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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Tiger Recruits (Rose, Robinson) Look Even Better

Tiger recruits look even better
Rose always solid, but Robinson improves

By Dan Wolken
May 27, 2007

From the moment he arrived at the University of Memphis more than seven years ago, John Calipari has assembled one talented recruiting class after another.
But here's a quirky fact: None of those classes has included two top-40 players who actually enrolled in school.

That's about to change.

When published its final player rankings for 2007, Memphis signee Jeff Robinson moved up to No. 36, giving the Tigers a second top-40 player to go alongside No. 3-ranked Derrick Rose.

Though recruiting rankings are subjective, can vary wildly from one publication to the next and are not always an indicator of college basketball success, it's interesting to compare Robinson and Rose with the two highest ranked players in previous Memphis classes:

In 2006, ranked Doneal Mack 47th and Willie Kemp 53rd. In 2005, Shawne Williams was 15th and Antonio Anderson was 56th. In 2004, Darius Washington was 23rd, and Joey Dorsey was just outside the top 150.

In 2003, Memphis signed Kendrick Perkins (No. 6) and Sean Banks (No. 32), but Perkins went to the NBA Draft instead of college. Nobody else in that class was ranked in the top 150.

Memphis signed Amare Stoudemire, the No. 1 player in the country, to headline the 2002 class. But the only ones who enrolled were a couple of sleepers named Jeremy Hunt and Rodney Carney.

Calipari's first recruiting class made a big splash with Dajuan Wagner, but there were no other top-50-type players alongside him.

While Rose has long been thought of among the four or five best players of his age group, Robinson wasn't viewed among the 2007 class elite until recently. In fact, the 6-5 New Jersey guard was a borderline top-100 prospect when Memphis recruited him last summer.

Since then, his stock has soared. Jerry Meyer, the lead recruiting analyst for Rivals, said Robinson didn't always play as hard and as disciplined as he should have during the AAU season last year when the initial rankings took shape.

But the work Robinson did during his senior season at St. Patrick's raised his profile immensely, and Meyer expects him to contribute right away at Memphis.

"I got to see St. Patrick's play live a few times, and they were on TV against O.J. Mayo's team, and we noticed he really disciplined his game," Meyer said. "I thought he refined his shooting ability. I really think he can shoot the 3-ball, and he's starting posting up more, rebounding stronger, doing things that a college team is going to need him to do.

"On top of that, he's a perfect fit for Memphis' style of play. He's sort of a mini-version of Carney. So we always knew Jeff had a big-time player inside of him, and I think it sort of blossomed during his high school season."

Golf tourney

The 2007 Larry Finch Benefit Golf Tournament will be held Friday at Galloway golf course. The entry fee is $125 per person and benefits the long-term illness fund formed by the Friends of Larry Finch Foundation.

The public is invited to participate in the four-man scramble, as are corporations, which can buy sponsorships for $3,000, $2,000 or $1,000.

More information can be obtained at The Web site details the immense financial needs incurred by the former Memphis player and coach, who lives in a long-term care facility while recovering from a stroke.

TV talk

Word out of the C-USA meetings last week was that its television package for men's basketball will once again include six games on ESPN and ESPN2 -- all of which will involve Memphis.

Plus, Memphis will be on ESPN/ESPN2 for two games in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and against USC in the Jimmy V Classic. There's also a possibility the games at Ole Miss and Cincinnati could be picked up by ESPN or ESPN 2 as part of the SEC or Big East television package, respectively.

Speaking of ESPN exposure, that's the main reason Memphis-USC is a one-year, neutral site deal as opposed to a multi-year, home-and-home series.

Fox Sports Net has the television rights to Pac 10 basketball, which offers far less exposure than an ESPN game. Last season, Memphis made a long, expensive cross-country trip to play Arizona in a weeknight game that got relatively little national TV coverage. Don't expect that to happen again.

The schedule slots occupied by USC and Arizona will be replaced by marquee non-conference series in 2008-09. It's unlikely, however, that a Pac 10 team will be part of the equation.

Camping with Cal

Slots are still available for the John Calipari Basketball School, with four camps for ages 7 through 18.

The first camp from June 4-7 focuses on practice skills and work habits and costs $175. The second, Mike Miller's shooting camp, runs from June 11-13 and costs $175. The Elite Overnight camp is June 15-17 and is $185. From June 25-28, Rod Strickland will run a camp with appearances by NBA players for $225.

More information and registration can be obtained at or by calling 678-2346.

To reach reporter Dan Wolken, call 529-2365; e-mail:

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

C-USA Contenders Improved - Houston and Sou Miss Figure to Push Memphis

C-USA contenders improved
Cougars, Golden Eagles figure to push Memphis

By Dan Wolken
May 20, 2007

DESTIN, Fla. -- Houston Coach Tom Penders has an interesting theory about Conference USA last season: Memphis' undefeated rampage through the league was more about Memphis than its competition.

"The league was better," Penders said. "Memphis was just a great team."

Penders and his colleagues expect Memphis to be a great team once again. One coach who shall remain anonymous said, "We might as well not even show up." He was only half-kidding.

But if Penders' theory is correct, C-USA will once again have a hard time getting any recognition for being a better league in 2007-08 unless somebody beats Memphis. And barring injuries or other unforeseen developments, it's possible the Tigers could once again go 16-0.

The consensus among the coaches here, however, is that C-USA should have five very solid teams, a group of three decent teams in the middle of the pack and four at the bottom that will probably struggle.

Based on those conversations, here's an early look at how the league will shape up behind the Tigers.

2. Houston: By the end of last season, Penders had the league's second-best team. There's no reason to think he won't once again. Say what you will about his sometimes reckless style of play, but he's got legit guards in Robert "Fluff" McKiver and a finally healthy Lanny Smith. Houston's lack of size was a problem last year against good teams, but Penders said 6-11 Seton Hall transfer Marcus Cousin is "for real," and he's raided the Northeast prep scene for depth at other positions. With a home-heavy non-conference schedule, Houston has a chance to be ranked by the time league play starts.

3. Southern Miss: Larry Eustachy is a terrific coach, and he finally has the kind of talent to get him into the NCAA Tournament -- probably sooner rather than later. Though Eustachy said his team is still a year away, Southern Miss has enough athletes, toughness and swagger to overcome its youth. The freshman core of Jeremy Wise, Sai'Quon Stone and Andre Stephens really opened some eyes last season and should improve as sophomores. Eustachy is excited about adding 7-foot Brazilian Gustavo Lino, who practiced with the team for the second half of last season.

4. UAB: A lot of people will pick the Blazers to finish second based on a roster overhaul led by Indiana transfer Robert Vaden (a likely first-team all-C-USA guard) and Georgia transfer Channing Toney, plus a top-100 recruit in Keenan Ellis. But can those guys, while talented, really push UAB past teams like Houston and Southern Miss that have roughly equal talent and more experience playing together? Mike Davis' performance as head coach last season doesn't inspire much confidence he'll be able to take this group of vagabonds from eighth place to the NCAA Tournament.

5. Tulsa: Doug Wojcik is on schedule with what should be the league's second-best program. Despite inheriting a mess, Wojcik won 20 games in his second season, and the Golden Hurricane appears poised to move forward in 2007-08. Though Tulsa took a hit when talented forward Jamel McLean transferred, it has a solid backcourt with Rod Earls and Ben Uzoh and a promising big man in Jerome Jordan. Wojcik's teams are always good defensively; the question is whether there's enough offensive skill there to consistently beat the high-level clubs.

6. UTEP: Tony Barbee's team probably falls into the "one year away" category. Junior Stephon Jackson is one of the best scoring guards in the league, and Sheffield High product Randy Culpepper will add instant offense as a freshman. But UTEP will feature one of the league's youngest lineups, which makes it difficult to envision a top-five finish.

7. Tulane: Hiring Dave Dickerson, a former Maryland assistant, was the best thing Tulane ever did. His performance last season -- taking Tulane from 1-4 in the league to a fourth-place finish -- was perhaps the best under-the-radar coaching performance in the country. The Green Wave will have to replace sharpshooter Chris Moore, but don't expect this program to fall too far with talents like David Gomez and Kevin Sims still around.

8. UCF: After losing a couple solid players to graduation, this looks like a season where the Knights should take a step back. Then again, UCF has outperformed expectations each of its two years in the league, including last season's out-of-nowhere second-place finish. Out of respect for how far Kirk Speraw has taken the program and his solid incoming class, it wouldn't be a surprise to see UCF in the top half.

9. SMU: Anybody who questioned whether Matt Doherty could recruit to SMU should look at his incoming class: seven players, many of whom had high-major offers. While Doherty's future looks solid, SMU will be very young next season. Picking the Mustangs here, there or anywhere is a complete guess.

10. Marshall: Hiring Donnie Jones off Billy Donovan's Florida staff was a good move. He inherits a couple nice building blocks in senior guard Mark Dorris and junior forward Markel Humphrey, who could very well lead the Thundering Herd to a higher finish than this.

11. East Carolina: Ricky Stokes has had a couple rough years in Greenville. Expect to see some improvement in Year 3, but the Pirates won't move into the upper division any time soon.

12. Rice: With the Morris Almond era now over, it's no wonder Willis Wilson went job hunting this spring, interviewing for positions at Denver and Hawaii.

To reach reporter Dan Wolken, call 529-2365

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Memphis Possibly Going Unbeaten and Taking on Andy Katz: An Interview With Fox Sports' Jeff Goodman

Memphis Possibly Going Unbeaten and Taking on Andy Katz: An Interview with Fox Sports’ Jeff Goodman

A special, out-of-season treat for the hoops junkies in the house – an interview with the tireless Jeff Goodman, who covers college basketball for Fox Sports. That’s him on the left. We got him talking about everything from the most difficult programs to cover, to battling ESPN’s Andy Katz, to who will replace Billy Donovan in Florida, and perhaps most importantly, we grilled him about the top two stories for next season: OJ Mayo and Memphis.

Q: The whole OJ Mayo debacle about him basically picking USC before they choose him; the kid telling Tim Floyd not to worry about recruiting, he’d handle it; how do you think all of this will end up? Seems like at the minimum, he’s a Terrell Owens. Do you think this is why Gabe Pruitt and Nick Young bolted?

I don’t trust that kid at all. Sure, he’s talented. My take is he ruins the chemistry of a USC team that really had something good going on, but did Tim Floyd really have a choice? He had to take Mayo – just to help give the program credibility. Young and Pruitt probably made the right choice, because this is O.J.’s team from the day he arrives at the Galen Center.

Q: Memphis is stacked. Again. It will go through C-USA unbeaten, and get a top three seed in the tourney. But is this the year the Tigers finally break through?

I’ve been pretty critical of Memphis in the last couple years. Last season I called them Team Mystery because they rolled through Conference USA and didn’t have enough perimeter shooters. This year I am a believer – but because of one addition: Derrick Rose. This kid is the real deal – a pure point guard who can actually make these guys look intelligent. This club could run the table next year and go undefeated. But I just can’t imagine a team from Conference USA winning the whole thing.

Q: A question we love to ask sportswriters - because it’s one reason we left the biz - social life … are you able to have one? Don’t worry about being painted as a homebody … the hours are brutal. Is it tough to meet chicks when you’re constantly on the road, and constantly working nights? How does one walk that fine line?

Here’s all you need to know. My favorite TV shows these days are Hannah Montana and American Idol. I’ve been married for 6 _ years now. When it’s not college basketball season, I have no control over the clicker. I get a better night’s sleep on the road and the hours are brutal – especially because I’m the only moron trying to cover college hoop and basketball recruiting at the same time.

Q: How does one ascend to the college basketball top spot at Fox Sports? Journalism school? Newspapers? Did you get noticed because you started a blog?

My first interview, in all seriousness, was with James Worthy and Michael Cooper over the phone when they came into Boston before my voice changed. I think they must have thought they were doing some little girl a favor. I never, ever worked for the school paper at Arizona (no, it’s not the one in Tempe). Instead, I tried to make some extra beer money freelancing for papers around the country. I took a job with the AP in Buffalo and was promoted to NYC (although no one warned me that it was hardly a perk to work in that communication-challenged office), where I lasted about a year.

I left for a start-up internet site back home in Boston called School Sports, where I got heavily involved with football and basketball recruiting. Then I chose to try and go free-lance full-time and wrote for several publications – USA Today, Washington Post and also, where I became one of the few national recruiting guys that could actually report, write and evaluate players (there aren’t many). I also began covering college basketball for the Boston Herald and writing a weekly ACC notebook. Two years ago, ended up buying and it didn’t take me long to show the guys at Fox that my college hoop connections would allow me to be competitive. I’ve spent the last two years at Fox as the senior college basketball writer and I can’t imagine a better situation.

Q: How vital are team message boards to college basketball reporting? Are you on them frequently? Is it like sifting through a garbage dump for your wedding ring?

Some writers are avid readers of message boards. Honestly, I don’t have time to read them all that much. They can be entertaining – and once in a while, I’ll go to a few of the better ones, but the fans of the team sites message boards are delusional and unrealistic much of the time. The worst are North Carolina and Kentucky fans – very thin-skinned.

Q: One of the problems we foresee for pro sports is athletes starting their own blog and talking less and less to the media. This doesn’t seem likely in college, where the programs themselves restrict access. Who are the most difficult programs you’ve worked with? The best?

I’m here in Boston where Curt “The Fraud” Schilling calls home. He’s had plenty of freedom with his blog until he bashed Barry Bonds recently. I don’t think it would fly outside of the pro world because the college coaches wouldn’t allow 17 and 18-year-old kids that much autonomy. Just imagine Joey Dorsey with a blog. Now that would be entertaining.

The most difficult teams to deal with are usually the ones you’ve pissed off. It was tough for me to get much from Texas A&M since I basically accused them of inflating Acie Law’s assist numbers last season. Tubby Smith, from what I’ve been told, won’t be returning my calls anytime soon. Bobby Knight is obviously erratic to deal with, but when he’s in a good mood, he’s entertaining as hell. Coach K is virtually impossible to get with one-on-one – and the rule that UNC freshman can’t talk to the media prior to their first game makes no sense. As for programs that “get it”, Texas SID Scott McConnell and Florida’s Fred Demarest are two of the best in the business.

Q: Going head-to-head against Andy Katz seems like quite the chore; he probably gets handed more scoops than anyone in all of sports because he’s the top college guy at ESPN (though we have followed him since his days at Fresno; he’s always been a dogged reporter). Is that a frustrating opponent? Are you two cordial?

Who? Just kidding. It’s tough to battle with the Worldwide Leader. You know, seems to “learn” just about everything. Katz has been entrenched in the industry a long time, has tremendous sources, terrific exposure on television and he gets after it. However, I don’t think he had all that much competition – especially for news – until recently.

It’s not frustrating at all going up against Andy Katz and Gary Parrish of CBS Sportsline. It motivates me seeing how hard those guys work. We’re cordial – and we actually grew up about 20 minutes from one another (although I think he’s got a few years on me).

Q: Most underrated coach in the country?

Anthony Grant of VCU. I called it the best hire two years ago when he left as Billy Donovan’s top assistant and, for once, I looked smart. This guy is a future star. He’s got charisma and can really coach. I’m not sure how underrated he is these days after he knocked off the Dookies in the first round of the Big Dance, but if (actually when) Donovan leaves for the NBA, Grant should be a no-brainer as his replacement in Gainesville.

Q: This may sound wacky, but Dean Smith won a whopping two titles in 36 years at UNC. Sure, he’s an institution, a legend, he won an assload of games and all that … but isn’t he a tad overrated? The guy was getting McDonald’s All-Americans on a yearly basis, and to us, it seems like he should have won more titles. The best argument against this: ‘you can’t win a title every year.’ Thoughts?

I understand where you’re coming from, but the guy won more than 850 games and went to 11 Final Four’s in his career. If Coach K doesn’t win a national title in the next five years, he’ll only have one more ring in the identical number of years (36) and could go down as the greatest in the history of the game.

Dean had plenty of McDonald’s All-Americans, but they weren’t handed to him. Let’s remember that UNC was in the Southern Conference a decade before he took over – and Frank McGuire and Dean (and Michael Jordan) were the keys to establishing the tradition that exists now in Chapel Hill.

Q: Can you begin to explain Tommy Amaker going to Harvard? Does he really believe he’s that good of a coach where he can go to a program on a level playing field and win?

Harvard had no choice but to hire a minority – and Amaker has the Duke background and an economics degree on his resume. His wife is a former psychology professor and associate dean of students, so Harvard won the press conference with a big name and someone who fits the school’s persona. If you are a kid and have virtually no chance of making money playing this game, wouldn’t you choose Harvard over the other Ivy’s? Plus, these kids have actually heard of Amaker.

Q: Which of these three players should have stayed in college: Afflalo, Wilson Chandler, Daequan Cook?

There is no way Cook is going back to Columbus, but he’s a guy who could be a late lottery pick if he ever learned to play hard. I’ve seen him play for the past four years – and he’s an enigma. He just disappears way too much. I was told by someone close to him that he would have rather transferred than return to Ohio State, but his stock could soar if he came back for one more year.

Q: Brandon Roy will be the next ____ in the NBA.

Chauncey Billups. Roy is just as versatile and is already a more efficient shooter from long distance. Now he just needs to win a few titles.

Q: Which of these three PGs will make the best pro: Singletary, Dom James, T Green?

Singletary. He’s fearless, strong and has really improved his perimeter shot. Plus, he’s an even-keel floor leader who is able to get his teammates involved or score 30 (he had 37 in a rout of Gonzaga).

Q: We long for the day we can work from home. How do you enjoy it? Where the heck are you located, anyway?

Now that my daughter is 3 1/2, it’s much better. We have a cozy (another word for small) house about 20 minutes west of Boston and it was tough to get anything done with her crying in the next room. We knocked down a wall, moved my office downstairs and she is at school (or whatever you want to call it when she plays dolls and duck duck goose) most weekdays. But it’s great from the standpoint that my commute is about 30 feet from my bedroom and the only traffic I encounter is trying to get past my golden retriever.

Friday, May 18, 2007's Andy Katz Says Memphis Job One of the Best in the Country

Coaches Reap Rewards
By Andy Katz,

The coaching carousel certainly had plenty of stops, but the most significant moves this spring were the deals that some of the traditional powers handed down, as well as a mid-major monster stepping up and keeping its head coach.

Louisville, Memphis, Texas, North Carolina and, of course, Florida bumped up their head coaches' salaries as they become more entrenched at their respective schools. Rick Pitino is determined to build Louisville into a perennial Big East and national power. Rick Barnes is doing the same for Texas in the Big 12. Roy Williams went home to North Carolina and likely will retire in Chapel Hill. John Calipari clearly has made Memphis one of the top jobs in the country, and the Tigers' administration doesn't want him to leave for anywhere, even for the NBA.

Washington State's decision to make a major commitment to Tony Bennett and double his salary was a complete change of philosophy in Pullman. The Cougars haven't taken basketball as seriously from a contractual perspective. But the decision to keep Bennett and to pay him much more of a market value showed that the Cougars want to stay near the top of the Pac-10. Bennett deserved the raise after earning coach of the year honors in just his first season as head coach and getting to the NCAA Tournament's second round. He easily could have pursued other options, especially in the Big Ten, if Washington State had refused to raise his salary.

As for the mid-major front, Southern Illinois' decision to bump up Chris Lowery may have been the most significant move among the extension/salary increases this spring. SIU athletic director Mario Moccia told throughout the postseason and spring that the intent was to keep Lowery in Carbondale and that the school could increase the salary. Lowery's salary was more than doubled. The school made it a clear that the Salukis are in the business of staying at a high level. Lowery likely would have looked elsewhere if SIU refused to compete with Wichita State and Creighton atop the league. SIU has been the most successful program the past five years but the Salukis had lagged in salary.

And now, it appears that Billy Donovan will become the richest college basketball coach in the country once his contract is finalized, which should quiet the NBA chatter. The only reason he would need to go to the NBA would be to challenge himself rather than for any financial reasons.

Here is a breakdown of some of the salary increases:

John Calipari, Memphis
Last season: 33-4 (16-0 Conference USA), NCAA regional finals
Extension: Through 2011-12
Salary: $1.816 million per year
Comment: Calipari got paid handsomely after overtures (at least in the media) that he should be a choice at Kentucky and then after a real overture from Arkansas. Memphis has a shot to win the national title and AD R.C. Johnson isn't about to let Calipari walk away from this cash cow. The only move Calipari may make at this juncture is back to the NBA one day.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Inexact Science of Ranking Recruiting

Guess who was the #1 recruiting class (by in 2004?

Ok, stop guessing............the answer was Kentucky.

Yep, sort of funny considering everyone said Tubby couldn't recruit.

What they really should have said was the "experts" aren't always right.

Now who was the #12 recruiting class in 2004?

Here's a hint......Brewer, Hortford, Noah, Green

Yep.........Florida (2 National Championships with a #12 class)

So, how has Memphis done the last five years?

2003 - NR, outside the top 25
2004 - 9th
2005 - 7th
2006 - 23rd
2007 - 11th Ranks Tiger Recruiting Class #11

#11 Memphis

5 Star - Derrick Rose PG 6-4 194 (#3 Overall, #1 PG)
4 Star - Jeff Robinson SF 6-5 205 (#35 Overall, #10 SF)
4 Star - Marcus Morris PF 6-7 215 (#31 Overall, #12 PF)
4 Star - Markeiff Morris PF 6-8 225 (#90 Overall, #28 PF)

Memphis is hoping that Derrick Rose - the nation's No. 3 recruit - can have the type of impact that Carmelo Anthony had for Syracuse a few years ago. Rose appears to be headed to Memphis for one season before leaving for the NBA. Jeffrey Robinson's run-and-shoot game is custom-built for the Tigers' attack. Both four-star prospects in the class of 2008, the Morris twins announced their intentions of going to prep school next year, but the Tigers' coaching staff is trying to convince them to enroll as freshmen next season.

Dick Vitale "Not Just BBQ in Memphis"

Not just BBQ in Memphis
Dick Vitale

May 9, 2007

I recently read that my esteemed colleague Andy Katz picked Memphis number one for next season. In my book, I am going with North Carolina because the Tar Heels are loaded up front with Tyler Hansbrough, plus the backcourt is returning. I also feel North Carolina will have a chip on its shoulder after the disappointing loss to Georgetown in the Elite Eight.

Let me tell you, there is a lot to be said about how good John Calipari's Tigers will be. This is a program that has made the Elite Eight back-to-back seasons. I can tell this is going to be a big season for Memphis simply based on hearing the excitement in Calipari's voice when I spoke to him recently. There was a special tone that indicated he can't wait for the 2007-08 campaign to begin.

There is good reason for optimism with the addition of diaper dandy Derrick Rose. My friends, this young man will be a superstar right away out of the Windy City. He should contribute immediately as an instant dominator. Memphis also brings back the likes of Chris Douglas-Roberts, Robert Dozier, Antonio Anderson, Joey Dorsey, Andre Allen, Willie Kemp and Doneal Mack. The lone senior of note lost from last year's squad was Jeremy Hunt.

The Tigers will dominate Conference USA and the big question will be, "can the Tigers go unblemished in league play once again." Calipari will also play his share of tough non-conference foes to improve the program's RPI. The Tigers are in the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic with Kentucky, Connecticut and Oklahoma. Wow, could we see a match-up of Mr. Calipari and new Wildcats coach Billy Gillispie? Maybe a renewal of the Calipari vs. Jim Calhoun rivalry we saw when Massachusetts and Connecticut used to hook up? Those challenges will help in the long run as this team prepares for tournament play.

There will big things happening in Memphis. People are not just going out to see Elvis' mansion. Last year's 33-4 record wasn't a fluke and Calipari knew he had a young squad. Last season's experience will help make this team even better. They will be stopping off to the FedEx Forum to see Calipari's team make a run at the Final Four.

It's ironic that last season ended in a loss to Ohio State at San Antonio. This season's goal is a return to San Antonio as that is the site for the Final Four. Calipari's got the horses to get him there.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

From the C-USA Meetings: 30 Second Clock

C-USA idea: 30-second clock
Innovative thinking could elevate league

By Dan Wolken
May 17, 2007

DESTIN, Fla. -- The basketball coaches of Conference USA finished their spring meetings Wednesday afternoon without passing any significant pieces of legislation.
They did, however, leave on a creative note. Among the ideas that got some positive feedback in the closing discussion, according to coaches in the meeting, was using a 30-second shot clock in league games as opposed to the standard 35-second shot clock used throughout college basketball.

"I think it would be great," University of Memphis coach John Calipari said. "It would be like, let's see how it does, let's see if it increases scoring, you know? If somebody says, well, would it affect you in the NCAA Tournament? The way we play, if you looked at all of last year's tapes, we shot probably before 20 seconds 70 or 80 percent of the time."

Though no official steps were taken to implement that idea, the discussion reflected the coaches' consensus that C-USA should think outside the box to make its mark on the college basketball landscape.

Houston coach Tom Penders -- a huge proponent of any idea to speed the game up -- said adopting a 30-second clock would be like the Atlantic 10 using a 3-point line in the mid-1980s, a year before the rest of the country followed suit.

Not only would it attract attention nationally, he said, but it could help the league schools gain an edge in recruiting.

"That really helped the Atlantic 10," Penders said. "They were fighting the Big East to be different. You try to find ways to be creative. When you're out recruiting, you can tell a kid, we play our conference games at 30 seconds, more like the NBA (which uses a 24-second shot clock)."

It was unclear when -- or if -- the idea would be discussed further. To even begin the process of approval, the coaches would have to vote on it and send it to the league's athletic directors. From there, it would require further stages of approval before being implemented in games.

In other words, don't expect to see a 30-second shot clock any time soon. But the idea at least piqued the interest of coaches enough to generate initial talks.

"Is it realistic? I don't know," Tulsa coach Doug Wojcik said. "I'm not the deciding guy, but I like the idea. We're trying to think ahead, where things may go, how we could maybe influence the game to some extent for the fan, generate fan interest. Maybe you can do something different to try to bring some attention to the conference. Not to be revolutionary, but maybe to do something a little different."

Certainly, this is a good environment to talk about rule changes, given how the NCAA earlier this month approved moving the 3-point line back a foot to 20 feet, 9 inches beginning in 2008.

But Penders believes there are other rule changes that could improve the game more.

"We're the only ones in the world playing a 35-second clock," he said. "The lane is still too narrow. People say moving the (3-point) line out will relieve the congestion. Baloney."

Another thing C-USA might consider is putting a "block-charge" circle under the basket like the NBA does.

"That's something that probably should be implemented in college," Calipari said.

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

Cal Says Holy Cross Not to Play Tigers

Holy Cross drops off U of M schedule

By Dan Wolken
May 16, 2007

DESTIN, Fla. -- John Calipari said Tuesday that Holy Cross dropped out of its commitment to play the University of Memphis next season, leaving the Tigers with an opening on their non-conference schedule.

Memphis had agreed to pay Holy Cross $70,000 to play at FedExForum, a relatively high figure for a "buy" game. Holy Cross was considered a good non-conference opponent for Memphis because it will enter next season as the favorite to win the Patriot League.

Calipari said Memphis will likely look for another "buy" foe to replace Holy Cross. Even with the opening, Memphis' schedule is further along than usual for this time of year.

No decision

Though it was discussed Tuesday morning in a meeting between Conference USA's basketball coaches and athletic directors, no decision will be made this week about where to hold the 2009 men's basketball tournament. Memphis will host the 2008 tournament, but the league is not in a hurry to name a site for future years. The majority of coaches would like to try another site, but at this point it would be a huge financial risk to move it. There is a chance that Tulsa -- which is opening a new downtown arena -- could get in the mix for 2009.

"We're not going to make any decision on '09 down here," Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson said. "But the question was raised, here we are, the kingpin of the league and we're hosting the conference tournament. Is that really right? From a financial standpoint and a fan standpoint, it's the only way to go. But if you're an AD or coach at one of these other schools, at some point you're going to say, 'How many times do we have to go to Memphis?'"

Schedule news

Coaches spent part of their meeting Tuesday with Greg Shaheen, the NCAA's vice president for basketball and business strategies. Shaheen explained some of the discussion that took place during last year's NCAA Tournament selection process and talked about issues like scheduling and the RPI.

Scheduling has been a big topic of discussion this week, with teams like UAB and Southern Miss having difficulty getting the kind of non-conference games that could help them get NCAA bids.

Southern Miss coach Larry Eustachy, whose team will be one of the favorites next year, has booked games at Alabama and against Ole Miss at the DeSoto Civic Center. Other than that, "we have a tough time scheduling," Eustachy said. "Arkansas won't play us at Arkansas. UNLV won't play us at UNLV.

"I can't get Mississippi State to play us. We'll even play there twice, but they won't do it. But you've got a guy like Andy Kennedy who is terrific and is trying to give something back to basketball because that's what the state of Mississippi wants to see. I always did that at Iowa State; we played everybody. So we'll play (Ole Miss) there, play in Jackson, then play on the coast, kind of a three-year deal."

Houston coach Tom Penders has Arizona and Kentucky coming to Hofheinz Pavilion. But unlike previous years, Penders isn't taking his team on the road to play high-level competition because he doesn't believe teams are getting rewarded for doing that in the current RPI structure.

"Now you can go and get more points for playing Prairie View on the road and winning than you do for beating Arizona at home. It's nuts," Penders said. "So we've watered down our schedule significantly from last year. ... We're going to play like 19 home games. We're going to do what everybody else is doing. We won't play as bad a schedule as some of those who never leave home, but we're going to try to play all our non-league at home except for (the San Juan Shootout). ... You've got to figure out ways to make the tournament."

Local Banker Harold Byrd New President of Rebounders Club - Goal is Season Ticket Sellout

Filling Forum president's goal

Harold Byrd aims to fill the upper level of FedExForum for Tiger basketball games. The newly elected president of the Rebounders club says one way is to encourage businesses to buy the tickets and donate them to deserving youth.

Election of Byrd figures to invigorate Rebounders

By Dan Wolken
May 13, 2007

For years, the University of Memphis Rebounders club has not been a place for the mega-boosters, but rather those whose enthusiasm for the program is far greater than their financial clout.

This week, however, the Rebounders significantly expanded their reach by electing Harold Byrd -- Bank of Bartlett president and key UofM donor -- as the group's new president, succeeding Win Rainey.

While that may seem like an odd fit on the surface, there was a clear purpose behind it. Ever since last season ended, coach John Calipari has been preaching about the opportunity to amp up every aspect of the program, fueled by the momentum of back-to-back Elite Eight appearances.

With Byrd's influence and contacts in the local business community, the opportunity is there to take the Rebounders to another level while still relying on its core constituency.

"Naturally I'm involved in a lot of other things, but I feel like the great amount of goodwill and the national acclaim that the basketball team has brought to the city and the university is just enormous," Byrd said.

"These kids have represented the university so well, and what John wants the Rebounders to become is to build on what Win and that group have done but also to have the FedExForum sold out for every game, to have the Rebounders help lead that charge to do that as well as bring new people into the program."

While the Rebounders will still organize road trips and hold receptions at home games, the group will also be part of the effort to fill the upper deck of FedExForum in 2007-08, which is still a point of concern for Calipari and athletic director R.C. Johnson despite the Tigers' loaded home schedule and possible preseason No. 1 ranking.

One idea, Byrd said, is to encourage businesses to buy those tickets and donate them to local charities that serve economically challenged youth.

"We take it for granted when we go to the FedExForum and watch a Jeremy Hunt or CDR (Chris Douglas-Roberts) play," Byrd said. "The younger kids have been turned on by what the program has done, and this is a way to do a lot of things, to get the younger generation involved in the University of Memphis program and inspire them to academic success."

Agenda setting

For the first time since Conference USA realigned two years ago, there won't be any major pieces of legislation regarding men's basketball on the agenda for the league's annual meetings, which begin Monday in Destin, Fla.

Chris Woolard, the C-USA assistant commissioner who oversees men's basketball, said most of the heavy lifting was done the last two summers on key issues like a 16-game conference schedule, the conference tournament format and non-conference scheduling guidelines.

The focus this year will be on how to get the league's second tier of teams -- UAB, Houston, Southern Miss and Tulsa primarily -- into the discussion for postseason bids in 2008. Last year, the league was shut out of the NCAA Tournament and NIT aside from Memphis.

"It will be more of a reflection of where we are," Woolard said. "We'll look at the policies we have in place, figure out where we are and then see if we need to tweak anything as we move forward. ... Any (topic) can be raised and discussed, but I don't think you'll see any legislation put in place unless there's enough people adamant about it."

One issue that will be debated is whether to move the 2009 or 2010 C-USA Tournament out of Memphis. The 2008 event has already been confirmed at FedExForum, but there is clearly a movement among the league's coaches to try another site (at least for a year) because of the advantage Memphis has had playing at home.

Groups from practically every major city in the league have made it know they'd like to host a league tournament. But are there any truly viable options? Even the two cities that make some sense -- Tulsa and Birmingham -- can't guarantee the kind of revenue the league generates in Memphis.

Penny's trainer

Over the past two years, former Tigers star Penny Hardaway has been training for an NBA comeback with Miami-based Ed Downs. Now, Hardaway is helping promote Downs' patented "CoreTwist" training system.

Downs is selling his patented, air-filled discs and a set of DVDs that explain his workout program. Hardaway said training on the discs, which promote core strength, has helped him finally overcome the knee injuries that have limited him to just four NBA games over the past two seasons.

Several other pro athletes use Downs' system, including Baron Davis, Alonzo Mourning and NFL receiver Jerry Porter.

"I designed it for everybody to use," Downs said. "I was using it with NBA and NFL players and getting great results. I'm like, you know what? It only takes 15, 20 minutes to do a workout. That's why I said, it's time to bring it out to the public."

For more information, visit

Recruiting news

Calipari has a history of recruiting Puerto Rican players, both at UMass and Memphis. Could two more be on his radar for 2008?

Memphis has at least some interest in two highly rated Puerto Ricans, 6-9 forward Victor Davila and 6-10 forward Angel Garcia, both of whom played in U.S. high schools last year.

Garcia appears to be more of a target after his performance at the Pittsburgh Jam Fest in April, which inspired to move him up from 89th to 33rd in its 2008 rankings. A skilled big man who moved to East Chicago, Ind., last year, Indiana appears to be the team to beat for Garcia.

Meanwhile, the stock of three more players being recruited by Memphis apparently went up during the April evaluation period. Chicago guard DeAndre Liggins was promoted to the No. 18 prospect overall (from No. 90), St. George's guard Elliot Williams moved up to No. 20 (from No. 28), and 6-10 forward Kenny Kadji of Florida is No. 21 (from No. 40).

A new name on the recruiting list is Tulsa-area star Rotnei Clarke, a pure shooter who averaged 37.6 points last year and is ranked 80th by Rivals. According to the Tulsa World, Memphis has joined Gonzaga, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tulsa, Oral Roberts and others in his recruitment.

To reach reporter Dan Wolken, call 529-2365

Holy Cross Reported Backs Out of Game in Memphis

Never Mind

Wednesday, May 16, 2007 Never mind

Holy Cross won't be going to Graceland after all.

The Commercial Appeal in Memphis reports the Crusaders have dropped off of Memphis' schedule, opting out of a reported $70,000 buy game.

John Calipari told the paper HC had dropped its commitment to play the Tigers at the FedExForum. Since HC never announced the date, we will wait until there is word from Ralph Willard before buying into Calipari's renege allegations.

Our guess is most likely no contract had been signed and Calipari likely was premature in announcing the game.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tre'Von Willis Says He Is Staying In Memphis

Tre'Von Willis Says He's Staying
Last Update: May 10, 2007 9:03 PM
Posted By: Jamie Griffin
Eyewitness News ABC 24 Memphis

Back at home in Fresno, California, Tre'Von Willis addressed his basketball future with the Tigers to a local television station. Willis said was not happy with his playing time, but put to rest rumors that he's consider transferring to Fresno State .

"Memphis is like my second home," said Willis. "I haven't even thought about (leaving)."

Willis played in just 17 of the Tigers' 37 games this past season, his freshman campaign.

Great Article on Calipari from's Dick Weiss

Calipari using familiar formula for success
Dick "Hoops" Weiss / Special to

(Thanks to G. for pointing this article out to me, ed.)

When Conference USA blew up two years ago, the earthquake tremors shook up the college basketball landscape.

DePaul, Marquette, Louisville and South Florida left for the Big East, while St. Louis and UNC-Charlotte inexplicably resurfaced in the Atlantic 10.
Memphis coach John Calipari was faced with two options.

The Tigers, who were left behind in a non-BCS conference needing major reconstructive surgery, could either drift into the shadows or separate themselves from the rest of the league like he did at UMass.

Calipari took UMass — which had a 295 RPI out of 306 Division I teams and very little tradition and funding when he arrived in 1988 — off the scrap heap, winning five consecutive Atlantic 10 championships in the early 90's, advancing to an Elite Eight in 1995, and a No. 1 ranking and a Final Four appearance the following season before he left for the NBA's New Jersey Nets.

How he resurrected the Minutemen was one of the greatest stories in the history of college basketball.

What he is doing at Memphis is pretty much a Xerox copy, even though the Tigers have far more tradition, past NCAA success and a more fertile recruiting base in the city.

Calipari, who inherited a stagnant program in this border town, just across the river from Arkansas, has coached the Tigers to a pair of 33-4 seasons, two Top -0 finishes and two consecutive Elite Eights the past two seasons. He has a legitimate chance this upcoming season to win the school's first national championship.

Provided Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert — two projected lottery picks — leave Georgetown early, the Tigers will get our vote for pre-season No. 1 ahead of North Carolina, Indiana, UCLA and Louisville. They, along with Louisville, are the two teams not affected by early defections to the draft.

Calipari has his entire starting five — center Joey Dorsey, forward Robert Dozier and guards Antonio Anderson, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Willie Kemp — back from a 33-4 team that beat Texas A&M in the Sweet 16 in a less than neutral San Antonio before losing to Ohio State in the South Regional finals.

They also have Shawn Taggart, a 6-foot-10 transfer from Iowa State; 6-8 sophomore Pierre Niles; 6-10 Kareem Cooper; backup point guard Andre Allen and guard Donnell Mack and two blue chip recruits — 6-4 McDonald's All American guard Derrick Rose from Chicago Simeon and 6-5 swing forward Jeff Robinson from USA Today's second-ranked St. Patrick's of Elizabeth, N.J., giving them 12 useable players who can all play in a big-time game.

And they have Calipari, a coaching animal and Larry Brown disciple, whose track record speaks for itself. Calipari has won more games (374) in his first 15 years than any other coach beside Hall of Famer Roy Williams, who won 418 in that period at storied Kansas before moving on to North Carolina. He is one of only three coaches — along with Williams and Bill Self of Illinois and Kansas — who have coached two different teams to No. 1 seeds.

"BCS teams all want to do the Wal-Mart thing,'' Calipari said. "They all want to dominate the world. We're like a thorn in their side. Here we are, just like the UMass days. We've bumped into their parade, their party.''

Calipari has already produced four pros in the last five years, despite signing just two so called McDonald's All Americans — guard DeJuan Wagner from Camden, N.J., who was the sixth pick in 2002; and guard Darius Washington from Orlando Edgewater. Last year, he produced two first-rounders — forwards Rodney Carney and Shawnee Williams. This year, sixth man Jeremy Hunt — the only senior of significance — has been invited to the Orlando pre-draft camp.

And the assembly line is just getting started.

Calipari has done all this while working at a disadvantage. Memphis does not have the pedigree of programs like Duke and Kansas, and there have been times when he has been unfairly vilified because his 1996 UMass team had to vacate its Final Four appearance after star center Marcus Camby admitted to accepting money from an agent.

Calipari was never personally cited by the NCAA.

"Most BCS schools walk away with between $9, $10, $11 million a year,'' Calipari said. "With non-BCS schools, it's more like $1.5 million. We've been able to raise $5 million a year for our basketball program, but we're lucky. We're in a urban area with great wealth. Most can't do it.''

As much talk as there was about parity in the tournament after George Mason made it to the Final Four in 2006, there was only four non-BCS teams — Memphis, Southern Illinois, Butler and UNLV — in the Sweet 16 this spring.

Calipari has survived — even flourished — because of his ability to produce a high visibility program that plays to sellout crowds at FedEx Arena, his reputation for preparing players for the NBA and ability to graduate players.

Still, there is a chance he will never get the credit he deserves. Calipari has built his current program in much the same way he did at UMass — with creative recruiting, continuous dominance in his league and a willingess to upgrade his RPI by scheduling elite programs in the non-league.

This upcoming season, he has Arizona, Gonzaga, Tennessee, USC, Ole Miss, Holy Cross and possible matchups against Kentucky and UConn in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden.

Calipari has had opportunities in the past two years to move to more sanitized surroundings. He was approached by Missouri and romanced heavily by NC State last year, and Arkansas offered him an outlandish amount of money to move this spring.

But, in many ways, he seems happy where he is — a blue collar kid from Moon Township, Pa. who is comfortable working with first-generation college players, who all seem to get better both on and off the floor.

Calipari is all about giving kids like himself a chance. Six of his current players were post graduates from prep schools — four from Laurinburg, N.C. Institute — which may be why he has taken a strong stand against the NCAA's decision to come down hard on all fifth-year players attending prep schools by limiting them to just one core course to improve their GPA.

"They couldn't get Philly Lutheran so they're trying to blow up a fly with bazooka and blow up every prep school,'' Calipari said. "Not every prep school is bad. I think it's time to go back to partial qualifiers — give a kid a scholarship and let him sit out.

"The way it is now, they're targeting one group.''

Calipari can back up his theories with the fact he graduates his players — 80 percent at UMass and 12 of 15 at Memphis, which had a zero graduation rate when he arrived.

It's time to start showing him a little more love.

Veteran college basketball writer Dick "Hoops" Weiss is a frequent contributor to

Friday, May 04, 2007's Luke Winn's Top 5 (Plus His Very Strange Humor and Random Thoughts About Obscure Items)
Early returns
Post-draft deadline, a look at the landscape for '07-08
By Luke Winn
Posted: Tuesday May 1, 2007

I present the first, post-draft-deadline Power Rankings, based on a few educated guesses: Georgetown's Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert, Kansas' Brandan Rush and Julian Wright and Georgia Tech's Thaddeus Young will stay in, while Texas A&M's Joseph Jones, USC's Gabe Pruitt and Marquette's Dominic James will come back.

1) North Carolina - I present the first, post-draft-deadline Power Rankings, based on a few educated guesses: Georgetown's Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert, Kansas' Brandan Rush and Julian Wright and Georgia Tech's Thaddeus Young will stay in, while Texas A&M's Joseph Jones, USC's Gabe Pruitt and Marquette's Dominic James will come back.

2) UCLA - Darren Collison's return to the Bruins mattered far more than Luc Richard Mbah a Moute's. Collison should be a preseason first-team All-America, and with him, UCLA could win its first post-milennium national title. Yet I'm more curious about what Luc will do as a junior. Will he prove that his quiet '06-07 was just an injury-induced fluke? Will a likely move to the three spot -- with Kevin Love and Poolside Mata playing the four and five -- enhance or hurt the Prince's game? Mbah a Moute's sophomore year was a letdown, as was his admission to me during the Final Four that he had shelved FIFA Soccer (a topic of an offseason Q&A tangent) in favor of Madden '07, on which his favorite team is the Falcons. Please, Luc, ditch the virtual Mike Vick and reunite with Eto'o.

3) Memphis - The Tigers might be the biggest winners of the offseason. Forward Joey Dorsey could have made an ill-advised decision to enter the NBA Draft early. He didn't. Guard Chris Douglas-Roberts could have turned pro early, too -- and he might have played his way into the first round. CD-R opted not to take the risk. Coach John Calipari could have jumped ship on an active offseason carousel. He took a $500,000-per-year raise instead. Thus the Tigers have their coach and their top nine players coming back, plus the nation's best point guard prospect, Chicagoan Derrick Rose, coming in. They're going to destroy the rest of Conference USA ... and I expect to see them in San Antonio.

4) Louisville - Rick Pitino's personal Web site started off strong in '06-07. He was posting revealing assessments of his young team during its Canadian tour in August, from the point guard battle to Derrick Caracter's weight issues. The dispatches were regular through November, then pretty much died. The last team-related post was from March 1; it seems to be the results of a team bowling trip (Pitino had the high score, a 183, while Earl Clark rolled a team-worst 54). The most recent post, from April 18, has the title "Horse buyers and Blood Stock Agents Red Alert!!!" and a recommendation for a horse appraiser. The point of all this being, it seems that when Pitino's team was bad, he wrote a lot, and once they got good, he wrote a lot less. Seeing that the Cardinals should be phenomenal next year, I wouldn't expect many new posts.

5) Kansas - With an elite starting backcourt of Sherron Collins, Mario Chalmers and Russell Robinson, the Jayhawks are still top-five material, but I still get the feeling '06-07 may have been their year to win a national title. KU won't be such a well-oiled, unselfish offensive machine with Brandon Rush and Julian Wright gone, and the most interesting storyline will be the progression of Collins from auxiliary frosh to sophomore star. Is he ready to become a 13- or 14-point-a-game scorer, like Rush was, or will Collins take over games and regularly drop 20? If the latter happens, KU can contend. In the meantime Collins is just getting over the surprise of Rush's late departure. "I think Brandon could have told us and had us ready for something like this," Collins told the Lawrence Journal-World. "We are upset with him a little bit."

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Calipari "We'll be Over 925" (NCAA Mandated Academic Progress Rating)

Calipari: We'll be over 925
Basketball, two other Tiger squads fall short

By Dan Wolken
May 3, 2007

Three University of Memphis varsity programs -- men's basketball, men's soccer and men's cross country -- fell short of the NCAA's mandated Academic Progress Rating score of 925, according to figures released Wednesday that take into account three years worth of data.

Though those programs won't be subject to immediate penalties, they'll be dangerously close to losing scholarships if they don't improve when the four-year averages are released next year.

Basketball coach John Calipari, however, said his program monitors the APR on a month-by-month basis and projects to be over 925 by September. Men's basketball is currently at 916.

"We're going to be over unless something outrageous happens, which I don't see," Calipari said. "As we get into the guys enrolling in September, we'll be over the 925 and at 928 or something like that, which is pretty good. I understand where we are now, but where we were six years ago, it was a struggle to get the thing right."

The NCAA introduced the APR -- a formula that measures the eligibility and retention of student-athletes -- as a replacement for the traditional graduation rates. A 925 is supposed to equate to roughly 60 percent graduation and frees programs from any potential penalties.

Programs that score between 900 and 925 could lose scholarships next year if a student-athlete left school while academically ineligible.

"Every indication we have is that -- we're in final exams right now -- if everything plays out, our four-year rate when it is released right now will be above a 925," Joe Luckey, director of the school's Center for Athletic Academic Services, said.

"If for some reason after this year we don't get it above the 925, as long as nobody leaves our team ineligible, we wouldn't have a penalty."

The U of M men's soccer team scored 922, and the indoor/outdoor track team scored 895.

The UofM's 12 other varsity sports are in no danger of losing scholarships. Football came in at 954, which ranks in the top 30 percent. Baseball scored 958, well above the Division 1 average of 934. Women's basketball earned a public recognition award for ranking in the top 10 percent with a score of 992.

In the APR system, a team earns points for retaining players and keeping them NCAA eligible. Memphis has lost points in men's basketball mainly due to defections of players like Sean Banks, Ivan Lopez and Tank Beavers.

For players who have left early to turn professional, schools can file a waiver to get the retention point restored as long as they were academically eligible when they left.

"Most of the points we're losing are the retention points," Luckey said. "Across the board, for our sports that are losing points, it's because students aren't coming back to school... You're going to have students that come into athletic teams and they're going to leave. It's not realistic to think in a four year average we'll have teams with perfect scores."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

Tigers Add to FedEx Forum Revenue

Tigers add to forum's revenue

By The Commercial Appeal
May 3, 2007

There's a $1.15-per-seat rental fee on all events at FedExForum -- one of several revenue streams used to pay off arena bonds.

That revenue stream is performing well despite the Grizzlies' slumping attendance, in part because financial projections hadn't anticipated the University of Memphis basketball team also playing in the arena. So the Tigers' presence has been a boost for the Memphis & Shelby County Sports Authority, which issued the bonds. Overall on arena revenue streams, there's projected to be a surplus of $14 million by 2010.

Authority member R.C. Johnson, reacting to that positive news during Wednesday's board meeting, put on his other hat -- that of U of M athletic director -- and asked, "Is there any possibility of readjusting or reducing or pulling out or renegotiating" the seat fee for Tiger games?

Johnson added, drawing a laugh: "I've got to pay (Tigers coach John) Calipari."

Johnson was serious about the question, but conceded it probably wasn't a matter for the authority. It wasn't immediately clear what entity he should approach on the issue.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007 "These Coaches Will Ride Carousel Next Year"

Thanks to my friend G for finding this article, ed.

These coaches will ride carousel next year
Jeff Goodman /

Now that the coaching carousel has basically come to an end this season, the only natural thing to do is take a look at those who might be on the move next season. We'll give you a breakdown of 10 head coaches who could have new jobs and then 10 assistants who should be in the mix for head jobs.

First, here are 10 head coaches who should be "hot" names in about 11 months or so.

1. Anthony Grant, VCU: He's the hottest young coach out there. A protégé of Billy Donovan, the 41-year-old Grant has the charisma and intelligence, and quickly earned the respect of his players and peers in his rookie season with the Rams. He won a school-record 28 games — with the biggest being a first-round upset over Duke.

2. Tony Bennett, Washington State: We know he signed a long-term extension to remain in Pullman, but there will still be plenty of options after next season — and depending on his buyout, he'll be able to leave for a more attractive situation, probably in the Big Ten. The 37-year-old won 26 games in his first season taking over for his father, Dick, and led the Cougars to their first NCAA tournament win in 24 years.

3. Tom Crean, Marquette: It's hard to tell what's going to open, but expect Crean to be in demand for any of the elite jobs. He's done a terrific job at Marquette and is a tireless worker. The Golden Eagles have won at least 19 games in each of Crean's last seven seasons at the helm.

3. Chris Lowery, Southern Illinois: Lowery is another one who inked a hefty, multi-year deal (seven years for $750,000 per season), but if the Salukis make another NCAA tournament run, expect the big boys to finally come hard after him. Lowery, 34, won a school-record 29 games a year ago and was the youngest coach in the Big Dance.

4. Mark Fox, Nevada: His name wasn't tossed around in the off-season as much as it should have been, but Fox has done a terrific job since he took over the program. His record is 81-18 in his three years and he has gone to the NCAA tournament each season.

5. Reggie Theus, New Mexico State: The natural fit is for Theus to go to his alma mater, UNLV, when Lon Kruger leaves. However, no one really knows whether Kruger wants out of Vegas or not. Theus' Aggies could win the WAC and that should mean that some of the big boys will come calling. Also, let's not forget that he worked for Louisville coach Rick Pitino — who has plenty of juice when it comes to who gets hired.

6. Brad Brownell, Wright State: One of the most underrated coaches in the country. Enjoyed success at UNC-Wilmington before a rift with the administration basically forced him to take the Wright State job. He picked up right where he left off, taking his new team to the NCAA tournament this past season and finishing 23-10. His career coaching mark in five seasons: 106-50.

7. Cliff Warren, Jacksonsville: Won just one game his first season at the helm and had his program contending for the league crown this past season. If he can put up 20 or so wins this year, he'll be a hot commodity after the year.

8. Randy Rahe, Weber State: Took over a program and brought in a ton of new players — and still managed to have success this past season. Weber State went 20-12 and earned a spot in the NCAA tournament.

9. John Calipari, Memphis: No matter what, Calipari always finds a way to get his name involved in coaching rumors. Next year will be no different. He likes the attention and will talk to virtually anyone about an opening.
10. Andy Kennedy, Mississippi: He's entering his second season and is from the state, but he'll get some looks because he'll have the Rebels once again in contention for the NCAA tournament.

Here are 10 assistant coaches who could make the jump and run their own program in 2008.

1. Derek Kellogg, Memphis: The Tigers are among the best teams in the country and Kellogg is a major reason why.
2. Chris Collins, Duke: If he's smart, he waits for the right opening. We know that former Coach K assistants haven't all had a stellar track record, but Collins will be a star one day.

3. Robert Burke, Georgetown: Burke watched his two fellow assistants, Kevin Broadus (Binghamton) and Sydney Johnson (Princeton) get jobs. Next year it'll be his turn.

4. Mark Montgomery, Michigan State: He's a Tom Izzo assistant and the Spartans will be among the best teams in the country next season.

5. Philip Pearson, Alabama: If Ron Steele hadn't been injured all season, the Crimson Tide would have fared much better — and Pearson would have already earned a head gig. It should happen next year.

6. John Groce, Ohio State: Obviously the Buckeyes will be down a little bit, but Groce is waiting for the right job to come along.

7. Joe Dooley, Kansas: He had one shot at East Carolina when he was very young — and Dooley should get another crack at it soon.

8. Rob Senderoff, Indiana: Has done a terrific job at Kent State and now at Indiana. With the Hoosiers back among the nation's elite teams, he'll be in the mix.

9. Josh Pastner, Arizona: With a couple of jobs certain to open in Texas, the energetic Wildcats assistant should be in line for something after the season.

10. Mike Hopkins, Syracuse: The only thing here is that Hopkins is the heir apparent once Jim Boeheim retires. His name may be tossed around, but it would have to be a terrific situation for him to leave the Orange.

Jeff Goodman is a senior college basketball writer for He can be reached at

Tigers Attendance Steady

Memphis Tigers Basketball Attendance Steady
Last Update: Apr 30, 2007 10:14 PM

Posted By: Jamie Griffin

Memphis basketball attendance statistics the past two seasons reflect back-to-back Elite Eight campaigns. Once again the Tigers averaged more than 14,000 tickets sold per home game in 2006-2007.

The Tigers experienced a minor drop in attendance despite playing fewer high powered teams at FedExForum in '06-'07. In '05-'06 the Tigers' non-conference home schedule included Tennessee, Gonzaga, and Texas; all NCAA Tournament teams that season.

This past season top home opponents for the Tigers included Cincinnati and Ole Miss, two teams that failed to make it to the Big Dance the past two years.
Below are the numbers:

Season, number of home games, total attendance, average attendance

'05-'06, 20 games, 297,328, 14,867
'06-'07, 19 games, 276,014, 14, 527

Statistics from the University of Memphis

Tuesday, May 01, 2007's Andy Katz Picks Memphis Preseason #1

After losing no one, Memphis takes top spot

By Andy Katz,

Why not Memphis?

Why not tab the Tigers as a possible pre-preseason No. 1?

John Calipari is hoping a more mature Joey Dorsey returns to anchor the post.
The deadline to declare for the NBA draft was Sunday night. Of all the potential favorites, Memphis was the only team that didn't get hit. And if you watched any of the high school all-star games the past month, you know the Tigers are adding one of the best players in the country in big guard Derrick Rose.

So add in Rose, along with another high school senior stud in wing Jeff Robinson, to a core of players like Chris Douglas-Roberts, Robert Dozier, Joey Dorsey, Antonio Anderson, Doneal Mack, Willie Kemp, Andre Allen and Kareem Cooper, and you have the makings of a potential national champ.

Remember, this core group has been in back-to-back Elite Eight games. They have the experience. They are clearly winners. The only departure is senior Jeremy Hunt, whose toughness, according to Memphis coach John Calipari, will be replaced by Rose.

"It's scary," Calipari said Sunday. "Everybody lost somebody except for us.

"Derrick Rose will blend in with our team and both he and Jeff are physically strong, tough kids."

Oh, by the way, the Tigers also had 6-foot-10 Iowa State transfer Shawn Taggart sitting out last season, and he should help in the post immediately.

"Adding him in the mix, and it being Joey's senior year with the hope that he'll be a bit smarter and more mature helps us," Calipari said, alluding to Dorsey's goading of Greg Oden prior to their Elite Eight showdown.

"You can make a case [for us as No. 1]. Everyone talks about our offense but we were in the top 10 defensively in three categories."

Actually, Memphis was No. 12 in field-goal defense (39 percent), 14th in steals (9.3) and 12th in blocked shots (5.9), none of which is too shabby at all.

"We've got a terrific defense coming back, too," Calipari said.

Memphis will have the schedule, once again, to back up the talent. The Tigers, who finished 33-4 (16-0 Conference USA) and didn't lose a game between Dec. 20 and March 24, will play Arizona (Dec. 29), Gonzaga (Jan. 19, 2008) and Tennessee (Feb. 23, 2008) at home. Calipari said he purposely spread out these three nonconference games around the C-USA schedule. But that's not it, either. Memphis is in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, with potential meetings against Connecticut, Kentucky and/or Oklahoma in New York. The Tigers play USC in the Jimmy V Classic in New York, at Ole Miss and at Cincinnati, and take on Middle Tennessee State as part of a doubleheader in Nashville (Tennessee plays Western Kentucky in the other game).

The buy games -- against Holy Cross, Pepperdine and possibly Appalachian State -- aren't a cakewalk, either. And Conference USA should be much better with Robert Vaden and Walter Sharpe eligible to play for UAB after transferring from Indiana and Mississippi State, respectively.

So why not make Memphis No. 1?

OK, I will.