Memphis in the Meantime
By David Scott - October 09, 2007
MEMPHIS - When the Boss informed us that we'd be getting the repeat assignment for Conference USA Media Day, we did what any red-blooded, red meat eating college hoops head would rightfully do: We booked a couple of extra days on Beale Street, doubled up on the Lipitor and prepared ourselves for five magnificent days and four luxurious nights on the outskirts of Graceland.
So here we find ourselves a full 36 hours before the start of C-USA Media Day having already scarfed down a half rack of Blues City Cafe ribs, imbibed a handful of adult beverages and enjoyed the musical meanderings of the oustanding "high energy rockabilly trio," The Dempseys.
Forget March Madness, we've got Memphis Madness in early October.
Oh, and basketball? We've got that as well.
MORE AFTER THE JUMP. . .
Depending on who you listen to or read (see below), John Calipari's Memphis Tigers are anywhere from the pre-season No. 1 to the pre-season No. 5. Freshman Derrick Rose could be the nation's top newcomer, senior Joey Dorsey might be the best big man outside of Roy Hibbert and Chris Douglas-Roberts may be the most-improved player in all the land. Yes, this team is loaded and ready to break through the Elite Eight barrier that has appeared in both of the previous two seasons.
But Calipari has bigger things to conquer at this particular time. Like Asia. Or at least China. On the verge of his team's Midnight Madness (which will be live-blogged here at Hang Time), Calipari is hosting 15 Chinese basketball coaches who arrived in town on Tuesday afternoon and were treated to a night of ribs and rockabilly at Blues City on Beale Street. The coaches - and a full documentary video crew that is recording the visit for distribution in China - and their guests, will be treated to all the touristy offerings Memphis has to offer and, for the next ten days, will get immersed in Memphis Tiger basketball. One of the Chinese coaches will remain with Calipari's staff for the entire season and the coach has established a long term relationship with the Chinese Basketball Association.
"It's an amazing opportunity for all of us," said Calipari, who had to leave the Chinese delegation on Tuesday to take part in a Jimmy V event in New York City, but will return to Memphis on Wednesday. "We're all learning from each other and it's amazing how well basketball translates."
Lest you think Calipari has gone mad and is neglecting his team, think again.
"It's all about my team come Friday night," he said. "This deal with China is going to be great for the university and for everyone involved. But I'm ready to start coaching my team."
. . . How hot is Memphis basketball? Well, in addition to almost 20 billboards all over town with images (and, in the case of Rose, flower inserts) of players and catchy sayings like, "It's Mr. Dorsey to you," the season's slate of games at the FedEx Forum is around 500 tickets from being a complete sell-out, according to Memphis officials. The Tigers, quite simply, have this town by the tail.
. . . We'll plan on having an update or two from campus during Wednesday and then we'll be with you all day on Thursday for Media Day and CSTV's Media Slam and then again on Friday night for Midnight Madness (without the tape delay!).