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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Gary Parrish CBS Sports - Memphis lives simple life in handling Georgetown

Memphis lives simple life in handling Georgetown

Dec. 22, 2007
By Gary Parrish Senior Writer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- John Calipari sat midcourt at the Larry O. Finch Center on campus Friday addressing his team. It was roughly 22 hours before tip-off of the weekend's showdown with Georgetown, and for a moment, the Memphis coach opted to eliminate the discussion of strategy and break things down in simple terms.

"They can talk about what we do on offense and what they do on defense and whatever, but in the end, it's not going to be what decides the game," Calipari said. "You know what's going to decide this game? Players making plays. It's players making plays, man. And I like my players."

One simple aspect to victory: Joey Dorsey dominates Roy Hibbert. (US Presswire) On Saturday, Memphis beat Georgetown 85-71.

Your thoughts, Coach Cal?

"I thought we made plays," Calipari said. "How about Joey (Dorsey) catching it at the foul line and making a spin-back basket? How about Chris Douglas-Roberts making plays? How about Robert Dozier in the middle of the zone making plays? It was players making plays."

Too often fans and analysts make basketball seem more difficult than it should ever seem. They talk about this inbounds play and that halfcourt trap and then comes tip-off and the games unfold, and those games are almost always decided by pretty much the same things -- by which teams have the better players making the most plays.

If players get stops, you win.

If players make shots, you win.

Coaches merely place the players in position to do as much. And the second-ranked Tigers' victory over the fifth-ranked Hoyas was the latest example of this theory testing true thanks to Douglas-Roberts (24 points and eight rebounds), Dorsey (11 points and 13 rebounds) and Dozier (19 points and six rebounds) making more plays than DaJuan Summers (4-of-11 from the field), Roy Hibbert (six points, six rebounds and three turnovers) and Jessie Sapp (five points and three turnovers).

Put another way, the Memphis players made plays and the Georgetown players didn't.

Which is why Memphis won this season's first match-up of Top 5 teams.

Though the advantage of a sellout crowd of 18,864 didn't hurt.

"It was amazing," said Memphis junior Antonio Anderson, who got seven points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals. "It was very important to us."

As was the re-emergence of Douglas-Roberts, the Tigers' top scorer who had been non-existent of late. The junior wing was averaging 21.8 points through six contests. But the past three games were uncharacteristically sluggish for the most unorthodox big-time scorer in college basketball, and after Douglas-Roberts got 10 points against Southern California, five points against Middle Tennessee State and four points against Cincinnati (on just three field goal attempts, it's worth noting) it was time for Calipari to pull him aside and work.


So they worked.

And worked and worked and worked.

"It was a pro-based workout, the hardest drills I've done in my life," Douglas-Roberts said. "And I needed it because those previous games I was out of it a little bit."

Against the Hoyas, he broke out of it a little bit.

"He's such a good player," said Georgetown coach John Thompson III after watching Douglas-Roberts make 7-of-13 field goal attempts in 36 minutes. "He can score a lot of different ways. He got into a rhythm. And guys like that, when they get into a rhythm, there's not much you can do."

Meantime, Georgetown's star player was not in a rhythm. Hibbert was in something more closely resembling a coma, getting only two points in the first 33 minutes before scoring four in the final seven, when the outcome was essentially already determined. It was an all-around uninspired/stock-damaging effort for the 7-foot-2 senior who withdrew from June's NBA Draft, and it left Dorsey feeling badly to some degree.

"I asked him why he wasn't telling his guys to throw it to him in the post," said Dorsey, who played with Hibbert for USA Basketball at the Pan-American Games this past summer. "I was telling him to be more vocal and get his teammates to throw the ball to him, because he's going to take them as far as they go."

So you were trying to help Hibbert?

"Yeah!" Dorsey answered. "That's my friend!"

And with that, Dorsey laughed -- laughed just like you'd expect a guy to laugh on a 10-0 team that might steal a couple of first-place votes from North Carolina in Monday's Associated Press poll. Even if, the Tigers will still almost certainly land at No. 2 for the fourth consecutive week, which they insist is fine with them as long as the nation at least recognizes what happened Saturday, that they led by 17 points late and mostly dominated a potential Final Four team that was getting a first-place vote of its own before entering FedExForum.

"We beat a great team and that says a lot about us," Douglas-Roberts said. "It's not hype with us. We're really a good team."

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