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Friday, October 19, 2007

Last Post for 10 Days

Sorry guys, but I will be out of the country for 10 days starting Saturday, so most likely no postings from me until November 1st.

Go Tigers !!

(BTW, that's not me in the picture, but he looks like a 'Coach')

A couple thoughts on Elliot Williams’ Nov. 2 commitment

A couple thoughts on Elliot Williams’ Nov. 2 commitment
Posted by Jason Smith, Commercial Appeak

For those of us that thought for a while the University of Memphis may be St. George’s senior guard Elliot Williams’ fourth choice among a group that also includes Duke, Tennessee and Virginia, I personally believe after talking to Williams on Wednesday the Tigers helped themselves immensely during last Friday’s Midnight Madness festivities at FedExForum.

Prior to last Friday, Williams, a 6-4 slasher rated the nation’s No. 3 senior shooting guard prospect by, seemed concerned about fitting in at Memphis, a concern apparently alleviated sometime during his official visit last weekend.

I’m not saying Memphis is the pick. I believe Williams when he says he hasn’t made a descision yet and that right now all four are even. However, I do believe the Tigers made it a much tougher decision for the hometown product. We’ll find out Nov. 2.

Gary Parrish, - Preseason Top 25 (and one): Memphis rides high over changed landscape

Preseason Top 25 (and one): Memphis rides high over changed landscape
Oct. 15, 2007
By Gary Parrish, Senior Writer

It has been a while since the summer rankings were unveiled.

Nearly four months, in fact.

And a lot has changed.

For starters, Alabama learned it will play this season without Ron Steele, who is redshirting in hopes of returning next year healthy. If so, go ahead and pencil the Crimson Tide into the 2008-09 Top 25 (and one). But for now, they must be omitted.

Meanwhile, Brook Lopez forgot returning to college requires a person to, you know, actually return to college. Consequently, he was ruled ineligible for the first semester, which means Stanford could spend November and part of December looking more like the team that lost to Air Force by 34 points last season (without Lopez) than the team that beat Oregon by 19 points last season (with Lopez). In other words, the Cardinal are out, at least for now.

What else have we learned in the past four months?

That Tyler Smith will be eligible at Tennessee (that's good for the Vols), that Brandon Rush still hasn't fully recovered from a torn ACL and isn't expected back on the court for Kansas until Dec. 1 (that's not good for the Jayhawks), that Josh Heytvelt will definitely return to Gonzaga (that's good for the Bulldogs) and that Daniel Hackett probably won't be ready for Southern Cal's opener thanks to a broken jaw (that's not good for the Trojans).

And did you hear about Washington?

In the summer, I had the Huskies ranked 17th, which many people believed was too high based on two things:

1. Washington wasn't that good last season.
2. Its best player (Spencer Hawes) turned pro.

I was aware of both facts but still liked the slew of experience returning. Then all those experienced players went on an August trip to Greece and lost three of five games like they were representing USA Basketball or something. So I decided to come to my senses because the last time the Huskies went 2-3 on a foreign trip they finished 17-12, and that's simply not the type of record a top 20 team produces.

So, goodbye Washington.

Go play with Alabama and Stanford.

Because none of you are needed for the preseason Top 25 (and one).

1. Memphis: Folks in Memphis have consistently asked if I would keep the Tigers No. 1 heading into the season, and I've consistently told them that I would. So here's the proof. But really, it's not like I had a choice because a couple of months ago the school unveiled a billboard in the city boasting about its No. 1 ranking, which essentially painted me into a corner. Changing my ranking would mean changing that billboard, and I'm just not interested in causing such logistical problems.

2. UCLA: Every report coming from workouts is that Kevin Love is as good as advertised and Russell Westbrook is better than anybody realizes. Assuming both are true, the Bruins are about as safe a pick as possible for a third consecutive Final Four.

3. North Carolina: Deon Thompson averaged 10.0 points and a team-best 6.1 rebounds for USA Basketball this summer, and now I'm starting to think the Tar Heels won't miss Brandan Wright quite as much as expected.

4. Kansas: Eventually, Bill Self is going to break through and reach the Final Four. Best I can tell, this is as good a season as ever to do it.

5. Tennessee: The addition of Tyler Smith, who averaged 14.9 points last season at Iowa, has the Vols as the clear and obvious favorite in the SEC.

6. Louisville: With Earl Clark and Derrick Caracter on the roster, this weekend's injury to Juan Palacios isn't that big of a deal to the Cardinals. To be clear, it's awful for Palacios, fragile as he is. But a medical redshirt might actually be best for the program.

7. Washington State: Every time I bump into somebody who was involved with USA Basketball this summer I ask for the college player who most surprised them. Every time, the answer is Derrick Low, which means the best-kept secret in the Pac-10 last season is hardly a secret anymore.

8. Georgetown: Roy Hibbert's decision to return to college might cost him some serious money, but it makes the Hoyas another threat to reach the Final Four.

9. Michigan State: Drew Neitzel won't play as many minutes per game, but his production should be similar to last season.

10. Marquette: Freshman Trevor Mbakwe will shore up a questionable frontline and complement an undeniable backcourt.

11. Indiana: The best thing about the start of practice at Indiana is that it means there should be less time for Kelvin Sampson to make impermissible phone calls. (Honestly, could you believe that story this weekend? Unreal.)

12. Villanova: Just like usual, Jay Wright has a lot of great guards, among them sophomore Scottie Reynolds.

13. Duke: Missing on Greg Monroe was devastating, but that won't show up until next season. For now, the Blue Devils are still the Blue Devils, which is to say they are worthy of an elite ranking thanks to talents like Kyle Singler and DeMarcus Nelson.

14. Oregon: The return of Bryce Taylor, Maarty Leunen, Malik Hairston and Tajuan Porter makes Oregon a serious threat in the Pac-10.

15. Gonzaga: If Josh Heytvelt parties again, I just hope he does so somewhere other than a car and at some time other than the night before a game. That was pretty stupid last season.

16. Arkansas: The Hogs appear to be the second-most talented team in the SEC, and it's John Pelphrey's responsibility to make sure it shows.

17. Southern California: The Trojans will dress a talented team if O.J. Mayo can stop breaking his teammates' jaws. Officially, it was an "inadvertent elbow" from Mayo that sidelined Daniel Hackett, but almost nobody seems to be buying the "inadvertent" part, including one of Hackett's old AAU teammates. "An elbow? Yeah, right," said UCLA's Kevin Love when the subject came up at the Bruins' media day. "Dan's a good friend of mine, too. I'm never going to lay a hand or lay a fist or elbow on a teammate like that."

18. Southern Illinois: It looks to be a down year for the Missouri Valley Conference, but SIU doesn't have down years.

19. Texas A&M: Billy Gillispie left a nice roster in College Station, and Mark Turgeon should benefit.

20. Arizona: If the Wildcats make a run at a Pac-10 title, assistant Kevin O'Neil will prove to be worth every penny of his ridiculous salary.

21. Pittsburgh: Aaron Gray is gone, but six of the other eight top players return for the Panthers.

22. Butler: Can the Bulldogs knock off some so-called big boys again this season? They'll have a shot at Ohio State in December, and they could get Virginia Tech and Gonzaga in November in Alaska.

23. Kansas State: There has been a lot of talk about how Derrick Rose or O.J. Mayo will be the top pick in next June's NBA Draft, but history suggests most franchises would rather go big. For that reason, I'm guessing the first pick will be KSU freshman Michael Beasley, who should lead the Wildcats -- and perhaps the Big 12 -- in scoring this season.

24. Syracuse: I really do like the Orange on paper, which is why I moved them into the rankings. Now I just hope I like them on the court, too.

25. Kentucky: This is supposed to be a down year by Kentucky's own lofty standards, but how many SEC teams are clearly better than them? Tennessee is the only one, I think.

26. North Carolina State: Brandon Costner, Ben McCauley, Gavin Grant and J.J. Hickson is about as good a quartet of big dudes the nation has to offer.

Gary Parrish, - Preseason All-Americans

Preseason All-Americans: Keeping it real
Oct. 16, 2007
By Gary Parrish, Senior Writer

We've been over this before.

But it's probably worth another reminder.

Because I don't do All-America teams like most others.

Instead of just throwing five players on a team regardless of position or skill-set, I try to assemble teams that could actually function on the court. In other words, every team must have someone who is truly a point guard, someone who can truly make shots, someone who can truly penetrate and someone who can truly provide a post presence by rebounding and dunking. Anything short of that and the team is flawed. So with that in mind, I present the Preseason First-, Second- and Third-Team All-Americans ... plus 10 other guys I wish I had room to place somewhere.

First team

Expect Chris Lofton to get back to his usual routine at Tennessee. (US Presswire)
Derrick Rose, Memphis: Rose will not have the stats to justify this accolade as a freshman. I admit that up front. But Mike Conley Jr. only averaged 11.3 points and 6.1 assists last season at Ohio State, and was there any doubt in March that he was the best point guard in the nation? Of course not. Because sometimes stats don't tell the whole story, particularly when a point guard is surrounded by great players and would just as soon create for them as he would himself. Conley had great teammates last season. Rose has great teammates this season. The former played for a national title. I'm guessing the latter will have a similar impact.

Chris Lofton, Tennessee: Lofton was cut from Team USA this summer because he was, by all accounts, awful at the workouts, nonexistent even. For whatever reason, the senior guard never got comfortable. But he'll be back to his old self now that he's back at UT, which is to say he'll regularly sink impossible shots and do damage to SEC foes.

Brandon Rush, Kansas: Rush likely won't be ready to start the season. But by December he should be fully recovered from a torn ACL, and then the junior wing will be on his way to possibly lead Bill Self toward his first Final Four.

Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina: I never knew how much fans despised Hansbrough until I ranked him as the top big in the nation. Lots of haters out there. But I honestly can't understand how anybody could dispute his relevance as a dominant college basketball player. He has only been held to single digits in points six times in 69 career games, and it's worth noting three of those six came late last season after Hansbrough suffered a broken nose.

Roy Hibbert, Georgetown: Hibbert is the best, most experienced true center in college, and he's coming off a Final Four. That's good enough for me to place the senior on the first team, and now it's time to see if returning to school was indeed a smart gamble that'll pay off by way of another Final Four.

Second team

Ty Lawson will team up with Hansbrough for another Tar Heels run. (US Presswire)
Ty Lawson, North Carolina: Lawson shunned the chance to be a lottery pick after last season. Oddly, he'll still be leading a team of pros.

Drew Neitzel, Michigan State: Neitzel probably won't have to do everything for Michigan State this season. But if it comes to that, he has already shown he's capable.

Eric Gordon, Indiana: When I revisit this in March it's possible I'll look back and wonder why I didn't have this freshman on that first list.

Michael Beasley, Kansas State: Beasley will post huge numbers for the Wildcats, then cash in and become a top five NBA Draft pick after just one season.

Brook Lopez, Stanford: Lopez is out until December because of academics. But when he returns he'll prove worthy of this spot.

Third team
Darren Collison, UCLA: Collison is great on offense, great on defense and the point guard who could lead the Bruins to their 12th national title.

Sean Singletary, Virginia: Singletary is a do-everything guard, the kind who will keep Virginia in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament berth despite the loss of backcourt-mate J.R. Reynolds.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis: Douglas-Roberts doesn't seem to mind all the attention Rose is getting, and the reason is because he knows his teammate is capable of making him look like a first-round draft pick this season.

D.J. White, Indiana: White was as impressive as anybody who wore the Team USA jersey this summer. Paired with Gordon, he could help the Hoosiers to a Big Ten title.

Kevin Love, UCLA: Love is the ball-demanding, great-passing, hard-working post player that Ben Howland has been missing.

Ten other guys I wish I had room to put somewhere
1. O.J. Mayo, Southern California
2. D.J. Augustin, Texas
3. Darrell Arthur, Kansas
4. Brandon Costner, North Carolina State
5. Derrick Low, Washington State
6. Chase Budinger, Arizona
7. Kyle Weaver, Washington State
8. Marcelus Kemp, Nevada
9. Josh Heytvelt, Gonzaga
10. Scottie Reynolds, Villanova - The Dean’s List: College hoops Top 10 (Part II)

The Dean’s List: College hoops Top 10 (Part II)

The battle for the national championship is wide open this year. Any of the teams mentioned in Part I of our rankings, which started the countdown at No. 10 and got all the way to No. 6, have a good shot come March.

When it comes to the real deal contenders, however, the following five teams will be mainstays high up on any poll, and should all be No. 1 or 2 seeds on selection Sunday. Any one of these programs could’ve been the dean’s No. 1, but just one has what it takes to claim my preseason crown.

No. 5: Tennessee Volunteers (+1500 to win national title)

Bruce Pearl needs to keep his kids out of trouble if the Vols want to run the show in the SEC this year. After some drug issues and a scary car crash, Tennessee slid to No.5 in my books.

The return of leading scorer Chris Lofton, tough-as-nail point guard Ramar Smith and do-it-all wingman JaJuan Smith gives the Volunteers one of the most versatile backcourts in the country.

The UT frontcourt is a bit up in the air with Duke Crews’ future still unknown. However, it looks as if the Vols will have the suspended 6-foot-7 bruiser back soon. Crews, along with inside-out threats Wayne Chism and Ryan Childress, will be joined by super transfer Tyler Smith.

Smith, who did not have to wait a year to play because of family issues, emerged at Iowa last season with his ability to battle on the blocks as well as dribble drive. Fellow transfer J.P. Prince is another versatile forward with outstanding leaping ability.

No. 4: Kansas Jayhawks (+1000 to win national title)

Getting Brandon Rush back is a gift and a curse for head coach Bill Self. Yes, you return one of the most talented players in the country but you have to once again juggle a deep backcourt, slowing the progress of sixth man Sherron Collins for another year.

Collins, along with Mario Chalmers and Russell Robinson, all shared duties in the Jayhawks backcourt and will do so again once Rush returns from offseason knee surgery in December. This trio combined for almost 29 points, 11 assists and five steals in 2006-07.

The pecking order under the hoop is a little more cut and dried for KU. Sophomore Darrell Arthur will get noticed as one of the best big men in the nation. He’ll get help from scrappy senior Sasha Kaun and flashy forward Darnell Jackson.

No. 3: Memphis Tigers (+700 to win national title)

John Calipari is tired of hearing how weak the Tigers’ schedule is every selection Sunday. So he arranged dates with USC, Georgetown, Tennessee and Arizona, just to name some of the top-caliber competition Memphis will face this season.

The Tigers are up to the task with returning backcourt studs Chris Douglas-Roberts and Antonio Anderson being joined by freshman point guard Derrick Rose. Rose tops most recruiters list as the best pure playmaker in the class of ’07.

Memphis’ athletic frontcourt of Joey Dorsey and Robert Dozier can get out and run with the guards and finish at the hoop with some authority. Sharp-shooting Willie Kemp holds it down on the perimeter. He shot 38.6 percent from beyond the arc last season.

The Tigers had a grueling practice sked this month in order to fine-tune their up-tempo style of basketball. Coach Calipari is having a tough time dividing minutes among his talented roster for their upcoming games next month.

No. 2: North Carolina Tar Heels (+500 to win national title)

The Heels were my pick to go all the way last year but as the season progressed, UNC showed a fatal flaw. When the offense couldn’t run the floor and get a lot of shots, the young Tar Heels were lost in a slowed-down half-court set. You can chalk that up to the inexperience of freshmen guards Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington.

Now, the backcourt combo is one year removed from a dreadful collapse against Georgetown in the regional finals and is ready for a run at the national title. And when I say run, I mean full-on sprint. Lawson has upped his speed with the basketball and Ellington is more comfortable in his skin on the perimeter after a summer with the Pan Am team.

The role of veteran leader, which belonged to Reyshawn Terry last year, is now Tyler Hansbrough’s. I can honestly say that I’m a better basketball player from watching the Heels’ big man. Hansbrough’s strength and patience on the blocks makes him a handful for defenses, which will open up things on the other side of the lane for sophomore Deon Thompson.

Playing in the shadows of Hansbrough and Brandan Wright last year, Thompson averaged just over 12 minutes per game. But this season, he could become one of the country’s best young talents in the paint. Also getting additional minutes this season are glue guys Marcus Ginyard and Danny Green, the team’s two best defenders.

No. 1: UCLA Bruins (+700 to win national title)

The Bruins are a tentative No.1 with me right now because of the health issues that could ruin their quest. Big returnees Josh Shipp, who had offseason hip surgery, and forwards Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Lorenzo Mata-Real, who are also injury prone, must stay on the floor if UCLA wants a third straight trip to the Final Four. But when the Bruins are healthy, there is no team in the country more talented, experienced and effective on both ends of the floor.

An uber-competitive Pac-10 this season has UCLA relying heavily on point guard Darren Collison. The junior will be asked to steady the offense, pick up his scoring and play in-your-face on-the-ball defense.

Top freshman addition Kevin Love gives the Bruins what they’ve lacked in the past two seasons – a consistent threat under the basket. Love is considered to be the best player entering college this year with his soft touch in the paint, great rebounding and playmaking. Expect to see Love throw more touchdown passes down court at UCLA this season than Ben Olsen has in his three years with the football program.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

USA Today - Off-Court Problems Don't Deter Calipari, Memphis

Off-court problems don't deter Calipari, Memphis

By Marlen Garcia, USA TODAY

MEMPHIS — Joey Dorsey has an enviable role as a starting forward for Memphis' men's basketball team, a national power in recent seasons and a probable top-five choice when the 2007-08 USA TODAY/ESPN preseason coaches' poll comes out Oct. 26.
The senior is an immovable piece of steel on the court, a 6-9, 260-pound chiseled forward and one of the country's leading rebounders and shot blockers who averaged 8.5 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots per game last season. Off the court, he is trying coach John Calipari's considerable patience.

Dorsey is expected to anchor a starting unit also consisting of 6-6 junior guard Chris Douglas-Roberts (team-leading 15.4 points per game last season), 6-9 junior forward Robert Dozier, 6-6 junior guard Antonio Anderson and heralded 6-4 freshman point guard Derrick Rose. With so many experienced players back from teams that reached the NCAA tournament Elite Eight the past two seasons, a chance at the Final Four — or better — seems within reach.

Calipari is crossing his fingers that Dorsey doesn't blow the opportunity. Dorsey has a penchant for partying at some of Memphis' popular clubs, and although Calipari is known for giving players countless chances despite behavior problems, Dorsey is on Calipari's last nerve.

"Everything that's been in the bank has been used," Calipari says. "It would be a sad day for me if I say, 'Joey, you're not here anymore.' "

Calipari doesn't elaborate on Dorsey's problems, but Dorsey's visit to a Memphis nightclub last month ended up in the news and with two of his teammates facing charges. Dorsey was named a suspect in a simple assault at a club Sept. 2, but charges were not filed against him, according to Memphis police spokeswoman Monique Martin.

Martin says a nightclub employee told police Dorsey jumped on the bar and began throwing money at customers. When Dorsey was asked by a security guard to step down from the bar, he allegedly swung at the guard but missed. Another security guard who came over allegedly was struck in the face by Dorsey and was treated at the scene for bruises. Martin says one security guard refused to press charges; the other did not have an independent witness to verify his story.

At Conference USA's media day last week, Dorsey denied hitting anyone but acknowledged throwing money, The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal reported.

"I had fun with my teammates, maybe too much fun," Dorsey, 23, tells USA TODAY. "I apologize to the city of Memphis. It won't happen again."

Charges for others

The chaos from the bar that night spilled onto the street and 20 officers responded to disperse a crowd, Martin says. There was no sign of Dorsey. "He apparently fled," she says. Sophomore forward Shawn Taggart and freshman guard Jeff Robinson were arrested.

Taggart, eligible to play after sitting out last season as a transfer from Iowa State, faces misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and inciting a riot. Robinson, a consensus top-50 recruit, faces the same charges plus simple assault against a police officer. They pleaded innocent and will be in court Nov. 6. Jennifer Donnals, spokeswoman for Shelby County district attorney Bill Gibbons, says the prosecutor's office is "trying to work out a resolution" with the defendants' lawyer, Leslie Ballin. Ballin's office said he was in court and unavailable for comment.

Calipari says he plans to punish the players, though part of the penalty may not be public.

"How about your mug shots in the newspaper here, on the television here?" Calipari asks. "How about your mug shot in your hometown? That starts the penalty. The other thing, our penalty, we see as the facts unfold."

In the incident's aftermath, Calipari instituted a midnight curfew for the team and a ban from nightclubs. Sunday, six weeks after the incident, athletics department spokesman Lamar Chance said via e-mail the curfew is being lifted. As for the nightclub ban, Chance said, "It is still understood they (the players) are not to be seen in a place that primarily serves alcohol."

Calipari makes no apologies for giving players second chances, and some players have made turnarounds. Jeremy Hunt, the team's second-leading scorer last season, was dismissed from the team in early October 2005 after being involved with two assaults in less than a year, but Calipari reinstated him in late August 2006 after Hunt earned his degree that month in university college/African American community and sports education.

"I would rather have me wait too long for a kid that ends up hurting my program and have people looking at me in the evil-eye way … than cutting a kid loose too soon and costing him," Calipari says.

The coach has athletics director R.C. Johnson's support. "Those programs that are really successful, you have to step outside the box and be flexible," Johnson says. "I have no concerns about anything being irregular or illegal. (Calipari's) reputation and image is so high, he's not going to jeopardize that."

Those close to Dorsey see past his sullied image. "Just because you make bad decisions, it doesn't mean you're evil," team chaplain Ken Bennett says. "It's hard when you're that young and you're a rock star."

Says Douglas-Roberts: "He's probably one of the best teammates I've had. He comes off as one thing to the media, but to us, he cares about the team."

Dorsey, raised by his mother Charlene in Baltimore, came to Memphis via Laurinburg (N.C.) Prep. He considers Calipari a father figure. "I definitely love him as a dad," Dorsey says.

Calipari says Dorsey has emotional issues. "He doesn't know how to deal with confrontation," Calipari says. "If you think he preys on smaller people, that's not what he is. He's immature at times. But he's good-hearted. He was over at my house playing video games with my son for three hours. My wife loves having him around.

"Does he do some of the dumbest stuff I've ever seen? Yeah, just like my own children."

Another 'Big Ben'?

Dorsey is talking about a new start. He hopes to follow in the footsteps of Ben Wallace, the Chicago Bulls' 6-9 center who has made millions in the NBA based on his defensive presence and rebounding. Dorsey has changed his jersey number this season from 32 to 3, the number Wallace wears.

"I want to show that there is another Ben Wallace out there," he says.

He wants to make amends for blunders, one of which came late last season. Before Memphis played Ohio State and star 7-foot center Greg Oden in the NCAA tournament Elite Eight, Dorsey said, "I'm an underrated big man and he's a lot overrated as a big man."

Oden scored 17 points, on seven of eight shooting, to Dorsey's zero as Memphis lost, 92-76.

"It was a bad game at a bad time," Dorsey says.

That case of bad judgment was a comical error compared to the serious trouble he allegedly caused last month. But he says those days are over. Joey Dorsey, the problem child, is gone.

Calipari gives sharpshooting Mack green light

Calipari gives sharpshooting Mack green light
By Dan Wolken
Thursday, October 18, 2007

During this offseason of anticipation and praise, there has been only one question about the University of Memphis basketball team that even remotely produces a ripple of concern about its ability to contend for a national championship: Would the Tigers have anybody capable of replacing Jeremy Hunt's often crucial 3-point shooting?

But the Tigers themselves have not been asking that question, at least not anymore.

Not only has Doneal Mack become a deadly shooter from behind the arc, he's also developed better skills off the dribble. "We all believe if he's open, he's making that shot," said teammate Antonio Anderson.

Because they've been in the Finch Center every day, watching sophomore guard Doneal Mack make one 3-pointer after another at a rate that suggests he could match or exceed the 89 threes Hunt made last season.

"We know for a fact, if he's open, get him the ball," junior guard Antonio Anderson said. "We all believe if he's open, he's making that shot.

"That's the confidence he's got in himself, and he's shown the team we can believe in him."

Of course, that'll happen when you make 15 straight 3-pointers, as Mack did in a drill Tuesday. Or when you make 21 of 24 from behind the arc, as he did in another drill Wednesday.

Watching that display, coach John Calipari could only shake his head in appreciation of how far Mack has come in one year.

A top-50 recruit coming out of Charlotte, N.C., Mack's college career started slowly, to the point where he didn't play at all in Memphis' Dec. 20 loss at Arizona.

Now, Calipari has granted Mack a total green light, as he bestowed on Hunt last year.

"He's more confident, more physically able and more understanding of the offense, all those things added together," Calipari said.

"And he's shooting the ball way better. That means, anytime he's open, shoot the ball. Every time you're open."

Despite the early struggles, Mack's potential to be one of the nation's top shooters was evident shortly thereafter; from Dec. 23 until the end of the season, he made 48.7 percent from 3-point range.

Though Mack finished the season as the team's top percentage 3-point shooter, he was not expected to take or make threes in bunches like Hunt, whose clutch shooting pulled the Tigers through road victories at Gonzaga and UAB, among others.

Now, Mack sees himself not only sliding into Hunt's role as a long-distance marksman but as a sixth man who can provide instant offense off the bench.

"I feel like my teammates have got more confidence in me this year," Mack said.

"Last year, you know, at the beginning they didn't really have a lot of confidence in me.

"I wouldn't say they looked me off ... but I wasn't really a factor. This year they look for me, they want me to play a big role and I feel like I fit that role."

Perhaps the most impressive thing to Calipari is how Mack has expanded his game, improving his right hand to the point where he can finish layups in traffic going either direction.

Mack has also added a nifty floater, which has terrorized everybody who has tried to defend him during early practices.

"I kind of worked on that this summer," Mack said. "When we play against those big teams, they've got shot blockers.

"You can't always lay it up, so float it over the top and if it comes off you've always got Joey (Dorsey) in there for putbacks."

In fact, the only thing Calipari has had to get on Mack about is calling for the ball when he's open.

Mack, a quiet player on and off the court, said he's still getting used to the idea that he has enough stature on the team to command the basketball.

"If he's behind that line, we're giving it to him to shoot, no matter what," junior guard Chris Douglas-Roberts said. "If he's open, we know it's down. He was a great shooter last year, but he didn't see the minutes Hunt saw.

"He could have been on the same level if not better. Now he has a bigger role, and he's going to shoot and make big shots."

- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

Wednesday, 10/17, Practice Observations

Wednesday practice observations
Posted by Dan Wolken

Watching the Tigers practice today, it occured to me that Memphis’ bench might have more top-50 recruits than any in the country. Coach John Calipari broke up the team today into two units, with Derrick Rose, Antonio Anderson, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Robert Dozier and Joey Dorsey playing as the first team. That means Willie Kemp, Doneal Mack, Andre Allen, Jeff Robinson and Shawn Taggart was the second team. Of the latter five, only Allen was not a top-50 rated recruit in his senior year of high school.

More observations:
– Andre Allen was killing people Wednesday. He may be 5-8, but that is one very hard man to guard.

– Derrick Rose and Jeff Robinson both took some hard shots to the face, but they were OK. Antonio Anderson got the wind knocked out of him but came back. As Anderson was laying on the floor in pain, Calipari said, “Look at how much stronger he is. Two years ago, he would have been out for a month. Now, he’s fine.” Power of suggestion, perhaps?

– Jeff Robinson and Shawn Taggart both made some great offensive plays but missed layups. It’s very reminiscent of how Doneal Mack and Willie Kemp looked last year at the beginning of preseason practice. Now, those guys make virtually everything.

– Once again, Calipari was jazzed about how the team looked in practice. “I went live zone, live press, and live man from blockouts to see where we are. Man,” he said. “And then I did some out of bounds plays. Man. And you’re like, holy cow. And the greatest thing is, they’re just playing. They’re understanding, this offense doesn’t put restrictions. Just make sure you’re spaced, make hard cuts and be strong on drives.”

– The Tigers will take Thursday off. Calipari was headed out on the road to recruit.

Elliott Williams to announce choice Nov .2

Elliott Williams to announce choice Nov .2
The Commercial Appeal
October 17, 2007

MADRID, Spain — MEMPHIS — St. George’s High School senior guard Elliot Williams’ mother, Delois, has done her part. Now it’s up to her son to make a decision between Duke, Tennessee, Memphis and Virginia sometime before Nov. 2.

“He narrowed it down to those four, and he kind of left it up to me and my husband to go in and do the research on the four colleges,” she said. “We’ve given our blessings on the four. It’s his decision right now.”

Williams, who was visited Wednesday by Memphis assistant Derek Kellogg and Virginia coach Dave Leitao, said Wednesday evening he hasn’t yet made his decision, but will announce one on Nov. 2.

“It’s all even right now,” said Williams, a 6-4 lefty rated as the No. 3 senior shooting guard prospect nationally by “I’m going to sit down with my family and discuss everything and make the best decision from there.”

Williams made his fourth and final official visit last weekend, sitting courtside during Memphis Madness festivities Friday at FedExForum.

“That’s why it’s one of my four — it’s my hometown and I love coach (John) Calipari,” he said. “I felt a comfort level with the team, going up there to midnight madness and hanging with the guys on the official visit. I’ve always liked Memphis.”

St. George’s coach Jeff Ruffin said he isn’t sure where or what time the Nov. 2 announcement will be made.

“It’s all new to us, of course, so we’re not sure if we’re going to have a press conference that day or whether we’re even going to do it on campus,” said Ruffin, whose Gryphon basketball program is entering just its third varsity season.

“I think that’s kind of his own personal timetable that he’s set. ... Of those four schools, I would imagine all four will be represented on campus at some point this week.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - Memphis Tigers go global and look toward China

Memphis Tigers go global and look toward China

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -Forget being a national program. Memphis coach John Calipari wants to make his Tigers global.

The team's practice Tuesday morning, like most this preseason, was attended by the best and brightest coaches China has to offer. They lined the bench scribbling notes that they can take home with their flashy Tigers blue apparel.

The 10-practice clinic is the first step in an agreement the university signed with the Chinese Basketball Association in September, a deal Calipari hopes will revolutionize college basketball by increasing its exposure worldwide. And maybe one day land the Tigers a star Chinese recruit.

"A country with 1.3 billion people, I figure some of them have to play basketball,'' Calipari said.

The five-year agreement includes Calipari running a series of coaching clinics and camps throughout China, and plans are in the works for the Tigers to go to China in May for a series against the national team.

Fifteen coaches from the Chinese association underwent a rigorous screening process that included a written test, then made the 20-hour flight to Memphis as part of a nine-day trip. Now they are evaluating the basketball program at Memphis, which could be ranked No. 1 entering this season.

"The whole philosophy, the attitude, everything here is different,'' said Duan Lian, a junior coach with the Chinese group. "Even different from the NBA. There are a bunch of things we just don't know.''

The coaches have learned about film sessions, weightlifting and medical training. They also indulged in local culture, including a trip to Elvis Presley's Graceland mansion.

Except for a Chinese coach who had an emergency appendectomy, Calipari said the program has gone smoothly.

"If you ask me, 'Why would you do it?' Because the advantage is we will be first and we would be remembered the most,'' Calipari said. "Which means we would have the most goodwill, which means we benefit the most, you would hope.''

One of the Chinese coaches, Cui Wanjun, will stay with the Tigers this season as an intern. The former national team player was honored to learn he would be on the coaching staff of one of the NCAA's premier programs.

"It's like finding out you got accepted by your dream college,'' Wanjun said through an interpreter. "But there is a lot of responsibility on me to help my country. I hope to bring back a lot of knowledge.''

Memphis players are also undergoing a culture shock.

"They pay attention to every little thing, every little thing,'' Memphis guard Chris Douglas-Roberts said. "The other day at practice, when we had a break, not one of them got up to get water or anything. We're running to the cooler.''

The Memphis-China connection began when Calipari read a newspaper article about an agreement between the NBA and China. Calipari then spoke with friends in the NBA and Fred Smith, the founder of Memphis-based FedEx who has worked extensively in China.

Dallas Mavericks assistant Del Harris, who coached the Chinese national team at the 2004 Olympics, put Calipari in contact with members of the Chinese Basketball Association who happened to be traveling to Dallas at the time. Calipari took the next flight to Texas.

"Sometimes I say it's kind of like fate,'' Calipari said. "If I had waited two weeks, it never would have happened.''

He went to tell the university's provost, Dr. Ralph Faudree, about his intentions only to discover Faudree was in China at the time - and had been working in Asia for more than 10 years. Things all seemed to align.

"I said, 'He's over there? Why doesn't anybody know of this potential?' It was just like 'Whoa,''' Calipari said. "We can do this before anyone. It was a total awakening.''

Calipari said his efforts will put Memphis ahead of the recruiting curve in China, the world's fastest-growing major economy. His goal this season is to have Memphis highlights shown nationally on China's state-run television, allowing an estimated 400 million people to watch the Tigers, Chinese basketball authorities estimate. That's about 100 million more than the population of the United States.

The university is filming a documentary to chronicle the program, which may be broadcast in China. Calipari also said he would like to see the NCAA men's tournament, which is shown in 149 other countries, be broadcast in China, too.

"I want kids in China to dream about the University of Memphis,'' he said. "See this gym on TV, see what college life is like.''

Calipari plans to bring Conference USA all-star teams to China in the coming years, with participation from other league coaches. Coaches in the conference are encouraged by Calipari's efforts but worry the initiative could put them further behind Memphis.

"As long as Yao Ming doesn't show up on my floor, I'm OK with it,'' SMU coach Matt Doherty said, referring to Houston Rockets' 7-foot-6 center from China who was the top NBA draft pick in 2002.

Calipari is not certain the agreement will yield a recruit for Memphis. He said the initiative is aimed at spreading NCAA awareness in China and part of a broader goal by the university to build a larger base of Asian students.

His players agree, but offered clearer predictions about Calipari's ambitions.

"In the next three years, I'm telling you, Memphis will have a Chinese basketball player,'' Douglas-Roberts said. "He's not going to go over there without looking at players.''

Tiger hopes to fatten minutes after losing weight

Tiger hopes to fatten minutes after losing weight
Calipari delivered ultimatum; Bailey delivered
By Dan Wolken
Tuesday, October 16, 2007

At various points during his freshman season at the University of Memphis, Hashim Bailey wondered whether another program would fit him better. A program where he wouldn't be mere practice fodder for potential all-Americans. A program that wouldn't require him to drastically change his eating and workout habits. A program where he could play.

So Bailey went home to New Jersey this past summer with an ultimatum: Get in shape, or don't bother coming back.

The resulting transformation has been astounding. "Big City," the nickname Bailey has answered to since prep school, isn't quite so big anymore.

More than 30 pounds lighter than he was at the end of last season, the 6-11 Bailey has been one of the Tigers' most improved players during the preseason, possibly positioning himself for a regular role on arguably the nation's most talented team.

"I'm at 270 pounds," Bailey said.

And the last time he weighed so little?

"I don't really know," he said. "I think the eighth grade."

So far, the difference is translating on the court, where Bailey has shown increased speed and agility and proven to be a legitimately tough matchup in the post for starter Joey Dorsey.

"He took what I told him, he took it back home, and he's reaping the rewards now," said Richard Hogans, the Tigers' director of performance enhancement. "He ate the right foods and didn't overeat, and he took that and ran with it. He's looking good."

Bailey's transformation, he admits, was not easy. He was not used to waking up at 7 a.m. every morning, lifting weights, running on a treadmill for 30 minutes, then coming back at night for a second round of running on the basketball court. And he certainly wasn't used to micromanaging his diet, cutting out greasy foods and living on grilled chicken breasts and salads.

"I didn't even know if I could do it," Bailey said, "but I pushed through it."

In reality, it was Bailey's only option. When Bailey first arrived on campus, coach John Calipari told him he would not play for Memphis at 300 pounds. Calipari kept that promise, using Bailey for a total of 28 minutes over nine games last season. Though Bailey didn't like his place at the very end of the bench, it was made clear to him that he wouldn't have a place at all unless he showed dedication to losing the weight.

"I'm so proud of him because I kind of laid the law down with him," coach John Calipari said. "And he goes and loses 40 pounds, and you watch him, he's working as hard as anybody we have. He's working as hard as he possibly can work, and all the sudden, you've got a 6-11 guy who can have a presence in the game."

Though it remains to be seen where Bailey might fit into an already crowded rotation, he said he's confident that he made the right decision to stay at Memphis rather than transfer, as guard Tre'Von Willis did after barely playing as a freshman.

"I was thinking about it, in the back of my mind, during the season," Bailey said. "But I never chose to go another direction because I really like Coach Cal. He pushed me to the maximum ability I should be at. He's giving me a lot of confidence that I can do something this year to help the team. I'm glad I'm still here. I think I'm going to be good the next few years I'm here."

And how does he know? Bailey can measure his progress every day against Dorsey, who dominated him last year. Now, the matchup appears more even.

"Man, it's crazy," Dorsey said. "He can keep up with the team, and he's helping us a lot. Banging with him is like no other person I play against, for real. He's aggressive. He plays hard, and it's great that he lost the weight. I'm happy for him."

Reach Dan Wolken at 529-2365; read his blogs on Tiger basketball at

Monday, 10/15, Practice Observations

Monday practice observations
Posted by Dan Wolken

The Tigers weren’t quite as sharp or energetic on Monday; clearly, they were a little tired from going two-a-days on Saturday and Sunday. Still, by normal standards, they were very good. At least, that was the feedback from’s Jeff Goodman, who was in town to watch practice and came away impressed.

A few quick hitters:

– Monday might have been the best I’ve ever seen Antonio Anderson shoot the ball.

– At times, Doneal Mack (right) looks like the best player on the floor. Not only is he shooting the heck out of the ball, but every aspect of his game is improving. He’s giving Chris Douglas-Roberts all he can handle right now.

– In terms of getting the ball in the high post and scoring from 15 feet and in, Shawn Taggart has pro ability. Taggart’s biggest problem right now is learning to go full speed all the time. Coach John Calipari has been on him constantly about sprinting down court.

– Everybody who has been in the gym so far, from media to scouts to visiting coaches, has come away more impressed with Derrick Rose than they expected.

Tuesday is the final day of Fall Break at the U of M, and thus, the final two-a-day in this stretch. The Tigers will get back on a more regular schedule Wednesday.

Posted Tuesday, October 16th, 2007 at 1:09 am

Jeff Goodman - In camp with coaching greats

In camp with coaching greats
Jeff Goodman

NASHVILLE - It's not a bad day when you can catch two of the most underrated coaches in the country.

First it was a chance to watch Memphis coach John Calipari and his talented Tigers team before heading down I-40 to catch Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings work with his young group and then toss batting practice to his son, Jacob.
Let's start with Memphis.

Calipari rarely had to raise his voice with his veteran team, featuring Antonio Anderson, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Joey Dorsey and Robert Dozier. In fact, the only guy that Calipari really got on at all was Iowa State transfer Shawn Taggert, who sat out last season and wasn't able to practice due to a right knee injury.

There were at least 50 people watching the practice, including the Chinese contingent of about 15 that has been in Memphis for the last 10 days or so and Minnesota Timberwolves GM Kevin McHale.

Anderson and CDR have both improved their perimeter shots significantly and that should be huge for the Tigers in their quest to win the national title this year. Anderson has also gained about 15 pounds (while Hashim "Big City" Bailey has dropped about 30 or so).

Dozier looked more assertive than in his first two years. He may have as much pro potential as anyone on the team not named Derrick Rose, but he has yet to break out.

Speaking of Rose, this kid is just plain ridiculous. There's really nothing he can't do and even his outside shot has improved. He's a smaller and more athletic version of Jason Kidd — strong, knows how to get his teammates involved and just wins games.

Rose was running with the second unit — Doneal Mack, Taggert, Bailey and freshman wing Jeff Robinson. That won't last for long as he'll soon supplant Willie Kemp and/or Andre Allen as the starting point guard.

After practice, I caught up with a few of the Tigers to get these tidbits:

Joey Dorsey said he's not going to change and will continue to say what's on his mind. Although it hasn't always worked out, it's refreshing.

Dorsey said he nearly quit the team his freshman season. "He was on me so hard. I didn't think he liked me," Dorsey said of Calipari. "I broke down and had to leave practice. It's all mental with coach."

Antonio Anderson played center at Maine Central Institute and had offers from Maine, Western Carolina and Richmond before a summer with the New England Playaz got him the exposure he needed. "There was a time when I thought I should have stuck to football," said the 6-foot-5 junior guard.

Rose said it's going to take some adjusting to the fact that Calipari wants him to be aggressive "all the time." That's not necessarily something Rose is accustomed to. "I'm going to have to or I'm going to be on the bench," Rose said. "If I want to play, I've got to change."

Rose committed to Memphis after speaking to Calipari just twice.

Douglas-Roberts has received tons of praise from Calipari ("I can't imagine there are five better players than him in the country"). CDR said his focus has changed. "Everyone knows I can score. I'm focused on defense." - Hoops Mailbag

Hoops mailbag: Believing in the Bruins
By Andrew Skwara, College Basketball Staff Writer

Wondering about Rose
There has been a lot of hype surrounding Derrick Rose of Memphis. What is the biggest challenge a freshman point guard faces?

-- Thomas from Roanoke, Va.

Strangely enough, I think 3-point shooting often is the biggest problem for freshman point guards in college. Guys often are so used to beating defenders easily off the dribble in high school that they haven't put in the necessary work on their outside shot. Plus, they normally aren't the first or second offensive option anymore, so it's tougher to get enough shot attempts to get into a rhythm.

Remember how ugly Raymond Felton's shooting form was when he first got to North Carolina? Felton shot 35.8 percent from 3-point range as a freshman. That number dipped to 32.1 the following year. After some adjustments (mainly moving his elbow further in) and diligent practice (Felton hoisted up 500-plus jumpers a day that offseason), he led the ACC with a 44 percent mark as a junior and helped the Tar Heels to the 2005 national title.

Check out Virginia's Sean Singletary, currently the best point guard in the ACC. Singletary was a subpar shooter as a freshman, shooting 31.2 percent from beyond the arc. That number climbed to 34.1 during his sophomore campaign, then jumped to a solid 38.9 last season

UCLA's Darren Collison had a reputation as a poor shooter entering last season. Collison made 32.8 percent of his 3-point attempts as a freshman. That number rose to 44.7 percent in 2006-07.

Even Ohio State's Mike Conley Jr., who enjoyed one of the smoothest transitions we have seen for a freshman point guard from high school to college, shied away from shooting 3-pointers. Conley, the No. 4 pick in the NBA draft, took just 63 3-pointers last season and made 19 (30.2 percent).

Decision-making and learning how to control the tempo certainly are difficult for freshmen point guards to master, as well. But for point guards, especially elite-level guys like Rose, it's tougher to consistently knock down 3-pointers. Rose has an incredible first step and is a great finisher around the basket, so defenses will sag off him and force him to shoot the ball. His ability to prove he can do that may be what it takes for a loaded Memphis team to win it all.

New York Post - Hoop Elites MSG-Bound


October 16, 2007 -- Many of the teams favored to get to the Final Four will make at least one appearance at The Garden this season.

Connecticut, Duke, Georgetown, Kentucky, Marquette, Memphis, Pittsburgh, USC and Villanova are slated to play in the World's Most Famous Arena. Oklahoma and West Virginia, under native son Bob Huggins, also could get to the Big Apple.

Connecticut, Kentucky, John Calipari's Memphis squad and Oklahoma are the regional hosts for the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament. The semifinals and finals will be played in the Garden on Nov. 15 and 16.

Kansas State, Notre Dame, Memphis and USC are the field for the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 4, with the Wildcats playing the Fighting Irish and the Trojans tipping off against the Tigers.

Duke and Pittsburgh take the court for the Aeropostale Classic on Dec. 20 and the Aeropostale Holiday Festival features Virginia Tech vs. Hofstra and Marist vs. St. John's on Dec. 28 with the winners squaring off the next night for the championship.

St. John's has Big East games against Pittsburgh (Jan. 23), Georgetown (Jan. 30), Villanova (Feb. 16), Marquette (Feb. 20) and West Virginia (March 8). The Big East Conference Tournament begins March 12 with the NIT semifinals and finals scheduled for April 1 and 3.

Sunday, 10/16, Practice Observations

Sunday practice observations
Posted by Dan Wolken

Like most people, I nonchalantly believed freshman Derrick Rose would immediately come in and start for the Tigers at point guard. Maybe that assumption was premature. Not that Rose hasn’t been great — he has, and he’s getting better every day — but I now believe sophomore Willie Kemp will be the starting point guard for the Nov. 5 opener against Tennessee-Martin.

This is based on two factors: 1) Kemp (right) is running with the “first team” during offensive dummy drills. 2) John Calipari is talking about Rose as a possible answer to Marvin Williams, who was effectively the sixth man on North Carolina’s national championship team in 2005 and was drafted No. 2 overall following his freshman season.

If this is indeed Calipari’s plan, I can certainly see some value in it. For one thing, you can keep last year’s starting lineup in tact. Second, when you think about personnel groupings, Kemp is probably the second-best 3-point shooter on the team to Doneal Mack. It would be nice to have one or the other on the floor most of the time. So if you start the game with Kemp and Antonio Anderson as your backcourt, you’ve got a playmaker and a shooter. Then you bring in Rose and Mack, and you’ve got a playmaker and a shooter as your second wave.

A few more things to think about:

– Once again, I loved the intensity and business-like approach the Tigers took toward practice all weekend. You don’t see a lot of joking around or wandering minds. The body language is really good.

– Rose isn’t the only guard who can elevate for a big-time dunk. Doneal Mack brought the house down Sunday morning when he drove baseline and posterized Joey Dorsey during one drill.

– Hashim Bailey is really impressing the coaching staff with his effort.

– Jeff Robinson is proving what we thought all along: He can defend the 4 position.

– The entire weekend was good for the program from a recruiting standpoint. There were a lot of local underclassmen involved, and the out of town kids like Xavier Henry and Durand Scott appeared to have a very good time. Though Elliot Williams was on his official visit, I’m not sure if there’s anything new that the Tigers could show him. Williams has been around the program and Calipari for a long time. He’s seen what he needs to see. If you could talk to any of the coaches who have been recruiting Williams, my guess is they’d say he’s been a very hard kid to read. Any info out there about Williams is conjecture; none of it is coming from him or his family. I fully expect to hear from Elliot about his college plans in the next couple weeks.

Posted Sunday, October 14th, 2007 at 11:14 pm

Dexter Strickland Adds Memphis to His List

Indiana Hosts NY/NJ Quartet; Strickland Adds Memphis to List

On the same weekend that Indiana head coach Kelvin Sampson was punished for recruiting violations with the loss of a $500,000 bonus and one scholarship for the 2008-09 season, a slew of talented recruits descended upon Bloomington for "Hoosier Hysteria."

Among those in attendance from New York and New Jersey were Lincoln junior guard Lance Stephenson; St. Patrick junior guard Dexter Strickland; Mount Vernon senior forward Kevin Jones; and Brooklyn native and Indiana commit Devin Ebanks.

"Somebody recognized me and they started cheering and stuff," the 6-3 Strickland said by phone Sunday night. "Just knowing that people I don't even know know me, it was a great feeling. I felt like I was at home."

Strickland, who will be the main man as St. Patrick seeks its third straight Tournament of Champions title, said he was unaware of the news of Sampson's secondary NCAA recruiting violations, but that he would research it.

I'm still trying to get comments from Kevin Jones and Lance Stephenson on their feelings on the latest news.

Strickland said he hung around mostly with Stephenson and Ebanks and watched the Indiana team practice.

"I think Lance liked it, too," he said. "He likes the school a lot. That's only his second visit. I didn't know that he's only been to Seton Hall and Indiana."

As for his own plans, Strickland still lists Michigan State, Florida and North Carolina as his top three, but said Memphis has entered the picture largely because his former St. Patrick teammate Jeff Robinson is now a frosh playing for John Calipari.

"Just from (Robinson) talking about it," Strickland said. "Derrick Rose, him going there. I was thinking if these great players are going there, this school might be the one for me. I was interested in it also."

Strickland has no immediate plans to visit Memphis, but he will visit North Carolina the first weekend in November.

He has already taken unofficial visits to Florida, Michigan State, Villanova, Rutgers and Seton Hall.

"I've been to enough schools to narrow it down," he said. "I don't really have a leader right now.

"In the beginning it was Michigan State because that was the first school I've actually been to and seen.

"After that, I saw Florida and the ring ceremony and the NBA players coming back. That was great, too. They're kind of equal right now, so I don't have a favorite school."

Still, Strickland said he could see himself committing somewhere during the upcoming season.

"After that last trip, I should be able to pick my school," he said.

Tigers put thoughts of NBA out of minds

Tigers put thoughts of NBA out of minds
By Dan Wolken (Contact)
Sunday, October 14, 2007

They have been the core of Memphis' basketball renaissance, known nothing but Elite Eights and Conference USA championships.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, Antonio Anderson and Robert Dozier came in together two years ago and delivered on their promise to turn the fortunes of a program struggling to break through.

Now, as they begin their junior years, it is only natural to wonder if this third swing at a national championship will be their last together.

"Well, you know, that's something we'll sit down and talk about together as the friends that we are and with coach and our families," Anderson said, laughing with surprise at the question. "If that's what it is, only time can tell."

When the Tigers bowed out last season after a 92-76 loss to eventual NCAA runner-up Ohio State in the Elite Eight, there was little doubt they would return intact for at least one more year.

Though Dozier came alive in the NCAA Tournament, the power forward's inconsistent regular season showed he needed at least one more year of college. Despite his maturation as a defensive stopper, Anderson shot just 39percent from the field and 24.5 percent from 3-point range.

And though Douglas-Roberts could have considered throwing his name into the NBA Draft after averaging a team-high 15.4 points, he quickly realized he could improve his stock considerably by showing better shooting range and developing his body.

Finally, by coming back, all three would ensure the opportunity to play with freshman point guard Derrick Rose and lead a consensus top-five team toward another deep postseason run.

Which is precisely what coach John Calipari wants them to focus on. During the summer, Calipari talked openly about his biggest concern being whether his players would let NBA agendas creep into their locker room and damage the chemistry that carried Memphis beyond expectations last season.

It's a path Calipari has been down before -- Darius Washington, anyone? -- and a path he knows won't lead to the Final Four.

"I don't think these guys are thinking of (leaving early)," Calipari said. "They're thinking of one thing right now, winning. You've got a team that is self motivated, on a mission, and they like each other. I don't mind that being their goal and what they're striving for for themselves personally, but the whole way of doing it is, do you know what they want to see? It's rebounds per minute, points per minute, where are you at physically? Are you able to make game-winning plays? Are you a good teammate?"

At the same time, everyone associated with the program has to acknowledge the possibility that Memphis' roster could change drastically next season. The Tigers have just one recruit committed for the class of 2008 -- power forward Angel Garcia -- and Memphis could lose as many as five players, including Rose, who almost everybody assumes would be a lottery pick in 2008.

Of the others, Douglas-Roberts seems the most likely candidate to jump, though various mock-draft Web sites don't rate him as a first-rounder, mainly due to questions about his outside shooting.

"It's a possibility, but I don't want to jinx myself or anything," Douglas-Roberts said. "I'm just going to play, and whatever happens, happens. I'm going to make the best decision for me. If it's not time for me to go, I won't go. Simple as that."

Dozier has always been the Tigers' "potential" guy, the one scouts have followed closely because of his long, lean physique and flashes of first-round skill.

"We're not worried about that right now," Dozier said. "We're just focused on the season and what we've got to do to get to that point to win a national championship. That's our main focus.

"You watch other teams that win national championships, they have three and four players go every year, so it's a possibility. If it comes to that at the end of the season, we'll sit down and think about it, but other than that, it's not on our minds."

Of course, if the Tigers were to win a national title, Anderson, Dozier and Douglas-Roberts might have to seize the opportunity to leave. To wit, of the 60 players who were drafted into the NBA last summer, nine came off the rosters of Ohio State and Florida, who played for the national title.

"You have to do what's best for yourself, but it all comes within the team," Douglas-Roberts said. "The further we go, the more success each individual will have."

There's one more scenario, however, that there isn't much precedent for, courtesy of Anderson.

"My whole goal for this year's team is to do the same thing Indiana did in '76 and go undefeated and win a national title," Anderson said. "If we can do that, what you asked me earlier (about leaving early) would be true."

In that case, Calipari and every other Memphis fan would be happy to send them on their way.

Reach Dan Wolken at 529-2365; read his blogs on Tiger basketball at

Letters to Gary Parrish on His Player Rankings

Letters to Gary Parrish on His Player Rankings

From: Chad

It's just silly to rank an INCOMING FRESHMAN as the No. 1 point/combo. I quit reading the story after that.

It's just silly to not believe the freshmen aren't among the best players in the nation. I quit reading your email after that. But seriously, I got a lot of notes about having Rose No. 1 on the points/combos list. One claimed he's all hype (not true). Another claimed he's not really a point (not true). Another claimed there are at least five freshmen point guards better than him (definitely not true). Another claimed that Dajuan Wagner and Darius Washington were actually better Memphis point guards than Rose (so untrue it's stupid because Wagner and Washington weren't really points). But faced with all the criticism, I decided to go to the people who see Rose most --i.e., his teammates -- to ask about the ranking, and all I can tell you is that they don't think I'm crazy.

"I have never played against or seen somebody who is that fast with the ball," Memphis junior Antonio Anderson said. "Once he learns our offense he's going to be unbelievable." Joey Dorsey said basically the same thing. Then I asked Chris Douglas-Roberts if there was any chance Rose was being over-hyped, and he said "No. Not at all." And when I asked if all the hype was disruptive considering he, Anderson and Dorsey -- veterans who have been to back-to-back Elite Eights -- are being completely overshadowed nationally by their freshman teammate, Douglas-Roberts didn't hesitate to answer. "We don't mind," he said. "We play with him every day. We know how good he is."

Anyway, just trust me on this one. It might take Rose a month to get comfortable, but when he does you'll cease thinking I'm nuts.

The Birmingham News - Calipari has good reason to be excited

Calipari has good reason to be excited
Friday, October 12, 2007
STEVE IRVINE Birmingham News staff writer

MEMPHIS - The excitement that Memphis men's basketball coach John Calipari claimed to have during Wednesday's Conference USA Media Day at the FedEx Forum is understandable.

After all, he's returning all five starters from last year's team that went 33-4 overall, won all 16 C-USA regular season games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight for the second successive season. And he's also welcoming freshman point guard Derrick Rose, who may be considered the country's top freshman by the end of the season.

Surprisingly, however, Calipari's excitement carries outside his program.

"I'm just as excited about our league," Calipari said. "The steps that all the coaches have taken to take their programs to another level is phenomenal. What I like is everyone is taking their program up. What you're going to find is a parity that is good at the top. That's what I see happening and I'm excited for that."

On paper he has a point. Take away Rice, which lost C-USA Player of the Year Morris Almond, and nearly every team returns most of their key players.

UAB strengthened itself with its recruiting class, Houston returns point guard Lanny Smith after he sat out last year with an injury and Southern Miss has a strong mix of returnees and incoming talent. Tulsa has nearly everyone back from a team that won 20 games and Tulane returns the core of a team that finished fourth in the conference.

All of that is just a start for a league but Memphis is still the place to begin.

"We have to catch up to Memphis," said SMU head coach Matt Doherty. "That's the carrot for all of us. We want to chase them down a little bit. We don't just want to play them close. We're all competitors. (Calipari) wants to win every game and we want to beat them. We don't want Memphis to slip to us. We want to go to them. Then that's going to be good for everybody."

Finding a way to get more teams into postseason play is what the league really needs. Four C-USA teams made it into postseason play in 2006 when Memphis and UAB participated in the NCAA Tournament and Houston and UTEP played in the NIT. Memphis was the lone postseason participant last season.

"It's a strong league," said Southern Miss head coach Larry Eustachy. "It's far stronger than last year. I think last year was just growing pains. I think you'll see a league that gets four or five teams annually."

Eustachy detailed what he thought it would take to get more teams in the postseason.

"I think, obviously, we have to have some big wins in the nonconference - collectively," Eustachy said. "(Calipari) has to cooperate and let us beat him a few times. I think it will happen. (Houston has) got a very good team.

"I think (Houston head coach Tom Penders is) downplaying it, which is unusual for him. They're good. And UAB is loaded."


© 2007 The Birmingham News. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Deep, athletic Tigers preparing to press more than ever

Deep, athletic Tigers preparing to press more than ever
Calipari wishes he'd gone for it against Ohio St.
By Dan Wolken
Monday, October 15, 2007

John Calipari had spent two years forging the University of Memphis' identity as an up-tempo, running-and-pressing program. Then, in the game that mattered above all the others -- the game that could send the Tigers to the Final Four -- he flinched.

In retrospect, Calipari's decision to completely abandon the full-court press in the Elite Eight loss to Ohio State is one he wishes he could have back.

"If I had to do it over again, I would have pressed," Calipari said. "I don't know if we'd have lost by 20, but I do know we lost by whatever we lost by (92-76) not pressing. That's what I thought our best chance was to win that game. But I'd like to know for sure."

This season, Calipari is hoping he won't have to second-guess himself. With a deeper bench and a more athletic group of big men, the Tigers believe they can play even faster and press more than they did last season when they averaged 78.9 points and forced 17.4 turnovers per game.

"We really are working hard on it," sophomore point guard Willie Kemp said. "We're ahead of where we were last year. We're just trying to get the new guys to press a lot. That's our biggest threat, is our press, so we're coming into the season as a pressing team. It's something we work on every day, and I think we can get to the next level with our press."

Though the Tigers' halfcourt man-to-man was stellar most of the season, it's debatable how effective their press was. At times, Memphis could press the weaker teams on its schedule into submission. But in big games, the Tigers tended to use token pressure and then swarm in the halfcourt.

That lack of commitment to the press ultimately showed up against Ohio State. Though the Buckeyes had been vulnerable against Tennessee's aggressive full-court defense, Calipari didn't feel like the Tigers' press would force Mike Conley, Jr., and Ron Lewis to turn the ball over.

The makeup of this year's team, however, could lend itself to pressing more. Last season, Memphis' primary big man off the bench was Kareem Cooper, whose lack of mobility limited the team's options when he was in the game. Memphis also has more athleticism at the guard and wing positions, and Calipari now feels comfortable that nobody can out-run the Tigers.

"I have one more big sub in Shawn Taggart that I obviously didn't have last year," Calipari said. "The second thing is, I think Derrick Rose and Jeff Robinson give us two more athletes that I would say could run. So even if they had two guards, who cares?"

The Tigers' press should also be better simply because they're working on it earlier and more often. During the five-week preseason last October and November, Calipari focused almost exclusively on their dribble-drive motion offense, which he felt was necessary since it was only his second full season employing the attack he borrowed and adapted from Pepperdine coach Vance Walberg.

Because 10 of Memphis' 13 players are veterans, Calipari felt comfortable devoting half of the team's practice time over the weekend to defense.

"Coach has got a nine- or 10-man rotation, and we're going to press," sophomore guard Doneal Mack said. "If he doesn't see it working, he'll go a little more conventional. But we love to play fast, we love to press, get them turnovers and get the crowd pumping. That's our offense, starting the fast break, and we hope it's going to work out for us this year."

Tigers' madness never stops, Basketball team kept plenty busy in offseason

Tigers' madness never stops
Basketball team kept plenty busy in offseason
By Dan Wolken
Thursday, October 11, 2007

For most basketball programs around the country, the seven months that separate March Madness and Midnight Madness are calm retreat from which they can emerge in October reinvented and refreshed.

At the University of Memphis, however, the madness did not stop. From John Calipari's globetrotting to the arrival of freshman phenom Derrick Rose to record ticket sales and unbridled hype to a September incident on Beale Street that landed two players in court, barely a week went by without the Tigers being part of this city's consciousness.

"It's definitely what I thought I'd get and much more," junior forward Robert Dozier said Wednesday, describing the remarkable attention the team has gotten this summer. "I expected to come in and win and change the program around with my classmates, and it's been a tremendous ride."

Though the coaches have not changed, the players have barely changed and aspirations of a national championship are still intact, Friday's Memphis Madness will indeed be a symbolic celebration of a new season.

Here are four things to know about Memphis Madness, which begins at 8p.m. Friday at FedExForum.

1. For a lot of Memphis fans in the city, Friday may be the only opportunity to see the Tigers in person this season. As of Wednesday afternoon, the school was down to about 260 unsold season tickets. Once they're gone, that's it for the year.

The only single-game tickets that will be available are unclaimed student seats. Plus, getting into Memphis Madness is pretty cheap: It's free, though canned food donations are encouraged, and seats will be available.

In most years, Memphis can expect a crowd of about 10,000 fans at Memphis Madness.

Coach John Calipari said he was hoping for "12,000 to 15,000 or more" on Friday, given the excitement about this team, which is ranked No.1 or No. 2 in several preseason polls.

And a full house would likely make a positive impression on the long list of elite recruits who will be in attendance.

2. So, who are the recruits? Well, basically every high school player from Memphis who is on the Tigers' radar has been confirmed as a guest at Memphis Madness. That includes St. George's guard Elliot Williams, who will be making his official visit to the Tigers.

Williams, a consensus top20 senior in the nation according to scouting services, has already visited Virginia, Duke and Tennessee and is expected to make his decision after the Memphis visit.

Briarcrest junior guard Leslie McDonald and White Station junior forward Farrakohn Hall -- both consensus top-75 players -- headline a long list of underclassmen coming to Memphis Madness, which also includes: Gentry Hines (Raleigh-Egypt), Tim Peete (Central), Greg Wooten (Briarcrest), Joe Jackson (White Station), Bobby Parks Jr. (Ridgeway) and Mardracus Wade (Mitchell), among others.

Memphis also will have out-of-town visitors from the 2009 high school class, including Christian Watford from Birmingham and Xavier Henry from Oklahoma City. Watford, a 6-7 small forward, is rated in the top 50 by most scouting services and is also very good friends with DeMarcus Cousins, a consensus top-five player in the class. Cousins was still considering visiting Memphis Madness as of Wednesday.

This will be Henry's second straight visit to Memphis Madness. A 6-6 guard rated No. 2 in the junior class by, Henry's favorites appear to be Memphis and Kansas at this point. His father, Carl Henry, played at Kansas when Calipari was an assistant there.

Durand Scott, a 6-4 guard from New York rated as a top-50 junior, also is likely to be in Memphis on an unofficial visit this weekend.

All told, that's between five and seven potential McDonald's All-Americans.

3. The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. with a performance by the Memphis band and cheerleaders on the FedExForum plaza. Doors will open at 7 p.m., and players will be available for autographs until roughly 7:50 p.m. At 8 p.m. players will be introduced, and festivities will continue until about 9:30 p.m.

At some point in the event, Memphis will introduce the 15Chinese coaches who are in town observing the Tigers as part of Calipari's coaches' exchange. A few of the coaches, who played in the Chinese Basketball Association, will have a 3-point shooting contest against Memphis' players. The Tigers also will have a dunk contest and finish with a short intra-squad scrimmage.

4. Though the entire Midnight Madness tradition began in 1971 when Lefty Driesell held a real practice at Maryland just after midnight on Oct. 15, it's now nothing more than a showcase. In fact, the NCAA has even changed the rules to allow the madness to begin the evening before the official day when teams can start practicing.

As for the Tigers, the scrimmage will be organized, but probably not quite full speed. That's because they'll have to get up early Saturday morning to begin the real work with a string of two-a-day practices. Still, fans should be able to get just enough of a glimpse to whet their appetites for the Nov. 5 season opener.

"Our fans know this team," Calipari said. "They'll know how we play, but what they're wanting to see is the new guys too. Who got stronger from the old players? Who's better than they were a year ago? Who's improved?

"And then they'll want to see, what about this Derrick Rose kid, this Jeff Robinson kid and this Shawn Taggart kid? They'll want to leave the building saying, man, is Antonio Anderson better? Robert Dozier is so much stronger. That's what they'll want to say, and then they'll try to figure out where the other guys are."

Reach Dan Wolken at 529-2365; read his blogs on Tiger basketball at

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

CA Columnist Geoff Calkins - Tigers bringing much-needed optimism to city

Tigers bringing much-needed optimism to city
By Geoff Calkins (Contact)
Saturday, October 13, 2007

The dunk contest was supposed to be between Jeff Robinson and Doneal Mack, but Memphis coach John Calipari interrupted it with a small request.

"This is for my own enjoyment," he said, summoning freshman point guard Derrick Rose to the court.

Calipari handed Rose the ball. He told him to dunk just once.

The crowd rose to applaud the new kid.

It was almost too much. This was his first public moment at Memphis. He was supposed to dazzle everyone with a single dunk?

The clapping grew louder. Rose calmly bounced the ball high in the air. Then he went up, grabbed it, brought it back down -- nearly to his toes -- and slammed it, backward, emphatically through the hoop.

The place exploded.

"Just a regular dunk," said Rose, afterward.

"JUST A REGULAR DUNK?" said Memphis forward Chris Douglas-Roberts, and then he laughed.

But what a way to start this journey, this basketball trip that will wind on for seven months, and is supposed to end at the Final Four in San Antonio.

"You don't know where it's going," said Calipari, during the Memphis Madness celebration at FedExForum Friday night, "but it looks like it's going to be a lot of fun."

That's right, fun, and just in the nick of time, wouldn't you say?

This city could use a pick-me-up, something to feel good about again. Over the years and the decades, there's not much that has made Memphis feel better than Tiger basketball.

The most famous example came in 1972-73, when Larry Finch and Gene Bartow led Memphis to the championship game against ULCA.

It's the stuff of civic legend now, of municipal mythology.

The Tigers brought the city together. That's what everyone says. Black and white, rich and poor, people put aside their differences to pull for a single basketball team.

What a happy fable, eh? And what a perfect time for it to happen again.

Because, 35 years later, Memphians are divided once more. Or maybe we're just more keenly aware of the things that have divided us all along.

The mayoral race was divisive and ugly. Only one of the three major candidates -- the one who finished third -- was gracious about the results.

Letters to the editor are raw and bitter. People have chosen sides or, worse, chosen to leave town.

If this isn't a job for Memphis basketball, then what the heck is?

And, yes, it is entirely understandable if you are rolling your eyes right about now. It's just a basketball team, after all. Just a dozen players and a coach.

A basketball team can't put a stop to the violence. A basketball team can't lift thousands out of poverty, or make fathers act like fathers, or solve the financial problems of The Med.

A basketball team can't even bring everyone together, no matter the mythology.

Will a basketball team cause Willie Herenton to look inside himself? Or cause his opponents and detractors to see the good in the man?

Of course not. It's just a basketball team. Let's not be naive.

And yet, there is something the Tigers can do, and will do, and even started doing Friday night.

They can make people smile. You remember how to do that, right?

This month's issue of Men's Journal quotes a Kansas University study that concluded "sport fans suffer fewer bouts of depression and alienation than do people who are uninterested in sports."

Most sports fans don't get to pull for a team that's been to two straight Elite Eights, either. Or that comes into the season ranked in everyone's top three.

Chuck Roberts, the public address announcer, was so pumped his voice gave out after introducing just four players Friday night.

"I have no voice," he croaked. From out of the stands rushed local sportscaster Greg Gaston.

"The next player," Gaston picked up, not missing a syllable.

It was quite a moment, really. This Memphis team is so deep, it has a backup PA announcer.

"This is the best team Memphis has had in a long time," said Douglas-Roberts. "We have to get to the final game this year."

Which may or may not mean the Tigers will do it. That's the peril of sports. Nothing is certain but the opportunity, and the continuing devotion of the fans.

Sean Donaldson, 14, showed up Friday wearing a classic, white Memphis State jacket from the mid-1970s.

"I got it from him," he said, pointing to his dad.

Turns out Tim Donaldson, 49, started at Memphis in 1976. He wore the jacket to games in the Coliseum. He remembers Finch and Bartow and everything they meant.

When Donaldson graduated from Memphis, he put the jacket in the back of his closet. He married a girl he had met in the dorms. They had a son, Sean.

Years passed. Memphis changed.

Not long ago, Donaldson happened on his old jacket.

"You want to wear this?" he asked Sean.

Sean definitely did.

So Friday night, Donaldson went to work early, and left work early, all so he and Sean could be at FedExForum 90 minutes before the doors opened.

Donaldson wanted to see Rose, certainly. He wanted to see something else, too.

"This team has to help us get past the petty bickering," he said. "To be honest with you, this is the only glue the city has right now. This is the one thing, no matter your nationality or your politics or your religion, that everyone can get behind."

Father and son waited patiently for the doors to open. For the season -- and maybe the fable -- to begin anew.

To reach Geoff Calkins, call him at 529-2364 or e-mail

Memphis Flyer - Memphis Tigers' Midnight Madness Draws National Media

Memphis Tigers' Midnight Madness Draws National Media

OCTOBER 13, 2007 - 08:29 AM

From's Andy Katz (one of many national scribes here to catch the Tigers' Midnight Madness festivities):
"Six hours prior to Memphis unveiling its most anticipated team to the general public on Friday, John Calipari was looking for someone to help him hang a Chinese dragon symbol in his office.

"'This symbolizes dominance,' Calipari said as he found the perfect spot behind his desk to hang the gold and red keepsake given to him by the Chinese Basketball Assocation delegation that he helped bring to the city the past week in a unique five-year deal with the CBA.

"Throughout the past week, Calipari has been running a clinic for the Chinese delegation, hoping his style will rub off on the Chinese as they try to enhance their basketball program.

"Well, after Friday night's Midnight Madness event in Memphis, Calipari gave the Chinese coaches some words to work on translating into Mandarin, words like hype, spontaneity and boldness ..."

Read the rest of Katz' story at

AOL Sports - Is Tennessee Better Than Memphis?

Is Tennessee Better Than Memphis?
Posted Oct 13th 2007 11:05AM by Michael David Smith
Filed under: Memphis Basketball, Tennessee Basketball

A whole lot of people think Memphis is the team to beat in college basketball this season. Andy Katz ranked the Tigers first, and they were second in our premature hoops BlogPoll. There are a lot of reasons to like Memphis , including the fact that it returns seven of the top eight scorers from last season's Elite Eight team.

But Luke Winn of raises an interesting point in his preseason power rankings: Maybe Memphis isn't even the best team in its state. Winn ranks the Tigers fourth, one behind Bruce Pearl's Tennessee Volunteers. Winn writes:

Tennessee is now epicenter of college hoops, with a top-five team on each side of the state and a decent SEC sleeper (Vandy) sitting in the middle. Unfortunate that we have to wait until Feb. 23 to settle a rivalry in which both teams play up-tempo ball and both coaches actively dislike each other. That leaves us to speculate in the meantime: Even though Memphis is the preseason No. 1 in a few prominent places on the Web, the Vols might be slightly better. They won last year's meeting by 18, and filled a glaring frontcourt need with the offseason addition of Iowa transfer Tyler Smith. The Tigers are bringing in an all-world point guard in Derrick Rose, but does that signal an 18-point improvement?

It's an interesting point. I don't know if anyone has ever called Tennessee the "epicenter of college hoops before, but it may be now. - Hansbrough, Douglas-Roberts headline this year's Player of the Year candidates

Chris Douglas-Roberts - Memphis, Guard

One of the most improved players last season, Douglas-Roberts took his game to another level in the NCAA Tournament as he handled the responsibility of scoring in double-digits night in and night out for John Calipari. With a clip of 15.4 points and 3.4 rebounds, the junior shooting guard can score in a variety of ways, from slashing to the hoop to sticking the open three on the perimeter. Now with the Tigers standing at the top of the polls to start the season, the expectations are even higher for the Detroit native, who should benefit from a veteran lineup that includes forwards Robert Dozier and Joey Dorsey as well as guards Antonio Anderson and Doneal Mack. But if Douglas-Roberts can learn to play alongside freshman sensation Derrick Rose, one of the top point guard recruits coming into the season, then there's no telling how far Memphis can go in 2007-08.

Cover Page of Memphis Commercial Appeal on October 13

Ed Land, Jr.'s Recap of Midnight Madness

T-I-G-E-R-S, Tigers! The Madness Begins...
If you weren't at Memphis Madness, here's what you missed:

-A crazy and sick toss-the-ball-in-the-air, run-under-it, jump, catch the ball, double-pump power dunk by Derrick Rose. 1 try. 1 ball through the net.
-The presence of Andre Turner and Elliott Perry as dunk contest judges.
-About 25 ally-oops during the Tiger's scrimmage.
-Some really big Chinese guys shooting the 3.
-A heart-felt thank you from John Calipari to the fans, for coming out despite the many Friday night alternatives.
-The official beginning of the Tigers 2007-2008 Championship Season!

Be sure to look for Derrick Rose in "The Interview" in the upcoming issue of Memphis Sport Magazine. For now, here are a couple of personal favorite is the dry-erase board denoting the starting line-ups for the Memphis Madness scrimmage. I wish I could get the Derrick Rose video dunk on here for everyone, but I don't have the skillz. That should be obvious, considering the terribly annoying way that the stupid photo program displays all of the pictures below. Trust me, it looks nothing like that every time I re-save it.

Later! Ed Land, Jr. - Dunk Time

Dunk Time
By David Scott - October 12, 2007

MEMPHIS - The dunk contest is coming up and not a minute too soon. Building has lost some energy. Or at least I have.

Each contestant, Jeff Robinson and Doneal Mack, had 30 seconds to do his best dunk. Robinson got in three, including two windmills. Mack tried a between the legs but failed and made just one of his dunks.

Robinson got a combined score of 33 while Mack got something less.

But the highlight came after Calipari said, "I've got to give Derrick Rose just one tim. Truly for my own enjoyment."

Rose gave enjoyment to the crowd with a pass to himself from the 3-point line, a catch, a pump between his legs and an overhead the jam. Yeah, the kid's that good.

. . . "I got chills watching that highlight tape and saw that banner go up," said Calipari. "But you know what, last year is over. You don't know where it's going, but I'll tell you what, it looks like it's going to be a lot of fun."

. . . A full court scrimmage between the blue and white will cap off the night. The blue is being coached by assistant Derek Kellogg and the white is being headed up by assistant John Robic. Kellogg immediately made like he was bribing the officials.

Starting five for the blue is Dorsey, Antonio Anderson, Willie Kemp, Jeff Robinson and Chris Douglas-Roberts. the White is going with Rose, Robert Dozier, Doneal Mack, Andre Allen and Shawn Taggart.

Looks like it will be a 15 minute game.

. . . The four judges for the dunk contest are former Tiger players Elliott Perry (1987-91), Andre Turner (1982-86), Billy Smith (1990-93) and Ernest Smith (1988-92).

. . . The Tiger 3-point shooters won that contest 22-19. Loser goes back to China. Next week.

Morning practice observations - Saturday 10/13

Morning practice observations
Posted by Dan Wolken

After a pretty late night on Friday, I was curious how the Tigers would look at 9 a.m. for their first real practice. In a word: Wow.

Surely, every practice won’t be as good as Memphis’ Saturday morning session, but clearly Chris Douglas-Roberts was telling the truth when he said Friday night, “This is a business year.” The Tigers were sharp, focused and very much engaged throughout the two-plus hours they were on the court. Quick observations before I get to work on stories for tomorrow’s newspaper:

– Freshman point guard Derrick Rose gets better with every practice, and the margin of improvement from two weeks ago is scary.

–Though sophomore forward Pierre Niles still isn’t in the kind of shape he needs to be in, Saturday morning might have been the best practice of his career.

– Junior forward Robert Dozier is up to 222 pounds, and he’s not backing down from physical play. He’s making plays in traffic he wasn’t able to make last year.

– Freshman Jeff Robinson has beautiful arc on his jump shot, and when he gets in rhythm, he doesn’t hit much rim.

– Sophomore Willie Kemp rolled his right ankle during Memphis Madness. He tried to practice but had to quit after just a few minutes.

– Andre Allen went down with a little quad strain, but he got up after about 90 seconds and went right back to practice.

Posted Saturday, October 13th, 2007 at 2:19 pm - Legal problems make coaches take action

Legal problems make coaches take action
By Andrew Skwara, College Basketball Staff Writer

No more late nights. No more night clubs.

That was the offseason message two coaches, Memphis' John Calipari and UAB's Mike Davis, sent to their teams after both programs had multiple players arrested this past summer. Calipari and Davis set up curfews and a rule barring their players from going to night clubs.

Calipari has since lifted the curfew – the night club rule remains in effect – but his original move highlights a growing problem in college basketball as a series of players got into trouble with the law during the offseason.

Duquesne, Missouri, Pittsburgh and Oklahoma State also were among the schools that had players run afoul of the law.

At Memphis, freshman Jeff Robinson and Iowa State transfer Shawn Taggart were both arrested outside a night club in early September and charged with disorderly conduct and inciting a riot. Robinson was also charged with assault with the intent to do bodily harm. There was also a report that center Joey Dorsey started a fight inside the club. Robinson and Taggart have pled not guilty and await trial on Nov. 6.

Five UAB players, none of whom has suited up for the Blazers yet, were arrested at a Birmingham club in the early hours of Aug. 31. Junior guard Channing Toney was charged with physically harassing an officer. Junior guard Edward Berrios was charged with physical harassment and disorderly conduct. Sophomore forward Robert Vaden (who played for Davis at Indiana), sophomore forward Walter Sharpe and freshman center Keenan Ellis were each charged with disorderly conduct. Police also found that Sharpe had a warrant out accusing him of failing to appear on a case involving possession of marijuana. Ellis has since left school due to academic issues and enrolled at a junior college.

Davis chose not to suspend anyone, but says he internally disciplined the players. He later implemented an 11 p.m. curfew for all players.

Pittsburgh junior point guard Levance Fields, who tied for fifth in the Big East with 4.6 assists a game last season, may have been the most high-profile player arrested. Fields was subdued with a Taser gun when, police said, he tried to get a hold of an off-duty officer's gun at a Pittsburgh club on Sept. 16. Fields must serve 50 hours of community service and pay court costs. Coach Jamie Dixon said he will handle any punishment internally.

Duquesne forward Stuard Baldonado has been indefinitely suspended following two arrests within a five-day span, first on Aug. 31 for criminal conspiracy involving the manufacture, delivery or possession of a controlled substance, and again on Sept. 5 for a misdemeanor drug charge. Baldonado was one of five Duquesne players shot at an on-campus dance last year. He is also facing charges in Miami for aggravated assault and false imprisonment.

Missouri coach Mike Anderson chose to kick senior power forward Kalen Grimes, the Tigers' leading rebounder, off the team after he was charged with second-degree felony assault.

Oklahoma State guard Obi Muonelo was arrested in Stillwater, Okla., in late June for being in a 21-and-up bar. Muonelo was 19 at the time.

Tennessee hasn't dealt with any arrests, but for the second consecutive year its starting center begins the season indefinitely suspended. Police found a small amount of marijuana in the room of sophomore Duke Crews, who reportedly had already failed one drug test. Former Vol Major Wingate was kicked off the team last year for failing multiple drug tests.

This is the first time in years that some of these schools have had to deal with these type of incidents. For others, like Memphis and Tennessee, it appears to be part of a disturbing trend. Whether curfews or prohibiting visits to clubs is the answer remains to be seen. At least there should be less time to get in trouble with the practice now officially under way.

Andrew Skwara is a national writer for He can be reached at