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Friday, December 21, 2007

The Detroit News - Douglas-Roberts knows it's a title, or it's nothing

Douglas-Roberts knows it's a title, or it's nothing
David Goricki / The Detroit News

Chris Douglas-Roberts will settle for nothing less than a national title.

Douglas-Roberts, a 6-foot-7 junior guard, has led the Memphis Tigers to an 8-0 start and No. 2 ranking.

He's averaging a team-high 18.3 points heading into tonight's game at Cincinnati (7, ESPN2). Memphis also will play host to No. 5 Georgetown on Saturday (noon, ESPN).

"Everybody on the team knows it's win the national championship or it's failure for us," Douglas-Roberts said of the Tigers, who advanced to the Elite Eight the last two seasons.

"It's very possible. We feel we should get it done. We have the talent, the experience and the depth."

And, it starts with Douglas-Roberts, an outstanding athlete and one of the best in the country at taking the ball to the basket.

He returned home to Detroit last summer to work on his game, lifting weights and shooting hundreds of jumpers.

"I just wanted to get better in all aspects of my game," Douglas-Roberts said. "I've gotten a lot stronger (200 pounds), and my shot is a lot better, too. My goal is to be the best at my position."

Douglas-Roberts (Cass Tech/Northwestern) is shooting 53.8 percent (45 on three-pointers).

Add 6-9 junior Joey Dorsey, a dominant defender; 6-9 junior power forward Robert Dozier; and freshman Derrick Rose, a 6-3 point guard, to the mix, and you can see why the Tigers have high expectations.

Toast of the town
The Tigers, the class of Conference USA, are the toast of the town Elvis made famous.

They play in front of sellout crowds at the 18,000-seat FedEx Forum.

Numerous billboards throughout the city publicize them. The NBA's Grizzlies take a back seat.

"We're treated like a pro team here," Douglas-Roberts said. "The fans here love their basketball, and we've had a lot of success."

Douglas-Roberts has made sure the success continued early.

He scored 33 in an 81-70 victory over Connecticut in the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic in New York, earning MVP honors.

"I was just clicking," Douglas-Roberts said of his 14-for-24 effort from the field. "It was a great feeling to be named MVP. It showed I was valuable to my team.

"I just came out aggressive. It was a championship game, and I was a little frustrated the game before since I got into foul trouble. I wanted to make it up to my teammates. I really felt Dorsey should have been MVP since he does all the little things well."

Dorsey is averaging 7.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.2 blocks. Rose is averaging 14.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and four assists.

Some believe Rose is the best freshman in the game, others think it's USC's O.J. Mayo, UCLA's Kevin Love or Kansas State's Michael Beasley.

"My teammate is the best one out there," Douglas-Roberts said. "He's more of a point guard. He can do a lot."

NBA is the goal
Douglas-Roberts' ultimate goal is to play in the NBA.

He could be a first-round pick if he decided to leave early.

"The NBA is definitely in my future," Douglas-Roberts said. "I feel I can play in it, and coach (John Calipari) is getting me prepared for it. I'll be looking at that decision during the off season."

But right now, Douglas-Roberts is concentrating on getting the Tigers to the Final Four and a shot at the national title.

How impressive would a national title be for Memphis? It would be the first non-BCS team to win it since UNLV in 1990, and only the second since Texas Western (now UTEP) in 1966.

You can reach David Goricki at david.goricki@detnews.com.

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