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Friday, August 31, 2007

Background Stories on Tyrone Weeks, New Tiger Assistant Coach (3 of 3 in Series)

Assistant Coach, St. Bonaventure, 1999-01
Assistant Coach, Rhode Island, 2001-present

Ty Weeks, who helped take Massachusetts (35-2) to a No. 1 ranking and its only Final Four as a player in 1996, begins his second season on the Rhode Island staff and his fourth overall under Jim Baron, including two highly successful years at St. Bonaventure (1999-01).

The 28-year-old Philadelphia native, who accompanied Baron to Rhode Island in March 2001, works with the Rams' big men, oversees the strength and conditioning program and is involved in recruiting.

In 1999-2000, Weeks' rookie season as a coach at any level, St. Bonaventure went 21-10, reached the title game of the Atlantic 10 tournament and earned its first NCAA tournament berth since 1978. In the opening round, the Bonnies scared the bluegrass off heavily favored Kentucky before bowing 95-90 in double overtime. It was déjà vu all over again for Weeks, whose top-ranked Massachusetts team fell to No. 2 Kentucky 81-74 in the NCAA semifinals in '96 in what was widely considered the unofficial championship game.

Weeks, a standout high school player at Philadelphia's Franklin Learning Center, played in four NCAA tournaments at Massachusetts (1994-98), the first three under coach John Calipari, the last under Bruiser Flint. A 6-7 power forward, he started and served as team captain in his final two years while earning a bachelor's degree in education a year early, in 1997. Weeks scored 12.6 points a game as a junior and 10.1 as a senior while leading the Minutemen in rebounding with 8.8 averages both years. He ranks 34th on the school's all-time list in points (1,013) and sixth in rebounds (858).

Beginning with his freshman year, Weeks helped Massachusetts ring up records of 29-5, 35-2, 19-14 and 21-11 for a combined mark of 104-32 (.765). The Minutemen went 7-4 in NCAA tournament games, reaching the Elite Eight in 1995 and the Final Four in '96 before losing in the first round the next two years. Weeks twice led Massachusetts in scoring in NCAA play, tossing in 16 points against Arkansas in a 1996 Sweet 16 win and knocking down another 16 in a 1997 first-round loss to Louisville. In his career finale, a first-round loss to Saint Louis in '98, he pulled down 16 rebounds to come within one of the school post-season record.

After leaving Massachusetts, Weeks played in the United States Basketball League (USBL) with the Camden (N.J.) Power and then with an Argentine team called Santa Rose La Pampa. For four years, he coached at the Rasheed Wallace Foundation summer camp in Philadelphia.

Weeks and his wife Kim have a son, Tyrone Jr.

Background Stories on Tyrone Weeks, New Tiger Assistant Coach (2 of 3 in Series)

Where Are They Now?
The 1996 Men's Basketball Team Grows Up

— Matt Vautour ’96

Ten years ago, the UMass men’s basketball took us all the way to the Final Four. The players remember that era and share news of their lives since.

IT'S DIFFICULT FOR UMASS AMHERST basketball fans to picture them as adults, pushing 30 years old, or in some cases already past that mark.

In the minds and hearts of their fans, members of 1995-96 UMass men’s basketball team will forever be the 18- to 22-year-old kids that went 35-2 and nearly knocked off Kentucky in the school’s only trip to the Final Four. They’ll always look like they did in the photos and newsclips that still hang in homes and restaurants from Palmer to Pittsfield. They’ll be forever young in the memories of the fans who hopped on for the ride.

Those boys are men now, coaches and fathers and fans. They sell stocks, cars, and real estate. They are adults with real jobs. But their memories are long. We caught up with the members of that team, 10 years after.

Dana Dingle ’96
Position: Forward
Points per game: 10.1
Rebounds per game: 7.4
Nobody in the history of the UMass basketball program has played more games than Dingle’s 137. He had a career of indispensable quiet efficiency.

During the 1995-96 season Dingle didn’t get as much attention as some of his teammates, but his rebounding, leadership, and defense were critical components in the Minutemen’s success. He is still the program’s No. 10 all-time rebounder and No. 30 all-time scorer.
Dingle’s professional career spanned four continents before he hung up his high tops. “I knew I was eventually going to have to get a regular job so I decided to start sooner than later,” he said. “If I’d waited, I’d be on the bottom of the barrel and never make any money.”

Dingle worked on Wall Street for a while before moving to Monroe Capital, a hedge fund on Long Island. He also coaches the AAU Long Island Lightning. - -

People often ask him about his Minuteman days.

“I thought it’d be old by now. But people still remember. That team still stands out as far as UMass history goes,” Dingle said. “People are like ’Hey, I remember you guys. That was my team.’ For me, I’ve always been low-key and laid-back. I don’t really like the attention and all that stuff. But it’s cool. It’s better to be remembered than not.”

Dingle said new UMass coach Travis Ford has encouraged him to be part of the program again.

“The new staff has reached out,” Dingle said. “I told them I’d try to come up this year.”

Edgar Padilla ’97
Position: Guard
Points per game: 8.9
Rebounds per game: 6.7
Carmelo Travieso ’98
Position: Guard
Points per game: 12.6
Fewer duos in recent college basketball history are more closely associated with each other than the Minutemen’s Puerto Rican backcourt.

Friends, roommates, and countrymen, they seldom left one another’s side, and seldom left the floor during the 1995-96 season as both averaged more than 35 minutes per game. They were heroes on their island, helping spark increased interest in basketball in the United States’ Caribbean territory.

“It’s still the one thing that people remember, the Final Four year,” Padilla said. “It’s fun. You work so hard to get there. When you get there you don’t really understand what it means until years down the line. I would have never imagined that 10 years later it’s still considered something great.”

“I didn’t realize what an accomplishment it was at the time,” Travieso said. “We worked so hard, it became second nature. We worked hard enough to be able to do it.”

It will warm fans to know that the two guards are still close. They both live in Puerto Rico and are still playing professionally in the Superior League, Padilla for Arecibo and Travieso for Santurce. - -

Padilla sells real estate and Travieso works at a financial consulting firm, and both also work with Giddel Padilla’s sports agency (Giddel is Edgar’s older brother).

Travieso plans to relocate back to Massachusetts sometime soon. “It’s hard to follow UMass down here,” Travieso said. “When I get back up there, I’d definitely like to go to some games.”

Several players said they’d like to see a reunion of that team. “We’re both looking forward to someday meeting with these guys and see how everybody is doing,” Padilla said. “See if they have kids or where they’re living at. It’d be great if everybody could go back there and meet.”

Giddel Padilla ’96
Position: Guard
Points per game: .7
Games played: 21
For most of his career at UMass, Giddel Padilla was known more for his younger brother than for his own basketball career. But in his final game, Padilla delivered a memorable effort. Rarely used during the regular season, coach John Calipari called on Padilla to play against Kentucky in the Final Four when Travieso got into foul trouble. He played only eight minutes, but during that stint the Minutemen cut into a considerable Wildcat advantage, leading to a close game down the stretch.

Today, Giddel, like his brother Edgar, lives in his native Puerto Rico, where he works as a sports agent.

Donta Bright ’96
Position: Forward
Points per game: 14.5
Rebounds per game: 5.8
The tough but smooth senior from Baltimore, Maryland, was the first McDonald’s All-American ever to sign with UMass. As a senior, Calipari called him the best finisher in the game. When Camby was out of the lineup, it was Bright that stepped forward to lead the Minutemen in scoring. At one point during the season he made 40 free throws without missing.

Bright’s playing career spanned Europe, South America, and stateside minor leagues. He stopped playing in 2002 and returned to his native Baltimore.

Charlton Clarke ’02
Position: Guard
Points per game: 1.4
Games played: 23
It would surprise very few people that Clarke ended up in sales. The ebullient Minuteman guard was a freshman on the 1995-96 squad. It was his early season foot injury that turned Padilla and Travieso into iron men.

While he was unremarkable on the court that season averaging just 8.9 minutes in 23 games, Clarke blossomed after that. Despite scoring just 32 points as a freshman, he finished his career as a member of the school’s 1,000-point club.

Clarke is back in his native Bronx, where he manages a car dealership. “You name it I got it,” Clarke said of his automotive offerings.

Clarke still plays, sometimes running in pickup games with his old roommate, Ross Burns ’99, up at Fordham University. He admitted he’s not as quick as he used to be, but said his offensive arsenal remains intact.

“The running one-hander still works; that floater still works. The jump shot works. The legs don’t hold up as well as they used to, but it’s fun to get out there and compete,” Clarke said. “I get in some local tournaments from time to time.”

Television often allows him to look back on his career. “Every now and then I can catch our old games on classic sports,” he said. “Plus I see a whole lot of people that we manhandled that are doing well in the NBA.”

Like his teammates, Clarke is stunned that the years have gone so fast. “I can’t believe it’s been 10 years,” he said. “That’s the way time flies.”

Andy Maclay ’99
Position: Guard
Games played: 18
Maclay wore the Minuteman colors for arguably the two greatest sporting events in UMass history. The walk-on guard’s regular gig was punting for the Minuteman football team, and he was a key member of UMass’s Division I-AA National Championship team in 1998. Maclay remains the school’s all-time leader in punt yardage with 12,278.

He’s currently working as an athletic director at a high school in New Jersey.

Ross Burns ’99
Position: Guard
Games played: 17
To most people it looked like Burns just had the best seat in the house for the greatest sports show UMass Amherst has ever seen.

He was a walk-on, the kid from Greenfield, whom the crowd loved. The team’s success earned him minutes in 17 games, but for the most part he was a practice body, used to push his more high-profile teammates.

But the fans who chanted his name late in big wins didn’t realize that Burns was soaking up as much basketball knowledge as he could. Even then assistant coach Bruiser Flint - - said he could see Burns someday becoming a coach.

He was right. Burns began his sixth season as a Division I assistant coach. He helped Dereck Whittenburg turn around Wagner’s previously moribund basketball program and is now at Fordham with Whittenburg.

Calipari’s and Flint’s influence still affects him. “I find myself reflecting on how they would deal with situations. I reflect on how they dealt with us,” Burns said. “Being around great coaches like that really rubbed off on me.”

Ted Cottrell ’96
Position: Forward
Points per game: .9
Rebounds per game: .9
Games played: 22
Cottrell will be most remembered for his high socks, classy attitude, and role as the team barber. On a team with a deep frontcourt, his time was limited. But like Burns, Cottrell got the most out of his time in practice and on the bench; he too has pursued a career in coaching.

Cottrell began working as an assistant coach at Palmer High School in Massachusetts, moved to Mount Holyoke College, and is now working with the men’s program at Emmanuel College - - in Boston. “I enjoy basketball, and I enjoy helping others through basketball,” Cottrell said. “I’m hoping to move up in the business if the opportunity arises.”

Rigoberto Nuñez ’96
Position: Forward
Points per game: .5
Rebounds per game: 1
It’s impossible to quantify with numbers what Rigo Nuñez brought to the Minutemen during his four-year career. He wasn’t much of a scorer and his rebound numbers were negligible, but Calipari used him to provide a spark. When he entered the game, everybody’s energy level rose, from the players to the crowd.

The Lawrence native began his career as a walk-on but eventually earned a scholarship. He’s currently working as the assistant admissions director in the law school at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon.

Tyrone Weeks ’97
Position: Forward
Points per game: 5.8
Rebounds per game: 5.2
His Final Four ring always attracts attention.

“People think for football because of my size,” said the six-foot seven-inch, 250-pound former forward. “But then they see UMass, and they’re like ‘Oh yeah. I remember those teams.’”

Weeks was a pioneer in college basketball history. He was one of the nation’s first players to take advantage of a rule change that rewarded academic performance. Weeks was academically ineligible to play as a freshman, but earned his degree in four years, allowing him to make up his lost season as a fifth-year senior.

Weeks worked in coaching for six years with Jim Baron at Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure. He’s now in management at Stop & Shop in Rhode Island.

Marcus Camby ’96
Position: Center
Points per game: 20.5
Rebounds per game: 8.2
Blocks per game: 3.9
Before his junior season, Camby’s talent was obvious, but he lived in Lou Roe’s shadow. It was evident right away that Camby was ready for a larger role in 1995-96; he took command in UMass’s season-opening upset of No. 1 Kentucky.

That game launched a season that saw Camby dominate en route to earning National Player of the Year honors. To no one’s surprise, Camby entered the NBA draft after the season and was selected by the Toronto Raptors as the No. 2 overall pick.

In nine NBA seasons with the Raptors, the New York Knicks, and the Denver Nuggets, - - Camby has averaged 10.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game.

Camby, who tutored South Hadley students during his UMass Amherst days, has been active in charities throughout his career. He recently toured Africa with Basketball Without Borders.

Inus Norville
Position: Forward, Center
Points per game: 2.4
Rebounds per game: 2.1
Norville was a reserve big man on the 1995-96 team. At 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, he provided size off the bench.

Norville transferred to Wright State in Dayton, Ohio, where he played for former UMass Amherst assistant coach Ed Schilling as a senior.

Norville’s professional career has taken him to several spots in Europe and the Dominican Republic. He played last year in Sweden and is on the roster of Keravnos Strovolou in Cyprus, Greece, - - this season.

1995-96: A Year Without Peer

Some said that the Minutemen’s 1994-95 year would be the one to remember; UMass had claimed the No. 1 spot in the AP poll, becoming the first New England team ever to do so. That spring, the team lost three senior starters, including Lou Roe, the top rebounder and second-leading scorer in school history. Hopes for the 95-96 season were tempered by the reality of the lineup, and when the team lost its final preseason match to a motley outfit called the Converse All-Stars, it seemed clear the program had indeed peaked a year before.

The history books tell a different story: A 35-2 record, best among Division 1 teams; 10 weeks at No. 1 in the AP poll; a fifth consecutive A-10 regular season championship, coupled with a fifth consecutive A-10 tournament title, the first time in 45 years that a team from any league accomplished this feat; two National Coach of the Year honors for Calipari; and a sweep of all the important National Player of the Year awards for Marcus Camby.

But the numbers don’t tell the real story, of a team that won the hearts of the public. They were a team in the truest sense, possessing an old-fashioned blend of selflessness and effort. They were not the most talented, but pushed by Calipari, they added up to far more than the sum of their parts.

A Few Highlights:

November 28, 1995
UMass stuns No. 1 Kentucky, 92-82.

Dec. 9, 1995
A full house of 18,974 fills the Fleet Center and watches UMass hold off rival Boston College, 65-57.

Dec. 22, 1995
UMass takes the No. 1 spot in the AP poll after beating Georgia Tech 75-67.

Jan. 14, 1996
Marcus Camby, star of the team, loses consciousness on the court for 10 minutes. Calipari accompanies him to the hospital while the team wins one for its fallen comrade against St. Bonaventure. Camby’s best friend, Tyrone Weeks, plays the best game of his collegiate career.

Jan. 27, 1995
Camby returns to the court, and in a perfect twist, helps beat St. Bonaventure—again.

Feb. 14, 1996
National attention heats up as pundits begin comparing UMass to other great teams in basketball history and talk about the 20-year drought for an undefeated team…

Feb. 24, 1996
…but UMass won’t break that record. They fall to George Washington, 86-76…

March 8, 1996
…but they must have learned something in that game: UMass takes GW, 74-65.

March 20, 1996
How sweet it is: UMass advances to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament. People wonder if it’s an omen that, at a press conference, Carmelo Travieso falls five feet off the stage, twisting his back. Instead, Travieso sparks a winning momentum as the Minutemen take down Arkansas and Georgetown and are ushered into the Final Four.

March 30, 1996
The Minutemen fall behind by 15 points early in the second half, then shave the gap down to three. Kentucky proves too much in the end, besting UMass 81-74. Kentucky coach Rick Pitino ’74, who took his team to the national title two nights later, said it best in his post-game commentary: “I’m proud of our ball club, but as an alumnus of [UMass], why, I can’t say enough of that team.”

Background Stories on Tyrone Weeks, New Tiger Assistant Coach (1 of 3 in Series)

Tyrone Weeks,
Class: Senior Position: Forward
Height: 6'7" Weight: 258

DOB: April 30, 1974

Hometown: Philadelphia

High School: Franklin Learning Center

Vital Stats: 10.3 points per game, 8.6 rebounds

by Chad Millman

As a misdirected high schooler in North Philadelphia, UMass forward Tyrone Weeks was a basketball prodigy who once missed 30 consecutive days of school. Five years later he's a scholar with little hope of an NBA career. Because of that, years after he has played his last game and decades after his contributions on the basketball court have been forgotten, Weeks will be remembered as a pioneer.

As a freshman in 1993-94, Weeks was a Proposition 48 casualty, unable to play for the Minutemen that season because he failed to meet minimum academic standards during his senior year at Philadelphia's Franklin Learning Center. Embarrassed by this shortcoming, Weeks dedicated himself to his education. During his sophomore year he made the dean's list with a 3.5 GPA.

With Weeks in mind, UMass administrators petitioned the NCAA to grant a fourth season of eligibility to Prop 48 candidates who complete their degree in four years. The NCAA passed what became known as Proposition 68, and Weeks became the first former Prop 48 student to take advantage of the rule.

"When I recruited him," says UMass coach Bruiser Flint, "there were people in Philadelphia who told me he'd never make it in college. There were times when he struggled, but he worked hard and turned himself around."

Weeks has been primarily responsible for the Minutemen's turnaround the last year and a half. After coach John Calipari left for the NBA, UMass lost nine of its first 15 games of the '96-97 season. Since that point, the team is 34-14. Weeks, in his second year as team captain, has averaged 11.3 and 8.7 rebounds over those two seasons.

Weeks graduated with a degree in education in 1997. So, with his extra year of eligibility, he has completed a second undergraduate degree in African-American studies. Because chronic heel and ankle injuries limit his mobility, he knows a career in the pros is unlikely. Instead Weeks has his sights set on becoming a teacher. He'll spend the rest of his life in school, making up for lost time.

"I'm doing some positive things in my life," says Weeks. "It's been special just to show people how grown up I've become. I can't stop smiling."

Former U of Mass Minuteman Tyrone Weeks Joins Tiger Coaching Staff

Cal's staff will have new look
Former Minuteman Weeks joining Tigers
By Dan Wolken
Friday, August 31, 2007

The University of Memphis has hired Tyrone Weeks as its director of basketball operations and moved Andy Allison, who worked in that position last year, to a newly created job on the coaching staff.

Weeks, 33, played on John Calipari's Final Four team at UMass and was an assistant coach at St. Bonaventure and Rhode Island for six seasons. He is returning to basketball after working two years in private business.

"I missed the game," Weeks said. "I missed working with the players. I've been involved in basketball my whole life, and I wanted to get back involved.

"These guys did a good job in recruiting, bringing in great players, and these players have done a great job to establish themselves as one of the top teams in the nation, and I knew this was a great spot to come to."

Calipari said he nearly hired Weeks to his first staff at Memphis, but Weeks went to Rhode Island to coach under Jim Baron instead.

With Weeks taking over as director of basketball operations (the job formerly held by Milt Wagner), Allison will move to a new position coordinating Calipari's camps and clinics. He will also be responsible for Calipari's Web site, which Calipari said had been woefully neglected for the past couple years.

"It's where everybody goes now, and it's going to be one guy's responsibility, and it gives (Allison) a chance to work at it, make the clinics better and make the camps better," Calipari said.

Weeks' addition means Memphis now has 10 full-time members of its basketball staff.

Also on Thursday, Memphis released the dates of its Conference USA games in 2007-08. Game times and television arrangements are still pending. The Tigers' 16-game league schedule begins Jan. 9 with a home date against East Carolina and ends March 8 at FedExForum against UAB.

Memphis plays four of its first six conference games on the road, but then will play four straight at home in February.

"What I like is, the first game is at home and the last game is at home. But it doesn't matter," Calipari said. "The thing that happens with us, all the accolades (we're getting) are driving the other teams. If it doesn't drive us, we've got a problem. UAB is way better, Houston is way better, UTEP is way better. We're lucky to beat Southern Miss any time we play them. It's going to be a tough road."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

From Sports "The Latest New Thing In Offense"

The Latest New Thing in Offense
Posted Aug 30th 2007 3:33PM
by Charles Rich, Sports

A new approach on offense or defense is a gimmick until there is regular success with it, and perhaps more importantly, others adopt or emulate it. At that point, it becomes an innovative and ingenious.

Vance Walberg, a California basketball coach and coach junkie, had developed his own offensive strategy he called AASAA -- Attack Attack Skip Attack Attack. He had great success with it as a Junior College at Fresno City College. It wasn't, however, until Memphis Coach John Calipari adopted the style (and renamed it the "dribble-drive motion") of offense and went to two straight Elite Eights that it started attracting real attention.

The success of the offense led to two things. Vance Walberg became the coach at Pepperdine after the 2006 season and other coaches are trying to learn and utilize the principles. To that end, Calipari and Walberg put on a coaches clinic to help explain (July 23 entry) the principles.

One reason, (obviously) to make some money and generate more publicity, but also because so many coaches had been contacting them to learn about it and pick their brains on the matter.

So it may be a little flattering to Walberg when he sees [Bobby] Knight and Larry Brown next month endorsing his brand of basketball at the inaugural Adidas Mid South Coaches Clinic in Tunica, Miss.

They won't be the only ones, though. In fact, they're just one of many who have recently grown fond of Walberg's coaching philosophy.

Some of the game's newest teachers, from Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon and Texas coach Rick Barnes to recently-hired coaches Mark Turgeon (Texas A&M) and John Pelphrey (Arkansas), have adopted Walberg's run-and-gun style and will speak in front of the hundreds of high school coaches expected to attend the clinic from Sept. 14-16.

Coaches like Dixon, Pelphrey and Turgeon who emphasize strong defenses are integrating the principles of the offense. That's quite an endorsement for the offensive style.

One of the attractions for some coaches is that it utilizes the players athleticism and since it allows them to attack the basket. The approach not only generates more points and is an attacking offense, but it attracts top players who envision playing in that offense as a way to showcase their abilities for NBA scouts.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My Response to (Indiana Univ. Basketball Blog) on Memphis' National Television Exposure


While very few Memphis fans would put Memphis on scale with Indiana's tradition, the fact remains that Memphis is on Cloud Nine at the moment following back-to-back Elite Eight finishes and a #1 preseason ranking by several polls (including ESPN). Calipari has done an excellent job recruiting during his tenure including several top 10 classes.

Believe it or not, Cal also is excellent with the media and get Memphis on national television a lot. While I'm not surprised you might not realize it, Memphis was on national television 16 times last year NOT counting the C-USA Conference Final and the NCAA tournament (of which the Texas A&M and Ohio State games were national).

Memphis played on CBS once v. Houston. Memphis played on ESPN 10 times in the regular season - vs. Oklahoma, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Tennessee, Cincinnati, SMU, UAB, Gonzaga, Rice and UTEP. They also played once on Fox Sports Network (national) vs. Arizona and four times on CSTV (vs. UAB, East Carolina, Tulsa and SMU.

CSTV is widely available on cable systems across the country, including Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Cablevision, Charter, Insight, Bright House Networks, Mediacom, Insight, RCN, Advanced Cable and Bresnan. It is also available on DIRECTV's Total Choice Premier Package Channel 610 and DISH Network's America's Top 120 Package Channel 152.

In addition, Memphis also played another eight times on Comcast/Charter Southeast - a regional broadcast reaching 5.8 million households across 12 states.

And, the rest of their games in the regular season were shown locally in the Memphis metropolitan area.

Expect a similar breakdown in 2007-2008.

More Comments From Indiana Univ. B-Ball Blog Regarding Angel Garcia and Comments From the Commercial Appeal

By Big A
August 27, 2007

Kelin, an avid reader of Inside the Hall, shot an e-mail over to Dan Wolken regarding his story where he predicted East Chicago Central’s Angel Garcia will attend Memphis.

He’s been kind enough to share his e-mail and the response he received from Wolken with all of the readers, so thanks are in order for that.

First, here’s what Kelin sent over to Wolken:


As an Indiana guy I think you are way off on the Garcia prediction. IU has no one at his position after this year and the style of play will vastly change given the type of players we have in this year’s class and next year. With Eric Gordon, Jamarcus Ellis and other “transition type” players, the days of the motion offense are gone. Yes Calipari produces NBA guys…lets not forget Dajuan Wagner! I think Memphis has a shot but the reasons you are stating really don’t hold the weight. I am for certain Indiana will receive far more national exposure than Memphis over the next few years, including this year. Being an Indiana kid, I think Angel knows that.

And here’s the response Wolken gave with his rationale:

Thanks for your note.

Every fan of every school thinks every recruit should come there and can give a list of reasons why, and I’m fine with that. I’m not a fan, so I base all my commentary on what I observe and what I’m told from my sources. I based my prediction about Garcia on the following factors:

1) Calipari has gotten many players from Puerto Rico over the years, both at UMass and Memphis. This is not a coincidence. If Garcia comes to Memphis, he’ll also be playing for an assistant coach who is Puerto Rican.

2) There is a pretty stark difference between Memphis and Indiana in style of play. Memphis is selling that hard.

3) Whether you think it’s true or not, Calipari is perceived in the basketball/recruiting world as a coach who gets players ready to go to the NBA.

4) Angel isn’t an Indiana kid. He’s from Puerto Rico.

5) Memphis is on ESPN/ESPN2/CBS 10-15 times per year, which is about as many as any program outside of Duke. They’re No. 1 or No. 2 this year in every preseason poll. Outside of Duke, Carolina, Kentucky, UCLA and Florida, Memphis gets about as much national exposure as any.

Like I said yesterday, I’m thinking this could go either way. With Garcia, Tyler Zeller and Kevin Jones all still possibilities for this class, you can’t say enough about the recruiting job that Coach Sampson and staff have done. It’s been nothing short of remarkable. If one of these kids come to IU, we’re looking at another top five class. If two of them come, you’re probably looking at a top two or three class.

By the way, I haven’t forgotten about the All-Big Ten preview. That’ll be back next week as I’ll reveal the fourth player on the first team as well as my pick for player of the year.

3 Responses to “Writer expands on his Garcia to Memphis prediction”
Cat Says:
August 28th, 2007 at 12:26 am
Seems like two solid arguments. But what Wolken still fails to understand is that Garcia is playing basketball in Indiana NOW. Puerto Rican or not, he is experiencing the atmosphere of Indiana basketball and absorbing the rich tradition of it. He also fails to realize that Indiana’s tradition is deeper and they are on TV about as often (aren’t we going to be on some variety of ESPN or CBS about 11 times this year?) and get just as much publicity or more as Memphis. I agree with you; the kid could go either way. I hope he realizes just how much we need him at his position and how much he can do for a legendary program when he arrives.

Chadwig Says:
August 28th, 2007 at 9:12 am
Memphis has as much national exposure as those schools??? Get real!!!!!!!!!

kelin Says:
August 28th, 2007 at 9:58 am
I think this guy is a fan…cause I cannot remember Memphis being on TV a whole lot last year and to say they get national exposure similar to the NC, Duke,Ky…you have to be kidding me.

Response to Commercial Appeal's Comments on Angel Garcia From Indiana Univ. B-Ball Blog

By Big A (Indiana Univ. Basketball Blog)
August 26, 2007

Dan Wolken, the Memphis beat writer for the Commercial Appeal, looked into his “crystal ball” with seven fearless predictions for the upcoming hoops season. The first item, in particular, caught my eye:

1. Forward Angel Garcia will commit to Memphis in the next few weeks: The talented 6-11 Puerto Rican told is deciding between the Tigers and Indiana. That’s very good news for Memphis, which badly wants Garcia to go along with already committed twins Marcus and Markieff Morris from Philadelphia. The Tigers are a better fit for Garcia’s style of play — similar to Shawne Williams — and have a big edge due to John Calipari’s history of developing players for the NBA. It also helps that assistant coach Chuck Martin is of Puerto Rican descent.

Mr. Wolken may end up being correct, but at this point, I’d say it’s a total crap shoot on where Garcia ends up. I’ve always heard that he likes Indiana first and foremost, but I wouldn’t count out John Calipari and his hair gel.

And I don’t buy the fact that having an assistant coach with Puerto Rican descent will end up making much of a difference, but hey, I could be totally off base. By my estimation it comes down to the tradition of the program, the coach, the facilities, the atmosphere around the campus and the style of play. What Memphis and IU have to offer are both very different.

It’ll be interesting to watch Garcia’s recruitment unfold over the next couple of weeks.

Looking Into Tigers' Crystal Ball

Looking into Tigers' crystal ball
Year will feature lots to talk about
By Dan Wolken
Sunday, August 26, 2007

Classes at the University of Memphis begin on Monday, and college football starts Thursday, which means both more regular coverage of Tiger basketball and the end of this column for the summer.

To wrap things up, here are seven fearless predictions for the upcoming season, in honor of the seven weeks until Memphis Madness:

Expect a big season from Chris Douglas-Roberts this year. But it might also be the last for the Tigers' go-to guy.

1. Forward Angel Garcia will commit to Memphis in the next few weeks: The talented 6-11 Puerto Rican told is deciding between the Tigers and Indiana. That's very good news for Memphis, which badly wants Garcia to go along with already committed twins Marcus and Markieff Morris from Philadelphia. The Tigers are a better fit for Garcia's style of play -- similar to Shawne Williams -- and have a big edge due to John Calipari's history of developing players for the NBA. It also helps that assistant coach Chuck Martin is of Puerto Rican descent.

2. Joey Dorsey will be the star of Conference USA Media Day: After barely speaking publicly until last season's NCAA Tournament, Dorsey has proven quite quotable lately (for better or worse). The truth is, Dorsey is engaging and funny, and you never know what he'll say next. Hopefully Dorsey will stay that way, though Calipari would probably prefer he not make the kind of incendiary comments that made national headlines last season before his matchup with Greg Oden and Ohio State.

3. Memphis will lose a game at some point and drop from its No. 1 ranking, prompting Tiger fans to whine about a "lack of respect": Maybe in the past, this was a legitimate gripe. Not anymore. The Tigers are ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in nearly every preseason poll. No team in the country has gotten more positive ink this summer than Memphis. Put away the lack of respect card, please. It's tired.

4. Chris Douglas-Roberts will be a first-team all-American: Though he probably won't be among the nation's leading scorers, who would you rather have with the ball in his hand when you need a bucket? CDR was as impressive as ever early this summer in pickup games at the Finch Center and reportedly got to the rim at will during the Nike/LeBron James Camp in Akron. This will be a huge -- and probably final -- year at Memphis for CDR.

5. The Tigers will go 14-2 in Conference USA: Wouldn't it be ironic if Memphis' best team lost more games in C-USA than the 2006 and 2007 versions combined? But unlike the last two seasons, C-USA has three potential NCAA teams besides Memphis (Houston, UAB, Southern Miss), and the Tigers will have to play road games against all three. From a quality standpoint, 14-2 this season would probably be about equal to last year's 16-0 record.

6. Despite the loss of Jeremy Hunt, Memphis will be a better 3-point shooting team this season: As a team, Memphis made a very respectable 35.1 percent last year from the 3-point line, and it wasn't all Hunt. Willie Kemp connected on 38.6 percent, and Doneal Mack actually led the team at 40.5 percent (he was 50 percent from Jan. 1 to the end of the year). It's reasonable to expect Antonio Anderson to shoot better than 24.5 percent, and newcomers Shawn Taggart and Jeff Robinson can both shoot the three.

7. Memphis will open the 2008 NCAA Tournament in North Little Rock: That's right, 18,000-seat Alltel Arena is a host site for first- and second-round games next March. Assuming Memphis is one of the top four seeds, the Tigers (and their fans) likely won't have to travel more than two hours by bus to open what could be a long NCAA run. Fans might want to go ahead and look into accommodations. Tickets are sold out for the March 21 and 23 games, and I'm told hotel rooms for that weekend in Little Rock are already hard to come by.

Changes afoot

Over the three seasons Memphis has shared FedExForum with the Grizzlies, actual attendance for Tiger games has been determined by arena officials counting torn ticket stubs by hand.

That fact caused some controversy last season when The Commercial Appeal learned that Memphis had some surprisingly low crowds and didn't average the 10,000 in attendance necessary to trigger a $100,000 payment from the Grizzlies.

Counting stubs, however, may not be necessary in the near future. Paciolan Systems, which handles ticketing for the UofM (and a number of other colleges), is in the process of being acquired by Ticketmaster, which has a contract with FedExForum for all other events.

In other words, if the merger goes through, tickets to Tiger games could soon include bar codes compatible with the scanning equipment already used at FedExForum for Grizzlies games.

Not only would that make attendance counts easier and more accurate, it would allow Memphis to track which season ticket holders are actually using their tickets.

"A lot of our problems would go away," associate athletic director Bill Lofton said. "It would certainly be great for us and our fans and the people that operate the different facilities. We would love to be in that position where the tickets that we sell both on a season basis and individual game basis would be compatible with the equipment down there. It's my understanding that Ticketmaster owns that equipment, so hopefully there will be a smooth, seamless transition."

Because the sale probably won't be finalized until after this basketball season begins, it's unlikely Memphis' ticketing system will change until 2008-09.

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

Monday, August 27, 2007

From the Columbus (OH) Dispatch "Bob Hunter's Commentary: Rumblings"

Bob Hunter commentary: Rumblings
Friday, August 24, 2007 3:27 AM


North Carolina and Florida will cycle off the Ohio State men's basketball schedule after this season. So what marquee opponents is coach Thad Matta lining up to whet ticket buyers' appetites for the nonconference portion of the schedule in 2008-09?

Maybe Memphis, according to The Sporting News. It says Memphis coach John Calipari is scheduling high-profile opponents several years down the road to burnish his team's power ranking while it continues to shine in the low-voltage Conference USA. Besides the Buckeyes, Calipari reportedly also is after Syracuse, Texas and West Virginia.

Ohio State and Memphis met in an NCAA regional final last season in San Antonio. The Buckeyes won 92-76. "Gearing Up For 2007-08"

Gearing Up For 2007-08
Memphis, USC headline some of the best early-season matchups next season
Aug. 23, 2007

By Josh Herwitt

A little less than three months still stand between now and the start of the college basketball season, but as students return to campus over the next few weeks, the preseason buzz will be back in the air, especially by the start of November when the polls come out and the preseason tournaments start just before Turkey Day.

And while many schools have yet to finalize their 2007-08 schedules, there are already several non-conference meetings that stand out before the New Year even arrives.

With that being said, here are some of the real eye-catchers early on that highlight the upcoming season.

Nov. 12-23: NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament

After watching A.J. Graves lead mighty Butler past the likes of Notre Dame, Indiana, Tennessee and Gonzaga in last year's tournament, the 2007 field features 16 teams from across the board, starting in the East Regional with Syracuse meeting Siena and St. Joseph's facing Fairleigh Dickinson. Out West, Washington will host New Jersey Institute of Technology while the second game pits Utah against High Point. Action in the Midwest Regional hits the Ohio State campus with the Buckeyes taking on Wisconsin-Green Bay and Ivy League foe Columbia butting heads with Delaware State. Meanwhile down South, Mid-Continent champion Oral Roberts, now playing in the Summit League without the low-post presence of three-time Mid-Con Player of the Year Caleb Green, visits Big 12 contender Texas A&M, and UTEP, after ending its season in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament, wrestles with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in College Station.

Nov. 19-21: EA Sports Maui Invitational

Now in its 24th year, the Maui Invitational returns to the Lahaina Civic Center as one of college basketball's premiere preseason tournaments with three teams from last year's NCAA Tournament field. First-round action tips off with Chaminade taking on a Marquette team that brings back All-American point man Dominic James (14.9 ppg and 4.9 apg in 2006) and Second Team All-Big East honoree Jerel McNeal (14.7 ppg and 4.8 rpg) after last season's first-round tournament blunder to Michigan State. LSU vs. Oklahoma State will follow that opening game, while three-time champion Duke, who remains a perfect 9-0 at the Maui Invitational, returns to face Princeton in the evening session and will play either Arizona State or Illinois in the following round.

Nov. 21-24: Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout

The Great Alaska Shootout will be making its 30th appearance at Alaska Anchorage's Sullivan Arena over the Thanksgiving weekend as the eight-team bracket features four schools that reached the NCAA Tournament last season, including Sweet 16 participant Butler. All-American sweet-shooting point guard A.J. Graves leads the Bulldogs after a junior campaign that produced 16.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists during a breakout season for the Indianapolis school. Meanwhile, another pack of Bulldogs will be hitting the hardwood there as well, but these hounds will be coming from Spokane, Wash., where Gonzaga coach Mark Few has molded a once-Cinderella school into a NCAA Tournament lock the past nine seasons. With Butler and Gonzaga representing two of the better teams in the tournament, it will be interesting to see how these former mid-majors fair against BCS-conference schools Michigan, Texas Tech and Virginia Tech that will also be in attendance.

Nov. 27: Wisconsin at Duke (Big Ten-ACC Challenge)

If you like watching two great coaches hard at work, then this is the game for you. After last season's disappointing finish in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against VCU, Mike Krzyzewski will have the Blue Devils back up to speed with guards DeMarcus Nelson and Gerald Henderson returning and a talented freshman trio in Taylor King, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith ready to spark an offense that vanished at times last season. On the other end of the court, Wisconsin's Bo Ryan is as good as any coach in the country in getting more out of less. And while both teams will be missing some key components with Big Ten Player of the Year Alando Tucker and All-American center Josh McRoberts now in the NBA, the Badgers and Blue Devils are sure to compete for their respective conference titles, so don't think the Cameron crazies won't be excited when the two schools tip off on Coach K Court.

Dec. 1: North Carolina at Kentucky

If Billy Gillispie was hoping to return Kentucky back to national prominence after a 2006 campaign that ended with a loss to Kansas in the NCAA Tournament second round, the former Texas A&M coach couldn't have asked for a better opportunity. Although the Tar Heels won't be able to rely on the services of Brandan Wright anymore, Roy Williams will be able to take comfort in the fact that he has a Player of the Year candidate in junior forward Tyler Hansbrough along with sophomore floor leader Ty Lawson and emerging forward Deon Thompson, who spent the summer leading the U.S. U19 World Championship Team to a silver medal at the FIBA U19 World Championships in Serbia. With North Carolina as a likely pick to stand atop the preseason polls, all of Lexington would love nothing more than to see the Wildcats score a major upset over the Tar Heels at Rupp Arena.

Dec. 2: Kansas at USC (Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Series)

The Jayhawks are coming off a season that saw them capture a Big 12 championship and reach the Elite Eight before falling to Pac-10 champ UCLA, but if Bill Self hopes to see his team take that next step toward an appearance Final Four, there's no better way than to start the season than against two dangerous Pac-10 contenders in Arizona (Nov. 25 in Lawrence) and USC. The Wildcats, with a big shot-maker in super sophomore Chase Budinger, are hungry to prove that they were better than last season's first-round exit in the NCAA Tournament, though it may be USC who will provide the Jayhawks with an even better test in the inaugural Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Series. With Self bringing back arguably the deepest and most talented team in Player of the Year candidate Brandon Rush, Russell Robinson, Sherron Collins and Mario Chalmers, the Trojans will have all they can handle. But with a talent like O.J. Mayo starring in front of a sold-out Galen Center -- something that doesn't happen too often at a national football power like USC -- Trojans fans might be thinking it's like every other Saturday at the L.A. Coliseum.

Dec. 4: Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden

Game 1: Kansas State vs. Notre Dame

Viewers will get an early look at Michael Beasley, who has rivaled both UCLA's Kevin Love and USC's O.J. Mayo for the most recruiting press coming into the 2007-08 season. Now with Billy Walker returning to play along side the Upper Marlboro, Md. native, the Wildcats have one of the best young scoring duos in the country. That should provide a daunting challenge for Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, and coming off a loss to No. 11 seed Winthrop in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, the Fighting Irish will certainly have their work cut out for them this season.

Game 2: USC vs. Memphis

Less than 48 hours after the Trojans face off against Kansas in sunny Southern California, the cameras will be flashing under the bright New York City lights as O.J. Mayo makes his first appearance in the Big Apple against a Memphis team stacked from top to bottom. And if Mayo thought Kansas was a tough matchup, just wait until he meets the Tigers in front of packed house at Madison Square Garden. Following a perfect 16-0 finish in conference play last season and two straight Eight Elite finishes, Memphis coach John Calipari now has all the pieces in place, including a 2007-08 non-conference schedule loaded with big game after big game, to make a legitimate run at the national championship in March.

Dec. 8: Kentucky at Indiana

Two traditional blue bloods meet in the heart of America's basketball state for a non-conference bout that is sure to have Assembly Hall electric and filled to the brim. But for as much veteran talent as both teams have in D.J. White and Joe Crawford, this one could be more about showcasing the youth that each the Wildcats and Hoosiers possess coming into the season. After all, Eric Gordon, with his ability to shoot the ball from anywhere on the court, should provide a major boost for Hoosier coach Kelvin Sampson, while Patrick Patterson, who played his high school ball in Huntington, W. Va. with O.J. Mayo, could prove to be a low-post force with an aggressive game and big frame. And if Kentucky doesn't happen to score an upset over North Carolina the previous weekend, the Wildcats will want to salvage a quality win on the road against a highly-ranked opponent in Indiana.

Dec. 22: Georgetown at Memphis

If all goes according to plan, both teams could be undefeated by the time the two meet in Memphis for this much-anticipated showdown. Seven-foot-3 center Roy Hibbert returns to Georgetown for his senior campaign after testing the NBA draft market and many believe he'll be even better than he was in 2006 when he finished second on the team in scoring at 12.9 points per game and pulled down a team-high 6.9 rebounds. While he struggled at times last season to assert himself into John Thompson III's Princeton-style offense, Hibbert will have to play a physical, bump-and-grind game against the Tigers if he hopes to go toe to toe with Memphis' Joey Dorsey. But it would be a mistake for Memphis to forget about Georgetown's underrated supporting cast, as Jonathan Wallace, Jessie Sapp and DaJuan Summers make the Hoyas a viable Final Four contender once again in 2007-08.

Dec. 29: Tennessee vs. Gonzaga at Key Arena

After a season that saw the Vols almost knock off NCAA runner-up Ohio State twice, Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl will venture far away from home for an early-season test in Seattle when Tennessee meets perennial West Coast Conference favorite Gonzaga. The Bulldogs won't have Derek Raivio in the backcourt running the offense, but Mark Few has to like seeing Josh Heytvelt back in the middle of the paint after the Bulldogs' leading scorer was forced to leave the team midway through conference play last year for a felony drug possession charge. If All-American senior Chris Lofton struggles to find his rhythm early on, it could be a long day for UT with Jeremy Pargo, Matt Bouldin and Micah Downs all expected to play bigger roles for the Zags.

Other matchups to watch in 2007-08: Arizona at Kansas, Nov. 25; Oregon at Kansas State, Nov. 29; Texas A&M at Arizona, Dec. 2; Texas at UCLA, Dec. 2; Texas at Michigan State, Dec. 22; Tennessee at Xavier, Dec. 22; Arizona at Memphis, Dec. 29; Gonzaga at Memphis, Jan. 26; UConn at Indiana, Jan. 26; Tennessee at Memphis, Feb. 23.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

From "Impact Freshman Review:Part One"

Impact Freshman Review: Part One
August 22nd, 2007

Memphis, UCLA, USC, 2007-08 Preview
By Jason Brubaker,

With a loaded incoming freshmen class, and with the success of one-and-done stars in the 2006 class like Kevin Durant, Greg Oden and Brandan Wright, the pressure is on for some of the biggest names in recent high school basketball history. O.J. Mayo, Michael Beasley, and Kevin Love are just a few of the kids who will enter campus this fall, trying to prove they can live up to the hype.

However, no one said it is going to be easy. While Love (UCLA) and Derrick Rose (Memphis) will join loaded squads with their sights set on a national title, others like Beasley (Kansas State) will join squads with more than a few holes to plug.
Here's a breakdown of the situations that some of the country's top freshmen will be entering, and whether that could hurt or help their success.

Kevin Love - F - UCLA

As noted above, Love joins a loaded Bruins squad that will be looking for a third consecutive Final Four and more. With guards Darren Collison and Josh Shipp returning, as well as forwards Alfred Aboya and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Love should be able to make a smooth transition as he adjusts to the college game. Love's toughness down low will be a big boost for the team, who had been pushed around the last two years by Florida in the NCAA Tournament. On a squad with so much experienced talent, Love might not post incredible numbers, but he will no doubt be a big part of the Bruins' success. He is a terrific rebounder, and his passing ability will fit well in UCLA's ball-controlled offense. He also possesses a strong work ethic that should endear him to Coach Ben Howland from the first day.

O.J. Mayo - G - USC

USC returns two key pieces from last year's Sweet Sixteen team in guard Daniel Hackett and forward Taj Gibson. However, most people will be surprised if this doesn't turn into the Mayo Show as soon as they roll out the balls this fall. Mayo is a supremely talented guard who is capable of playing either backcourt position. He is a fantastic athlete with good range and Coach TIm Floyd will likely give him the green light when he's on the floor. However, his decision-making and shot selection can be questionable, and his lack of experience is sure to show throughout the season. Mayo will likely end up putting up solid numbers, and will make his share of highlight reels in what promises to be his only year on campus, but USC will be hard-pressed to advance further than they did last year.

Michael Beasley - F - Kansas State

Beasley, a high-flying lefty who makes the game look downright easy, is another likely one-and-done candidate. He'll join former prep star Bill Walker and senior guard David Hoskins on a team that will fill up the highlight reels, but may not top last year's win total of 23. Beasley has the ability to dominate games but he's just as likely to coast when things don't go his way. New Coach Frank Martin definitely has a talented player in Beasley; the only question will be getting him to harness that talent. He'll get his share of shots, and he should still find himself as a high lottery pick if he chooses to enter the 2008 draft. However, his stock could drop if he doesn't show improved maturity and decision-making, especially as he battles older, more experienced players.

Derrick Rose - G - Memphis

Rose, like Love, is coming into a great situation at Memphis, where the Tigers return nearly everyone from last year's Elite Eight squad. Rose will have a plethora of weapons to get the ball to, including wings Chris Douglas-Roberts and Antonio Anderson, as well as forwards Joey Dorsey and Robert Dozier. Rose is a terrific playmaker who has great vision and a high basketball IQ. He's a great athlete who can score when necessary, but he also understands that he's not going to be asked to carry the team. With Coach John Calipari looking to push the tempo, Rose should be able to show the skills that have him pegged as a potential top-3 pick in the 2008 draft. Look for plenty of running-and-gunning as the Tigers should cruise easily through C-USA again and make a deep tournament run.

Part Two Tomorrow: Gordon, Green, Jordan, and Singler

Morris Twins Set on College, Unsettled on Prep School

Twins set on college, unsettled on prep school

By Jeff McLane, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer

With their college futures set - at least for now - the Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, still haven't decided on a prep school for the fall semester.

In need of NCAA-qualifying SAT scores, the Memphis-committed Morrises are shopping around for a prep school closer than the IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla.

Last month, when they briefly de-committed from Memphis, the touted basketball recruits out of Prep Charter had said they were most likely headed to IMG, the training ground for many sports prodigies. That is no longer the case.

"We're not going there," Marcus said Saturday at the Future Stars Basketball Tournament at Villanova. "It's going to be either MCI or Brewster."

Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield has housed several future Division I players in need of higher test scores. Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., has the same basketball/academic pedigree.

Each school, however, is very expensive for the student in need of boarding, especially if there are two. According to their Web sites, MCI costs $32,000 a year for room, board and tuition for a residential student; Brewster costs $38,385.

Marcus said he and Markieff visited Brewster last month and expect to travel to New England again this week.

"I heard it gets cold there in the winter," he said.

As long as they re-sign with Memphis in November, the Morrises won't have to worry about New England-like weather in the foreseeable future.

In November, the twins signed letters of intent to Memphis. However, because they will attend a prep school as non-qualifiers, the letters are nonbinding. With that in mind, the Morrises opened their recruitment in July - for less than a week.

"We just wanted to be 100 percent sure that Memphis was the right school for us," Marcus said. "So we considered looking at some other schools. Actually, we wanted to give them the opportunity to look at us."

Before it got that far, Tigers coach John Calipari and assistant Derek Kellogg flew to the Morrises' home in North Philadelphia.

"He asked what the problem was," Marcus said, "and we said we weren't feeling the love, or something like that. So he said it was his fault."

Fences were mended and the twins recommitted. Marcus said their pledge was now "100 percent." They just have to find a prep school for a year, one preferably far from home.

"There's too much violence in Philly," Marcus said. "We don't want to be around here anymore."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

From the Sporting News "Pepperdine's Offense is a Recruiting Tool, Too

Mike DeCourcy's SportingBlog
Pepperdine's offense is a recruiting tool, too
August 20, 2007

Pepperdine's Vance Walberg can't talk about the recruits, because that would be against NCAA rules. He is allowed to talk about recruiting, of course, though not without an unnecessary display of modesty.

First, he gives credit to his assistant coaches "doing a great job." Fair enough. There's almost always a terrific assistant coach behind a big recruiting win.

Then he starts talking about Pepperdine's beautiful campus and directly asks, "Have you ever been out here?" Indeed, the campus is so spectacular it ought to sell itself. But if it did, the otherwise capable Paul Westphal wouldn't have failed with the Waves and Walberg still might be coaching junior college in Fresno.

Foremost, Walberg is getting players such as elite 2008 wing Brad Tinsley and underexposed point guard prospect Paul McCoy because of the promise of the system he labels AASAA: Attack, Attack, Skip, Attack, Attack.

We can only hope it becomes more famous and popular than the Princeton offense.

"If I'm a kid, do I want to pass-pass-pass?" Walberg said. "I think the style that we play is a recruiting tool."

The AASAA offense -- I won't call it an "attack," because that would be redundant -- is mostly about driving the ball into the defense and kicking it back out to open 3-point shooters. Or, if the defense is uncommonly cooperative, driving the ball into the defense and all the way to the rim. The way Walberg prefers it -- combining it with fullcourt pressure defense the way he did it at California's Clovis West High and Fresno City College -- things happen so quickly opponents can't manage to catch their breath.

He needs players to make it work, though, and last season just didn't have enough to get it going. Pepperdine added three key recruits for 2008, including 6-6 forward Mychel Thompson (son of former Minnesota great Mychal Thompson) and 6-6 forward Tyrone Shelley. Tinsley and McCoy will take the talent up another couple notches, and it'll get even better if the Waves land either 6-7 Klay Thompson or 6-8 Renaldo Woolridge (son of former Notre Dame great Orlando Woolridge) for this class.

By the time Pepperdine fields the sort of team Walberg imagines, we'll have seen Memphis play three seasons with this offense and pursue the 2008 NCAA championship. Memphis doesn't move quite as fast with its version, but the Tigers certainly are playing at a tempo most teams find discomfiting.

John Calipari very openly borrowed the AASAA from Walberg when he was ringing up 100-point games at Fresno City College and probably helped get him noticed for the Pepperdine job. Now, when Calipari watches typical low-post entry type offenses he finds himself itching for more action on the court. He also has a different name for his scheme: the Dribble Drive Motion offense. It's catchier, which is no surprise, because Calipari is a born promoter.

Calipari and Walberg met when Walberg was making his annual preseason trip to scout other coaches' practices. When he was at Clovis High, Walberg hit on the idea to visit one great coach annually for a week of observation. He'd take time off from teaching and pay for the trips himself and go get a look at Bob Knight at work, or Rick Pitino, or Denny Crum. Year after year. A few years back, he was in Memphis to watch the Grizzlies and was introduced to Calipari, and soon enough Cal was rearranging his entire approach to the game of basketball. It worked well enough to get the Tigers to the Elite Eight in consecutive seasons, and perhaps will push them even farther this year.

Calipari and Walberg will work together for one weekend, presenting a clinic focused on the AASAA offense at the Grand Casino Resort in Tunica, Miss., which is near Memphis. So this time, Walberg will be the coach others are coming to see. The guy who used to go and watch all the gurus of the game has become one. But not like all the others.

"I know when I first started coaching, I used to call a play every time down the court," Walberg said. "Now, I don't want them looking at me. I want them playing."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Offense Will Be Star of Calipari's Clinic

Offense will be star of Calipari's clinic
By Dan Wolken
Sunday, August 19, 2007

When he started getting phone calls from coaches asking about the offensive system that has helped the University of Memphis win 66 games in two years, John Calipari's initial instinct was to protect the family secrets known primarily to himself, UTEP coach Tony Barbee and Pepperdine coach Vance Walberg, who developed the attack.

After all, part of what has made Memphis successful lately -- especially in recruiting -- is the uniqueness of its system, which can best be described as a fast-paced driving motion incorporating principles of European basketball and the Princeton offense.

For now, however, Calipari is still comfortable sharing information, especially with coaches at the high school and small college levels. And that will be the focus of the first l adidas Mid South Basketball Coaches Clinic on Sept. 14-16 at the Grand Casino Resort in Tunica.

"We're getting calls from high school coaches in the tri-state area, and Vance said he got about 300 calls last year," Calipari said. "He had a half-day clinic (in California), and 300 coaches came to it. So we decided, let's do something in Tunica. I don't know if this has been done before, but it's all inclusive, so you can get the hotel, clinic and a buffet ticket."

Though Calipari and Walberg will be the featured instructors, a true all-star cast of coaches from Larry Brown to Bobby Knight to Del Harris, Jamie Dixon, John Pelphrey and Stan Heath will be on hand as guest speakers.

"Friday night will be the 'Hall of Fame' night," Calipari said. "Then Saturday, Vance and I will do offense, the drills, explaining it. Then the Sunday morning before they leave, we'll say, 'Here's how you tie the defense to it.'"

The "Attack, Attack, Skip, Attack, Attack" system -- run only by Memphis, UTEP and Pepperdine within Division 1 -- is already widely used among Division 2 schools on the West Coast thanks to Walberg. Calipari said he expects most of the coaches attending the conference will be from Division 2 and 3 programs, as well as high schools and junior colleges in the region.

Though Division 1 coaches can sign up for the clinic, Calipari admits to being somewhat conflicted when they inquire about the offense.

"We just say, watch the tape of how we play and ask us questions," Calipari said. "But for a coach to be totally committed to this, it's just hard. Because they'll watch it, and it's just hard. You just can't get yourself to do it. But the drills are good for whatever you run. You don't have to run this offense to be running these drills."

Coaches seeking more information on how to register should go to

Sign of the times

Calipari held out as long as he could. But after famously resisting Internet communication for years, Calipari said he is now the proud owner of an e-mail account.

"I'm an e-mail expert now," he joked. "I'm juiced."

He can thank the NCAA for that revelation. Because once it became illegal to send text messages to recruits on Aug. 1 -- a ban the NCAA upheld after a board of directors meeting on Aug. 8 -- Calipari said he had to learn how to e-mail, which is still a legal way to make contact.

(Side note: Seems kind of odd, doesn't it, that the NCAA has deemed text messaging illegal yet e-mail is legal, considering both can be done on the same phone in many cases?)

Calipari said there has been an adjustment period to the text message ban. Consider, for instance, the system the NCAA has set up for phone calls between coaches and recruits. Players can call coaches as many times as they want, but coaches can only make a limited number of phone calls to recruits at certain times of the year.

So if Calipari missed a call from a recruit previously, he could simply text the recruit to call back. Now, before returning the call, Calipari would have to check with the other members of the coaching staff to make sure he's not breaking NCAA rules by making more than the allotted number of phone calls.

In other words, it's insane.

"I'm just hoping they re-evaluate it," Calipari said. "This is how these young people communicate. They can say bye if they want or not text you back. After you text someone 12 times and he doesn't return the text, you have a pretty good idea where you stand."

Hunt goes Polish

Former Tiger and Craigmont guard Jeremy Hunt signed a contract last week to play in Poland for Polpak, based in the city of Bukowiec. According to, other notable Americans signed to play in Poland for 2007-08 include former NBA guard Travis Best, former Missouri guard Ricky Clemons and former N.C. State guard Scooter Sherrill.

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

Sunday, August 19, 2007

From Luke Winn's College Basketball Blog

Talk hoops all year long in Luke Winn's blog, a journal of commentary, news and reader-driven discussions about the college game.

8/17/2007 05:16:00 PM
Converging On The City

See if O.J. Mayo is all he's hyped up to be at the Jimmy V. Classic on Dec. 4 at Madison Square Garden.

New York is not necessarily the best place for a college basketball writer (like myself) to live during January, February and March. Given that none of the city-area teams (St. John's, Seton Hall, Columbia, Manhattan and even Rutgers) is particularly relevant on a national scale, everything requires travel. Trains to D.C. for Georgetown games. Flights to RDU for North Carolina and Duke. Five-hour, cross-country jaunts to LAX for UCLA and USC.

In November and December, however, a wonderful phenomenon occurs: the best of college hoops simply comes to us in Manhattan. I spent this morning -- once I finished my last college football preview piece, that is -- looking through hoops schedules with the intention of returning to regular blogging. And I've come to the pleasant realization that the top three early-season events are all at Madison Square Garden, just a short subway ride away. There's an absurd number of these tournaments/invites/classics in '07-08 -- 15, by my count, not including the Big Ten/ACC, SEC/Big East and Big 12/Pac-10 jamborees -- and I've ranked them in order of quality:

1. JIMMY V CLASSIC, Dec. 4, Madison Square Garden
Games: Kansas State vs. Notre Dame, USC vs. Memphis

This is the premier freshmen showcase -- basically, the '07-08 equivalent of putting Greg Oden, Kevin Durant and Brandan Wright on the same bill in the first month of the season. In forward Michael Beasley (of K-State), O.J. Mayo (of USC) and Derrick Rose (of Memphis), the Jimmy V will boast three top-five picks for '08. The headlining matchup between the Trojans and Tigers, who are both rather freewheeling on offense, could be one of the top games of the non-conference slate.

2. COACHES VS. CANCER CLASSIC, Nov. 15-16, Madison Square Garden
Final Four picks: Kentucky, Memphis, Oklahoma, UConn

The CvC is the closest thing we have to an opening day in college hoops. And this year it'll offer us a number of important, early looks at the following:
- Billy Gillispie's impact on UK, plus super-recruit Patrick Patterson
- Memphis' chances for a title run, as well as if Rose's skills live up to Joey Dorsey's billing
- Oklahoma's freshman savior, Blake (little bro of Tyler) Griffin- The progress of UConn center Hasheem Thabeet, who could be a lottery pick if he develops even a minimal offensive repertoire.

3. NIT SEASON TIP-OFF, Nov. 21 and 23, Madison Square Garden
Final Four picks: Syracuse, Ohio State, Washington, Texas A&M

The preseason NIT was memorable as the stage for Butler's coming-out party in '06. But this time around, rather than a mid-major surprise, we're more likely to get an idea of whether Syracuse, with its talented underclassmen trio of Johnny Flynn, Paul Harris and Donte Greene, is ready to contend in the Big East or is still another year away.

4. CBE CLASSIC, Nov. 19-20, Kansas City Sprint Center
Final Four picks: UCLA, Maryland, Michigan State, Missouri

At this summer's Pan American Games trials, I had hoped to see UCLA's Darren Collison square off against MSU's Drew Neitzel in a battle of All-America-caliber point guards. Alas, Neitzel was the only one of the two invited to camp, and he, Villanova's Scottie Reynolds and Washington State's Derrick Low handled floor-general duties in Brazil. We'll have to settle for a Darren-vs.-Drew battle in KC, with both teams likely ranked in the top 10 of the polls.

5. MAUI INVITATIONAL, Nov. 19-21, Lahaina Civic Center
Field: Arizona State, Duke, Illinois, LSU, Marquette, Oklahoma State, Princeton, Chaminade.

This is a far cry from the Maui field of 2005, which was won by a loaded UConn team and included an epic battle between Adam Morrison and Michigan State. While this Invitational could still provide a decent finale between the Dukies and Golden Eagles, it's tough to see anyone knocking off Marquette. The Blue Devils' perimeter posse of Greg Paulus, Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler will be decent -- but can they really play enough D to stop Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wes Matthews, who took down Coach K's boys last season in Kansas City?

6. LAS VEGAS INVITATIONAL, Nov. 17-24, Las Vegas
Field: BYU, Hartford, Iona, Jackson State, Louisville, North Carolina, Old Dominion, South Carolina State

The overall strength (or lack thereof) of the Vegas field is irrelevant: the whole point is to generate a UNC-vs.-Louisville title game on Thanksgiving weekend.
Most of us pundits have been speculating, based on their late-season surge and near-upset of Texas A&M in the NCAA tournament, that Edgar Sosa and the Cards could be a Final Four team. But can they run with a Carolina squad that has all the pieces in place to win a national title? This could be a near-equivalent of the Florida-Kansas bout in Vegas last November -- and Louisville's prime opportunity to jump into the top five of the polls.

7. OLD SPICE CLASSIC, Nov. 22-25, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Field: Villanova, Central Florida, George Mason, Kansas State, N.C. State, Penn State, Rider, South Carolina

The deodorant/aftershave invitational does not have a real headliner, but some intruiging storylines may develop. There's a chance N.C. State could emerge looking like the favorite to finish second -- ahead of Duke, Virginia or Virginia Tech -- in the ACC. And this would also be a nice stage for South Carolina's backcourt transfer duo of Devan Downey (Cincinnati) and Zam Frederick (Georgia Tech) to remind the nation of their talents, and establish the Gamecocks as a darkhorse in the SEC.

8. HALL OF FAME CLASSIC, Dec. 1, Boston
Games: UConn vs. Gonzaga, Providence vs. Boston College

Gonzaga consistently has more cojones than any other team when it comes to non-conference scheduling, last year taking on Duke, Washington State, Texas and North Carolina out of conference, to name a few. Throttling UConn on the Huskies' home coast -- something the Zags are capable of doing with Josh Heytvelt in the lineup -- would go a long way in justifying their return to the top 25 after a turbulent down year.


9. WOODEN TRADITION, Dec. 15, Indianapolis (Purdue vs. Louisville, Butler vs. Florida State)

10. PARADISE JAM, Nov. 16-19, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands (Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Illinois-Chicago, Charlotte, Winthrop, Baylor, Wichita State, Monmouth)

11. ANAHEIM CLASSIC, Nov. 22, 23, 25, Anaheim Convention Center (USC, San Diego, Mississippi State, UC Irvine, Southern Illinois, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Miami of Ohio, Southern Alabama)

12. SOUTH PADRE INVITATIONAL, Nov. 23-24 (Vanderbilt, Iowa, Austin Peay, Bradley, Valparaiso, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Florida Gulf Coast, Utah State)

13. TOP OF THE WORLD CLASSIC, Nov. 15-18, Fairbanks, Alaska (Alaska-Fairbanks, Akron, Colorado State, IUPUI, Oregon State, Tennessee State, South Carolina Uptate, Portland State)

Check back to see if these are worth roadtripping (or turning on the tube) for: BB&T CLASSIC (Maryland, George Washington, George Mason, plus three more TBA), WOODEN CLASSIC (UCLA vs. Davidson, other game TBA)
Labels: Duke, Illinois, Jimmy V, Kansas State, Memphis, Michigan State, NIT, UCLA, UConn, UNC, USC

FedEx Forum Reaching for Heights

Forum reaching for heights
Teams have lofty hopes for fans in upper deck

By David Williams, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Sunday, August 19, 2007

It's called the "terrace level," which is a fancy way of saying "rafters."

FedExForum is, after all, a pretty fancy place as basketball gyms go, with its luxury suites and fine dining.

But the rafters are, well, the rafters. They're far, far from the court. They're not particularly luxurious -- what, no cup holders? A fan can feel so removed from the game as to be forgotten.

The University of Memphis, in its push for a season-ticket sellout of the 18,400-seat building, is trying to change that. The Tigers are seriously courting upper-deck fans, with $100 season ticket packages and promises of nightly giveaways -- not just T-shirts but grander prizes, coach John Calipari said, such as flat-screen TVs.

"We want to tell them, 'We appreciate you,'" Calipari said. "We know there are people who have been moved up there. ... We've got to try to make that upper deck excited."

Angela McCarter, director of marketing and promotions in the athletic department, wouldn't confirm the plan to give away flat-screen TVs and other prizes to upper-deck fans. "That's a promotion we're working on with a national retailer," she said, adding that all details haven't been finalized.

But an announcement could come soon and will be testament to the Tigers' aggressive stance on a challenging issue -- selling upper-deck seats in a market that was spoiled by The Pyramid's much more spacious lower bowl.

The Pyramid's lower bowl held about 12,000, with some 7,000 seats upstairs.

FedExForum has about 9,700 seats on the lower levels and 8,700 on the terrace level.

"At The Pyramid, to be honest, there was one concourse," said Dennis O'Connor, vice president of ticket sales and service for the Grizzlies, who likewise are working to overcome the upper-deck challenge.

"So if you were sitting in the lower level or the upper level, there was the perception that everyone was the same."

FedExForum, however, was built with a serious nod -- if not a bow -- to the economic realities of major league sports, with luxury suites closer to the court than in The Pyramid.

As for the Forum's upper deck, well ...

"It's big," O'Connor said. "As much as we say there are great seats, it's still, 'Hey, but I'm upstairs.'"

The U of M has heard the same thing, especially from season ticket-holders who were downstairs at The Pyramid.

"I've actually sat in the upper deck, watching a game. I understand where the fans are coming from," McCarter said.

Thus, the Tigers are planning the Chuck Hutton Fun Patrol, a group of 10 students who will roam the upper deck, giving away T-shirts and other items.

"They'll take some band members and cheerleaders up there with them," McCarter said, "just to try to get the fans to feel like they're more into the excitement of the game."

Also planned is a youth-oriented upstairs concession initiative -- focusing on kid-friendly menu items and parent-friendly prices.

Along with the giveaways and a price that makes U of M games cheaper than a movie, the Tigers also have a loaded team considered by some experts as a preseason No. 1. As a result, sales have been strong -- only 900 to 1,000 season tickets remained as of Friday afternoon.

The Grizzlies, meanwhile, have a tougher challenge. They're a rebuilding franchise coming off a season with the NBA's worst record.

"We have, over the years, done a lot of programs to either try to create excitement -- improve the atmosphere up there -- or sell it on affordability," O'Connor said. "We have full season ticket packs starting at $225, which is $5 a game. There's not a lot you can do in this day and age for $5."

The Grizzlies also try to woo fans upstairs with multigame power packs and specially priced individual-game family plans that offer tickets, hotdogs and drinks.

And once the fans are in the seats ...

"We do make a conscious effort to get the terrace level involved," O'Connor said. "We've done things starting in the pre-game, where we have our dance team up for photos and autographs. We have Grizz (the mascot) appearances. We've done player autographs up there. Sign-making, banner-making stations. We've had DJs.

"We've tried a lot of things, and we'll continue to do so."

The Grizzlies' upper-deck tickets range from $5 to $25 per game for season tickets, and $5 to $47 on a single-game only basis.

-- David Williams: 529-2310

Saturday, August 18, 2007

From the Sporting News "Five squads in position to win it all"

Thanks to reader "Southern" for the heads up on a story from Mike DeCourcy at the Sporting News (Depending on your age, you might remember that DeCourcy covered the Tigers as a beat writer for the Memphis Commercial Appeal before leaving for Cincinnati about ten years ago, ed.).

Five squads in position to win it all
Georgetown, Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina, UCLA favorites for title

By Mike DeCourcy
Updated: 7:30 p.m. CT Aug 17, 2007

I know something you don't know.

I know the identity of Sporting News' preseason choice to win the NCAA championship.

And so, in the space of those two sentences, I progressed from kindergarten to college.

My inability to tell you which team we picked is not about playing school-kid games, but to keep intact the mystery that will be revealed when the Sporting News College Basketball yearbook arrives in October and rolls out its preview package.

However, I think it's fair to reveal our choice came from a short list of five candidates. Alphabetically: Georgetown, Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina, UCLA. All of those teams have the goods to win the championship if they improve in certain areas, avoid injury, build momentum through their schedules and get the right breaks in the tournament draw.

There is another, shorter list, of teams that have championship ability but must make greater progress or overcome more significant obstacles: Louisville, Indiana and maybe (heavy on the maybe) Tennessee.

Here's what went into the decision:


Required NBA-type talent: C Roy Hibbert, SF DaJuan Summers, SG Austin Freeman, PG Chris Wright.

Perimeter shooting: Absolutely. For a big freshman, Summers did a nice job in this department. Jonathan Wallace is accurate and makes them under pressure. But no one else is a volume shooter.

Size and power: Starting with 7-2 Hibbert, maybe more than any other contender.

Breakdown scorer: Georgetown did not have this sort of player last year, although Jeff Green was very clever at creating opportunities because of his ballhandling skill. Freeman might be the guy.

Point guard play: Not a strength. The Hoyas rely a lot on the Princeton system, which does not demand the point guard be creative. But if Wright can squeeze into the lineup crowded with Wallace and Jessie Sapp, he might provide this kind of spark.

X-factor: Can you win a championship playing Princeton ball? Well, yeah, you can win the Ivy League. And Georgetown proved you can win the Big East. Can you win it all, though? Or does the system ultimately stifle the greatest talents?


Required NBA-type talent: PF Darrell Arthur, SF Brandon Rush, SG Mario Chalmers, PG Sherron Collins.

Perimeter shooting: Rush and Chalmers both hit above 40 percent last year from 3-point range. Rush's percentages are so high -- 44.6 for his career -- it's still a wonder he doesn't take more threes.

Size and power: In addition to Arthur, the Jayhawks can rely on 7-footer Sasha Kaun and veteran Darnell Jackson.

Breakdown scorer: No team has more. Rush, Chalmers and Collins all can beat defenders to the lane.

Point guard play: This is the trickiest area for the Jayhawks. Russell Robinson has been sound and is a terrific defender, but he is not a natural at this spot. Collins can be incredibly dangerous attacking defenses, but only if he's in shape and at the top of his game.

X-factor: A lot of Jayhawks offseason improvement was lost to injuries. Arthur was doing great for the U.S. U-19 national team before being forced out with a stress fracture. Rush might not return until December because of knee surgery -- although he might not have been in the program if he hadn't gotten hurt while preparing for the NBA draft.


Required NBA-type talent: SF Chris Douglas-Roberts, PF Robert Dozier, C Joey Dorsey, PG Derrick Rose, SG Antonio Anderson (perhaps?)

Perimeter shooting: This could be the Tigers' area of concern. They relied a lot on former wing Jeremy Hunt for big shots, especially in the NCAAs. Reserves Willie Kemp and Doneal Mack could fill that role if they prove worthy of the minutes. The best solution would be for Antonio Anderson to locate his wayward touch.

Size and power: Dorsey might be enough by himself, but the addition of Iowa State transfer Shawn Taggart provides another big option.

Breakdown scorer: That's like asking if Southern California has quarterbacks.

Point guard play: The Tigers already were in nice shape with Kemp, and yet he'll be lucky to get 10 point-guard minutes a game with Rose around. That's how good Rose can be.

X-factor: The Tigers have shown they can continue to improve against Conference USA competition that isn't stellar. However, just because the Tigers can improve while competing against C-USA opponents doesn't mean they will. They have to continue to concentrate even if games are getting out of hand. Remaining disciplined and committed will make the difference.

North Carolina

Required NBA-type talent: C Tyler Hansbrough, PF Deon Thompson, SG Wayne Ellington, PG Ty Lawson.

Perimeter shooting: Ellington has great potential as a shooter, but he has to be more aggressive and confident. Lawson could excel in this area. The Heels also need Danny Green to remember why UNC recruited him.

Size and power: The three-man rotation of Hansbrough, Thompson and Alex Stephenson can match just about anybody's.

Breakdown scorer: Ellington is not just a shooter. He can manufacture a shot. Lawson can get to the lane whenever he wants, although he could show more creativity when he gets there.

Point guard play: Lawson is a favorite of pro scouts because of his speed and strength. There was an element of his game that seemed to be missing during his freshman year, but that could have been a matter of him not feeling entirely in control of the team - something becoming a sophomore could cure.

X-factor: One problem with UNC's championship hunt last year was that using two low-post scorers in tandem stifled Hansbrough. He is best when overwhelming a single defender, and the second low-post scorer clogs up the lane. It might be up to Hansbrough to improve his face-up game enough to draw defenders away from Thompson.


Required NBA-type talent: C Kevin Love, PG Darren Collison, SF Josh Shipp, SG Russell Westbrook, F Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

Perimeter shooting: The Bruins lost their primary force, Arron Afflalo. Shipp will have to be busier from long distance. It's great that Darren Collison can make a shot, but probably it'd misdirect the offense if he attempted more than the three per game he did last year.

Size and power: The Bruins don't have a traditional big, shot-blocking center, but Love gives them a wide presence in the post. He'll make them a better rebounding team, as well. Last year, Mbah a Moute's 7.4 per game made him the only UCLA player to average more than six.

Breakdown scorer: Shipp has done a nice job getting to the rim on bad hips. His second offseason surgery should help make him more of a threat to attack. Westbrook is a terrific athlete. Mbah a Moute is a strong ballhandler who could be more useful in this deparment.

Point guard play: Collison dazzled with speed, efficiency and shooting last year. Playing with Love, an astonishing outlet passer, could make Collison's wheels even more valuable. The Bruins still aren't in the best position for backups, though.

X-factor: UCLA might run the same offensive system, but everything really will be new. Installing Love down low changes everything -- creating more scoring opportunities inside and more open perimeter shots as defenses collapse to contend with him. But the Bruins will have to grow comfortable with playing a different type of game.

Love must handle the burden of being a revolutionary UCLA big man. He'll receive many comparisons to his predecessors. That's a lot to handle.

© 2007 The Sporting News

From the Birmingham News, "C-USA has how many teams?"

C-USA has how many teams?

The Conference USA men's basketball preseason guide arrived in the mail earlier this week. The entire cover was dedicated to Memphis. You have to flip over to the back to see small pictures of each of the other 11 C-USA teams.

You would be silly to argue against Memphis being the marquee men's basketball program in C-USA the last two years. Celebrating the Tigers' 16-0 C-USA mark and preseason No. 1 mention by some outlets make sense.

Conference officials have spent the past two seasons trying to send out the message that the newly-configured C-USA will consistently become a league that deserves more than one bid into the NCAA Tournament. But what does this cover suggest? Yep, it suggests that the only conference team that's worthy of mention is Memphis.

Some C-USA men's basketball coaches have suggested that Memphis gets preferential treatment. This seems like another example the opposing coaches can use in that argument.

Steve Irvine --

Gene Bartow, Former Tiger Head Coach, Named President of Hoops LP, the Parent of the Memphis Grizzlies

Gene Bartow, a former coach at Memphis State and UCLA, was hired Thursday as president of Hoops LP, the company that operates the Memphis Grizzlies and their arena, the FedExForum. Bartow was chosen NCAA Coach of the Year in 1973 after leading the Tigers to the NCAA final against powerhouse UCLA. Memphis State is now called the University of Memphis. After a one-season stint at Illinois, Bartow succeeded John Wooden at UCLA, going 52-9 in two seasons and leading the Bruins to the Final Four in 1976. He then left to help found the athletic program at Alabama-Birmingham, serving as the school’s first head basketball coach and athletic director. He retired from UAB in 2000 and has been a special adviser to the Grizzlies since they relocated from Vancouver in 2001. He has helped the team scout and worked in the community to promote the team and sell tickets and sponsorships. Bartow also coached at Central Missouri and Valparaiso.

Friday, August 17, 2007 - Walberg's Changing It Up, Pepperdine Coach's Up-Tempo Style Has Captured Much Interest

Walberg's Changing It Up
Pepperdine coach's up-tempo style has captured much interest
Aug. 15, 2007

By Josh Herwitt

Vance Walberg never even thought he'd be coaching college basketball some day. Not at a Division I school.

For Vance Walberg, just having an opportunity to coach basketball anywhere, at any level, would have been enough.

"All I ever wanted to be was a high school coach," he admitted.

Since his early years at Clovis West High in Fresno, Calif., Walberg has dedicated his coaching career to perfecting his Dribble Drive Motion Offense, an offensive system that thrives on transition and dribble penetration to create open opportunities inside and around the three-point line.

And for as many bumps in the road as Walberg came across last season in his first year as head coach at Pepperdine, it's the same system that produced a 133-11 overall record, four straight league titles and a California State Championship during his four-year stint at Fresno City College.

But most importantly, it's a system that Walberg can now call his own, something that not many college basketball coaches can say in this day and age with all the knowledge that's been passed down by legends like John Wooden, Pete Carril and Bob Knight.

So it may be a little flattering to Walberg when he sees Knight and Larry Brown next month endorsing his brand of basketball at the inaugural Adidas Mid South Coaches Clinic in Tunica, Miss.

They won't be the only ones, though. In fact, they're just one of many who have recently grown fond of Walberg's coaching philosophy.

Some of the game's newest teachers, from Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon and Texas coach Rick Barnes to recently-hired coaches Mark Turgeon (Texas A&M) and John Pelphrey (Arkansas), have adopted Walberg's run-and-gun style and will speak in front of the hundreds of high school coaches expected to attend the clinic from Sept. 14-16.

"You're gonna have this coach do it one way and that coach do it another way," Walberg said. "There's so many ways to do it. This is just a different way that people really haven't seen yet."

According to the second-year Pepperdine coach, the system has created so much buzz that he's receiving hundreds of voicemails, e-mails and text messages from high school coaches all over the country.

"Little by little it just keeps blowing up," the two-time California Junior College Coach of the Year explained. "The times of the game are changing. The players are so much more athletic than they used to be."

While Walberg says it's the simplicity of his system that continues to draw more and more followers, it's the increase in athletic ability on the hardwood that makes it even more attractive for college coaches to implement in their own game plans.

Athleticism isn't something that runs short on a team like Memphis, and it's certainly one of the reasons why John Calipari has been such an advocate of Walberg's methods from day one.

"It's changed me," said Calipari, who will also be speaking at the coaches clinic. "It's gotten me excited...I've gotten inspired by something different and it's awakened that fire in me. It's totally out of the box."

Coming from someone like Calipari -- who started his coaching career at UMass and propelled the Minutemen into the national spotlight before jumping to the NBA to coach the New Jersey Nets -- that sure is saying a lot.

Now the Tigers, who ran the table last season in Conference USA and reached the Elite Eight for the second straight year, are already being picked by many as the No. 1 team in the nation before the preseason polls launch at the beginning of November.

"We've been at bat the last two years and had a chance to win the whole thing," Calipari said. "We've been one of those teams that had a chance to win it all.

"One of those years you're gonna hit the ball out of the park, which is the ultimate goal for us."

That goal was lost the past two seasons at the hands of NCAA runner-ups UCLA and Ohio State, but one that will surely be restored by the time March rolls around next year.

And with a team that returns its entire starting five and adds three recruits, including highly-touted freshman Derrick Rose, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound point guard from Chicago with jet-like speed and an unselfish attitude, it's Calipari who is eager to finally take his trip around the bases in 2007-08.

"The synergy between the guys, even though they know each individual has something at stake, let's them put the team first, and that's so unusual in this day and age," the eighth-year coach added. "When we start this season, it's going to be our team and no individual player."

By the end of the season, it might be Calipari thanking Walberg with a national championship trophy in his grasp.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Jeremy Hunt Video on YouTube

Jeremy Hunt Senior Video - Memphis Tigers Basketball


The news on Jeremy is that he left for Poland to play professional basketball this week. Of course, he took his #1 fan with him - his mom.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Season Sellout at FedEx Forum Seems Within Reach

Season sellout seems within reach

By Dan Wolken
August 12, 2007

When the summer began, University of Memphis coach John Calipari was determined to sell out every season ticket in FedExForum. With the help of the Rebounders club and new president Harold Byrd, that vision has a chance of becoming reality.
Charged with helping sell out the upper deck, the Rebounders are hosting a special fundraiser Sept. 10. Any fan making a $500 donation will receive an invitation to the "Hightops Party" at Calipari's home, membership in the Rebounders club and four of the $100 season tickets in the upper reaches of FedExForum.

"I think people get a real charge of going over to coach Calipari's house, and this event is such a great value," Byrd said. "It will be a great party. We'll have great music and great food, and for the $500, you become a member of the Rebounders and get four tickets to watch the No. 1 ranked team in the country. I think it's one of the most exciting things that has gone on in the city in a long time."
The response has already been strong. Even though this event has barely been publicized -- the process of mailing 10,000 invitations is just underway -- Byrd said word of mouth has brought in 100 donations. Byrd said he's hoping for at least 300 people to attend the event, meaning 1,200 season tickets sold.

The most interesting aspect of the party is the mix of people it should attract, from new season ticket holders to large donors who simply want to show up for the party.

For the latter group, Byrd is working with Ken Bennett, director of Streets Ministries, to receive tickets from fans who want to make a donation and attend the party but will not personally use the seats.

"I've been really surprised at the number of people who are keeping the tickets for themselves," Byrd said. "But at the same time, coach Calipari is real sensitive to the younger demographics in our city who can't afford to go to the games. If someone becomes a member of the Rebounders, they can donate to the Streets Ministries, and Ken is going to make sure these tickets are used, not just the kids within his ministry, but if there's a surplus he'll make sure there are people who can't afford to go to the games who will be in those seats."

Classic confrontation

Derrick Rose, Antonio Anderson and Robert Dozier were among the elite college players who were in New Orleans last week as counselors for the five-day adidas Basketball Experience, a tournament for American and international high schoolers.

After the tournament games, the college players scrimmaged against each other, which at one point put Anderson and Rose against each other as opposing point guards.

"Everybody was waiting for that," Anderson said.

And could Anderson stay with the lightning-quick Rose?

"No, I backed off him," Anderson said, laughing.

Rose might be the only player Anderson is backing off these days. The 6-foot-6 guard has clearly added muscle to his already stout frame, and ESPN analyst Doug Gottlieb described Anderson as "a beast" in a column he penned after watching him in New Orleans.

Initially, Anderson was going to spend most of August at his home in the Boston area but decided to instead stay in Memphis and get some extra weeks of training before the school year starts at the end of the month.

Odds and ends

The basketball coaching staff, which has been working out of the Finch Center much of this summer due to renovations at the Athletic Office Building, is scheduled to move back into its updated offices this week. ... According to sources, St. George's guard Elliot Williams has scheduled an official visit to Memphis next month. Williams has spent a lot of time on the Memphis campus this summer already, playing pickup basketball with players on the current Tigers roster. Memphis could very well have word within the next two weeks from Puerto Rican power forward Angel Garcia, who is deciding between the Tigers, Indiana and Louisville. Garcia visited Memphis in June.