Search This Blog

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Raise Lifts Cal Into Top Salary Tier

Raise lifts Cal into top salary tier
Memphis' John Calipari has joined a select group of college basketball coaches near the top of the salary chart. He makes more than $1.8 million

By Dan Wolken
April 29, 2007

John Calipari's latest raise from the University of Memphis makes him one of the highest-paid coaches in college basketball.

According to a copy of the contract amendment he signed earlier this month, Calipari received a raise of more than $500,000, bringing his total guaranteed compensation to $1.816 million per year.

While Calipari's base salary remained the same at $155,000, his radio/television appearance money was increased from $460,000 to $733,000. His compensation for public relations activities went from $385,000 to $658,922.

Calipari's athletic shoe, apparel and/or equipment guarantee went from $300,000 to $270,000, with the $30,000 difference being re-distributed equally to assistants John Robic, Derek Kellogg and Chuck Martin.

The only other change in Calipari's contract regards the bonus for won/loss record and graduation rates. Previously, if Memphis won 81 percent of its games and graduated 60 percent of its players, Calipari received a bonus of $160,000. Now, instead of using the graduation rate, the bonus will be based on the NCAA's four-year academic performance rating called the APR.

If Memphis achieves an APR of 925 -- the NCAA cutoff point before sanctions are issued against a school -- Calipari is eligible to collect the bonus.

Calipari will still collect a $2.5 million annuity if he stays at Memphis through the 2009-10 season.

With this most recent raise, Calipari is now near the top 10 in college coaching salaries. Only a handful of coaches make $2 million or more, including North Carolina's Roy Williams ($3 million), Duke's Mike Krzyzewski (reportedly $3 million), Kentucky's Billy Gillispie ($2.3 million), Ohio State's Thad Matta ($2.1 million), Louisville's Rick Pitino ($2 million), Texas' Rick Barnes ($2 million) and Florida's Billy Donovan (his raise is currently under negotiation).

Calipari's financial package is now on par with the likes of Michigan State's Tom Izzo ($1.8 million) and Marquette's Tom Crean ($1.7 million).

Calipari received roughly a $300,000 raise after the 2005-06 season, when he coached the Tigers to a 33-4 record and an Elite Eight appearance. This year, athletic director R.C. Johnson approached Calipari about a contract renegotiation the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

On the heels of another 33-4 record and second straight Elite Eight, Memphis will likely be ranked in the top three of all preseason polls for 2007-08.

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

Cal Will Recruit Actively for 2008, Potential Mass Exodus to NBA

Calipari will recruit actively
Mass exodus of talent could follow '08 season

By Dan Wolken
April 29, 2007

Technically, the University of Memphis has just one scholarship to give for 2008: the one currently occupied by senior-to-be Joey Dorsey. Coach John Calipari said this week, however, he wants to sign as many as five players for the class of 2008.
It's not hard to read between the lines.

"In all likelihood," Calipari said, "we're going to clear the decks in another year."

While Memphis has escaped this spring without any early defections to the NBA Draft, Calipari is not expecting the same thing next April. If the Tigers have the kind of season most people expect -- which is to say, a Final Four-type season -- Calipari is ready to re-stock his roster for 2008-09.

"Obviously Joey will leave and maybe two, three, four of the other guys will have an opportunity to go if we do something unique," Calipari said.

Certainly, Calipari will have to replace incoming point guard Derrick Rose. It would be a huge surprise if Rose, a projected top-three pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, stays at Memphis for more than one year. Chris Douglas-Roberts could also be a candidate to leave after his junior year. The Web site currently projects Douglas-Roberts, the Tigers' leading scorer last season, as a late first-round pick in 2008. If forward Robert Dozier has a big junior year, he too could explore leaving early.

Calipari also hinted at the possibility a scholarship will open up this summer, which he would save for the 2008 class.

"This year we only had 12 guys on scholarship," he said. "Next year, I bet you we'll only have 12 guys on scholarship."

For that to happen, somebody currently on the roster would have to transfer. Though all is quiet on that front, it wouldn't be a surprise if one of Memphis' little-used scholarship players leaves after the school year ends.

For Tre'Von Willis, Hashim Bailey and perhaps even Kareem Cooper, it will be a struggle to break into the rotation next season. With Rose, Jeff Robinson and Iowa State transfer Shawn Taggart coming into the fold -- and all three are expected to contribute -- the Tigers project to have a 10- or 11-man rotation.

The wild card is freshman Pierre Niles. If he commits himself to a rigorous summer conditioning program, he'll get plenty of minutes as Dozier's backup, which is something Memphis lacked last season.

As far as who would fill the open scholarships, two of them are already spoken for. Twin forwards Marcus and Markieff Morris, who signed letters of intent last fall, will go to prep school as expected. With the three remaining slots, Calipari is looking for a wing, a guard and an athletic big man.

Though it's still early, Memphis is recruiting a number of highly rated players for the 2008 class. St. George's guard Elliot Williams has been a top target all along, but he is thought to be favoring Virginia or Vanderbilt.

The Tigers are also heavily involved with other guards like Tyreke Evans of Aston, Pa. (ranked fifth overall by, Jordan Theodore of Paterson, N.J. (ranked 56th), Chicago's DeAndre Liggins (ranked 90th), Craigmont's Terrico White and Brian Walsh, who is from Calipari's hometown of Moon, Pa.

Memphis is also looking at several big men, including 6-9 Laron Dendy, a borderline top-50 player who originally committed to Clemson but has re-opened his recruitment and is listing Memphis among a number of schools including Arizona, Texas, Maryland and Florida State.

Camp dates

Memphis is now taking applications for the John Calipari Basketball School with four camps for ages 7 through 18.

The first camp from June 4-7 focuses on practice skills and work habits and costs $175. The second, Mike Miller's shooting camp, runs from June 11-13 and costs $175. The Elite Overnight camp is June 15-17 and is $185. From June 25-28, Rod Strickland will run a camp with appearances by NBA players. The camp costs $225.

More information and registration can be obtained at or by calling 678-2346.

Back again

The Memphis radio broadcast team will return intact for 2007-08.

Learfield Sports, the parent company of Tiger Sports Properties, recently renewed the contracts of play-by-play man Dave Woloshin, color commentator Matt Dillon and studio host Forrest Goodman for another year. Jeff Brightwell has also been retained as the engineer.

Dillon and Goodman will continue to co-host the pre- and post-game shows on WREC-AM (600).

Dillon is entering his 35th season calling Memphis basketball on either television or radio.

Etc.: Memphis' non-conference schedule, the details of which were reported in last Wednesday's editions of The Commercial Appeal, is based on a 16-game Conference USA slate. At one point, Calipari was going to lobby his league coaches to go back to the 14-game schedule used in 2005-06. But with other leagues going to an 18-game schedule, including the Big East, Calipari said he was fine with 16 C-USA games. ...Calipari will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Wednesday night at AutoZone Park for the UofM's baseball game against Ole Miss. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m.

To reach reporter Dan Wolken, call 529-2365

Cal Says He 'Over-Scheduled' With Arizona, Gonzaga, Others

Tigers vs. Vols on TV beefs up schedule
Calipari says he 'over scheduled' with Arizona, Gonzaga, others

By Dan Wolken
April 25, 2007

There are still a few details to work out, a handful of dates to finalize. But the University of Memphis' non-conference basketball schedule for 2007-08 is practically done, and it includes challenges at every turn.

Perhaps the biggest of those will occur Feb. 23, when Memphis hosts Tennessee in what could be a matchup of two top-10 teams. ESPN has already committed to the game as its feature that night, and the network's "College GameDay" broadcast will originate from Memphis.

Memphis will face at least three more teams that project to be in the top-25, hosting Arizona on Dec. 29 and Gonzaga on Jan. 19.

The schedule also includes a December trip to New York to face Southern Cal in a made for TV game. That contest will be billed as a matchup of arguably the top freshmen guards in the country in Derrick Rose and USC's O.J. Mayo.

The Tigers will likely make another trip to New York to start the season in the Coaches vs. Cancer event.

Should Memphis win two games at FedExForum against mid-major level opponents -- those are still unknown at this point -- it will advance to Madison Square Garden for the semifinals. The other regional hosts are Connecticut, Oklahoma and Kentucky.

Memphis will play two true road games during the non-conference schedule, traveling to Cincinnati and Ole Miss.

"I probably overscheduled again this year," coach John Calipari said. "But if you're going to do it, this is probably the year."

The Tigers will play Middle Tennessee State at the Nashville Arena -- that game might be part of a double-header with Tennessee and another regional school -- and round out its schedule with home games against Pepperdine, Holy Cross, Appalachian State, Arkansas State and Austin Peay.

Those "buy games" were chosen to help boost the Tigers' strength of schedule. Appalachian State, for instance, just missed an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament last season after going 25-7 including victories over Vanderbilt and Virginia.

Holy Cross won the Patriot League last season and lost to Southern Illinois in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Ralph Willard, who coaches Holy Cross, upset Memphis in the 1993 NCAA Tournament when he coached at Western Kentucky.

Though Pepperdine struggled to an 8-23 record, that team is expected to be better next season with a solid recruiting class coming in. Pepperdine is coached by Calipari's friend, Vance Walberg, who created the offensive system Memphis now runs.

Arkansas State, Austin Peay and Middle Tennessee were kept on the schedule because Calipari believes they are going to be competitive in their respective leagues.

"Those teams are going to win 20 games," Calipari said.

The date of the Tennessee matchup is intriguing, because non-conference games are very rarely played that late in the season. Calipari's scheduling philosophy -- especially since Conference USA's reorganization -- has been to play one big non-conference game in January and one in February.

The date of the Memphis-Tennessee game has been a point of contention for both sides the last two years, with UT coach Bruce Pearl unhappy that the 2005-06 game was played in January and Calipari upset last season that the Tigers had to go to Knoxville and play their third game in five days.

But the amount of exposure ESPN will generate for this game is something both coaches can agree on.

"ESPN's 'GameDay' will be there, and we're assured of tremendous exposure all day long because they'll be broadcasting from the early morning,'' Pearl told the Knoxville News-Sentinel. "Normally, I would prefer to play the game during the traditional non-conference portion of our schedule.''

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365


2007-08 non-conference opponents

Unless noted, dates have not been determined:

At FedExForum

Arizona (Dec. 29), Gonzaga (Jan. 19), Tennessee (Feb. 23), Pepperdine, Holy Cross, Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Austin Peay

On the road

Ole Miss, Cincinnati

At Nashville

Middle Tennessee

At New York

USC (in Jimmy V Classic), Coaches vs. Cancer Classic

Tigers to Face Vols in Late February 2008

Tigers to face Vols in late February

By Dan Wolken
April 24, 2007

University of Memphis fans will have to wait until Feb. 23rd for the Tigers to host Tennessee next season.

That's just one detail about the 2007-08 nonconference schedule, which coach John Calipari said Tuesday was almost done.

In addition to the Tennessee game, which will be part of ESPN's college basketball GameDay pregame show, Memphis will host Arizona on Dec. 29 and Gonzaga on Jan. 19.
The other home opponents will be Pepperdine, Holy Cross, Appalachian State, Arkansas State and Austin Peay. The Tigers will also play a neutral-site game against Middle Tennessee at Nashville's Gaylord Entertainment Center.

The Tigers will play road games at Ole Miss and Cincinnati and make two trips to New York. The first will be for the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, where possible opponents include Kentucky and Connecticut.

The second trip will be to play Southern Cal.

Monday, April 23, 2007

No Summer Vacation for Tigers

No summer vacation for Tigers

By Dan Wolken, Memphis Commercial Appeal
April 22, 2007

The University of Memphis won't hold an official basketball practice for nearly six months, which means this is Richard Hogans' time of year.

And Hogans, the Tigers' director of performance enhancement, hopes his offseason is a busy one.

Though it's becoming more common, Memphis is still one of relatively few programs with a strength and conditioning coach who only works with the basketball team. Coach John Calipari does not require his players to train with Hogans during the summer, but those that don't take advantage do so at their own risk.

"I want to help them all," Hogans, a former UofM football player, said this week. "They're not mandatory workouts, but if you want to win games ..."

For a handful of players who came out of the 2006-07 season either overweight, underweight or injured, there is plenty of incentive to spend a good chunk of their summer in the weight room. With playing time at a premium next year -- Memphis could legitimately go 11 or 12 deep -- only the strong will survive a cutthroat competition for minutes.

Here are some of the players Hogans hopes to see a lot of over the next few months:

Pierre Niles: The 6-8 forward got down to 278 pounds before injuring his knee in the preseason. Now, Niles is weighing in at 315. If he doesn't drop the weight, Niles will be doomed to another season wasting his vast potential on the bench.

"It's going to be easy if he puts his mind to it, but it's all up to Pierre," Hogans said. "I can only give him the guidelines. ... I think he's there. Last year he wasn't there. He wasn't even trying to hear me, but now his mind is starting go, 'Wait, they're serious, I can't play like this. Cal ain't gonna let me play like this so I have to get in shape.'"

Robert Dozier: Though Dozier looked like an NBA player at times in the NCAA Tournament, he got pushed around down low most of the season. The 6-9 Dozier can't afford a repeat of last summer, when he bulked up to 220 pounds but then went home. He weighed in at 205 when he came back, irritating the Memphis coaching staff.

"I want to get him up to 220 or 225, good solid weight," Hogans said. "His frame can hold it. I think that will give him a little more confidence in the post and just make him a little tougher. "

Kareem Cooper: The skilled big man never got in shape last season, weighing as much as 310 pounds (he played at 270 during the 2005-06 season). The coaching staff has tried to cure Cooper of what appears to be a lazy streak, but so far the results have not been there.

"It could be crazy for Kareem," Hogans said. "He's the strongest guy on our team. When he was seriously in here, he was tearing some stuff up."

Shawn Taggart: After spending his transfer season rehabbing a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, the 6-10 Taggart is finally ready for some serious work. The year off gave him an opportunity to work on his upper body strength, which is a good head start.

"Tag is going to be nice," Hogans said. "He's been grinding and getting in here and doing what he needs to do. He's looking good, he's running good. That's another guy who really needs to get his stuff done this summer."

Hunt hoping

Jeremy Hunt's name isn't showing up on many mock drafts, at least not yet.

But Hunt believes he still has an opportunity to get picked somewhere in the NBA Draft, and the former Tiger will apparently get an opportunity to prove he belongs. Though the official list of participants for the May 29 NBA pre-draft camp won't be distributed until early next month, Hunt said he's already gotten an invitation to Orlando, where he'll get a chance to improve his draft stock against most of the top prospects.

"Worst-case scenario," Hunt said, "I don't get drafted, I try to get on somebody's summer league team, get invited to camp and we'll go from there. That's the worst case."

Whether or not Hunt gets drafted, his performance last season ensured he'll make money playing basketball somewhere in the world. After what turned out to be a year-long suspension from the program for off-court issues, Hunt returned as a fifth-year senior and was the Tigers' second-leading scorer at 14.1 points per game.

Though various injuries over the years have robbed the 6-5 guard from Craigmont High of some of his explosiveness, Hunt showed last season he has true NBA range on his jump shot. He made 89 3-pointers, nearly twice as many as any other Memphis player, many of them coming from well beyond the college 3-point line.

The other factor helping Hunt is his performance on the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. In Memphis' Sweet 16 victory over Texas A&M, Hunt had 19 points in 26 minutes on 6-of-12 shooting. He was even better against Ohio State in the Elite Eight, scoring 26 points in 35 minutes and making 5-of-11 from 3-point range.

"To go out with a bang like that, that really helped me," Hunt said.

Hunt has not yet hired an agent, but he's likely to sign with Memphis-based Tim Jumper.

Golf tournament

The Memphis Rebounders are now taking entries through May 11 for the John Calipari Golf Classic on May 17 at The Club at North Creek in Southaven. The format is a four-man scramble, and the registration fee is $150 per person.

Proceeds benefit the Rebounders' Walk of Fame project. Contact Bob Kennedy at for more information.

Etc: Ryan Miller, who worked on Memphis' basketball operations staff from 2003-06, has joined Steve Alford's staff at New Mexico as an assistant coach. Miller, the brother of Grizzlies guard Mike Miller, was an assistant last season at Pepperdine. ... Incoming freshmen Derrick Rose and Jeff Robinson got to team up Saturday for the Jordan All American Game in New York. Both of them played on the "Yellow" team, which was coached by Kevin Boyle, Robinson's coach at St. Patrick's High in Elizabeth, N.J.

To reach Tiger basketball reporter Dan Wolken, call 529-2365

Thursday, April 19, 2007

John Calipari's Latest Contract Signed and Sealed

John Calipari's Latest Contract Signed and Sealed

Eyewitness News ABC 24 Memphis
Apr 18, 2007 10:53 PM
Posted By: Jamie Griffin

The sixth amendment to Memphis basketball coach John Calipari's contract has been signed. Below are some of the highlights of the new agreement:

1. Calipari's Radio and Television arrangement has been raised from $460,000 to $733,000.
2. Calipari gets a bonus if the Tigers win 74% of their games, and a bigger bonus if the team wins 81% of their contest.
3. Calipari receives a bonus if the team reaches academic goals, based on a system calculated by the NCAA.
4. Calipari's public relations agreement with the university increased from $460,000 to $733,000.
5. $30,000 of Calipari's shoe sponsorship will be paid to the University on the condition that the University use those funds to compensate each of his three assistants coaches $10,000.

Louisville Courier-Journal Columnist Rick Bozich Names '08 Final Four - UNC, Memphis, Louisville, Tennessee

Cards will help fill the vacuum in '08 Final Four

Rick Bozich, Louisville Courier-Journal

Only 181 days of fussing remain until practice begins for the next college basketball season. That means I'm overdue to throw the first elbows.

Here it goes: I'm ready with my frontrunners to reach the Final Four in San Antonio -- North Carolina, Memphis, Louisville and Tennessee.

What are you waiting on? Speak up. Last season is soooo yesterday.

Another thing: Last month I lamented a record that our local Big Three -- U of L, the University of Kentucky and Indiana University -- established this season. For the first time since the NCAA bracket expanded to 16 teams in 1951, the Big Three wheezed through back-to-back seasons without one making the Sweet 16.

That streak ends next season. I'm confident of that.

I envision at least two Sweet 16 teams in the group -- U of L and IU. I feel better about the Kentucky program than I've felt in nearly four years, especially if Billy Gillispie and his staff finish the job Tubby Smith could not -- the signing of Patrick Patterson and Jai Lucas.

And I expect Western Kentucky to join the party and make the NCAA field next season, too.

Burden of success
Let's get back to the Final Four. Applications are now being taken for serious contenders.

Before you make your list, let me give you a cheat sheet on teams that won't be there: A good place to start is with the teams that gathered in Atlanta several weeks ago, with the possible exception of UCLA.

These are frantic times in college hoops. According to some lists, 18 underclassmen have declared themselves eligible for the NBA draft.

So much for the theory that the example set by the four Florida sophomores who returned for their junior seasons would slow the sprint to the NBA.

Success does not breed success. Success breeds an exodus.

Every Final Four team figures to take a super-sized hit. The four Florida juniors are gone. Georgetown's two big men -- Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert -- have made themselves eligible. UCLA has lost top scorer Arron Afflalo. Ohio State could lose three members of its dazzling freshman class.

Stability is key
And that leaves … a vacuum atop the ratings.

The safest place to begin is with North Carolina. The Tar Heels could still lose freshman Brandan Wright. But at least Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson and a strong supporting class are returning.

The crowd is also clamoring for Kansas. Can't do that until I'm certain Brandon Rush isn't going to follow Julian Wright out the door.

Stability directs me toward Memphis and Louisville. Memphis returns four starters and adds Derrick Rose to replace Jeremy Hunt. Rose for Hunt? Great trade. As long as Memphis remains in Conference USA, the Tigers will roll to a glittering record and high seed.

Louisville figures to return guys who scored nearly 87 percent of its points and collected about 88 percent of its rebounds. That doesn't put the Cardinals' chance of making the Final Four at 87.5 percent. But I believe Rick Pitino's team deserves its place in the discussion.

As does Tennessee. The Vols return the heart of a team that was one possession away from knocking Ohio State out of the NCAA Tournament. In Chris Lofton, Tennessee will have the nation's best senior guard.

The hot seat has space for others -- Southern California, Oregon, Michigan State, Georgia Tech, Washington State, Syracuse … and Indiana.

And the Hoosiers look like at least a Sweet 16 team, with center D.J. White announcing yesterday that he will stay at IU for his senior season, joining freshman guard Eric Gordon and the rest of Kelvin Sampson's powerful recruiting class.

We'll know more -- in 181 days.

Reach Rick Bozich at (502) 582-4650 or Comment on this column, and read his blog and previous columns, at

Friday, April 13, 2007 Early All-American Teams - CDR 2nd Team, Derrick Rose 4th Team, Joey Dorsey Mentioned

2007-08 Early All-American Team Projection
April 12th, 2007
By Shawn Siegel,

This early projection of the 2007-08 All-American teams will be updated as official NBA Draft decisions are made.

First Team All-American
G. Sean Singletary
G. Chris Lofton
F. Brandon Rush
F. Julian Wright
F. Tyler Hansbrough

Second Team All-American
G. Darren Collison
G. Chris Douglas-Roberts
G. Drew Neitzel
F. Chase Budinger
C. Brook Lopez

Third Team All-American
G. DJ Augustin
G. Dominic James
F. Terrence Williams
F. Michael Beasley
F. Richard Hendrix

Fouth Team All-American
G. Mike Conley
G. Javaris Crittenton
G. Derrick Rose
F. Ryan Anderson
C. Taj Gibson

Next Ten:
Jon Brockman
JamesOn Curry
Stephen Curry
Wayne Ellington
Josh Heytvelt
Marcelus Kemp
DeMarcus Nelson
Tyrese Rice
Rodney Stuckey
Bill Walker

Others in Consideration: Jeff Adrien, Jaycee Carroll, Dionte Christmas, Joe Crawford, Joey Dorsey, Eric Gordon, AJ Graves, Ty Lawson, Tasmin Mitchell, Jason Smith's Stewart Mandel Names Calipari in Nation's Top 10 Coaches List

Head of the class
Ranking the top 10 active coaches in the nation
Posted: Wednesday April 11, 2007 11:45AM

With Mark Turgeon's hiring at Texas A&M on Tuesday, an eventful spring coaching carousel (particularly for Arkansas) appears to finally be slowing to a stop. Because so many high-profile programs have changed coaches -- and so many high-profile coaches changing jobs -- now seems as good time as any to survey the current coaching landscape in college basketball.

Much like I've done the past two seasons for football, the following list is an attempt to rank the sport's top 10 coaches right now. It is not a career-achievement list, so while a coach's track record obviously plays a huge part in his reputation, more weight was placed on his most recent performances (sorry, Lute Olson). Similarly, only those who have been head coaches for at least three seasons were considered (sorry, Anthony Grant).

As for the criteria, winning championships and getting to Final Fours is the benchmark by which all college coaches are judged. But I also placed added value on coaches who get more out of less, have recently rebuilt programs or whose imprint is clearly visible in the way their teams play.

Without further ado, the nation's top-10 coaches as of April 2007:

1. Billy Donovan, Florida: The 41-year-old just pulled off one of the great coaching feats of the modern era, molding a cast of four largely unheralded freshmen three years ago into the nucleus of a selfless, highly cohesive juggernaut that pulled off the sport's first repeat national championship in 15 years.

2. Roy Williams, North Carolina: His 524 wins through 19 seasons far eclipse that of any other coach in history (Jerry Tarkanian had 436), and, much like the way his team plays, he only seems to be picking up the pace, having reestablished UNC as an annual national-title threat (the Tar Heels could start next season No. 1).

3. Jim Calhoun, Connecticut: Yes, the Huskies are coming off their worst season since 1992-93, but that can happen when you lose a record five NBA Draft picks. Before that, Calhoun had won two national titles and earned five No. 1 or 2 NCAA seeds in an eight-year span.

4. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke: Coach K was the no-brainer No. 1 for nearly 20 years, but his most recent teams have been plagued by a lack of depth, several high-profile washouts and a tendency to underachieve in the NCAAs (J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams made it out of the Sweet 16 just once despite having a No. 1 seed three times).

5. Rick Pitino, Louisville: It's been nearly a decade since Pitino ended his dominant run at Kentucky, yet his up-tempo style and recruiting prowess have remained a model. Pitino took the Cardinals to the Final Four in 2005 and has them in position to be a top-10 (possibly top-five) team next season.

6. Tom Izzo, Michigan State: It's been a rough couple years for Izzo's program since he lost the core of the 2005 Final Four team (Izzo's fourth trip in seven years), but even so the Spartans have maximized their talent, reaching the NCAAs both years, and should be back in contention for a Big Ten title next season.

7. Ben Howland, UCLA: He pretty much fits all the aforementioned criteria, having rebuilt the Bruins with a clearly defined, defense-oriented philosophy and has reached consecutive Final Fours with a talented but hardly loaded group of players. With star recruit Kevin Love joining the mix this fall, UCLA will certainly have a shot at another.

8. John Calipari, Memphis: Say what you want about the guy's recruiting tactics, or his failed NBA tenure, but Calipari can flat-out coach college basketball, as proven again this past season when, despite losing two first-round draft picks and his starting point guard, he still led a young Tigers team to its second-consecutive Elite Eight.

9. Thad Matta, Ohio State: In seven years as a head coach, Matta has been to seven NCAA tournaments, reached a national-title game with the Buckeyes, the Elite Eight with Xavier and managed to sign one of the most impressive recruiting classes in history despite the Buckeyes enduring NCAA sanctions at the time. More to come.

10. Billy Gillispie, Kentucky: He would have made this list whether Kentucky hired him or not. Gillispie has demonstrated a remarkable ability to make an immediate impact on a program with quick turnarounds at both UTEP (from 6-24 to 24-8) and Texas A&M (from 7-21 the year before his arrival to the NCAAs in his second season and Sweet 16 this year).

Just missed: Michigan's John Beilein, Kansas' Bill Self, USC's Tim Floyd, Gonzaga's Mark Few, Wisconsin's Bo Ryan.

Also considered (in alphabetical order): Texas' Rick Barnes, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon, Texas Tech's Bob Knight, Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery, Tennessee's Bruce Pearl, Indiana's Kelvin Sampson, Georgetown's John Thompson III.

In case you're curious why I didn't compile a list of the "five worst" like I do for football -- it's because there are 336 Division I teams, for crying out loud. I'd be lying if I told you I even knew the names of the bottom 150.

But that doesn't mean I won't accept nominations.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Former Coach/Player Larry Finch to Have Street Named After Him

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Memphis City Council members voted to name a street after a popular former Memphis State basketball player and coach.
"Larry Finch" signs will go up on Pendleton Street in South Memphis.

In 1973, in his senior year at Memphis State, Larry Finch lead the Tigers to the NCAA men's basketball championship game against UCLA.

Finch went on to become assistant coach and then head coach at Memphis State, now the University of Memphis. He was the head coach at Memphis State from 1986 until 1997.

Larry Finch is the all-time winningest coach in University of Memphis history.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

From the Boston Globe "Anderson, Tigers Refuse to Give Up on Final Four"

Anderson, Tigers refuse to give up on Final Four

By Jeremy Gottlieb
April 8, 2007

Just over two weeks have passed, but the what-ifs remain for University of Memphis guard Antonio Anderson.

For the second consecutive season, Anderson, a former star at Lynn Tech (MA), and his Tiger teammates were one game from NCAA basketball's biggest showcase, the Final Four. And for the second consecutive season, Memphis, seeded No. 2 in the South region, came up just short, falling to No. 1 Ohio State, 92-76, in the Elite Eight at San Antonio's Alamodome.

"Man, it was a tough loss," said Anderson, a sophomore who scored 10 points, grabbed three rebounds, and had four assists in the loss. "No one wants their season to end, especially like that. It was one of the toughest games of the year, if not the toughest. We just played a better team that day."

Memphis's tournament run featured a 65-64 Sweet 16 win over Texas A&M, the Tigers' 25th consecutive victory. Facing a 1-point deficit, Anderson swiped an offensive rebound and drew a foul with just three seconds remaining in the game. He stepped to the free-throw line and icily banged home both shots, allowing the fifth-ranked Tigers to advance. Anderson only scored 5 points against A&M, but the last 2 were the most important of the game. "We were all so tired," he said. "At that point, we just wanted to win the game. I knew I had to stay confident and calm and if I did that, I'd make them."

The Ohio State game was a different story. Memphis led as late as the 10-minute mark of the second half, until Buckeyes star Greg Oden took the game over from the low block and led his team to the win going away.

"He's a great player," Anderson said of Oden, projected to be the No. 1 pick in June's NBA draft. "He's got a big body, he's very aggressive, and he can play so well on both ends. He's going to be one of the top centers in the game."

Memphis shot 10-for-21 from 3-point range in the game and still lost by 16. "They were really clicking," Anderson said of the Buckeyes. "We shot almost 50 percent from deep and they still won. If all five guys on the other team are making shots, it's going to be tough to win."

It was a quick turnaround for Anderson, who made a brief trip to visit his family in Lynn last week before resuming school and beginning workouts for next season back in Memphis. He said that he, his mates, and coach John Calipari already are looking forward to next year, when the entire nucleus of this year's 33-4 team, as well as a couple of blue-chip recruits, will take another run at the Final Four.

"Training starts pretty quickly, but I'll still get to spend part of my summer at home in Lynn," said Anderson. "Next year is already looking good for us. It was such a great stage to play on this year, I can only hope I get the opportunity to take the next step to the Final Four and be a part of something like that as well."

From the Jackson (TN) Sun "Nike Hoop Summit: Tigers Signee Gets First Taste of Memphis"

Nike Hoop Summit: Tigers signee gets first taste of Memphis


MEMPHIS - Attention Memphis men's basketball fans: Future Tigers guard Derrick Rose arrived in the "Bluff City" earlier this week for the 10th annual Nike Hoop Summit.
But the Chicago Simeon senior has yet to be recognized as an instant celebrity in his future college town.

"I haven't really gotten the whole bang yet," said Rose, a 6-foot-3 guard who will lead the USA Junior National Select team against the 10-man World team at 3 p.m. Saturday at FedExForum. "Hopefully, people see me out (around town) and they'll know who I am and they'll come out to the game."

Rated the nation's third overall senior prospect by, Rose averaged 25 points, 9.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 3.4 steals per game this season as Simeon (33-2) became the first Class AA program to repeat as Illinois state champions. Simeon finished the season as the nation's top-ranked team by RISE/ and sixth by USA Today.

Rose was brilliant in a 78-75 win over defending national champion Oak Hill (Va.) Academy last January with 28 points and nine assists. He signed with Memphis last November over Indiana and Illinois.

Who's No. 1?

One year after the consensus No. 1 player from the Class of 2006, current Ohio State freshman Greg Oden , chose not to play in the Hoop Summit, this year's event has no shortage of talent.

But who is No. 1 this year?

Maryland's Michael Beasley is considered the best by, while Oregon's Kevin Love is ranked No. 1 by Bob Gibbons All-Star Report. and RISE/ Both have Huntington (W.Va.) standout O.J. Mayo on top of their respective rankings.

Mayo doesn't exactly agree with the rankings, but said the nation's best players are competing in this year's Hoop Summit.

"I don't think we have any one top player in this class," said Mayo, who signed with USC. "I think we have top players at each position. You've got good inside players and good guards.

"I just think we probably have the top five (players) at each position."

In a side note, Mayo and Huntington teammate Patrick Patterson join Episcopal (Penn.) Academy's Gerald Henderson and Wayne Ellington as the only players from the same prep team to be selected to play in the Hoop Summit in the same year.

Flying high

Oregon's Kevin Love was in Memphis for the first half of Thursday morning's practice before flying to Atlanta to accept the 2007 Naismith Trophy as the male high school basketball player of the year. Love - a 6-10 center who finished as Oregon's all-time leading scorer with 2,628 points - is expected to be back in Memphis on Friday and play for the USA team on Saturday.

Love's father, Stan Love, played in the NBA for the Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Bullets.

Still undecided

Huntington forward Patrick Patterson is the only USA player who has yet to sign a national letter of intent with a college. The 6-8 forward has narrowed his choices to Florida, Duke, Wake Forest, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.
The late college signing period runs April 11-May 16.

"Right now I'm trying to enjoy (the Hoop Summit) so recruiting is the last thing on my mind," Patterson said. "When I get back home, I'm going to talk with my family and narrow my six down to three and at the end of the month I'm going to decide."

What exactly is Patterson looking for?

"I'm a family guy," he said, "so I'm looking for a family atmosphere."

Other Hoop Summit signees include Jerryd Bayless (Arizona), Michael Beasley (Kansas State), Jonny Flynn (Syracuse), Kevin Love (UCLA), Donte Greene (Syracuse), O.J. Mayo (USC), Kyle Singler (Duke), Derrick Rose (Memphis) and Nolan Smith (Duke).

Remembering dad

Oak Hill Academy's Nolan Smith has a tattoo on his left arm in memory of his father, former Louisville and NBA guard Derek Smith .
Derek Smith scored more than 1,800 points at Louisville from 1978-82 and played for five NBA teams before dying of an apparent heart attack while on a cruise ship on Aug. 11, 1996.

"Mainly what I remember about my dad is what people tell me," said Nolan, a Duke signee who averaged 22 points per game as a senior for Oak Hill (40-1). "I know every time I step on the court, I'm playing in his memory."

Smith is a name familiar to West Tennessee hoop fans. Smith scored a game-high 34 points back in January in Oak Hill's 83-62 win over Liberty.

After that loss, Liberty won 15 consecutive games to win its second straight Class AA state championship.

Oak Hill beat nine state champions this season and finished ranked No. 1 by USA Today.

"They got after it," Smith said of Liberty, which finished the season ranked No. 13 nationally by RISE/ "They weren't scared."

-Joshua Parrott, 425-9634

Chicago's PG Supreme, Derrick Rose, Looks to Fit In Perfect With Tigers

Chicago's point guard supreme looks to 'fit in perfect' with Tigers

By Dan Wolken
April 6, 2007

In the six months between his visits to Memphis, Derrick Rose made his college decision, was the subject of a feature story in Sports Illustrated, led his Simeon High team to an ESPN-televised victory over Oak Hill (Va.) Academy, won an Illinois state title and watched his future teammates come within one game of the Final Four.
But the biggest thing on Rose's mind lately has been ... summer school?

For Rose, arguably the top 18-year-old point guard in the world, it's down to counting the days until he enrolls at the University of Memphis. Though there's still more than two months left before his first summer classes, Rose said Thursday he was excited to get a preview of his new hometown during the 2007 Nike Hoop Summit at FedExForum.

"I was anxious to get back here. I couldn't wait," Rose said. "When I was on the plane and the pilot said we were landing, man, I couldn't even sleep. I knew I was getting closer. I can't wait to just get down here for summer school and get to know the area and meet the fans."

With each passing day, Rose gets a little bit closer to a debut Memphis fans have been anticipating since he gave an oral commitment to coach John Calipari last October.

After an intensely scrutinized recruitment in his hometown of Chicago, Rose picked Memphis over Illinois and Indiana. The impact of that decision cannot be overstated. The minute Rose's letter of intent paperwork arrived in the Memphis athletic department, the Tigers immediately became one of the favorites to win the 2007-08 national championship.

Six months later, nothing has changed. Unless a current underclassman declares for the NBA Draft -- that seems unlikely at this point -- Rose will join a team returning almost intact off an Elite Eight appearance. Most early top-25 projections for 2007-08 have the Tigers at No. 4 behind Kansas, North Carolina and UCLA.

"Man, we should be up there," Rose said. "The way they played this year, the way they played as a team. The whole year, they got it done and I was cheering them on."

Now, Rose must get ready for the transition from cheering for the Tigers to joining them.

Given Rose's considerable talent and athletic ability, that likely won't be much of a challenge. "I'm going to fit in perfect," he said.

The bigger issue is how Rose will enjoy college life in an unfamiliar place. Before he arrived Thursday with the USA Junior National Select Team, Rose's only exposure to Memphis was a quick two-night official visit during Midnight Madness.

Rose, who got his first tour of Memphis from sophomore Antonio Anderson, said he wasn't worried about fitting in.

"It's like a small part of Chicago," Rose said. "I'm a city boy, and this is kind of like the city in Memphis. There's a downtown, and I like the players. I know they're going to get me right when I come down here."

Rose won't get that chance quite yet. After this weekend, he'll head to New York for the Michael Jordan game before heading back to Chicago for his final weeks of high school.

Though Rose is far from the only attraction on a U.S. team with future stars like O.J. Mayo and Michael Beasley, he's hoping Memphis fans make him feel even more at home by Saturday night.

"I hope it's crazy," Rose said.

Summit info

Tickets: $10 (lower bowl), $20 (courtside), $40 (floor) and $75 (floor). Available at the FedExForum box office, Ticketmaster locations, online at or by calling 525-1515.

TV: SportSouth

Memphis All-Star Classic: A game pitting teams of Memphis all-stars at 12:30 p.m.

The Coaching Musical Chairs

Now that the most profiled coaching positions have been filled (and I mean no disrespect to Texas A&M and South Alabama), we can all relax and assume that Calipari is in Memphis for another year. I really doubted that he would leave considering the talent base coming back next fall and the fact that Cal has a rather sizable annuity coming due in a few short years.

It is funny to read all of the Arkansas blogs that swear Cal was offered the Razorback job. Cal says he wasn't and if your Arkansas that is better because you don't want to be turned down by Billy Gillespie, John Calipari, Dana Altman, etc. It sounds better if Cal never received an offer.

So was Cal lying or not? I have no idea and really don't care. I don't think he wanted the job. He probably didn't like the idea of wearing a pig on his head. Dana Altman certainly didn't look too comfortable at his press conference with Frank Broyles doing a pigsooee cheer (and I guess he wasn't considering he went back to Omaha the next day).

Wednesday, April 04, 2007's Luke Winn's Top 10 for 2007-08 (Memphis #4)

Goodbye to the Gators ... and a Top 10 For 2007-08

ATLANTA -- The Florida Era was finished no matter what happened Monday night, but the euphoria of the victory party made it easier to let go. As the Gators' Oh-Fours -- juniors Corey Brewer, Taurean Green, Al Horford and Joakim Noah -- were flashing two-finger, two-peat salutes on the stage at the Georgia Dome, only a small pocket of fans piped up with a chant of "One more year!" The plea quickly lost steam and was overwhelmed by the greater celebratory din.

Florida had just made history, beating Ohio State 84-75 to become the first team since Duke in 1991-92 to repeat as national champions, and only the sixth ever back-to-back title-winners. Noah, the indefatigable icon who last year had told reporters that winning the NCAA tournament was "better than sex" (then adding "I should know, because I'm doing it right!") this time made a statement with his actions on the stage. He first removed his mouthpiece and chucked it down onto the court, then took off each of his black Nikes and wildly heaved them into a sea of blue-and-orange fans. The message was clear: I won't be needing these anymore.

None of the Gators were interested in talking three-peat, and really, after two titles, what statements were left to make? Noah hinted that his work was done, saying, "I remember when I was telling people, 'I'm going back to school,' and they were like, 'What? Are you crazy?' But you know what? I feel like now all of a sudden people understand that it's more than money. It's more than that. Now you guys are going to write about history -- one of the best teams ever. That's special. That's something that everybody in this locker room will never forget."

With those memories fresh in the minds, the Oh-Fours are soon expected to make a collective jump to the '07 NBA Draft, where three of them will be Lottery Picks (Horford, Noah and Brewer, in that order) and Green will be fighting his way out of the second round. "If one of us goes," said Brewer, "we all go."

They're going -- and leaving the title race for '07-08 wide open in their wake. Who will cut down the nets next year in San Antonio? Herewith, a first look at the top 10 for 2007-08 (with the assumption Georgetown's Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert, Kansas' Brandon Rush, North Carolina's Brandan Wright, Ohio State's Greg Oden, Texas' Kevin Durant, UCLA's Arron Afflalo and USC's Nick Young also make the early jump to the NBA):

1. NORTH CAROLINA Provided Tyler Hansbrough passes on the draft to work on his offensive repertoire, he'll be back with a vengeance for his junior season. After coming within a Georgetown three-pointer of the Final Four in '07, the Tar Heels' baby backcourt of sophomores Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington has matured enough to help Psycho T take Carolina all the way.

2. UCLA Junior point guard Darren Collison, who was snubbed for All-America honors in '07, will emerge from Afflalo's shadow to become a household name. With five-star freshman power forward Kevin Love -- an old-school post player who's been college-ready since 16 -- adding an offensive dimension inside, a third straight Final Four and coach Ben Howland's first national title are well within reach.

3. KANSAS For the second consecutive season the Jayhawks will be the best team on paper -- but can they get it done in March? Ballhawks Russell Robinson and Mario Chalmers will ensure the D remains fierce, but bullish guard Sherron Collins and elastic forward Julian Wright need to become scoring stars. Collins' painful knee injury -- he was said to be crying in practice the day before facing UCLA in the Elite Eight -- may have been the difference between KU heading home, or packing for Atlanta.

4. MEMPHIS Chicago phenom Derrick Rose,'s top-ranked point guard in the Class of 2007, joins one of the nation's deepest, most athletic rosters and should form a devastating duo in the backcourt with slasher Chris Douglas-Roberts. Look for another undefeated Conference USA season, and a serious run toward San Antonio.

5. OHIO STATE As long as ultrasteady point guard Mike Conley Jr. returns -- and that's no lock -- the Buckeyes will survive without their bearded baron of the paint. Incoming 7-foot freshman Kosta Koufos will try to fill Oden's shoes, while guards Jamar Butler and Daequan Cook, who played auxiliary roles in '07, will shoulder more of the scoring load.

6. LOUISVILLE Rick Pitino's collection of blue-chip youngsters -- particularly breakout NCAA tournament star Edgar Sosa, who dropped 31 on Texas A&M in a near second-round upset -- look ready to out-duel Marquette and Notre Dame for the Big East title.

7. WASHINGTON STATE Tony Bennett-ball was no one-hit wonder. The rookie head coach signed a seven-year extension, and the Cougars only lose forward Ivory Clark from their starting lineup. Led by its Island/Dairyland backcourt blend of Derrick Low (Honolulu) and Kyle Weaver (Beloit, Wis.), Wazzu will be in the thick of a tight Pac-10 race.

8. USC The national spotlight will follow super-recruit O.J. Mayo to Troy, where the Trojans are already loaded. He'll join Daniel Hackett and Gabe Pruitt in a three-headed backcourt, and as long as the chemistry clicks -- and it doesn't become the O.J.-only show -- USC will be a force.

9. TENNESSEE Sweet-shooting Chris Lofton, a likely Wooden Award front-runner, should have a fine swan song in Knoxville after nearly bouncing Ohio State from the bracket in '07. Look for point guard Ramar Smith, one of four freshmen who played major minutes, to have a big sophomore season. He arrived on campus late last fall and missed valuable time to prepare for his rookie campaign.

10. INDIANA Polished scorer Eric Gordon, the Indianapolis recruit who spurned Illinois for the Hoosiers, arrives in Bloomington for what may be his only collegiate season. Paired with forward D.J. White, they'll have Indiana challenging OSU for the Big Ten crown.

ON THE FRINGE: Michigan State, Marquette, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Butler, Texas A&M, Georgetown, Texas, Kansas State, Arizona, Syracuse, LSU, Oregon, West Virginia, Pitt, Duke, NC State, Gonzaga, Stanford, Wisconsin and Mississippi State.
Labels: Atlanta, Final Four, Florida, Ohio State, The Future, UCLA

Monday, April 02, 2007

Hogs Hired Creighton's Dana Altmon, Cal Says He Was Never Offered Job

Calipari: I was never offered Hogs job
Tiger coach also denies report of $2 million-plus proposal by Arkansas

By Dan Wolken
April 2, 2007

ATLANTA – University of Memphis coach John Calipari told The Commercial Appeal Sunday he was "never" offered the head coaching job at Arkansas and is not interested in the position.

Though Calipari did meet briefly with Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles this weekend, Calipari said, it was only to discuss potential candidates and offer advice on the coaching search.

"I've had a relationship with Frank Broyles going back to my UMass days," Calipari said inside the lobby of the Atlanta Hilton, where the National Association of Basketball Coaches were wrapping up their meetings.

Calipari said he was not aware of the rumors that he was interested in the Arkansas job until he began receiving phone calls Saturday night.

By then, word had leaked out that Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson had granted Arkansas permission to speak to Calipari. Then, a Little Rock television station, citing unnamed sources, reported that an offer was on the table to Calipari for more than $2million annually.

"Not true," Calipari said.

From the moment the Arkansas rumors began to circulate, several close to Calipari expressed doubt that he would seriously consider leaving Memphis for Fayetteville.

Among the reasons were its rural location and the fact that Calipari would be leaving behind what should be his best team since coming to Memphis. The Tigers are expected to return all their top players, except senior Jeremy Hunt, and will add a recruiting class ranked 11th by With the addition of the nation's top high school point guard, Derrick Rose, Memphis should be ranked in the top-five of all preseason polls.

If Calipari left for any job, he'd also be walking away from a $2.5 million annuity he will collect if he coaches at Memphis through 2009-10. In other words, any job offer would have to guarantee an $833,000 raise over Calipari's salary at Memphis over the next three seasons just to make the money match up. Calipari made $1.6 million this past season, excluding performance bonuses.

After Memphis was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Elite Eight last Saturday, Calipari said he wasn't interested in any other coaching jobs and that he'd have the kind of team "you just don't leave" unless the school's commitment to the program changed.

Two days later, Calipari agreed in principle to a raise and one-year contract extension through 2011-12. Johnson said he would not reveal the amount of the raise until the extension is signed. Calipari has not signed the extension yet because he's been in Massachusetts and Atlanta this week.

Asked if he was finished renegotiating his contract, Calipari said: "Yeah. That was done, what, two weeks ago?"

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

Sunday, April 01, 2007

As Predicted - Calipari Not Interested in Arkansas Job

Calipari says he's not interested in Arkansas job

By Dan Wolken
April 1, 2007
ATLANTA – University of Memphis coach John Calipari told The Commercial Appeal Sunday he was "never" offered the head coaching job at Arkansas and is not interested in the position.

Though Calipari did meet briefly with Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles this weekend, Calipari said, it was only to discuss potential candidates and offer advice on the coaching search.

"I’ve had a relationship with Frank Broyles going back to my UMass days," Calipari said inside the lobby of the Atlanta Hilton, where the National Association of Basketball Coaches were wrapping up their meetings.

Calipari said he was not aware of the rumors that he was interested in the Arkansas job until he began receiving phone calls Saturday night.

By then, word had leaked out that Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson had granted Arkansas permission to speak to Calipari. Then, a Little Rock television station, citing unnamed sources, reported that an offer was on the table to Calipari for more than $2 million annually.

"Not true," Calipari said.

From the moment the Arkansas rumors began to circulate, several close to Calipari expressed doubt that he would seriously consider leaving Memphis for Fayetteville.

Among the reasons were its rural location and the fact that Calipari would be leaving behind what should be his best team since coming to Memphis. The Tigers are expected to return all their top players, except senior Jeremy Hunt, and will add a recruiting class ranked 11th by With the addition of the nation’s top high school point guard, Derrick Rose, Memphis should be ranked in the top-five of all preseason polls.

If Calipari left for any job, he’d also be walking away from a $2.5 million annuity he will collect if he coaches at Memphis through 2009-10. In other words, any job offer would have to guarantee an $833,000 raise over Calipari’s salary at Memphis over the next three seasons just to make the money match up. Calipari made $1.6 million this past season, excluding performance bonuses.

After Memphis was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Elite Eight last Saturday, Calipari said he wasn’t interested in any other coaching jobs and that he’d have the kind of team "you just don’t leave" unless the school’s commitment to the program changed.

Two days later, Calipari agreed in principle to a raise and one-year contract extension through 2011-12. Johnson said he would not reveal the amount of the raise until the extension is signed. Calipari has not signed the extension yet because he’s been in Massachusetts and Atlanta this week.

Asked if he was finished renegotiating his contract, Calipari said: "Yeah. That was done, what, two weeks ago?"
— Dan Wolken: 529-2365