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.0 assist. The Mavericks roster now stands at 16.

Story on Robert Dozier

U of M's Dozier grows into basketball and adds strength

By Dan Wolken
October 24, 2006

He looks like he was born to play this game, with long arms that seemingly reach to his knees, with balance and flexibility that make even his dead-sprint look natural. And oh, just try to find a flaw in that soft jump shot. But not so long ago, University of Memphis sophomore Robert Dozier was a 6-1 high school freshman more interested in fastballs than basketballs.

"I was a better baseball player than I was at basketball," Dozier said. "I played it in ninth grade, but I didn't really think I could be something." It's now very apparent that Dozier could be anything.

It's apparent to the NBA scouts, who buzz every time he stretches out his 6-9 frame into a 7-3 wingspan. It's apparent to those close to the program, who are counting on Dozier to be the breakout star the Tigers need to live up to their top-15 expectations.

And most of all, it's now apparent to Dozier, who at first wasn't sure whether growing six inches between ninth and 10th grade was a blessing or a curse.

"I was a pitcher, first baseman and catcher," Dozier said of his baseball career.

"But in one summer I was 6-1 and grew to 6-7. I got too tall for baseball, so I didn't really have a choice."

Lewis Jones, Dozier's coach at Lithonia High just outside Atlanta, said he could sense that Dozier wasn't enjoying his new body or the game.

"He was somewhat ... not uncoordinated, but kind of clumsy," Jones said.

"I didn't see the enthusiasm until he became successful at it. Basketball kind of grew on him. He was never un-adept, but when he knew he could excel at it, it was like he just took off."

It might be time for a re-launch.

As a freshman last year, Dozier played 18 minutes a game, but with Shawne Williams playing the same position, his potential only materialized in short stretches. His signature game? A 13-point, 15-rebound effort at Marshall.

In the process, Dozier discovered something about himself: It was time for another growth spurt, fueled by bench presses and protein shakes.

This time, the tally was 15 pounds of muscle, which he said made a world of difference when he went to Atlanta for an adidas camp in July and played effectively against the likes of Florida center Joakim Noah.

But coach John Calipari said Dozier needs to add even more size to realize the NBA potential he appears to have.

"He's just physically not ready," Calipari said. "That physical and mental just grittiness, a lot of it is going to come as he lifts weights and you see him now over there lifting before practice. He knows.

"He's oozing with talent, but he's going to have to take advantage of what he's been given."
Though Dozier already has a range of skills -- his defense, shot-blocking, and rebounding were evident last year -- his offensive game appears ready to blossom.

Dozier worked much of the summer on his 3-point shot -- "Last year, I shot horrible from the 3-point line (6-for-27), and I know I'm a much better shooter than that," he said -- and claims his increased strength will translate to more layups.

"Now that I've gained this extra weight, with my length, my shots are a lot easier," Dozier said. "I use my length, and I take the bump and just stretch out. Last year, when I took the bump and stretched out, the ball would come out of my hand. This year, it stays in, and I lay it in. The game's a lot easier for me."

Or maybe Dozier will simply follow the same path he did in high school, morphing from clumsy freshman to a potential NBA player in just a couple short years.

"Guys with that kind of talent, usually they let everybody know it," Jones, his high school coach, said. "But he was the kind of leader, he made everybody else feel like they're a part. He'd share the ball, worked hard on defense, but when the time came to take over, he took over. He's probably the most unselfish player I've ever coached."

-- Dan Wolken: 901-529-2365's C-USA Preview, "There's Memphis....and Everybody Else"

There's Memphis ... and everybody else

Yoni Cohen / Special to

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

Without Cincinnati, Louisville, Charlotte, and Marquette, Conference USA's national standing last year declined. Whereas in 2005 the league sent four teams to the NCAA tournament, the conference in 2006 sent only two. While in 2005 the conference ranked as the nation's ninth-best, in 2006 it checked in at No. 13, three worse than the Colonial Athletic Association and only one better than the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

This season, the league hopes to regain its footing. Without Rodney Carney, Shawne Williams, and Darius Washington, that won't be easy to do. The three last year combined for more than half of Memphis' scoring. Fortunately for fans of the Tigers, the conference's standard bearer, John Calipari doesn't rebuild, he reloads. Top 100 guards Willie Kemp and Doneal Mack join the fearless sophomore foursome of Chris Douglas-Roberts, Antonio Anderson, Robert Dozier and Kareem Cooper. Junior Joey Dorsey returns to crash the glass and troubled senior point guard Jeremy Hunt is back after a one-year suspension. Though young, Memphis will be talented and deep.

It's the rest of the conference — especially the bottom half — that needs fixing. In 2006, eight of the league's 12 teams had losing records and RPIs of 190 or worse. Part of the problem was a lack of success against non-conference opponents. A bigger concern was poor planning. Only three squads assembled a top-100 schedule. Overall, the conference played the nation's fifteenth-toughest schedule, shooting itself in the foot on Selection Sunday. If the league hopes to again send four or five teams to the NCAA tournament, its teams must elevate not only their play, but also the caliber of their opponents.

In addition to a massive grind for credibility, what should you expect from Conference USA, and what might we reasonably predict?

Fresh faces

What do Matt Doherty, Mike Davis, and Tony Barbee have in common? Each is about to spend his first year as head coach of a Conference USA club. Doherty, the former North Carolina and Notre Dame head coach, spent a single year at Florida Atlantic before accepting an offer to lead Southern Methodist, a school that last participated in the NCAA tournament in 1993. The Mustangs return several key contributors, including frontcourt workhorse Devon Pearson, but lost star point guard Bryan Hopkins from a team that won only four conference games last year.

After six turbulent seasons as Bob Knight's successor at Indiana, Mike Davis takes over for Mike Anderson at UAB. Though the Blazers' cupboard is hardly bare, it is also far from full. Wen Mukubu and Frank Holmes are back, but assist factory Squeaky Johnson and prolific scorer Marvett McDonald are gone. A longtime assistant to Calipari at Memphis, Barbee is already familiar with league opponents' preferred style of play. But because all four of UTEP's leading scorers have moved on, he must build around his nine incoming players.

With a year under their belts, East Carolina's Ricky Stokes, Tulsa's Doug Wojcik, and Tulane's Dave Dickerson are slightly more experienced. But they, like two-year veterans Larry Eustachy at Southern Mississippi and Tom Penders at Houston, have yet to fully settle in. Even in today's game, few conferences have two-thirds their of coaches with two or fewer years of experience. As recent hires mature, the league's identity will solidify.


Memphis will run away with the regular season crown. But the race for second — and the conference's single at-large bid — is sure to provide more drama. The return of Lanny Smith and Oliver Lafayette rightly made Houston the coaches' pick in a recent league poll. But only five total letter winners return for Tom Penders' club, which remains undersized and last year went 4-4 in conference road games. The Cougars shoot poorly from the field and the free-throw line and last season had the league's worst rebounding defense.

UAB will not continue to play Anderson's "Forty Minutes of Hell." Under Mike Davis's more measured offensive attack, forward Lawrence Kinnard can expect more touches inside. Guard Paul Delaney should be a double-digit contributor, particularly if his shot improves from outside. Former Oklahoma signee Jeremy Mayfield will contribute immediately, as should junior college Andre White, Davis' first signee as the Blazers' head coach. Still, despite several solid parts, UAB will lack the toughness and depth necessary to make a compelling whole.

Thanks to the return of league-leading scorer Morris Almond, Rice is in the unusual position of having a legitimate shot at postseason play. Almond is a silky-smooth All-American candidate who knows when to shoot and when to pass. He averaged 21.9 points and 5.8 rebounds a game last year. Backcourt mate Lorenzo Williams is also no slouch, tallying 10.5 points and 6.1 assists a game. Unfortunately for the Owls, only role player Patrick Britton returns from last year's frontline. Both 6-foot-8, 230-pound Romanian forward Marius Craciun, a junior college transfer, and 6-foot-9, 230-pound Lithuanian forward Paulius Packevicius will be tested early and often.

Junior college transfers

White and Craciun are just the beginning. Houston welcomes six junior college transfers, including second-team All-American Robert Lee. UTEP's roster includes six juco transfers, the largest of whom is 7-footer Franklin Jones. After an impressive first season in conference, Central Florida brings aboard 6-foot-11 center Stanley Billings, who spent eight years in the Marines. Tulsa's Roderick Earls could make an impact after red shirting last season, as might East Carolina's Darrell Jenkins. Finally, bigs Gjio Bain and Demar Dotson enter Conference USA this year through Southern Mississippi's revolving door. Given Larry Eustachy's record, who knows how long they'll stay around?

Important questions

Is Jahmar Thorpe ready to step up his game? The Houston Cougars need help down low.

Can David Gomez step his game up another level? If so, the Green Wave could make a splash.

Will Patrick Britton have a breakout season? Rice needs a third scoring option.

Can Doug Wojcik improve Tulsa's offense in year two? The Golden Hurricane scored fewer points per possession last year than any other conference club.

Who will assume leadership responsibilities for Memphis? Talent and depth only take teams so far.

Can Matt Doherty cajole Southern Methodist to take better control of the basketball? The Mustangs were done in last year by turning the ball over too frequently.

Predicted order of finish

1. Memphis: The Tigers are in a class by themselves.
2. Houston: Sensational defense will separate the Cougars from the rest of the pack.
3. Rice: Almond didn't return to lead the Owls to another sub-.500 conference finish.
4. UAB: A solid non-conference schedule well prepares the Blazers for league play.
5. UTEP: Stefon Jackson and Kevin Henderson form a talented backcourt.
6. Central Florida: Josh Peppers has all-conference talent.
7. Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane must limit their turnovers.
8. SMU: It didn't take Doherty long to make an impact at Florida International.
9. Tulane: There's no place like home.
10. Southern Miss: Courtney Beasley isn't much of a shooter.
11. Marshall: The Thundering Herd need to play better defense.
12. East Carolina: Corey Rouse will be sorely missed.

Crystal ball

Player of the Year: Morris Almond, Rice. Most players see their shooting accuracy decline as their scoring average rises. Not Almond. In his breakout junior season, Morris made 50 percent of attempts from the field and 44 percent from behind the arc.

Newcomer of the Year: Dion Dowell, Houston. Tom Penders was more than happy to steal the talented forward from Texas.

Game of the Year: Houston at Memphis in late February. A wonderful opportunity for the Cougars to snag a quality victory before Selection Sunday. The Tigers will be coming off a tough test against Rice.

NCAA tournament team(s): Memphis and Houston. Tom Penders' club has precious few opportunities to make a good national impression. The Cougars must win at Arizona or Kentucky, go perfect in the balance of nonconference games, upset Memphis in conference, or pack their bags for the NIT.

NIT tournament team(s): Rice. A final opportunity for Almond to shine before moving on to the NBA.

Coach who might get fired: Larry Eustachy, Southern Mississippi. To call Eustachy's time with the Golden Eagles a disappointment would be too kind.

Yoni Cohen is a frequent contributor to He writes about college basketball on his blog,

Monday, October 23, 2006

Two Tigers Send Right Message to Teammates

Two Tigers send right message to teammates
Geoff Calkins, Memphis Commercial Appeal
October 23, 2006

Antonio Anderson woke up Saturday morning, saw the story in this paper about two teammates getting into trouble, and found himself deeply bothered by the headline. "U of M officials investigate complaint against ballplayers," it said.

Anderson talked to another teammate, Chris Douglas-Roberts. Together, they asked Memphis coach John Calipari if they could talk to the media. "We wanted to say something," Anderson said. "It wasn't Memphis ballplayers who did this, it was two individuals. And they're going to be accountable. But don't think that we're bad guys, because we have a lot of good guys on this team."

Which is nice to hear, and certainly true, in large part. Anderson and Douglas-Roberts seem to be high-character kids. Robert Dozier has never brought anything but honor to the university. Willie Kemp, Doneal Mack and Tre'Von Willis, oh, this isn't about making a list.

It's about two players who decided to speak out. To step forward as leaders of a team that could do some damage if the players follow the example of last year's Tigers and make the right choices.

"We wanted to send a message," said Anderson.

To whom? The media? Fans? Your teammates?

"Everyone," he said. "We stand for the right things in this program. Why should one story cause people to look at us differently?"

That's a complicated question, of course, with more than one answer.

First, it's not entirely clear the story that sparked this discussion caused anyone to look at the larger team any differently.

Two female students allege that Joey Dorsey and Hashim Bailey threw a full bottle of water at them and threatened to bash in their faces.

While the headline said "U of M officials" were investigating "ballplayers," the subhead said "Dorsey, Bailey are implicated in dorm run-in."

Even if the subhead hadn't specifically named Dorsey and Bailey, though, should Anderson and Douglas-Roberts really be surprised if people fail to distinguish between the well-behaved Tigers and the less well-behaved?

Quick, which Miami Hurricanes were involved in that brawl last week? You have no idea, do you?

The Hurricanes were at it again. That's what everyone said, and they didn't stop and think about the nice, scholarly Hurricanes.

Programs get reputations. Those reputations are generally made by the sins of a few. Only one of Bob Huggins' Cincinnati Bearcats punched a horse. Only one had to.

At Memphis, Calipari's Tigers have largely avoided serious off-the-court trouble. The Jeremy Hunt incident got big play, but that was only because it was so badly bungled.

Look around the country, at UConn, at Missouri, at Iowa. All those places have had more serious problems than Memphis.

But the small problems are starting to stack up, in a way that could be foreshadowing or could be nothing. Kareem Cooper pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana last year. Dorsey was recently caught driving with a suspended license.

Throw in Hunt, Bailey, Clyde Wade and Andre Allen, and six current Memphis players have made the paper for off-the-court issues.

Small wonder Calipari gave the players yet another lecture after practice last Wednesday, telling them that while the town wants to love them, it depends on how they handle themselves.
Hours later, Dorsey and Bailey allegedly threatened the two female students.

So it can only help to have Anderson and Douglas-Roberts stand up for themselves, their school and the idea that reputation matters.

Think about this last part. At the very least, they showed they care what others think. They care what you think, about them and their university.

If Anderson and Douglas-Roberts have that idea, maybe Dorsey will catch on, too. Maybe young kids like Cooper, Bailey and Pierre Niles will grow to understand how we're all defined by our choices.

"We're the leaders of the team," said Anderson. "We want to send the right message to the newer guys."

It's good to be good. It's bad to be bad. And no matter what anyone says, respect isn't something you can earn on a basketball court.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Tiger Players Believe Media Misrepresents Team Versus Individuals

Tigers' duo: Incidents don't represent team
Anderson, Douglas-Roberts state: 'We're all good guys'

By Dan Wolken
October 22, 2006

Twice already during the first week of basketball practice, University of Memphis sophomores Antonio Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts have seen teammates' names in the news for off-court incidents. Saturday, in an interview with The Commercial Appeal initiated by the players, Anderson and Douglas-Roberts expressed concern about the image of the team and said they felt they were being viewed in the wrong light because of the actions of others.

"(The media) is addressing it as if the entire team was doing it, but it's a certain few people or one person or two people," Anderson said. "Coach (John Calipari) deals with that, and we want people to know that me, Chris and the rest of the team, we're all good guys. Even the guys who did it are good guys. "We're respectful to the city, to the university, the coach, the program and everybody else. We're approachable guys. We're not harmful, none of that. We just want everybody to know we're good guys. We're very respectable. When things like that happen, Coach is going to deal with the guys who are in the incident ... (The public perception) is making it seem as if we're all doing it. They're putting it on everybody."

Anderson and Douglas-Roberts were responding to media accounts of an alleged incident at a dorm Wednesday that caused two female students to call the campus police and file a complaint against junior Joey Dorsey and another player they didn't recognize, later identified as freshman Hashim Bailey.

In a phone interview Friday, one of the women claimed that Dorsey poured the contents of a water bottle over her head and said the other player threatened them and threw a full water bottle at them.

Last Saturday, Dorsey was arrested just before 3 a.m. for running a red light while driving with a suspended license.

"The headline (in Saturday's edition of The Commercial Appeal) was 'UofM ballplayers ...'" Douglas-Roberts said. "But the headline didn't say who it was. We're not trying to put it on those guys. We're all a team, but it said 'UofM ballplayers,' and that's not the case at all. It was certain people, and that makes us as a team look bad as a whole, and it's not even like that. We give back to the community. We're good people. We're real approachable and we just wanted to address that. It isn't the whole team."

Said Anderson: "Why can't the players' names be in the headline? We took that in. As a team, that hurt us, but we have to live with it. But we respect the city and they should respect the rest of the team."

Calipari said Douglas-Roberts and Anderson first came to him and asked if they could voice their concerns through the media.

"They said, 'Coach, we've got a bunch of guys doing everything right. If a guy or two screws up, that's not us,'" Calipari said. "And I said, 'Well, that's how it appears to people,' and they said they wanted to say something.

"They're not trying to hurt a teammate. They're just saying, 'Hey, we do screw up sometimes, but the reality is we're a bunch of good guys.' I don't think they wanted to indict the other guys."
-- Dan Wolken: 901-529-2365

Tiger Basketball Camp Report

Tiger basketball camp report
October 22, 2006

Saturday scrimmage The Tigers had a live scrimmage for the first time Saturday, and it basically revealed what coach John Calipari already knew: No matter which combination of players he puts on the floor, the competition is relatively even.

One team primarily used a lineup of point guard Willie Kemp and center Kareem Cooper with Chris Douglas-Roberts, Antonio Anderson and Robert Dozier. But for long stretches of the scrimmage, that group was out-played by a small lineup of Joey Dorsey playing center with four guards -- Jeremy Hunt, Doneal Mack, Andre Allen and Tre'Von Willis.

Though the action looked ragged at times, Calipari said it was still much better than what the Tigers looked like at the same time last year when they were still learning a new offense.

"We turned it over too many times," Calipari said. "Willie, Antonio and Robert had 17 turnovers in a half between them. That's too many. But we took pretty good shots.

"I didn't see that many bad shots, but you can't turn it over like that. Part of the turnovers were that we're so even, you're not just making one pass or one drive (and scoring)."

Coach's corner

Calipari will almost always stop practice when he sees a guard try to send the ball into a big man with a pass at the waist.

That's because he's been preaching passes up high, where a player like Dorsey or Cooper can more easily catch the ball above their heads and lay it in the basket in one motion.

"It's such a (hard) habit (to break)," Calipari said. "You've really got to trust that he's going to be there and trust yourself by throwing it up, but I'm just forcing them to.

"Even if we're turning it over too much, we're just getting it to the rim. I want no wraparounds. I want no bounces. I want everything up, and what happens is that defensive players start playing for that and you get even more layups. If he thinks you're lobbing, he's backing away."

Injury report

Freshman forward Pierre Niles is still limping following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Monday, but he felt good enough to shoot some free throws.

He will likely be out at least another two weeks.

Willis practiced Friday and Saturday after sitting out because of a mild concussion he suffered Monday.

-- Dan Wolken's Seth Davis - Bottom Line - Outside Shooting Looks Weak, Tigers Win a Lot of Games, Don't Make It Past NCAA 2nd Round Seth Davis
Postcard from Memphis
After Elight Eight run, Calipari reloading at Memphis
Posted: Saturday October 21, 2006 7:41PM

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- There stood Memphis coach John Calipari on Wednesday afternoon, right in the middle of the practice gym at the Finch Center. His players were lined up and ready to start a taxing defensive lunge drill. But before they began, Coach Cal couldn't help but lunge into another of his preacherly pep talks.

"When I see guys getting excited, that makes me excited," he said. "It's like seeing a light switch go on because guys are saying, 'I have hope. I have a chance.' We're saying to you, all you have to do is swim. We'll throw you the rope, and all you have to do is swims to it and hold onto it. You see what I'm saying? You gotta hold onto that rope!"

Cal blew his whistle and his players started their drill. Then he limped to where I was sitting by the scorer's table. (The limp is the lingering effect from Calipari's hip replacement surgery in 2004.) "I have to do this every day," he told me quietly. "I'm telling stories every day. They may not have to do that at Kentucky or North Carolina, but here, I have to teach 'em how to hold a fork, how to hold a knife, how to eat the right way. Every day."

The moral of the story: Calipari won't lead the nation in wins this season, but he might finish first in metaphors. He has always fancied himself the Father Flanagan type, so he's well-suited for yet another reclamation project. After losing senior forward Rodney Carney, sophomore point guard Darius Washington and freshman forward Shawne Williams from last year's Elite Eight squad, Memphis is once again starting over with a talented but extremely callow group. The good news is the Tigers go 11 deep. The bad news is eight of those 11 are freshmen and sophomores.

Yet, because Memphis remains light years ahead of its competition in Conference USA, the Tigers are virtually assured of another NCAA bid. Calipari has once again put together a national non-conference schedule featuring games against Tennessee, Arizona, Cincinnati and Gonzaga, as well as a trip to the Maui Invitational. With so much depth and so little experience, Memphis will depend on the wildly frenetic, press-and-run system Calipari bogarted from Vance Walberg, the new coach at Pepperdine who perfected his amphetamized attack during his four years at Fresno City College.

Calipari's players ran plenty during their workout Wednesday. Unfortunately, even a great pressing team has to make open shots once in a while, and I have to say I didn't see a whole lot of splashing going on. In fact, of all the major college practices I've witnessed over the years, Wednesday's was one of the worst collective shooting displays I've seen. It's possible the guys were just having an off day, but even Calipari got exasperated at one point when he watched his guards in shooting drills clank attempt after attempt from 3-point range. "Unbelievable, guys," he shouted. "You can't miss seven straight!"

Last season's statistics bear out this concern. The highest three-point clip among the returnees is Antonio Anderson's 36.5 percent. After that, Andre Allen made 35.7 percent and Chris Douglas-Roberts made 31 percent. Zone, anyone?

Concern No. 2 is ballhandling. Memphis averaged more turnovers per game (15.6) than assists (15.3) last season, with the point guard Washington actually having one more turnover than assist. It's a tribute to the team's defensive prowess that it still managed to go 33-4, earn a No. 1 seed and reach the Elite Eight.

Frankly, I was never a huge Washington fan. (Neither, apparently, was the NBA. He went undrafted.) This season, the point position will most likely be manned by Willie Kemp. The 6-foot-2 freshman won't overwhelm people with his size or athleticism, but from what I could tell in practice he looks plenty ready to step into the position. Allen, a 5-10 junior, should be a capable backup, but he's a backup -- not a starter.

Between Allen, Kemp, Douglas-Roberts, Anderson, Jeremy Hunt and Doneal Mack, Memphis will have as much perimeter depth as any team in the country. "We may not shoot it great, but we'll find out which of those guys you can't guard off the dribble," Calipari said.

The frontcourt guys are less proven. The best of the bunch is 6-9 sophomore Robert Dozier, who has the length and athleticism of an NBA All-Star but skill-wise is still a work in progress. Joey Dorsey, a 6-9 junior, is in the best shape of his life, but he has had attitude problems in the past. Behind them stands a trio of big guys with high potential but poor conditioning: 6-10 freshman Hashim Bailey, 6-8 freshman Pierre Niles and 6-11 sophomore Kareem Cooper.

Contrary to some of the local buzz, Memphis will not be as good as it was last year, but that doesn't mean it won't win a bunch of games. At the very least, the Tigers will be fun to watch -- and from what I can tell, fun to coach as well. Calipari was in great cheer when we went to dinner Wednesday night. That may have had as much to do with the divine Italian fare at Conte's restaurant, where the owner and head chef, Pam Conte, made us a delicious meal capped off by a diabolical dessert called Xanja, a pastry of deep-fried bread sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and wrapped around cheesecake.

Cal's good mood could also be attributed to his being surrounded by a few of his assistants and some friends from his days at UMass, including his former AD there, Bob Marcum, who is now the AD at Marshall. Then again, his cheerfulness might also have come from the sambuca and limoncello we sipped during dessert. Pam brought us the booty after Cal instructed her to raid the stash kept at Conte's by Mike Fratello, Calipari's fellow paisan and the coach of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies.

Right before Pam brought us our entrees, Calipari's cell phone rang. He looked at the screen and said, "Why would Willie Kemp be calling me?" Sounding concerned, he stepped outside and talked to Kemp for about 15 minutes. When he returned, Calipari said, "He just called to ask if he was doing everything I wanted him to do. I'm telling you, I'm gonna love coaching this team."
Herewith, my breakdown of the Memphis Tigers:

Heart and soul: Douglas-Roberts. The 6-6 sophomore was a much-heralded recruit last year, and he is the team's leading returning scorer after starting 25 games as a freshman. Douglas-Roberts isn't much of a vocal leader, but he'll be Memphis' go-to player down the stretch. It will be a big adjustment for him to go from playing off of Washington and Carney to being at the top of the opponent's scouting report, but he has the ability to handle it.

Most improved: Dorsey. His biggest problem in the past has been foul trouble (eight DQ's last year), but Dorsey is still a very big body who is moving and jumping better than he ever has. He doesn't have to be a big scorer on this team; he only needs to give Memphis a consistent rebounding presence. It will be especially important for Dorsey to stay out of trouble early because it will take some time before the other bigs are ready.

Glue guy: Anderson. The 6-6 sophomore guard started 21 games last year, averaged 27.3 minutes, led the team in steals and finished third in assists. Most of the time, Calipari will give Anderson the toughest defensive assignment, and Cal can even play him at the point if the situation calls for it. Anderson also has an outgoing, engaging personality that will make it fun for everyone else to come to practice.

X factor: Kemp. When I asked Calipari who his X factor is, he immediately said Niles, but I told him I was going to overrule him. If Kemp shows the poise and judgment to take over the point full time, that will allow all the other pieces to fall into place. Douglas-Roberts and Anderson can concentrate on scoring, and Allen can provide his spark off the bench. But it's a lot to ask a freshman to run your team from the point, especially in this hyperactive system.

Lost in the shuffle: Mack. He originally signed with Florida, but he was denied admission there and latched on with Memphis. He is a little wild, but while he didn't look all that skilled during drills Wednesday, he showed a lot of gumption and explosiveness during the full-court five-on-five sessions. It appears Mack and Hunt, who was reinstated after getting into various off-court difficulties last year, will fight to be the fifth guard in this rotation. Because Hunt is a senior and Mack is a freshman, I have to believe Hunt will get that nod.

Bottom line: Watching Memphis play this year should be a lot like tuning into an exciting car race. The speed factor keeps you glued, but you also want to look away because you're afraid someone's going to crash. It's a common maxim among coaches that you can beat a bad team with a press, but not a good one. Memphis will beat most teams it plays this season, but unless these young kids grow up really fast, it's hard to envision the Tigers beating any great ones. Memphis will get to the NCAA Tournament, but I don't foresee it making it to the second weekend.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Darius Washington Jr.'s Has 1 in 3 Chance to Make Mavs' Final Roster

D-Wash sticking with Mavs, so far

October 19, 2006

DALLAS -- The Mavericks hit the halfway point of the preseason Tuesday night with a trio of free agents -- guards Jose Barea and former University of Memphis standout Darius Washington and forward Ndudi Ebi -- in the running for the lone opening on the 15-man roster. Those remaining have yet to distinguish themselves in the eyes of coach Avery Johnson.
"No separation," Johnson said before the Mavericks lost to the Houston Rockets, 72-69, at American Airlines Center. "One day you get something good, then the next day they act like they've never played basketball."

With a team at least two-deep at every position, Johnson has several different options with the 15th spot since there's no pressing need for a certain kind of player.

Either of the two rookies (Barea or Washington) could be designated to the NBDL affiliate Fort Worth Flyers to ease their transition to pro basketball, but Ebi can't be sent down since he's already played two years in the league.

The Mavs also could elect not to keep anyone and use the 15th slot to sign someone during the season. For now, Jonhson's message is clear on what he needs to see for any of the three to have a chance.

"Consistency," Johnson said.

When possible, the team is committed to developing young players that may have slipped through the draft.

"That's a great thing to have an organization that's going to work with you and be patient with you," Washington said. "There are very few rookies that come in ready."'s Luke Winn Has Tiger #13 In First Power Rankings

Memphis Tigers

The VIP in the FedEx Forum for Friday's Memphis Madness isn't the skipper, John Calipari, or any of his current players -- it's a high-school recruit, Chicago point guard Derrick Rose. actually has Rose rated ahead of O.J. Mayo, at No. 3, in its Class of 2007 rankings, and while Rose is also considering Indiana, DePaul, Kansas and UCLA, he's rumored to be favoring the Tigers. As for the message Rose is sending by choosing to attend Memphis' first practice, his high school coach, Robert Smith, told the Chicago Sun-Times that he thinks Rose "wanted to go someplace close, somewhere he could drive to." Bloomington is drivable -- in five hours. Memphis, not so much. It's more like eight.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tigers Add 6 Comcast TV Games

Tigers add 6 Comcast TV games

By Dan Wolken, Memphis Commercial Appeal
October 19, 2006

Conference USA is expected to announce a regional television package today with Comcast Sports Southeast that will include six University of Memphis basketball games this season, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. Combined with the 17 Tigers games already scheduled for national television, that leaves just seven games without television coverage -- and even that might change by today.

Meanwhile, a Comcast spokesman told The Commercial Appeal that CSTV, where the Tigers will appear four times this season, will move from a premium sports package to basic digital cable in Memphis. The date of that move has not been determined. "I don't think Tigers fans will be disappointed at all in the number of games covered," UofM associate athletic director for external affairs Bob Winn said.

Though Winn declined to divulge details, he said there could be an announcement as early as today that puts some if not all of the remaining games on a local television outlet.

CSTV owns the rights to those games but, according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations, has offered to sell them to WLMT-TV Channel 30, an affiliate of the CW network. Last year, the station (known at that time as UPN 30) broadcast 14 Memphis games.

Jack Peck, program director for Clear Channel, which owns CW 30, declined to discuss details of the negotiations.

Tigers coach John Calipari said he was happy about the six-game package on CSS, which is owned by Comcast and is already on basic cable in Memphis. According to Comcast's Web site, it reaches 5.5 million homes across 13 states.

"I think it's great the way they played it," Calipari said. "There will probably be six games left or so and hopefully they'll get it worked out. I know both sides want to work it out, so I imagine it will unless there's something happening I don't know about."

Those developments should allay the concerns some Memphis fans had in the wake of C-USA signing its television deal with CSTV, a fledgling network devoted to college sports that is still considered a premium channel on some cable and satellite providers.

Last year, UPN 30 was able to acquire the simulcast rights to a handful of CSTV games to accommodate local viewers. But that option wasn't available this year, so CSTV's move from a premium sports package to digital basic is significant.

Comcast, which acquired the Memphis area from Time Warner in a territory swap and is now the dominant cable operator in Memphis, is trying to broaden the distribution for CSTV because the two companies are business partners. CSTV and Comcast each own 50 percent of a regional network that broadcasts Mountain West Conference sports exclusively.

CBS bought CSTV last year. The Tigers will play once on CBS when they host Houston Feb. 25. CBS also will broadcast the championship game of the C-USA Tournament.

-- Dan Wolken: 901-529-2365

Memphis Is Preseason Favorite to Win Conference Title, Dorsey & CDR Named Preseason 1st Team

Memphis Is Preseason Favorite To Win Conference USA Title Dorsey, Douglas-Roberts named to preseason All-C-USA team
Oct. 18, 2006

IRVING, Texas - Despite losing two NBA first round draft picks and 56 percent of its scoring from last year's 33-4 NCAA Tournament Elite Eight team, Memphis was the unanimous pick to repeat as the 2006-07 Conference USA regular season champion, the league office announced Wednesday. The Tigers were picked to win the league crown by a vote of the conference's coaches.

Junior Joey Dorsey and sophomore Chris Douglas-Roberts were named to the preseason All-Conference USA Team. The other members of the preseason All-C-USA team were Houston's Lafayette Oliver and Lanny Smith and Rice's Morris Almond. A preseason All-America candidate, Almond was also selected the preseason C-USA Player of the Year.

Memphis returns two starters and 10 letterwinners from its 2005-06 squad that posted one of the best seasons in Tiger basketball history. Memphis swept the 2005-06 Conference USA regular season and tournament titles, and also earned the program's first ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers' 33 victories are a school record and also tied NCAA champ Florida for most wins last year.

Dorsey and Douglas-Roberts are two of the Tigers' leaders in 2006-07. Dorsey, a 6-foot-9 forward, led Conference USA in blocked shots (1.78 bpg) and was third in rebounding (7.5 rpg) a year ago. Douglas-Roberts, a 6-foot-6 guard, is Memphis' leading returning scorer at 8.3 ppg.
Houston was picked to finish second behind the Tigers in the preseason poll. UAB was chosen third, followed by Rice and UTEP in a fourth-place tie.

2006-07 Preseason Conference USA Coaches Poll

1. Memphis
2. Houston
3. UAB
4. Rice
6. Tulsa
7. UCF
8. SMU
9. Tulane
10. Marshall
11. Southern Miss
12. East Carolina

Preseason Player of the Year

Morris Almond, Rice

Preseason All-Conference USA Team

Morris Almond, Rice
Joey Dorsey, Memphis
Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis
Oliver Lafayette, Houston
Lanny Smith, Houston

Article on Clyde Wade

Wade's longevity at U of M pays on court

By Dan Wolken, Memphis Commercial Appeal
October 18, 2006

If it seems like Clyde Wade has been around the University of Memphis basketball program for-ev-er, rest assured it hasn't been that long. But even Wade, a fifth-year senior guard, has trouble comprehending the timeline.

"It just seems like I've been here longer than five years," Wade said Tuesday. Let the record show, Wade is only entering his fifth year with the Tigers. But given the life- and career-altering events that have taken place since he stepped on campus, it's not a surprise that his college career has seemed like a longer journey.

What is surprising is that Wade has stuck around despite playing in just 14 games last year, three the year before due to an anterior cruciate ligament tear and none in 2003-04 while facing federal fraud and conspiracy charges of which he was eventually acquitted.

Though those events may have derailed his chances of having the kind of college basketball career he once hoped for, Wade said he never considered giving it up and devoting his sweat to something else.

"I want to stay as long as I can stay," he said. "I love it. You have hard times, but it don't matter. It's so family-oriented and you're just so close to everybody, it's hard to let go. But this year is my last year, so I've got to let go."

For coach John Calipari, Wade is a success story.

When Wade was initially indicted in October 2003 in an identity theft ring, the school suspended Wade from playing, but Calipari allowed him to battle Antonio Burks in practice and be part of the program.

That decision paid off. Wade now is on track to receive a degree in sports management and said he plans to pursue a career as a sports agent.

"We've graduated 12 of our last 15 seniors and here he comes, and he's going to do the same," Calipari said. "He worked at FedEx (in the summer) and they absolutely loved him. He's a kid that has come here and has worked his way to where, I feel comfortable putting him in games and letting him play. We've gotten better and better players every year he's been here, so that's made it harder and harder, but he's done well."

Wade admits to sometimes wondering "what if?"

After the trial, in which a jury found him not guilty, Wade seemed set to be a prime contributor at backup point guard in 2004-05. After three games, however, Wade tore up his knee during a practice and was done for the year. By comparison, playing 32 minutes over 14 games last year for a 33-4 Tigers team was a treat.

"Last year was fun. It was real fun," Wade said. "I didn't play a lot, but I got to play and we won a whole lot of games. They don't cheat anyone here. If Memphis wins, they treat everybody the same. You want to get a lot of minutes, but it is what it is so you just deal with it and still have a good attitude, something will work out."

Had Wade not been able to take his redshirt year, he wouldn't have been eligible to play on this year's team, which he said is the best he's been around at Memphis from an attitude and chemistry standpoint.

And that comes from a fairly good authority, since Wade's association with the Tigers spans the evolution from program in turmoil to Calipari's hiring to its emergence as a national power.
"I know we were real good last year but this is the best team I've ever been around -- attitude, everything," Wade said. "We do a lot together. It's just a real good team.

"Stuff happens for a reason. I'm just happy to be here."

-- Dan Wolken: 901-529-2365