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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thursday (11/8) practice report

Thursday practice report

Posted by Dan Wolken After a day off, the Tigers returned to work, but they didn’t spend much time on the court. Memphis went through a few light drills and put in some new offensive and defensive looks, but didn’t go into any live action. After that, the players went over to coach John Calipari’s house for what he called some “team building.”

Essentially, Calipari is somewhat concerned about the amount of attention freshman Derrick Rose has received in the past week and the effect it might have on the rest of the team. Rose was named the MVP of the Memphis regional of the 2k College Hoops Classic — rightly so, in my view — and just Thursday was on the cover of ESPN The Magazine. Calipari said he hasn’t seen any warning signs of problems and admitted that it may not be having any impact at all on the other players. But it’s probably better to deal with it on the front end, since I don’t think the attention on Rose is going away. If Rose plays as well in New York as he did in Memphis this week, the national press will be just as gaga over the kid as we were.

“You wouldn’t even know we’ve got some guys here who won 66 games (the last two years),” Calipari said. They’re normal humans, and they’ve got people in their ears. They’ve got a high expectation level, and I just want to…We have no control over how this is playing out. You could easily have given Chris Douglas the MVP, but that’s OK. We didn’t vote. But dealing with all this stuff, we have to, this has to be inside of how we deal with it. And you’ve got some guys that aren’t playing and they’ve got to maybe accept, should I be? In whose place? Who should I be playing in front of? So I just am going to spend some time at the house with them.”

Meanwhile, Calipari hinted at some possible experimenting with lineup changes. In both the UT-Martin and Richmond games, Memphis got off to fast starts but then lost the lead once the second team rotated in. It would not be a bad idea, in my view, to start either Willie Kemp or Doneal Mack, giving Memphis a shooter in the starting lineup and then another shooter that can rotate in. Then, if you’ve got a player like Antonio Anderson or even Joey Dorsey coming off the bench, that would only strengthen the second wave of players.

“If Joey comes off the bench we’ve probably got the best backup center in the country,” Calipari said. “But even if Joey starts we may have the best backup center in the country (in Shawn Taggart), and that’s not bad to have two big guys like that.”

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