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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dorsey makes sizeable impact as U of M cakewalks over Bucs

Dorsey makes sizeable impact as U of M cakewalks over Bucs
By Dan Wolken
Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Usually, the most noticeable thing about University of Memphis forward Joey Dorsey is his granite-carved physique. But when Dorsey stepped on the floor at FedExForum Monday for his season debut against Christian Brothers, he was wearing a white t-shirt under his jersey, covering up biceps that can affect opponents psychologically just as well as physically.

"You can't see the muscles and they ain't scared of me like that," Dorsey said.

The T-shirt was necessary to mask the brace Dorsey wore over his right shoulder, which he sprained on Oct. 27, forcing him to miss the Tigers' first two games this season. But even with the extra attire, the 6-foot-9 senior was as intimidating as ever, tuning up for this week's trip to New York by scoring 10 points with 10 rebounds as No. 3 Memphis dominated CBU 90-35 in an exhibition game played before an announced crowd of 16,544.

"The rest of us did our thing," coach John Calipari said. "But he was the difference-maker."

In a game that was surprisingly non-competitive, given that CBU returned all five starters from last season and is ranked in the top-10 of several Div. 2 preseason polls, Dorsey indeed provided the interior presence Memphis lacked in victories last week over Tennessee-Martin and Richmond.

Though Calipari said Dorsey didn't start off the game playing with the same intensity as his teammates, Dorsey went 3-for-3 from the field and had four rebounds in the first eight minutes, helping the Tigers to a 23-7 lead they extended to 41-17 by halftime.

Dorsey came back in the second half with the intent to dominate, altering seemingly every shot CBU tried to put up. Though Dorsey did not record any blocks, he had four steals, one of which he turned into a right-handed windmill dunk for a 61-19 lead, erasing any doubt about the health of his shoulder.

"If I think about the shoulder when I'm out there, I'm going to play bad, and that's what I was starting to do," Dorsey said. "Then I got loose and got back in the flow of the game."

Said Calipari, "It's one of the first times I've seen him change during a game where he said, I'm going to do it the right way. He clogged up the middle, he guarded his man, he helped his teammates, and all the sudden they couldn't score a basket."

Beyond Dorsey's return, the Tigers excelled in almost all the other areas, finishing with a 53-26 rebounding edge and holding the Bucs to 15-for-52 from the field. For Memphis, it was a defensive breakthrough after several days of listening to Calipari criticize their effort and attention to detail in the first two games.

"Coach was screaming and yelling all his choice words," junior guard Chris Douglas-Roberts, who scored 13 points in 14 minutes, said. "When he's doing all of that, you're like, let's do whatever to get him to close his mouth. We're back to playing Memphis basketball where we're diving on the floor, defense is first. The first two games we fell off of it but now we're back."

The Tigers, who experimented with several different lineups, were also sharp offensively. They made 50 percent of their field goals, committed just three turnovers and got back to driving the ball toward the rim instead of settling for 3-pointers.

Sophomore Shawn Taggart, a 6-foot-11 transfer from Iowa State, showcased his face-up skills in the post by scoring 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting, freshman point guard Derrick Rose had nine points and five assists, and sophomore Doneal Mack came off the bench to score a team-high 15 points.

Reach Dan Wolken at 529-2365; read his blogs on the Tigers at thememphisedge.com.

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