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Saturday, February 03, 2007

"I Don't Get Scared" Article on Andre Allen

'I don't get scared'
When U of M game is on line, Allen has ice water in shooting arm

By Dan Wolken
January 31, 2007
ORLANDO, Fla. -- When Andre Allen let go one of the most important shots of this University of Memphis basketball season, he wasn't exactly playing the odds.
Then again, the odds would say that Allen is a 5-9 walk-on point guard who can't shoot. But don't be fooled by his size or his statistics. Because as Allen seems to prove again and again, nobody in a Memphis uniform plays better when it counts.

After hitting a huge 3-pointer to beat Southern Miss last Saturday, it stands to reason that Allen would again be a key figure tonight when the No. 11-ranked Tigers enter a hostile, sold-out UCF Arena to play Central Florida, sitting second in Conference USA and gearing up for the biggest home game in program history.
Though freshman Willie Kemp is, and likely will continue to be, the Tigers' starting point guard, there's a reason Allen runs this team in nervous situations. The bigger the moment, the better he seems to play.

"I don't get scared when the pressure comes," Allen said. "I continue to play. When some people have pressure, they get their drawers up and get to being shaken.

"I just keep being in attack mode."

It has been this way Allen's entire career, one that defies logic on so many levels.

Good enough to get high-major scholarship offers out of Booker T. Washington High, he used a Streets Ministries sponsorship to walk on at Memphis.

A starter only once in 56 career games, Allen was the Tigers' unquestioned motor during their run to the Elite Eight last season with 26 assists and just seven turnovers during the C-USA and NCAA Tournaments.

And finally, he's a 36.6 percent career shooter from the field and a 45.8 percent shooter from the free throw line who makes most of his shots when he absolutely has to.

"That was a really big shot," senior Jeremy Hunt said of Allen's 3-pointer with 1:56 remaining Saturday to give Memphis a one-point lead over Southern Miss. "When it released his hand, I felt like it was going in. And it went in, and it was a great moment.

"I think it's more like his competitive spirit, not wanting to lose. When you don't want to lose, you look forward to making plays. You dream about making a game-winning shot like that."

Of course, it doesn't always work out perfectly.

Take, for instance, Memphis' 79-71 loss at Arizona on Dec. 20. After a tremendous performance in which he scored 15 points and made 3-of-5 from 3-point range, the Tigers had a chance to cut a 75-71 deficit in half with 1:33 to go.

Trying to get a layup, Allen drove the lane, looking for an opening. But instead of kicking the ball out when he ran into traffic, Allen tried a wild move and a shot that never threatened the basket.

But the key for coach John Calipari was that Allen had the guts to try a play like that. And even though it didn't work out on that occasion, Allen didn't shrink from the moment the next time Memphis was in a close game.

"He's got an arrogance, a confidence, a swagger about him," Calipari said. "He's not afraid. To play that way, you cannot be afraid to make a mistake.

"Sam Cassell was that way because he wasn't afraid if he lost a game. It wasn't going to have that kind of effect. He knew he had the guts to try to win a game, so he wasn't worried if it didn't go in. You have to play and think in those terms if you want to be that guy on the floor at the end."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

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