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Saturday, March 31, 2007

I Hope You've Had Time To Read My Season Recap Because It Is Time To Move On

Let's see Ohio State and Florida in a double rematch - the Gators won the football version and they won an early season basketball matchup. I'm pulling for Ohio State since they beat Memphis and I really like this team. Ron Lewis is a stud and Oden/Conley are like the Michigan Fab Five - freshman with great poise.

Ok, so Calipari says he wasn't interested in the Kentucky job. He signs a contract extension and tonight there are stories that AD RC Johnson has given the University of Arkansas permission to talk with Cal.

Well, you heard it here first - no need to worry. Cal is in Atlanta and Frank Broyles will probably search him out tomorrow or Monday before the Championship game, but Arkansas will be spurned by Cal. If Cal is leaving Memphis (and it won't be until CDR, Dozier and Anderson graduate at the earliest) he is going to a Top 10 program and Arkansas is not Top 10 - sorry Hog fans. Cal could have gone to Kentucky, settling for Fayetteville makes zero sense.

I expect to hear that Cal has said he is not interested no later than Tuesday.

Monday, March 26, 2007

My Season Recap and Blog Anniversary

Well, this is my one year anniversary managing this blog. If you've been a reader for longer than six months, you'll remember that I had a lot of content prior to the season. I hope all of you will continue to read all through out the year. In the off-season I do talk some recruiting (though I'm not one of those recruiting freaks who lives and dies by rumors, phone calls, plane rides and AAU games). I profile the current players, coaches, and previous players. I pick up stories from around the country that I think are interesting. The number of posts will certainly go down, but Tiger basketball is never forgotten and the count down to October 15th has already started - 203 days!!

This blog's purpose is to increase the exposure this program receives. I want to see the University of Memphis viewed in the same light as the traditional powerhouse schools. That is only accomplished by winning games (Cal and the team's job) and developing a dedicated fan base (yours and my responsibility).

Please feel free to comment on this blog anytime or email me at I certainly enjoy conversations with Tiger fans, the media, or just sports enthusiasts.

If your a regular reader, I'd like to hear from you. Please tell me what you like, what you don't and what you'd like to see more of.

Ok, moving right along..............


Sure, the question was always out there, "Is this team as good as last year's team?" Lots of people asked the question, but very few people actually believed you could remove Rodney Carney, Shawne Williams and Darius Washington and repeat in the Elite Eight.

This year we saw the emergence of a star in Chris Douglas-Roberts. It was kind of funny considering that Robert Dozier is (was?) considered the best NBA prospect on this team. I assume that CDR will be considered the Tigers' best player this time next year assuming Derrick Rose doesn't turn heads as a freshman like Kevin Durant did this year. Chris needs to become a better outside shooter (perhaps he should adopt Jeremy Hunt's off-season regiment - 500 jump shots a day). Chris has excellent leadership skills along with Antonio Anderson. Of course, we as fans and media do not get to see the inside of the locker room or the practice court, but by all accounts those two guys are the de facto leaders of the team even as sophomores.

Earlier in the season I wrote a piece asking who was the most valuable player on this team (Wednesday, January 03, 2007, My Tiger MVP So Far This Season). At the time, I gave Jeremy Hunt a slight edge over CDR. Even now when I compare these two, it is really hard to say one was more important than another. I guess if you pin me down, I'd have to give CDR the nod, but only by the narrowest of margin. It was CDR's post-season that pushed him over the top. Jeremy had the huge game at Gonzaga, which was critical for the win. And Jeremy's performance against Ohio State was fantastic. He kept Memphis close in the first half which allowed the Tigers to get by with CDR and Dorsey having no offense in the first half.

I am very happy to think that CDR will be wearing a Tiger uniform for another two years (I am assuming he isn't draft worthy next year), but replacing Jeremy Hunt will be no small task.

Who would have imagined that Jeremy Hunt would turn into a consistent contributor after the off-court issues and injuries that plagued his first couple of years? While I know Jeremy still has a contingent of naysayers, I believe you have to admire the guy for going through the pain and agony and true public embarrassment of his situation, and still he finished his degree, rejoined the team and became a leader. Let the man with no sin be the first to cast a stone. Jeremy Hunt's own mother told him to take his medicine like a man. We don't all screw up, but many of us do at his age. Jeremy appears to have learned from his mistakes and is determine to succeed in spite of them.

I am on record as saying Jeremy Hunt will probably never play basketball at another level past college (Tuesday, August 22, 2006, Memphis Fans Split over University's Decision to Reinstate Jeremy Hunt), but I think now I might have been wrong. I don't see Jeremy getting drafted, but he is easily good enough to play overseas and possibly even work his way on to an NBA roster in a year or two. There are plenty of lesser talents playing in the NBA.

Robert Dozier is a mystery to me. Will the real Robert Dozier please stand up? Will it be the Robert Dozier who can be a lock-down defender (i.e. Nevada and Texas A&M games), or will it be the Robert Dozier who seemed to sleep walk through a number of games throughout the regular season. I hope and pray that next year will be the year we expected this year to be for Rob. Robert, please demonstrate that talent and desire everyone says you have.

Dozier does seem to be the only Tiger with real post moves. Rob has the ability to catch the ball in the paint and spin to the basket. Cooper has a baby hook, but his lack of quickness negates his advantage. Dorsey, for all of his defensive and rebounding abilities, is not a very good offensive player. Joey is very slow to develop a post move and the defense always has plenty of time to react to him when he catches the ball in the lane. Joey must develop something to keep the defense on its heels. Perhaps watching Greg Oden film in the off-season will help.

Ok, back to Dozier. Rob does show flashes of brilliance. His greatest weakness appears to be consistency. He just had problems this year being relevant sometimes. There were moments when the Tigers appeared to only have four players on the court because Rob just didn't seem to be playing for stretches at a time.

Joey Dorsey is a guy you love for his energy and hate for his lack of energy. I do think Joey showed growth in his maturity this year (at least until the pre-game interview in the Elite Eight). He did seem to latch on to the "Ben Wallace" model - defense and rebound. That model can work for the Tigers. But in my opinion, Joey needs to work on four things in the off-season. One, Joey must keep his head in the game. That means play smart. Don't pick up cheap fouls 20 feet from the basket. Don't let fans or the other team bait you into anger (read technical fouls). Two, learn some post moves - a spin move, a baby hook, a 10 foot jumper. Three, work on your hands (I know you either have soft hands or you don't). There are so many times when Joey has problems holding on to the ball. Joey gets lots of offensive rebounds, but many are rebounding his own missed shot and the ball seems to fumble out of his hands. Four, learn to pass the ball back out. Perhaps Cal just doesn't want this, but with so many wing shooters, it seems like Memphis has plenty of opportunities for Joey to pass back out for open looks. Joey had very few assists on the season - something NBA scouts will be looking for.

It is hard to be critical of Antonio Anderson because the guy can do so much in a game. Fans always gravitate to points scored, but Antonio (or "San Antonio" as I heard him called after the Texas A&M game) does so much more. Anderson's weakness clearly is shooting the ball and that can get better with practice. Antonio is probably haunted by his performance at Cincinnati his freshman year (32 points). He was unconscious shooting the ball that afternoon and hasn't had a great shooting performance since. But, he probably is the only guy on the team capable of registering a triple double and that defines his role. What can you say about Antonio's defense? He is a great defender and typically draws some pretty tough assignments (i.e. Morris Almond, Acie Law).

Willie Kemp had a typical year for a freshman. He had great games and very poor games. He was pretty solid in the friendly atmosphere of the FedEx Forum, but seemed to struggle on the road. On the positive side, Kemp was a solid offensive performer in San Antonio (especially versus Ohio State, on the negative, he was poor in New Orleans.

Fortunately for the Tigers, Kemp and Andre Allen seemed to complement each other. As Kemp was playing poorly in New Orleans, Andre was solid (especially with his defense). In San Antonio, Andre fell off a bit and Kemp stepped up.

If you've read my posts this season you know I'm no big fan of Andre Allen. I did offer several complements on his defense later in the season and he had a few big games where he stood out offensively (i.e. Arizona, North Texas, Nevada). Really my issue with Andre is his poor judgment. He is not a good offensive player and he should know that. Statistics don't lie. He can't shoot very well. That doesn't mean he should pass up open shots. Cal demands guys to shoot when open. That is fine. Shoot when open, but don't be fading backwards or sideways. Don't drive the lane and take wild shots at inopportune times. Andre's 3 point attempt in the second half of the OSU game came at a poor time. Memphis needed a good possession. It was a poor attempt when momentum had already shifted to Ohio State.

It will be very interesting to see how the guard rotation occurs next season with the addition of Derrick Rose. By all accounts Rose is good enough to jump to the NBA which means he starts at Memphis. Anderson will clearly be the starting 2 guard, so Kemp and Allen are mostly likely coming off the bench. Allen may become a defensive specialist assigned to guard the opponent's point guard or used to harass a team with less than stellar ball-handling skills.

Kemp should still get good minutes because Cal needs to still have Willie developing. If you lose Rose after a year to the NBA and Allen graduates, Kemp is suddenly the number one point guard again with no one to back him up (of course, I assume Cal will be looking for another high profile point guard thinking Rose is one and done).

One of the biggest disappointments this year for fans was the fall off in the quality of the non-conference schedule. In my post (Monday, February 19, 2007, The Memphis Schedule......What Went Wrong?), I detailed the differences between this year and last. I boiled it down to losing two non-conference games when the conference schedule expanded to 16 games and the fact that teams like Cincinnati and Manhattan hurt the RPI instead of helped it like Cincinnati and Winthrop did in '05-'06. Much of that was just bad luck. Cal certainly didn't expect Manhattan to wind up with a #231 RPI ranking.

Next year should be more fun for Memphis season ticket holders. You'll get to see Tennessee, Arizona and Gonzaga in the FedEx Forum. Additionally, I'll buy into the notion that C-USA is improving. Clearly, Southern Mississippi will be better. I suspect Tulane and UTEP will be as well. I believe that Tulsa has the right coach in Wojcik to make a move up. I'm less convinced about UAB and SMU. Mike Davis has proved more to me over the years than Matt Doherty. Davis took an Indiana team to the national championship game. Doherty didn't reach so high. I need to see more from both of these guys. Recruiting to Indiana and North Carolina isn't all that hard (though Tubby clearly struggled at a similar program, Kentucky). Recruiting to UAB and SMU will show what your made of.

I hear that Memphis will face Southern Cal on a neutral court next season and we know that Memphis will visit Ole Miss. I wish that the schedule was a bit more mixed because having Tennessee, Arizona and Gonzaga all home and then all away is definitely not optimal.

So what about Cal? Personally, I like the guy. How can you not like what he has done for this program? Sure, I know he rubs some people wrong and he isn't shy about recognizing his critics (the "miserables"), but he is a winner. Look at his record taking two non-BCS teams to national powers. He has a excellent recruiting record - Memphis is poised for top 15 classes annually. He is a excellent motivator. He is a excellent marketer of the program on a national basis. He demands excellence - the guys are graduating. Does Cal deserve the salary? I say yes. I hope Cal is happy in Memphis and retires here in about 25 more years.

Congratulations on a fine season.

Go Tigers Go!!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

AP "Tigers Lose to Ohio State"

Tigers lose to Ohio State
By Jamie Aron, Associated Press
March 24, 2007

SAN ANTONIO - Greg Oden wasn't going to let foul trouble stop him, not with a chance to take Ohio State to the Final Four.

Frustrated by fouls for a third straight game, Oden made the most of his time on court during a key stretch of the second half, carrying the top-seeded Buckeyes past Memphis 92-76 Saturday in the South Regional finals.

Oden's numbers weren't huge: 17 points, nine rebounds.
The 7-footer's impact was.

The Buckeyes (34-3) went from up five points to down five during the 4:42 the fabulous freshman was on the bench after getting his third foul early in the second half. The moment he returned, everything changed. His presence on offense and defense sparked a 20-8 run that ultimately sent Ohio State to its 21st straight win and to Atlanta to play the winner of Sunday's North Carolina-Georgetown game.

"He came in with a lot of enthusiasm after sitting on the bench," point guard Mike Conley Jr. said of Oden, his high school teammate. "I think he just picked us up."

The Buckeyes last made the Final Four in 1999, when a team led by Michael Redd and Scoonie Penn lost to eventual national champion Connecticut. That trip later was expunged from the records because of NCAA violations, making their last official appearance in 1968.

Second-seeded Memphis (33-4) fell a game shy of the Final Four for a second straight season. The Conference USA champs were riding a 25-game winning streak and plenty confident they could handle the Big Ten champs _ and were doing just fine until the 260-pound future NBA lottery pick flexed his muscles.

In only 24 minutes, Oden made 7-of-8 shots and was 3-of-6 from the line with a block that came on the first defensive stand after he returned with three fouls. Memphis' inability to stop him was summed up best when Chris Douglas-Roberts threw both arms around Oden's waist and shoved him for an intentional foul _ but Oden still made the shot. He also made one of two free throws, tying the game at 60. Ohio State got to keep the ball and went ahead 62-60.

"I really hope it was an intentional foul because it was a difference-maker," Memphis coach John Calipari said. "It really changed the game."

Said Buckeyes senior Ron Lewis: "It put fuel on the fire."

When Oden caught a pass, spun and scored with his left hand against Joey Dorsey, the Buckeyes were up 71-64 and in solid control with about five minutes left. By then, Ohio State fans, who'd anguished through big comebacks and crucial last-second shots the last two games, were breathing easily, possibly even wondering how much longer they'll get to savor Oden in scarlet and white.

They made their thoughts on the subject clear by chanting "One more year!" during the postgame, net-cutting ceremony. They later hollered, "Two more games," which could bring the Buckeyes their second basketball title and first since the 1960 club that featured John Havlicek, Jerry Lucas and a backup named Bob Knight.

Conley _ the son of a former Olympic star and Oden's high school teammate _ set the pace for the Buckeyes with hard-charging drives from the start. He scored 19 points and led Ohio State to its most points of the season. He also was named the top player in the region.

Lewis continued his steady tournament play with 22 points and six rebounds. Jamar Butler added 12 points. The Buckeyes made 51 percent of their shots, and were 35-of-41 from the foul line, never giving Memphis a chance to get back in the game down the stretch.

The Tigers hung in early by shooting 7-of-10 on 3-pointers in the first half, an surprising start considering they began last year's regional finals loss to UCLA 0-for-14 from behind the arc.

But they couldn't keep it up. Memphis made only three more on 12 tries after halftime and were further slowed by its star player, Douglas-Roberts, getting into foul trouble.

Jeremy Hunt led the Tigers with 26 points, 17 in the first half. Douglas-Roberts scored 14, Willie Kemp had 12 and Antonio Anderson got 10 points and a suture over his right eyebrow after catching an elbow from teammate Robert Dozier in the first half.

Dorsey, who said Friday he was Goliath and Oden was "the little man," had four rebounds and no points in 19 minutes. He also drew four fouls.

"I thought we'd have a little better matchup inside," Calipari said. "I thought it would be more competitive."

Conley said Dorsey's comments "affected us as a team more than it affected Greg."

"When somebody talks about Greg, they're talking about all of us," Conley said.

Oden scored the game's first basket on a left-handed flick over Dorsey. Midway through the first half, he slipped around Dorsey's hefty backup and threw down a dunk so hard that he practically did a chin-up on the rim. Only 16 seconds later, though, Oden was headed to the bench with his second foul.

He opened the second half with more dazzling plays: spinning around Dorsey for another easy score, then grabbing a rebound and leading a fast break that ended with an alley-oop dunk by Lewis.

Oden got his third foul on a reach-in two minutes later. It was Memphis' last chance, but it didn't last long enough.

Intentional Foul Call Leaves CDR Frustrated

Foul call leaves Tiger frustrated
Douglas-Roberts: 'It wasn't intentional'

By Scott Cacciola
March 25, 2007

SAN ANTONIO -- In Chris Douglas-Roberts' opinion, it was personal. A personal foul, that is.

When Douglas-Roberts, a sophomore guard for the University of Memphis, reached out and grabbed Ohio State's Greg Oden with 9:43 remaining in the second half at the Alamodome on Saturday, he thought he was preventing a dunk and a huge momentum boost for the Buckeyes in the South Regional final of the NCAA Tournament.

Instead, the play turned into a five-point swing for Ohio State -- a series of events that Douglas-Roberts considered to be the turning point in Ohio State's 92-76 victory.

"I mean, I regret it now that I know it would be an intentional foul," Douglas-Roberts said. "It wasn't intentional. It was a personal foul on the floor."

The officials, of course, saw it differently. Memphis was leading, 60-57, when Oden caught a pass near the basket at the end of a fast break. Though Douglas-Roberts appeared to put his arms around Oden before he began his shooting motion, the officials counted Oden's layup and assessed Douglas-Roberts with an intentional foul.

Oden only made the first of two free throws, but Ohio State retained possession when Memphis knocked the ball out of bounds on the scramble for the rebound. Jamar Butler was fouled two seconds later and made both of his free throws. A 3-point deficit for the Buckeyes had morphed into a 2-point lead.

"It just changed the whole rhythm," Douglas-Roberts said. "It just changed everything."

Memphis coach John Calipari said he missed the play and would have to review it on tape before he offered an assessment.

"I really hope it was an intentional foul," he said, "because it was a difference maker in the game. It changed the whole complexion of the game."

Some of his players were less diplomatic.

"That was the worst intentional foul I've ever seen in my life," sophomore guard Antonio Anderson said. "He just barely grabbed him."

Either way, it was Douglas-Roberts' fourth foul and sent him to the bench. To that point, he had been Memphis' most dynamic option on offense in the second half, scoring 10 of his team's 22 points. When he checked back into the game less than four minutes later, the Tigers were trailing, 69-64. They could not recover.

"I obviously thought it was a good call," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "But I don't know if it was that much of an impact."

Douglas-Roberts finished with 14 points and four rebounds and was named to the South Regional All-Tournament Team.

"I mean, all-tournament team doesn't mean nothing," he said. "I'm out. I'm going home. Fishing."

Calipari "I Have No Interest In Another Job"

Cal: 'I have no interest in another job'
Coach mentioned in reports on Kentucky

By Dan Wolken
March 25, 2007

SAN ANTONIO -- John Calipari could have dodged the question. Instead, he was emphatic.

Asked how he would handle phone calls this offseason from schools that might be seeking a new head coach, Calipari gave an answer that could provide some comfort to University of Memphis fans.

"I have no interest in another job," Calipari said, moments after the Tigers were eliminated by Ohio State in the Elite Eight. "I'm coaching the University of Memphis. It's where I want to coach. (Athletic director R.C. Johnson) and I will probably meet tomorrow. I don't have any interest in any other job."

Ever since Tubby Smith resigned as coach at Kentucky on Thursday to take over the Minnesota program, Calipari's name has been mentioned among the potential candidates in nearly every published report.

Calipari refused to directly address questions about job openings Thursday or Friday while the Tigers were still playing. But Saturday, for the first time, he publicly talked about the idea that leaving Memphis would mean leaving a team that should once again contend for a national title.

The Tigers lose just one scholarship senior, Jeremy Hunt, but will be bringing in the nation's top point guard recruit, Derrick Rose, as well as highly rated shooting guard Jeff Robinson. Shawn Taggart, a 6-11 transfer from Iowa State, will become eligible, giving Memphis another legitimate big man.

And if anybody off the current roster leaves or transfers, Memphis could bring in twins Marcus and Markieff Morris, who will go to prep school otherwise.

"I have no interest in any other job, and we've got a good thing going," Calipari said. "Truth be told, there are probably better jobs than Memphis. Would you all say? Yes there are. But there may not be a better team than the one I'm going to have for the next couple years, and you don't leave that unless the commitment changes, unless it's not there.

"This school is committed. What I said before, if this program can continue to get this state actively involved in making this a great institution it's going to be fun, and that means our time here was well spent because it left a legacy."

Jeremy Hunt Says He Gave It His Best

Tigers' Hunt says he gave it his best

By Jim Masilak

SAN ANTONIO -- Jeremy Hunt lingered on the floor of the Alamodome as if in a daydream.

His hopes for a trip to the Final Four extinguished along with his eligibility following the University of Memphis' 92-76 South Regional final loss Saturday to Ohio State, Hunt staggered aimlessly for a few moments before assistant coach Derek Kellogg guided him gently toward the locker room.

"I left everything out there. Everything," said Hunt, who scored a game-high 26 points in his final collegiate game. "I played like it was my last game, and it just so happened it was my last game."

A year ago Hunt was a pariah, banished from the team following a pair of off-the-court incidents. When the Tigers lost to UCLA in the Elite Eight round of last season's NCAA Tournament, he couldn't help but wonder if his presence might have altered the outcome.

Given another chance by the university after earning his degree and staying out of trouble, the former Craigmont High standout was desperate to lead the Tigers back to the Final Four for the first time since 1985.

"At the beginning of the game I was saying it in my head: 'We can't let it be like last year. We can't lose in the Elite Eight again,'" Hunt said. "I always dreamed of having big games against big teams for the University of Memphis ... and this was the biggest game I've ever played in. I wanted to win it so bad."

He demonstrated as much from the moment Memphis coach John Calipari first summoned him from the bench.

Memphis (33-4) had gotten off to a miserable start, failing to score for the first 4 minutes and 39 seconds and ultimately falling into an early 9-2 hole.

That's when Hunt, the Tigers' ultra-confident fifth-year senior guard, took over.

Aggressive on the dribble and more accurate from the perimeter than at any time in the last month, Hunt almost single-handedly kept the Tigers in the game early on against the Buckeyes (34-3).

He nailed his first 3-point attempt and then hit 7-of-8 free-throw attempts, drawing a pair of early fouls on Ohio State center Greg Oden in the process. Hunt hit two more 3s to complete an invaluable 16-point first-half performance.

"Can you imagine that? I'm just so proud of him," Tigers coach John Calipari said. "We rode him."

Hunt cooled off a bit in the second half but still chipped in with 10 points as the Tigers fought to stay close with the Big Ten Conference champions.

Hunt finished with 26 points on 6-of-16 shooting from the field, including 5-of-11 from 3-point range and 9-of-10 from the free-throw line.

"He played extremely well," sophomore guard Antonio Anderson said. "For him to go out the way he did, I just take my hat off to him. He's been a great friend and a great teammate to me all year. ... I wish him the best."

Hunt will now begin working toward what he hopes will be a career at some level in pro basketball.

"Hopefully I can get a couple looks," he said. "I'm just gonna work my tail off."

The realization that he'd never again wear a Tiger uniform struck Hunt as "weird." But he has high hopes for a team that figures to return all of its other key players next year -- not to mention a couple high-profile recruits.

"I wish all those guys the best," Hunt said. "I love all those guys. They're like my brothers. They're like my family. I had a lot of fun with them. But it would have been a whole lot sweeter if we had won."

Hunt, however, left the Alamodome safe in the knowledge he'd done everything he could to make it happen.

"I left it all on the floor. There's no doubt in anybody's mind I left it on the floor," he said. "I would have left my jersey on the floor if it would have helped us win."

-- Jim Masilak: 529-2311

Defense Not Up to OSU Challenge

Defense not up to OSU challenge
By Scott Cacciola
March 25, 2007

SAN ANTONIO -- Seldom had Memphis faced an opponent that started two point guards.
But that was the challenge presented by Ohio State on Saturday afternoon at the Alamodome, where the Buckeyes exploited all sorts of defensive holes in their 92-76 victory in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

Mike Conley, a freshman who was named Most Outstanding Player of the South Regional after finishing with 19 points, might best be regarded as Point Guard A for Ohio State. Jamar Butler, a junior who finished with 12 points and four assists, is Point Guard B.

For Ohio State, having two adept ballhandlers on the court virtually eliminated any opportunity for Memphis to unleash its fullcourt press.

After Ohio State took an early 8-0 lead, Memphis coach John Calipari came to one conclusion.

"I just did not want to spread the court," he said. "When we're down three at the half, I'm feeling good. When we're up five, I felt like we had the right game plan. Could we have worn them out? I don't think so. Those two guards make it hard to say you're going to press them in a regional final."

Conley feasted on Memphis' halfcourt defense, often penetrating to the basket for layups or setting up open shots for his teammates.

"Conley's unbelievable," Calipari said. "Conley ran the game."

The key, Butler said, was moving the ball and setting loads of ball screens. Few players in the country are more adept at using high picks than Conley, and it only helps when the teammate setting them is a 7-foot, 280-pounder named Greg Oden.

"It worked out for us," Butler said.

For the season, Memphis had been holding opponents to 39-percent shooting. But the Buckeyes shot 51 percent from the field and 35-of-41 (85 percent) from the free-throw line.

"They got some wide-open looks," Memphis forward Robert Dozier said. "You give a team like Ohio State wide-open looks, they're going to make them."

For all the strategizing and late-night chalk sessions with his staff, Calipari sounded as if it had been a futile exercise.

"I don't care if we pressed, trapped, played a 1-3-1 zone," Calipari said. "They are better than us."

-- Scott Cacciola: 529-2773

A Foul Finish

A foul finish
For second straight season, Tigers come up one game short of trip to Final Four

By Dan Wolken
March 25, 2007

SAN ANTONIO -- The floater bounced off the back of the rim, and for the first time all day, Joey Dorsey's timing was perfect. He was going to get the rebound, the University of Memphis was going to get possession with nearly five minutes to go and the Tigers, behind just five points, were going to make one last push for the Final Four.

That's the way it could have happened. But in that split-second when the ball hung in the air and Dorsey leaped to grab it, everything that had gone right for Memphis to get to this moment suddenly seemed to change.

Dorsey, who had made himself the center of attention a day earlier by calling out freshman sensation Greg Oden, whiffed on the rebound. And seconds later, Ron Lewis made the 3-pointer that essentially clinched No. 1 seed Ohio State's trip to Atlanta and sent Memphis home with a second straight Elite Eight disappointment, 92-76, in front of 26,260 at the Alamodome.
And though the Tigers will certainly celebrate another 33-4 season, a perfect Conference USA record and another long NCAA Tournament run, this one stung badly because Memphis knew just how close it came to the school's first Final Four berth since 1985.

"Two elite eight games in two years," sophomore Chris Douglas-Roberts said. "To lose both is tough. We just knew this is the one where we were going to get over the hump, but we couldn't do it. We didn't bring everything. They're a well-executed team, but little things that happened just separated them from us."

Little things. And one "little man."

At least, that's what Dorsey called Oden on Friday during a bizarre session with reporters. But little was a more apt description of Dorsey's impact on this game: No points, three rebounds and four fouls.

The only thing little about Oden was the amount of difficulty he had dominating Memphis, scoring 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting with nine rebounds.

"Joey did not try to fire this kid up," coach John Calipari said. "What he was saying was, he's one of the best in the country and I want to see what I can do against him, and it was blown up ... I feel bad that he played that poorly."

Despite the Dorsey-Oden subplot, there were plenty of reasons Memphis couldn't overcome Ohio State, which shot 51 percent from the field and made 35 of 41 free throws.

The Tigers made 10 of 22 from 3-point range, but just 16 of 43 from inside the arc. Memphis couldn't get the game sped up to a favorable pace, failing to score a fast-break bucket. And when the Tigers did get a rare defensive stop, they too often missed out on loose balls and rebounds.

"When it boiled down to it, we didn't make shots," said sophomore Robert Dozier, who had nine points and 11 rebounds. "We missed a whole bunch of shots and let them get offensive rebounds. That's what beat us."

Despite all the trouble with Oden and Mike Conley Jr., who broke down Memphis' defense repeatedly to score 19 points, the Tigers were in position to win with 10 minutes left.

After two Willie Kemp 3-pointers in the final 1:48 of the half brought Memphis within 41-38, the Tigers got Oden to pick up his third foul with 17:21 to go. Immediately, the Tigers attacked the basket, with Douglas-Roberts and senior Jeremy Hunt getting layups and free throws that catapulted Memphis to a 56-51 lead with 12:39 to go.

But the Tigers began to face foul trouble of their own. By the 10-minute mark, three key players had four fouls, including Andre Allen, Douglas-Roberts and Dorsey.

The most critical occurred with 9:43 to go and Memphis leading by three points. After Douglas-Roberts missed a layup and Allen missed a tip, Ron Lewis missed a 3-pointer at the other end.

But Oden grabbed the offensive rebound, and Douglas-Roberts grabbed him around the waist, which was called an intentional foul. To Memphis' surprise, Oden's putback dunk counted on what appeared to be a continuation call and after Oden made a free throw the game was tied.

Ohio State got the ball back, which Jamar Butler converted into two free throws for a 62-60 lead. Memphis would never see the lead again.

"That was the worst intentional foul I've ever seen in my life," sophomore Antonio Anderson said. "He barely grabbed him, but that's how it goes. We had to roll with it."

After the game, in a quiet Memphis locker room, the focus turned partly toward next season, when the Tigers should return everyone but Hunt. That wasn't enough, however, to soothe emotions about the opportunity Memphis left behind.

"There's nothing to say," Hunt, who scored 26 points on 5 of 11 from the 3-point line, said after his final game. "We ran up against a team we felt like we could beat, but we missed a couple loose balls, and after the intentional foul, it kind of went downhill from there."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

Tiger Fans Fill Pub to Toast Team, Drown Sorrows

Tiger fans fill pub to toast team, drown sorrows

By Trey Heath
March 25, 2007

Finding a seat at a sports bar during a University of Memphis basketball game is no easy task.

Finding an empty seat during a Tiger NCAA Tournament game -- well, that's next to impossible.

Ralph Griggs, 24, claimed his seat at the Brookhaven Pub & Grill in East Memphis nearly three hours before the Tigers' game Saturday against Ohio State University.
Sometimes sitting, other times standing, but always excited, Griggs slammed his chair to the ground to the beat of a "Let's go Tigers" chant that carried on throughout a packed house.

"I live for games like this," Griggs said. "We got this game, baby, because we have the heart."

Despite showing plenty of heart, U of M fell short, losing to Ohio State 92-76.

But even with a Tiger loss, Gloria Holland, 54, of Plantersville, Miss., had no regrets from detouring from a day of packing to catch the game on a huge flat screen television at the sports bar.

Holland had come to Memphis to help her daughter move. But Saturday afternoon, they ditched that chore and watched the game.

"I'm not even a Memphis fan; I'm a Mississippi State fan," Holland said. "But even I am pulling for the Tigers. They are from the South, and this atmosphere is just a lot of fun."

That great atmosphere is what several U of M students craved who didn't have the funds to make it to San Antonio.

"Getting to the game takes a lot of money and takes away from class," said student Keith Duff, 21, of Columbia, Tenn. "Coming to the bar is a great place to come and catch the game and hang out with friends."

That attitude helped bring a lot of blue (and green) into the sports bar, said general manager Richard Heard, 32.

"I'm a Georgia fan, and you see what I have on now," Heard said, pointing to his head-to-toe Tiger blue apparel. "When I see Tiger blue, I see a lot of green, too."

Memphis tournament games helped bring an extra $2,000 a night into the local bar, Heard said.

"It's one of our most stressful days," he said. "People will be ordering shots and hooting and hollering, but if the Tigers lose, then it's 'Hey, I need my check.' "

And while Griggs' prediction that his beloved Tigers would win a trip to Atlanta for the Final Four did not come to pass, Heard's was on the money.

After the game ended, the standing-room-only crowd evaporated in mere seconds.

All save for Griggs.

"I want everyone to know, we played our hearts out," he said to fans who where hastily seeking the nearest waitress.

"Just wait until next year."

-- Trey Heath: 529-2643

Berth In Final Four Eludes Tigers for 2nd Straight Year

Berth in NCAA Final Four eludes Tigers for second straight year
Ohio State 92, Memphis 76

By Jim Masilak
March 25, 2007

SAN ANTONIO -- University of Memphis sophomore Antonio Anderson sat slumped in a folding chair deep inside the Alamodome, a butterfly bandage concealing 15 stitches above his right eye and down the bridge of his nose.

In the first half of Saturday's NCAA tournament South Regional final game against Ohio State, Anderson was laid low by an accidental elbow from teammate Robert Dozier.

As much as that hurt, Anderson said it was nothing compared to the pain he and the No. 2-seeded Tigers felt following a season-ending 92-76 loss to the top-seeded Buckeyes.

"We lost to a good team," a sullen Anderson said. "It happens. That's all I can say."

Chris Douglas-Roberts, sitting to his classmate's left in a frown-filled Memphis locker room, echoed the sentiment.

"It's tough, man," he said. "It's tough. Tough, tough, tough, tough. Any loss is tough, but in the Elite Eight? Your season's over. You can't imagine, because you're not playing, but it's not easy."

For the second straight season, a record-setting Tiger basketball season has ended one agonizing step short of the Final Four.

Last year, the Tigers won a program-best 33 games before falling to UCLA in the Elite Eight. The UofM won 33 games again this season, including Conference USA regular-season and tournament titles, but the Tigers once more failed to end what is now a 22-year Final Four drought.

"I wish I could be at home next week in Atlanta," Dozier, a native of Lithonia, Ga., said in reference to the site of this year's Final Four. "We've just got to go home, work hard this summer and get ready for next year's run."

Ron Lewis scored 22 points and Mike Conley Jr. added 19 as the Big Ten Conference-champion Buckeyes (34-3) used a 14-4 second-half run to end the Tigers' Final Four dream.

Ohio State freshman center Greg Oden, described by Memphis forward Joey Dorsey as "overrated" in the buildup to Saturday's game, finished with 17 points and nine rebounds.

Dorsey went scoreless.

"When somebody talks about Greg," Conley said, "they're talking about all of us."

In his final outing for the Tigers (33-4), former Craigmont High standout Jeremy Hunt scored a game-high 26 points, going 5 for 11 from 3-point range. But his heroics weren't enough to extend the Tigers' school-record 25-game winning streak.

"It's not a good feeling right now," Hunt said. "We had a great run. We won 25 games straight. Right now, we've just got to man up and say Ohio State was the better team."

Memphis led 60-57 with less than 10 minutes to play, but Douglas-Roberts' controversial intentional foul on Oden resulted in a five-point swing and a surge in momentum for the Buckeyes.

"That was the worst intentional foul I have ever seen in my life," Anderson said. "He just barely grabbed him, but that's how it goes."

Afterward, Tigers coach John Calipari was asked what his response would be should another school come calling about a job opportunity.

Calipari, who flirted with North Carolina State following last year's Elite Eight run and has been mentioned in connection with the opening at Kentucky, provided an emphatic response.

"I have no interest in another job. I'm coaching the University of Memphis and that's where I want to coach," he said. "I don't have any other interest in any other job. ... We've got a great thing going."

-- Jim Masilak: 529-2311

Oden Uses Time Wisely In Dismantling Dorsey, Tigers Julia Morrill "Closer Look"
Oden uses time wisely in dismantling Dorsey, Tigers
Posted: Sunday March 25, 2007

SAN ANTONIO -- Memphis center Joey Dorsey actually rooted for Ohio State to win its South regional semifinal against Xavier because he wanted the matchup against the Buckeyes 7-footer, Greg Oden. "I see this as a big challenge for me to make a name for myself," Dorsey said prior to Saturday night's final. "I'll stop Greg Oden and hold him to probably nine points and probably five rebounds. And I will have 15 points and 20 rebounds. Everyone is going to say Dorsey is a great player, he's underrated, he's a great rebounder."

Final score: Ohio State 92, Memphis 76. Despite foul trouble, Greg Oden made his presence felt with 17 points and nine rebounds. Dorsey's final stat line? Zero points and three boards. "I don't think [Dorsey] meant to call [Oden] out," Memphis coach John Calipari said.

But Oden responded that way. Limited floor time did not affect his impact, as the Buckeyes freshman went 7-of-8 from the field in 24 minutes. His layup and free throw off a Chris Douglas-Roberts intentional foul with 10 minutes remaining proved to be the game's turning point.

After the final horn, as the Ohio State players climbed the ladder one-by-one to cut down a piece of the net, fans chanted, "Two more games!" Oden stood amidst the celebration with a smile on his face and walked around taking pictures with the band and cheerleaders, even handing his piece of the net to one of them. Now it's time to rest up for Atlanta. "I'm really excited," he said. "We have a long plane ride home, so I will probably sleep it off."

Player Who Impressed Me
Whether Mike Conley Jr. is splitting defenders and driving to the basket, dishing to teammates to set up three-pointers or lobbing the ball inside, he rarely makes bad decisions with the ball in his hands. The freshman, later named top player of the region, wasn't flawless against Memphis -- he was 0-for-2 from beyond the arc and had a team-high five turnovers -- but what stands out is his feel for the game, his instincts, and his quick hands.

Courtside Confidential
Oden's favorite NBA player is former Spurs center David Robinson, and the Admiral was in attendance for the game against Tennessee. Oden admitted Friday he was distracted by his idol's presence. "In the middle of the game, I'm sitting there in the timeout and I look up and see [Robinson], and coach [Mike] Conley was like 'Were you looking at me in the timeout?' and I was like 'No, I was looking at David Robinson." Why does Oden love Robinson? "I think my style of play kind of resembles his and he's just a good person who I would like to resemble." ... Oden's mother couldn't make it to today's game because his brother, Anthony, a 6-8 junior at Dayton (Ohio) Dunbar played in the state championship game. "I'm happy for him that he's having a lot of fun now. He was really excited he was playing in the championship. I wish I could see it but I'm going to be having some business myself." ... A fan in the Memphis section held up a sign saying, "Calling Coach C: UK, Line 1."

Big Picture
Today was by far the best Ohio State has looked since the start of the tournament. They came out gunning (Memphis was in a 8-0 hole four minutes in), Oden dominated, they knocked down free throws down the stretch, and the guards stepped up to make key shots. If coach Thad Matta can keep the team focused, and not allow the mental lapses they had against Xavier and Tennessee, there's no question they have the talent and depth to win it all.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Yahoo Sports on Why Kentucky Should Hire Calipari

Kentucky's solution

By Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports
March 23, 2007

SAN ANTONIO – When Massachusetts athletic director Frank McInerney was looking to hire a basketball coach back in 1988, he kept getting phone calls about one particular candidate.

Only the people – rival coaches, athletic directors, basketball power brokers – weren’t saying why UMass should hire John Calipari, but why it shouldn’t. Too much drama, too many shadows, everyone was whispering.

Then McInerney got a call from UMass alum Rick Pitino who laid it out simply: if all of your rivals are telling you not to hire a guy, then that’s who they fear and that’s, of course, who you hire.

So here in 2007, the University of Kentucky, seeking a head coach for its historic program, might want to consider not just Pitino’s old, sage hiring advice, but also who Louisville's head man would least like to see down the road in Lexington.

John Calipari may not even get a call from UK to replace Tubby Smith, but if you want to know the guy that the Wildcats' main rivals fear most, the one everyone in basketball believes would win multiple national titles for the Big Blue, well, here’s Johnny.

Cal takes his Memphis Tigers into Saturday’s Elite Eight game against Ohio State on a 25-game win streak, yet with a chip on their shoulder. Which is just how he likes it, how he always sees it.

They say a lot of things about Cal, but one thing no one can deny is he wins and wins and wins. And he does it at places where it isn’t supposed to happen – first moribund UMass, now left-to-rot-in-Conference-USA Memphis.

The Tigers program is not some small enterprise by any means, but it is beyond anyone’s imagination (except Cal’s) that despite being stuck in a mid-major league they are 33-3, in consecutive Elite Eights, and once again boast a roster loaded with future NBA talent, with another to-die-for recruiting class en route.

It isn’t a surprise that Cal’s team plays a smart, sensational offensive style (he calls it a cross between Euro-ball and Princeton) and the requisite grill-to-grill defense. This is now almost the mirror image of the program he built at UMass and took to the 1996 Final Four, the one that made Pitino look so clairvoyant.

The guy is no joke. What he does is no fluke. He keeps winning while always being the outsider, at the outsider school, crashing the gilded gates of college sports.

Which is why there is no doubt he’d win big if he ever got a chance to do it at a place with the enormous resources, strength and history of Kentucky. If he can do this at UMass and Memphis, imagine the possibilities at UK.

Since Thursday, when Tubby Smith finalized a deal to head to Minnesota, the buzz throughout college hoops has been who replaces him at Kentucky? In many ways, at least among the game’s coaches, administrators and media, it has overshadowed the actual tournament.

About a million names have surfaced, some serious, many ridiculous. But no matter what, in scores of conversations, I’ve yet to hear anyone counter a simple premise – assuming Billy Donovan is not possible (and he's a long shot), no one is a surer bet to deliver championships to UK than John Calipari. No one.

He is a ferocious recruiter, master motivator and intense practice coach; his teams play with both passion and flair. His kids will run through walls for him. He’s just the extrovert that would lap up the spotlight of the Big Blue Nation, who would embrace the immense expectations of the Commonwealth and boldly proclaim that Kentucky is back and not backing down.

He won’t get the establishment vote because he’s never been one of the chosen ones, the golden boys of the sport. Just as they tried to keep him from getting that first job, the whisper campaign will try to keep him down again.

Cal plays tough, so he can’t complain when people play tough back at him. He’s no angel, no victim here. In a cut throat business, he's gotten himself into some jams. He owns a knife too.

But anyone with any knowledge of the seedy world of college basketball knows that there are no black hat and white hat coaches the way the NCAA and CBS public relations machines want you to believe. They are all gray out there. They are all more similar than they want you to know.

It wasn’t Cal’s program that was placed on probation last year for multiple violations including have a millionaire booster dole out cash, gifts and travel to a player (Darnell Jackson) and his AAU coach.

It was the Kansas Jayhawks, courtesy of Roy Williams’ tenure in Lawrence.

It isn’t Memphis that enters Saturday’s game in the South Regional currently on NCAA probation with the lower graduation rate, it is the Ohio State University.

If you think his kids don’t study, Calipari has all the graduation stats to refute you. If you think it’s just street ball the Tigers are playing, ask any other coach or scout which team, Duke or Memphis, runs a more complicated, sophisticated offense and then watch them laugh at the comparison.

It’s an important moment for UK, if only the competitive balance has changed around Lexington in the past few years. The Wildcats are still big dogs, but they aren’t the only ones. Ohio State has a juggernaut going to the north, ferocious recruiters Kelvin Sampson (Indiana), Bruce Pearl (Tennessee) and Pitino surround the other sides.

If Kentucky is going to get this thing truly rolling again, they need someone who can dig in and scrap right along with them.

Mostly the Wildcats need to consider the very person all of those rivals hope they don’t hire. There are a lot of nice guys being mentioned for the UK job, a lot of nice coaches, a lot of nice media creations.

It might be time for Kentucky to get a little less nice.

Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports' national columnist. Send Dan a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

From the Dallas Morning News "Memphis Winning Critics Over"

Jean-Jacques Taylor is a sports columnist for The Dallas Morning News.

Memphis winning critics over
Didn't respect Memphis before? How about now?

12:08 AM CDT on Saturday, March 24, 2007

SAN ANTONIO – Memphis wants you to know it has one of the nation's best basketball programs. And it shouldn't matter that it plays in a bad conference.

So it's intent on winning and proving you – and me – wrong until we finally admit Memphis is an elite program. Frankly, that shouldn't be too hard after Memphis beat Texas A&M on Thursday night at the Alamodome.

Not after the Tigers won on the Aggies' home court. At least it sounded like their home court, considering the crowd of 26,060 couldn't have had more than 1,500 Memphis fans.

Not after the Tigers grabbed three offensive rebounds on their final offensive possession of the game. And certainly not after Antonio Anderson, a 64 percent free throw shooter, made two freebies with 3.1 seconds to give the Tigers a one-point lead.

Memphis earned this one. It deserved to win.

Please don't do the Aggies a disservice by whining that the officials took too much time off the clock, reducing it from 3.1 seconds to 2.0 seconds after a Memphis player deflected the Aggies' inbounds pass.

Memphis denied Acie Law IV an opportunity to hit one more clutch shot. Dominique Kirk missed a 3-point heave from about midcourt that bounced off the rim as time expired.

Memphis, the No. 2 seed in the South, has won 25 consecutive games. We all know the Tigers play in a subpar basketball conference, at least for this season, but any Division I team that wins that many games in a row deserves your respect. Mine, too.

"We're just ready to prove people wrong," Anderson said. "That's why we play so hard."

If you're honest, you didn't respect Memphis. Why would you? Conference USA had only one team selected to the NCAA Tournament.

Heck, Memphis only beat SMU by three points in its final regular-season game, which is embarrassing for a program of its stature. Few things, though, anger coach John Calipari more than ripping his conference.

Do so, and he'll go on and on about how several teams are building new practice facilities or arenas, when he's not talking about all of the good players returning next season.

"Next year, we'll get two or three teams in the tournament," he said, "and a couple in the NIT."

Until then, it's all about Memphis. You should've remembered this is a team with a proud and storied history. Besides, it's not like the Tigers haven't been good lately. Memphis earned a No. 1 seed last year and advanced to the Elite Eight.

"We heard everything people said about our conference all week, but now we're playing the elite of the elite," said Chris Douglas-Roberts, "and we're winning and feeling good about it."

No reason they shouldn't.

Memphis has a terrific coach in Calipari and a tough leader in Douglas-Roberts, who was carried off the court last weekend after severely spraining his ankle. Although Douglas-Roberts insisted he was going to play, there was no guarantee he would play as well as he did, scoring 15 points with four rebounds in 37 minutes.

Memphis, 19-3 on the road the last two seasons, played with poise in the most hostile of conditions. The Tigers performed with a toughness forged by playing at Tennessee and at Arizona and in the Maui Classic against Georgia Tech and Kentucky.

The Tigers never trailed by more than five points, and every time A&M started to pull away, Memphis either scored a couple of baskets or Calipari took a timeout to slow the pace and regain control of the building.

Getty Images
Memphis doesn't usually make clutch fre throws, but Antonio Anderson (foreground, left) did. Memphis also kept driving to the basket and forcing the Aggies to foul them or give up layups. The Tigers would not be denied the lane, no matter the physical beating it required.

That's determination.

In the end, with the game on the line, Memphis wanted it more. That doesn't mean A&M didn't play hard. Or try hard.

But three different Memphis players grabbed offensive rebounds in the final 12 seconds. That's desire. They refused to walk off the court with a loss.

"It was a challenge," said Calipari, "but we wanted to come to Texas in front of 30,000 and prove ourselves."

Now, Memphis is one win away from the Final Four. Pretty good, don't you think, for a Conference USA team.

From Mike DeCoursey, the Sporting News "Dorsey Gets His Wish: Playing Oden"

From Mike DeCoursey, The Sporting News
Memphis' Dorsey gets his wish: playing Oden
March 23, 2007

This is what Joey Dorsey wanted. This is what Greg Oden needs. These two big men -- who define that term differently, but never retreat from it -- will not decide on their own whether Memphis or Ohio State will reach the NCAA Final Four, but they will have the greatest impact on the result.

That is the dream Dorsey dreams, anyway.

"I just see him as a great player. He's going to be a great player in the NBA … I see this as a big challenge to maybe make a name for myself," Dorsey said. "I stop Greg Oden, maybe hold him to nine points and probably five rebounds, and I have 15 points and 20 rebounds - that's great."

Oden is the 7-foot center for Ohio State who is long, quick and agile. Dorsey is the 6-9, 260-pound strongman who leaps like a gazelle but has biceps that could hold a tire swing. They are at the center of the Memphis-Ohio State game Saturday afternoon at the Alamodome, and it could not be a more delicious scenario for either.

The past two rounds of the tournament have been most frustrating for Oden because of the absence of someone to duel on the inside. Xavier and Tennessee, with all those 6-9 guys shooting 3-pointers, they were exactly the teams Oden did not want to see. They distorted the game for him. Oden is a brilliant defender, but for now that only is true when he can remain in proximity to the basket and harass anyone who enters the lane.

Except in the rare moments when Dorsey is out of the game and spindly 6-9 forward Robert Dozier serves as the lone Memphis big, the Tigers always will have someone on the floor Oden can guard. Dorsey plays the game with a relentless fire and rarely ventures from the lane. Reserves Kareem Cooper and Pierre Niles, the Tigers' frontcourt players, are big, bulky and aggressive. At last, a fair fight for Oden.

Because Memphis' lineup features a true post player, Oden can hang back in the lane and serve as a help defender against all the driving Memphis players trying to attack the rim. There will be many, and it is absolutely essential that he be circumspect in his challenges. He was reckless in the Tennessee game Thursday, when his playing time was limited to 18 minutes because of four personal fouls collected along the way. Only one of the four fouls came as the result of a defensive challenge. Two of them were for bumping cutters who attempted to cross the lane. The first of those was a cheap call; the second was a silly mistake for a player already carrying three fouls.

The Tigers cannot afford to alter their game plan to guide Oden toward foul trouble, but if it comes up, they'll take it. At the same time, they will need to be prepared for how to deal with his presence against their slice-and-dice driving scheme. They will not get the ball to the rim as easily as against other opponents. They might get it there, but it will be a chore. They might have to eat a few blocked shots, though, just to discover what is possible.

"The thing I'm going to have to worry about," Oden said of Dorsey, "is being able to help and watch out for him going up, because he's a high-flyer and he's very strong."

No matter whom he has faced in college -- UCLA's Ryan Hollins, Georgia Tech's Ra'Sean Dickey, Kentucky's Randolph Morris -- Dorsey never has contended with anyone quite like Oden. It shows in how he talks about the matchup. Most who have seen Oden in action would choose not to do anything to anger him, but Dorsey was blasting through his interview session Friday with a carefree smile.

Asked what he thought people would be saying about him after the game, Dorsey responded, "I think people are going to be saying he's a great player, underrated, he's a great rebounder.

"I'm enjoying this a lot, because it's going to be a big challenge, a big hurdle for us to beat a team that has a 25-game winning streak, and our winning streak is on the line. This is a dream come true right here."

Dorsey wanted this for himself so much that when Xavier was close to eliminating the Buckeyes from the tournament, Dorsey rooted for Ohio State to recover and win the game. He wanted to play Ohio State in the regional finals. He wanted to play Texas A&M to get there.

He did not excite his coach with this approach. "Coach said once you start cheering for a team, turn the TV off, because that's karma. It always comes back on you."

In other words, be careful what you wish for -- your wish might come true and stand 7-0, weigh 280 pounds and block shots like he's eating M&Ms from a dish.

Tigers' Dorsey Starts Jabbing Oden One Day Early

Tigers' inside muscle starts jabbing Oden one day early

Joey Dorsey has been rooting for Ohio State so he would have a chance to do battle with heralded freshman center Greg Oden. He has his wish.

By Scott Cacciola
March 24, 2007

SAN ANTONIO -- Alongside his teammates in a locker room at the New Orleans Arena last week, Joey Dorsey watched the final moments of Ohio State's second-round victory over Xavier. Dorsey began to cheer for the Buckeyes. His teammates looked at him as if he were crazy. His coach told him to turn off the television.

"It's bad karma," Dorsey recalled Memphis coach John Calipari telling him. "It always comes back on you."

Dorsey hardly seemed concerned at the time, and he hardly seemed concerned Friday afternoon at the Alamodome, where he reiterated why he had hoped top-seeded Ohio State would advance to this afternoon's South Regional final of the NCAA Tournament. More than wanting the mere opportunity to jostle in the post with Greg Oden, Ohio State's hulking man-child of a freshman center, Dorsey said he yearned for the chance to prove himself to his public.

"I respect Greg Oden a lot, he's a great player," Dorsey said. "He might be as good as Joey Dorsey."

This is springtime in San Antonio, and no player remaining in the Elite Eight has blossomed as much as Dorsey, a junior forward who, for much of the regular season, refused to speak with reporters. He said he was shy. On Friday, in addition to referring to himself in the third person, Dorsey pledged to collect 15 points and 20 rebounds against the top-seeded Buckeyes while limiting Oden to less -- substantially less.

"Hold him to nine points and probably five rebounds," Dorsey said.

Call him brash. Call him audacious. Call him anything but shy.

"I'm an underrated big man," Dorsey said, "and he's a lot overrated as a big man."

The media spotlight has followed Oden wherever he has roamed this week, the inevitable product of being a future NBA lottery pick. He has consistently brushed aside questions about his plans once the season ends, but when he was asked what he would buy if were to suddenly come into a pile of money, Oden paused.

"A Best Buy," he said.

Not the entire corporation, he clarified. Just one store.

Dorsey, for all his immense potential and physical gifts, lacks Oden's sort of star status, which makes his posturing all the more understandable. Play well, and Dorsey makes a big name for himself. At times, he sounded as if he were equating his one-on-one matchup in the post with Ali-Frazier, though he did say that he thinks Nevada's Nick Fazekas is a better player than Oden. Dorsey was asked what people would be saying about him after the game.

"Everyone, I think, is going to say he's a great player, he's very underrated, and he's a great rebounder," Dorsey said.

As for Oden, much attention has been paid to his foul-plagued struggles in the tournament. He fouled out against Xavier. And in Ohio State's dramatic 85-84 win over Tennessee in the Sweet 16, he often could be spotted shuffling his 7-foot frame between the court and the bench after picking up two fouls, then three, then four. He finished with nine points, four blocks and three rebounds in 18 lackluster minutes.

Like many of the Memphis players, Oden said he felt the NCAA Tournament was being more tightly officiated than his team's regular-season games. He said he hoped that would not be the case today.

"There's going to be a lot of fouls called or not a lot of fouls called," Oden said. "It can be a soft game dictated by the refs or a hard game dictated by us."

Dorsey said he had his own concerns that stemmed from Memphis' victory over Texas A&M on Thursday.

"That game was crazy," he said. "I think the guys, they fell asleep in the paint. They got in the paint and they stayed in there for about eight seconds. One time I complained to the refs, 'Can I get a 3-second call?' And he said, 'No.'"

Joey Uncensored created the buzz of the day at the Alamodome, where he spoke of a close friendship with Grizzlies rookie Rudy Gay that started when both were high school players in Baltimore ("Rudy was better, but we always won"), his chiseled physique ("My mom showed me my baby pictures, and I had muscles when I was a baby"), and his relationship with Calipari.

"Coach is very intense," Dorsey said. "He gets in your butt, and you don't want to be in his doghouse."

Of course, whether Dorsey winds up back there probably will depend more on what he does than what he says.

-- Scott Cacciola: 529-2773

At Read what our Tiger bloggers are saying about today's game. Also, click on "5 minutes on the Edge" to hear a podcast on the game.

Sophomore Stars Carrying Tigers to Brink of Final Four

Sophomore stars carrying Tigers to brink of Final Four

By Dan Wolken
March 24, 2007

SAN ANTONIO -- John Calipari saw it in a living room in Detroit and on the basketball courts in New England. He saw it in the way Chris Douglas-Roberts loved his mother and the way Antonio Anderson could defer or take a charge with equal passion and skill.

Calipari wasn't just recruiting two basketball players. He had already brought plenty of those to the University of Memphis. But when Calipari interacted with them, he knew they were different.

"Boy," Calipari recalled saying to himself. "This could be special."

And so last summer, as Calipari contemplated a team with one senior, one junior and more questions than even the Tigers themselves acknowledged, he called Douglas-Roberts and Anderson to his home. Though the players didn't know it -- they couldn't have known it -- they were about to be given the biggest assignment of their college careers.

"It was very relaxed," Douglas-Roberts said. "He just let us know, in order for us to be an elite team this year, you two have to take on leadership roles."

Led by two those sophomores, the Tigers have already stamped themselves as elite. And with one more win today over No. 1-seeded Ohio State in the NCAA South Regional final, Memphis can make the historic leap from Elite Eight to one of the Final Four.

"Can we win one more?" Calipari asked again Friday. "Everybody says, no, absolutely not. And then the city of Memphis is saying, absolutely. This team is saying, we can and just trying to lay it out there for everybody to hear and see."

Calipari has often talked about how the Tigers are connected in a way none of his teams have ever been, how one individual contribution has led to another.

But at the very top of that chain, Anderson and Douglas-Roberts are perhaps the most crucial links. When the Tigers have needed a voice, they have spoken. When the Tigers have needed winning plays, they have delivered them. And when Memphis fans look back on this era, it very likely will be defined by the two 6-6 guards who have, coincidentally, won 66 games as Tigers.

"Guys love those two guys," forward Robert Dozier said. "Those are guys they can listen to and they look up to. Guys believe in them."

And so did Calipari, essentially from the moment he saw them. In Douglas-Roberts, he saw offensive wizardry and toughness, both of which were on display Thursday in his 15-point performance on a sprained left ankle against Texas A&M.

But there was more.

"When I went to meet with him and his mother I was convinced," Calipari said. "When I got around him, I said, This is a beautiful kid."

In Anderson, he saw a clutch playmaker who could be one of the best defenders in the country, as he showed by harassing Texas A&M all-American Acie Law into a 6-of-17 shooting performance and then making two free throws with 3.1 seconds left to send Memphis into the Elite Eight.

But there was more.

"You always want to see when the great ones will defer," Calipari said. "If he can really play but he'll defer, what a sign. When it's time to step up, I'll do it, but I'm not afraid to defer."

As freshmen last season, both Douglas-Roberts and Anderson deferred to older teammates. And after Calipari had asked them to take the leadership reigns of this team, they at first weren't sure how it would go over in the Tigers locker room.

"At first we're like, it's going to be tough, guys aren't going to listen," Anderson said. "But we said, hey we want to win. We're not going to boss you around, but you've just got to listen. And if we say something, it's to help, not to hurt, and guys took that in.

"Guys have bought in. They're being men, not acting like little kids. Everybody's mature, and they feel me and Chris can lead the team."

Though Douglas-Roberts and Anderson began exerting their influence long before the season began, it first became obvious to the public during preseason practice in October.

After junior forward Joey Dorsey's name had shown up in two police reports -- one for a minor traffic violation and another for an alleged water bottle incident on campus -- they voluntarily stepped forward as co-spokesmen, immediately establishing themselves as mature voices beyond their age or experience.

"Even when I wasn't really in the spotlight I always could talk for myself, I knew what to say and what not to say, and that really prepared me," Douglas-Roberts said. "We can handle a lot of different things."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

T-Shirts, Flags, Anything Tigers, Scooped Up in Fan-Feeding Frenzy

T-shirts, flags, anything Tigers, scooped up in fan-feeding frenzy

By Cindy Wolff
March 24, 2007

Even the shirts with yesterday's news weren't on sale.
Sweet Sixteen.

Those shirts were nestled on a couple of tables around the University of Memphis campus next to the blue shirts with even better alliterated news.

Elite Eight.

The new shirts went to print shortly after that scary final 3 seconds ... uh, 2 seconds when Memphis held on to beat Texas A&M 65-64 and advance to the next round of the NCAA Tournament in San Antonio.

"I'll take two," said Marie Moore, who whooped and hollered for her Tigers while she waited in line. She planned to put her Elite Eight shirt on the second she got back to work. "Do I need the Sweet 16, too? I guess I want the whole collection."

Moore and other fans relived the final 3 seconds of the game like witnesses to a moment in history.

"We were screaming. We had our hands like this," she said, covering her eyes. "I live in an apartment in Collierville, and when we won, there were people outside just screaming and honking their horns. The biggest fans live in Collierville," Moore said.

Tell that to Kay McCarty, who said she and her son and husband were running around their East Memphis house Thursday night during those final seconds.

"We're the biggest fans," she said as she paid Brandon Hollie for her T-shirts at a table on Central. "We won't take these shirts off."

While University of Tennessee fans pulled down their Vols flags, Tiger fans painted cars, hung flags and wore blue T-shirts, getting pumped for today's game against No. 1 seed Ohio State.

Blue paw prints and "Go Tigers Go" were painted on cars dusted with green pollen.

Blue flags on car windows whipped past business signs that mixed messages like "Plastic Easter Buckets $1" with notes of encouragement for the basketball team.

At Mary Carter Decorating Center, plastic basketball picks were selling for 15 cents each and people were buying finger-sized basketball figures even though they weren't in Tiger blue.

Fans bought hats, car flags, house flags, face tattoos and T-shirts at The University of Memphis bookstore. The store plans to have another 400 Elite Eight shirts today.

And if all goes right, there will be 1,000 more shirts on Sunday with a new message.

-- Cindy Wolff: 529-2378

Local Tigers vs. Buckeyes Watch Parties

Tiger Watch Parties

March 24, 2007

Today's Greater Memphis watch party locations sponsored by the University of Memphis
Alumni Association:

On campus -- Panhellenic Building, 384 Patterson Street. Light refreshments available

Bartlett -- East End Grill, 7457 Highway 64. Food and drink specials during the game.

Collierville -- Johnny Brusco's, 225 New Byhalia Road. During game enjoy $2 off large pizzas and $1.50 off medium pizzas.

Cordova -- T.J. Mulligan's, 8071 Trinity Road. Discounted appetizers and buckets of beer for $10 during game.

Germantown/East Memphis -- The Cockeyed Camel, 6080 Primacy Parkway. Half-price appetizers and $2 beer during game

Olive Branch -- Buffalo Wild Wings, 7995 Craft-Goodman Frontage Road. Food discounts during game.

Midtown -- Newby's Bar and Grill Watch Party site hosted by the Young Alumni Committee. Various food specials during the game.

Millington -- Chili's, 8526 Highway 51. Happy hour 2-for-1 drink specials during game.

Tigers Don't Mind Missing Rematch With Tennessee

Tigers don't mind missing rematch
Players just happy to be back in Elite 8

By Jim Masilak and Scott Cacciola
March 24, 2007

SAN ANTONIO -- For a while Thursday night, it seemed as if the University of Memphis might get a rematch with cross-state rival Tennessee in the Elite Eight. The Vols led Ohio State by as many as 20 points before collapsing late and losing to the Buckeyes, 85-84.

"We would have liked to get that rematch and get a chance to beat them, but we're happy to be in the Elite Eight," sophomore forward Robert Dozier said.

Freshman point guard Willie Kemp, a high school teammate of Vols forward Wayne Chism at Bolivar Central High, said he sympathized with his friend following such a tough loss.

"They had a great season. I know they had a big lead last night, but they couldn't hold it," Kemp said. "We would have loved to play Tennessee or Ohio State. We knew we were gonna have to play one of those teams. It really didn't matter which one."

While some Tigers were disappointed to miss out on a chance to avenge a 76-58 regular-season pasting in Knoxville, sophomore guard Chris Douglas-Roberts said he was too busy enjoying a dramatic win over Texas A&M to give the other game a second thought.

"I didn't even watch the game," Douglas-Roberts said. "Everybody kept calling me, saying Tennessee was up 20, but I wasn't trying to hear it. I kept hanging up on them."

Everyone's against us

Memphis coach John Calipari spent much of Friday's press conference discussing why he thinks people, whether in the media or elsewhere, might be disappointed to see the Tigers advance deep into the NCAA Tournament.

"We're not in a (Bowl Championship Series) league," he said. "We're not one of those schools that's supposed to do this."

So who, exactly, is it that's been pulling against the UofM?

Asked if he thought CBS would be happy to see Memphis in the Final Four, Calipari replied, with no small amount of sarcasm, "It's what CBS would like. They were so excited (George) Mason made it (last year)."

How about the NCAA?

No, Calipari said. The NCAA gave Memphis a No. 2 seed when "everybody thought we should have been three or four."

Calipari was certain of at least one entity that might have preferred to see Texas A&M in today's regional final as opposed to the Tigers: The Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

"Oh, they wanted us to go down. There were 27,000 Aggies in that building. They were everywhere," Calipari said. "So I don't blame the Chamber of Commerce for being mad."

More than 20,000 raucous Texas A&M fans filled the Alamodome for Thursday's game against the Tigers. The atmosphere could be a bit tamer today.

"I think (Texas A&M's loss) will even the playing field more in that situation," Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said.

Mary Ullmann Japhet, the associate executive director of external affairs for the San Antonio Sports Foundation, said about 4,200 tickets remained available for today's game at $52 apiece as of Friday morning.

The Alamodome seats about 30,050 for basketball.

"It's always nice to have a packed house, and we'll be hoping for a very good crowd," she said. "We anticipate it will be, but it won't be quite the crowd it would have been if A&M had been here."

Shirt tales

After fouling out late in Thursday's game against Texas A&M, Memphis forward Joey Dorsey watched the final few minutes from the bench wearing a tight white tank top instead of his jersey.

Dorsey, who was aware that people back home were wondering why he took his uniform top off, said he shed it because it was stained with blood from a cut.

"Everybody thought I took my jersey off because I was mad (I fouled out)," he said. "Coach told me the NCAA was upset with me because I took my jersey off. But I had a cut. ... I had a lot of blood on it so I took it off."

Bull Dozier

Calipari said Dozier completely changed the tenor of the Texas A&M game with a pair of early blocks in the second half.

"The reason we're in the Elite Eight is the way Robert Dozier is playing," Calipari said. "Obviously, the other guys are doing their thing, but we have no one else like Robert Dozier. For us to continue to play and play for another day, he's got to play."

Hindered by early foul trouble against the Aggies, Dozier sat out much of the first half, and Texas A&M center Ananas Kavaliauskas scored 13 points. Dozier limited him to four points in the second half.

"Athletic, go after balls, block some shots, get tough rebounds, things like that," Dozier said when asked what he did defensively.

Dozier probably will share the responsibility for guarding Ohio State's Greg Oden today with Dorsey.

"It's going to be a fun game, for me and Joey," Dozier said. "We're up to the challenge."

That's next semester

Oden is taking two classes this semester. One of them is sociology, the other is the history of rock 'n roll.

Asked if there was a section on Elvis Presley, Oden said, "Oh, yeah. There was a big Elvis section. He sang rockabilly, blues and really started it all."

Did Oden happen to learn where Elvis called home?

"I do not know where Elvis was from," the big man admitted.

Tournament tidbits

Memphis is 2-1 all-time against Big Ten Conference opponents in the NCAA Tournament, with all three previous meetings coming against Purdue. The Tigers beat the Boilermakers in the second round in both 1984 and 1995 and lost to Purdue in the second round in 1988. ... A Memphis victory over the No. 1-seeded Buckeyes would be their first over a higher-seeded opponent since beating Purdue in Austin in '95. The Tigers were seeded sixth that year, the Boilermakers third. Memphis, however, has only played two higher seeds since then, losing to No. 2 Arkansas in the Sweet 16 in '95 and to No. 2 Oklahoma State in the second round in 2004.

-- Jim Masilak: 529-2311
-- Scott Cacciola: 529-2773

Friday, March 23, 2007's Gene Wojciechowski on Memphis

The Tigers also deserve backslaps for the way they survived and advanced. They overcame a Final Four-caliber A&M team and an A&M crowd that outnumbered Memphis fans by 20 to 1 ... 50 to 1? More?

No wonder, as Memphis coach John Calipari waited to do his postgame interview with CBS, that he walked toward the Tigers' section of the Alamodome, such as it was, and pointed at them. And kept pointing.

"We ... played guys I haven't played all year, in this game, in this environment," said Calipari. "And in the end, made a couple of free throws, made a couple of baskets and walked away with a W in front of 30,000 Aggies, which makes it even more of an amazing thing."

Calipari exaggerated the size of the crowd, but not by much.

Meanwhile, A&M's players took turns blaming themselves for the loss. Acie Law IV missed a layup with 47 seconds that could have given the Aggies a three-point lead.

"That play cost us the game," he said.

Next up was center Antanas Kavaliauskas, who dominated in the post, especially in the first half. Kavaliauskas finished with 17 points, but lost out in a frenzied fight for a rebound near the end of the game (Memphis' Antonio Anderson was fouled during a putback shot, and subsequently made the game-winning free throws).

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for You can contact him at's Seth Davis on Memphis (or Eating Crow)'s Seth Davis

Sweet 16 gut reaction on Memphis caught up with Seth Davis, who's serving as a CBS studio analyst during the tournament, to get his impressions of Thursday's tournament action. John Calipari has been mentioning you and your tendency to pick against Memphis in seemingly every setting he can. Has he contacted you since the win tonight against Texas A&M?

Seth Davis: He texted me after the game: "Seriously, I will never talk to you again if you pick us now." We go back to when I worked at the New Haven Register and he was at UMass recruiting Marcus Camby. I'll have to sleep on making my pick for the next round. They were impressive in how they worked as a team and came out pressuring and with their aggressiveness. Texas A&M guard Acie Law IV rightfully earned a reputation as a clutch shooter, but he couldn't quite get the lay-up at the end to fall this time. What happened?

SD: I think his legs gave out. We know he can hit a lay-up, let alone a clutch shot. He just didn't have the lift he wanted because his legs were dead form Memphis running so many guys at him all game. It might look easy on TV, but he's expecting to be at a height to reach and release, but he just couldn't get there.

The Aggies needed a secondary scorer on the perimeter, and they just did not get it. They needed Josh Carter or Dominique Kirk to stand in there and be the guy to step up and score. Were you surprised to see Chris Douglas-Roberts play so well with what was supposed to be an injured left ankle that left him questionable before the contest?

SD: I wasn't surprised that he played, but he came right out and had a baseline dunk and then an alley-oop, and he made sure to land on the right so you could tell he was hurt. That was the only evidence, though. Who was your player of the night?

SD: Mike Conley Jr. had such poise, and you just can't keep him in front of you on defense. If he wants to get to the cup, he's getting there. With 17 points and six assists tonight, you would think that is all you need from him and more. He had seven rebounds tonight, too. That is more than twice what Greg Oden had with three.

I'd like to say someone from Memphis, too, but they are a team effort.'s Julia Morrill "Tigers Prove Skeptics Wrong"

Closer Look
Tigers prove skeptics wrong with gutsy performance Julia Morrill
Posted: Friday March 23, 2007

Memphis coach John Calipari was waiting in the hallways of the Alamodome yesterday as Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie walked by after a press conference.

"Billy G!" Calipari yelled and stuck out his hand for a high five. "Let's just have fun tomorrow and beat the crap out of each other. Whoever has a half-court shot at the end wins it."

As it turns out, Calipari wasn't all that far off from predicting the outcome of tonight's battle between Memphis and Texas A&M. It was an intense, hard-fought game featuring two pressure defenses, and in the final seconds, the Tigers pulled off a 65-64 win over the Aggies.

Could there have been a more fitting way for Memphis to win? Take a look at the final 11 seconds. You want to see Memphis's signature tough D? When Andre Allen missed a 3-pointer, Memphis grabbed not one, but three offensive rebounds and drew a foul. And what about all the talk of Memphis's woefully poor free throw shooters? With 3 seconds left, sophomore guard Allen Anderson (a 64 percent free throw shooter) confidently stepped to the line and nailed both shots.

"Guys just kept coming," said sophomore forward Robert Dozier. "One guy couldn't get in and another would come. That guy couldn't get it and another came."

"Being a basketball player, you look for situations like that," Anderson said. "You want the game in your hands, if you've got the mentality as a player. I had that. When I got to the line, I knew my teammates were tired and I said, let me get this game over with. I had to just knock them down."

Tonight, it was Anderson who was Mr. Clutch. And the hero of A&M, Acie Law IV, experienced a harsh ending to his stunning career. Law looked as if he would be the hero again with 47 seconds left in the game. A&M threw a home run outlet pass to Law streaking toward the basket, but he shockingly missed a wide-open layup that would have put A&M ahead by three.

"That play cost us the game," said Law afterwards.

As for the Tigers, they move on to the Elite Eight for the fifth time in school history (and the second straight year), extend their winning streak to 25 games, and continue to prove the basketball world wrong.

"I just have a question. Can we get one more?," asked Calipari after the game to the room full of media. "I don't know. But we're gonna try."

Courtside confidential
Though they're bitter rivals on the court, Calipari made a peace offering to Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl on Wednesday, saying he might wear an orange T-shirt for Thursday's game. A reporter asked Pearl, "Any chance you would wear a Memphis warm-up jacket to try to get those fans on your side?" Pearl responded, "If Calipari would wear an orange T-shirt, I'd wear a Memphis jacket, absolutely. Hey, we're sister schools. We're in the same system." A minute later, Pearl followed up, "But would he paint his chest?"

Player who impressed me
With all the talk about Chris Douglas-Roberts being hampered by a sore ankle, the sophomore guard looked plenty healthy. He attacked defenders one-on-one and had a beautiful alley-oop dunk in the first half. Roberts finished as the second-leading scorer with 15 points. "Honestly, it didn't matter how I was going to feel coming into this game, because I was playing. I worked around the clock to get it healthy as it is. I'm feeling really good right now."

Big picture
Whether or not the Tigers can make it to the Final Four is a tough, tough question. What's certain is that Ohio State is vulnerable (can you say down 20 points to Tennessee?) and Memphis is playing with a gigantic chip on its shoulder. That might just be enough for the Tigers to book a trip to Atlanta. Says Douglas-Roberts, "We heard everything we could hear about how bad our conference is and we had a cake walk, but now we're winning."

From the Bryan-College Station (TX) Eagle "Was This Run the Start of Even More?"

Was this run the start of even more?

By ROBERT CESSNA, The Bryan-College Station (TX) Eagle

SAN ANTONIO - Texas A&M became a big-time basketball program Thursday night, experiencing the kind of heartbreak typically reserved for a North Carolina or Kansas.

A&M's attempt at a magical ride to the Final Four came to an abrupt end in a 65-64 loss to Memphis, the third time the program has failed to advance past the Sweet 16.

The Alamodome was supposed to be an advantage for the Aggies, who were playing closer to home than any of the other Sweet 16 teams in this year's version of the Big Dance.

A&M was lifted by more than 20,000 Aggies cheering, but it was unheralded Memphis, the veteran postseason program, that made the plays down the stretch.

Antonio Anderson, who hit just 1 of his first 4 at the free-throw line, hit two free throws with 3.1 seconds left for the winning points.

He should never have made it to the free-throw line.

Memphis managed to get four offensive rebounds on its last possession, including three in the final 11 seconds after Andre Allen missed a 3-pointer.

"It is my job to get a rebound, and I didn't get it," A&M post Antanas Kavaliauskas said. "It cost us the game."

He wasn't alone. Even All-America point guard Acie Law IV didn't rise above the pressure.

Law, the program's heart and soul, missed a driving layup with 47 seconds left that could have given A&M a three-point lead.

It ended a very pedestrian game for Law - 6-of-17 shooting for 13 points with one assist.

A&M posts Joseph Jones and Kavaliauskas combined for 30 points on 14-of-25 shooting, but its their inside misses they'll painfully remember most.

A&M had Memphis' big men in foul trouble, but the Aggies let the Tigers hang around, and eventually that rope was around A&M's neck.

"We didn't finish plays, and it cost us the game," said Jones, who also missed a layup on a long pass.

A&M hit only 5 of 10 free throws. Memphis, which shot only 61 percent at the charity stripe during the regular season, was 14 of 21.

The active Tigers blocked six shots.

A&M didn't have a block, and forced only eight turnovers, despite the homecourt advantage.

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Memphis guard Jeremy Hunt takes a three point shot over Texas A&M's Marlon Pompey on Thursday night.
The Tigers, who didn't start a senior, had been belittled for playing in Conference USA, often referred to as "Conference Useless" by fans from the bigger leagues.

Memphis, unbeaten in league action, was the only USA Conference team to make the NCAA Tournament.

The Tigers are headed back to the Elite Eight for the second straight year.

"This is what we wanted - to come to Texas in front of 30,000 and prove ourselves," Memphis head coach John Calipari said.

"And what happened ... truly the pressure was on them, not us."

And now there's a different kind of pressure on A&M.

Was this the start of something big?

Or was this a once-in-a-lifetime ride, much like the Sweet 16 trips in 1979 and '80.

"We'll see if we've turned any corners," A&M head coach Billy Gillispie said. "We came here to win. I'm not into moral victories. We made some strides. Time will tell if we're going to be able to develop into a top-notch program. We're on the right track, but we have not reached any kind of destination."

The 20,000 solemn Aggie fans filing out of the Alamodome will remember the good times as they drive home, but in their minds, they're ready to get back to the Sweet 16. The sooner the better.

is Memphis Good Enough For You Yet?

Is Memphis Good Enough for You Yet?

Posted Mar 23rd 2007 4:02AM by mjd

If you doubted Memphis heading into the tournament, I really couldn't blame you. Their biggest wins this season were over Gonzaga, Marshall, Fairmont Senior High School, the New York Liberty, the Marathon Oil, the Donkey Punchers (Memphis University intramural league champions), a team of local Best Buy employees, the cast of King of Queens, and Girl Scout Troop #46.

So sure, their schedule left them open for questioning. I had those questions, too. But I think they've been answered now. Last round, they throttled a very good Nevada team, and last night, they beat one of the best teams in the country in Texas A&M, with one of the most clutch players in the country in Acie Law.

How's that? Does that do it for you?

Not that it's something the Tigers themselves should have ever been worried about, but the previously-questioned 2-seed now seems perfectly justified. Yes, Conference USA was pathetically weak, but yes, 31-3 also means something.

Memphis might've gotten to the tournament by mowing through pansies, but they didn't get to the Elite Eight for any other reason than they're an exceptionally talented and athletic team. Up next for them in the 1-seed, Ohio State, where I suspect that the Tigers will prove their worth even further.

Memphis Wins 25th Straight By Edging Aggies

Memphis Wins 25th Straight By Edging Aggies

San Antonio, TX -- (Sports Network) - Antonio Anderson's two free throws with 3.1 seconds left boosted Memphis to a thrilling 65-64 win over Texas A&M, as the Tigers extended the nation's longest winning streak to 25 games and moved into the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

Jeremy Hunt had 19 points for the second-seeded Tigers (33-3), who will face top seed Ohio State in the South Regional final at the Alamodome on Saturday. The Buckeyes edged fifth-seeded Tennessee, 85-84.

Chris Douglas-Roberts added 15 points for Memphis, which is into the Elite Eight for the second straight year. In 2006, the Tigers were eliminated by UCLA in their attempt to get to the Final Four.

"We had foul trouble that was ridiculous," Memphis coach John Calipari said. "We had played guys I haven't played all years, in this game, in this environment. And we just hung around, that's all we were trying to do. And in the end made a couple of free throws, made a couple of baskets and walked away with a W, in front of 30,000 Aggies, which makes it even more of an amazing thing."

Antanas Kavaliauskas scored 17 for Texas A&M (27-7), which has never won three straight games in the NCAA Tournament. Joseph Jones had 14 points and Acie Law IV 13 for the third-seeded Aggies.

"We fell short, but I really believe that we came a long way," Law said. "We had a great season. And I think that the future is very, very bright for this program. It's headed in the right direction. And the sky is the limit for these guys."

Josh Carter's one free throw moved the Aggies ahead 64-63 with 1:50 remaining. Texas A&M then came up with a loose ball, as Law saved it from going out of bounds. However, after a timeout with the shot clock running down, the Aggies couldn't capitalize on a long pass, as Law missed a layup.

Memphis then had four cracks at the basket before Anderson was fouled and hit two free throws with 3.1 seconds left to give Memphis the lead. Andre Allen missed a three and Hunt failed on a jumper from the left baseline. Robert Dozier then missed a putback under the basket, and Anderson was fouled by Donald Sloan before making two free throws.

"Being a basketball player, you look for situations like that," Anderson said. "You want the game in your hands, if you've got the mentality as a player. I had that. When I got to the line I knew my teammates were tired, we were all beat down, and I said, let me get this game over with. I missed free throws earlier, and I just had to knock them down."

Dozier tipped the ensuing inbounds pass out of bounds, but officials did the Tigers a favor by taking 1.1 seconds off the clock. The Aggies then inbounded the ball to Dominique Kirk, whose shot just inside half-court was well off the mark.

"They did a fantastic job only fouling us four times on the second half," Aggies coach Billy Gillispie said. "We didn't get enough foul shots. We fouled too much in the second half and gave them too many."

The first half was tight throughout. A pair of foul shots from Douglas-Roberts moved Memphis to a 23-19 lead, before the Aggies rallied. A&M had the final seven points of the half to grab a 42-37 advantage at the break.

Neither team led by more than five in the second half, although there were a couple swings of momentum. A layup from Jones extended A&M's lead to 48-43 before Memphis scored the next 10 points, capped by a free throw from Douglas- Roberts with just over 11 minutes left.

Game Notes

Memphis' last trip to the Final Four was in 1985 when the Tigers were beaten by Villanova...Law was 6-of-17 from the field in his final game for the Aggies.