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Monday, October 15, 2007

CA's Geoff Calkins' Column on Joey Dorsey

He's a big kid - with big dreams for season
By Geoff Calkins
Friday, October 12, 2007

At just about 1 p.m. Thursday, Memphis center Joey Dorsey took his seat behind a FedExForum microphone. Since Dorsey's last appearance in front of microphone, he had:

1. Helped instigate a riot on Beale Street by standing on a bar and throwing money in the air;

2. Told a reporter from Sports Illustrated the Memphis players live in a house that's "like a mansion;"

3. Mixed up his Biblical history before the Tigers' Elite Eight game against Ohio State, declaring that he was going to play Goliath to Greg Oden's David.

Which, naturally, he went and did.

So it was a shocker to see Dorsey at Conference USA Media Day on Thursday, maybe even more shocking after he started to speak.

"I'm talking this year," he said.

Roy Hibbert, you better watch out.

"The first thing that comes into my head, I'm saying it," Dorsey said.

Yes, that's right.

The very first thing.

What was Memphis coach John Calipari thinking letting the guy come to media day? Didn't he know Dorsey was bound to mess up?

"At some point, he's got to learn to say the right things," Calipari said. "It might as well be now."

Which is exactly right, of course, and why don't more coaches understand this?

College is supposed to be about learning. What do players learn when they're sequestered away from everything?

Calipari wants Dorsey to be a part of his basketball team. Some people might think that's the wrong choice.

But Calipari doesn't try to hide or protect Dorsey, from the media or from himself.

The conference wanted the all-conference players at media day. Dorsey is an all-conference player. So that was that.

"I might ask Lamar to stand really close to him," said Calipari, referring to Lamar Chance, who handles media relations for the basketball team.

But Lamar didn't stand really close to Dorsey. Dorsey handled the questions himself. And he did it with grace and humor and what seemed like sincere humility.

He said he was selfish to call out Oden. He said he wants to become the senior leader of this team.

Ahhh, but how about the fight at the Plush Club?

"That doesn't show much leadership," he said. "I want to apologize to the city of Memphis for my actions that night."

Did you hit anyone, as it said in the police report?

"No," he said.

Did you -- might as well use the current term for throwing money -- make it rain?

"That," he said, "I did."

So, there. He admitted it. How can anyone hold it against him now?

The man is 23 going on 7. He is charming and impossible and loveable and infuriating.

"He's goofy," said Memphis guard Antonio Anderson.

"He's a big kid," said Memphis forward Chris Douglas-Roberts.

"I like to play with Bradley Calipari," said Dorsey.

Bradley Calipari -- the coach's son -- is 11.

"I'm probably one year older," Dorsey said.

Hey, 12 is a cute age.

Maybe that's why so many Memphis fans like the guy, why his jersey sold for twice as much as any other Tiger jersey when it was auctioned off last year.

Dorsey might be a big kid, but he's Memphis' big kid. He might be a knucklehead, but he's Memphis' knucklehead.

Oh, and he loves the city. For real.

"It's been the best four years of my life in Memphis," he said. "Everyone's embraced me with open arms."

Now Dorsey intends to repay everyone with the best season of his life. He plans to stay out of foul trouble, dominate defensively and lead the country in rebounding.

He also plans to go through the entire year without saying or doing something stupid. Which his coach doesn't for a minute believe.

"To say he won't -- I'm almost expecting it," said Calipari.


"Probably around the Elite Eight."

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

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