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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hey Readers, Do You Want Objective Analysis or a Bias Homer?


Ok, here is the deal. I tell it like I see it. I seriously doubt that anyone who reads this blog is a bigger Memphis Tigers fan than am I. I think being a season ticker holder for 25+ years gives me that and I think maintaining this blog (which takes a lot of my personal time) also shows what type of fan I am.

So, when you read something I say and disagree that is fine. I hope that you will comment and provide another opinion, but please don't say I'm being negative. I am simply pointing out areas of weakness.

Were the Tigers perfect last night? I think not. In my comment last night I merely pointed out that the Tigers had periods of lull just as they did against Georgetown and I thought it seemed like Derrick Rose had about 10 turnovers. Well, in fact, he did have six turnovers. I thought he was out of control several times and may be, just perhaps, is trying to go just a little too fast.

I seriously doubt that readers of this blog want some HOMER, who only praises the Tigers and never thinks they make a mistake. Well, a real fan can be objective too.

I am a student of the game and a coach - hence the name "Coach".

How many of you think that Memphis was perfect last night? Who thinks the Tigers would have beaten every team in America last night? Hey, I'm very happy they won that game and America will forget that Jerryd Bayless didn't play just like they forgot that CDR had the flu in Tucson last year.

Tigers replay

Tigers replay
By Scott Cacciola
Originally published 11:47 p.m., December 29, 2007
Updated 11:47 p.m., December 29, 2007

AS The Game Turned

At the time, it seemed innocent enough: Senior guard Andre Allen banked in a free throw for Memphis with 12 minutes, 22 seconds remaining in the first half. But that one shot — that one very ugly shot — sparked a 23-4 run for the Tigers, a stretch that featured some of the team’s finest defense of the season, which is saying a lot. Arizona went more than 12 minutes without a field goal and shot 8-of-29 from the floor as Memphis went ahead, 34-24, by halftime.

Arizona struggled to contend with Memphis’ harassing pressure without starting point guard Jerryd Bayless, who missed the game after spraining his right knee during practice Friday. The Wildcats lacked any semblance of rhythm, and they often hoisted desperation jumpers with the shot clock winding down — that is, when they were even able to get a shot off. Two of their eight first-half turnovers were the result of shot-clock violations.

AS THE ROTATION TURNED

During Memphis’ slow start, coach John Calipari sought solutions. Before the game was three minutes old, Calipari expressed his displeasure with junior guard Chris Douglas-Roberts and junior forward Robert Dozier by opting for sophomore forward Shawn Taggart and sophomore guard Willie Kemp off the bench. Dozier got an earful from Calipari after he misfired on a hook shot from outside the paint: “You’re one foot away from the basket, and you just throw it!” Calipari yelped.

Taggart was a source of instant energy and played well throughout, finishing with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting and seven rebounds.

As his team got rolling, Calipari felt comfortable enough to send an unorthodox lineup onto the floor late in the first half: Dozier, Kemp, Allen, junior guard Antonio Anderson and sophomore forward Pierre Niles. Though the quintet lacked a whole lot of offensive pyrotechnics, they did force Arizona into a pair of quick turnovers.

RIM GEMS

Late in the first half, freshman guard Derrick Rose rebounded an errant 3-pointer and raced the ball ahead for a 2-on-1 fast break. Douglas-Roberts, who streaked upcourt along the left side, took Rose’s chest pass and flushed the ball with two hands for a 31-18 lead. The basket forced Arizona coach Kevin O’Neill to call for a timeout — and pushed Douglas-Roberts over the 1,000-point plateau for his career. Douglas-Roberts became the 43rd player in the program’s history to reach the milestone.

“I didn’t even know,” Douglas-Roberts said. “I mean, it’s an honor, but I didn’t even know. I don’t pay attention to those types of things.”

A close second: Joey Dorsey corralled Rose’s lob and dunked with 5:55 remaining in the game. It was a big hoop because Arizona had sliced Memphis’ lead to 55-48.

HIDE YOUR EYES

Though they tightened the vice on defense, the Tigers stumbled on offense at the start of their mammoth first-half stretch, particularly from the free-throw line. During their 9-2 spurt that started the run, the Tigers missed five free throws — three by Douglas-Roberts and two by Rose. Memphis did manage to close the half by making six straight from the stripe, which was reminiscent of the team’s solid 22-of-29 effort against Georgetown last Saturday. Overall, Memphis went 14-of-22 from the line against Arizona.

SCORER’S TABLE

Dozier and Taggart provided a dynamic one-two punch at power forward, combining for 33 points and 12 rebounds. Their production helped to compensate for a quiet game from Rose, who finished with 12 points, five assists and six turnovers.


LOCKERROOM CHATTER

“I’m sore, man,” said Douglas-Roberts, who was fouled hard on a drive late in the game and crumpled to the court, where he stayed for several moments. He made both free throws, then headed to the bench.

ODDS and ENDS

Memphis radio analyst Matt Dillon, who was dealing with laryngitis before the game even started, completely lost his voice during the first half and had to hand the reins to engineer Jeff Brightwell. It was the first time in 35 years that Dillon was unable to finish a broadcast, but he kept busy by scrawling notes for his broadcast partners.

After shooting just 27.6 percent in the first half, Arizona shot 68 percent in the second half. The only problem? Memphis shot 56.7 percent in the second half.

Memphis extended its home winning streak to 38 games, the second-longest in the country.


LOOKING AHEAD

Tigers vs. Siena, Thursday, 8 p.m., FedExForum

— Scott Cacciola

Defensive effort gets Tigers a victory over banged-up Arizona

Defensive effort gets Tigers a victory over banged-up Arizona
No. 2 Tigers 76, No. 17 Arizona 63
By Dan Wolken
Sunday, December 30, 2007

Shawn Taggart put his chest out and his hands back, like coach John Calipari has begged him to do in every practice since October, and leaned into the body of Arizona forward Jordan Hill. And just like Calipari had preached, Hill lowered his shoulder, Taggart took the contact, the whistle blew for an offensive foul , and the ball belonged to the University of Memphis.

And as Calipari skipped down the Tigers' bench Saturday night, pumping his fist and celebrating yet another brilliant defensive play with 16:19 remaining, it became clear why No. 2-ranked Memphis believes it can win any kind of game on any kind of night.

When the free throws aren't falling, the stars aren't producing and the Tigers get mired in a mess of missed layups, Memphis always has its defense. And it bailed out the scrambling, suffocating Tigers again in a 76-63 victory over No. 17 Arizona in front of a sold-out FedExForum.

"That's what coach preaches, and we believe in it," junior guard Antonio Anderson. "He got that discipline in us that we have to play D in order for us to succeed, and we're doing just that."

If last Saturday's dissection of Georgetown was Memphis' work of art, this one was a testament to the many ways in which the Tigers have compiled a 34-1 record during the calendar year of 2007.

On a night when freshman point guard Derrick Rose struggled at times to run the team with efficiency (12 points, five assists, six turnovers). On a night when the Tigers (11-0) missed multiple opportunities to pull away, Memphis effectively won the game by holding Arizona without a field goal for a 12-minute stretch of the first half.

Though the Wildcats finished the game making 25-of-54 from the floor, the Tigers took control with a 21-6 run to end the first half, in which they kept Arizona off the scoreboard completely for a span of 7:44.

By the time the Tigers got to the locker room, their lead was only 34-24, but it was enough. Though Arizona kept the game within a reasonable range for the entire second half -- and the Tigers contributed to that by scoring just four points in a six-minute span -- Memphis got timely baskets, including a 3-pointer by Taggart with 2:40 remaining for a 66-55 lead. That completed a 15-point, seven-rebound performance in 19 minutes by Taggart, easily his best of the season.

Then, after a 3-pointer by Wildcats forward Chase Budinger to pull back within eight, junior forward Robert Dozier capped off a 18-point night with a 3-point play off a driving layup with 1:53 left.

"They really weren't checking the four that much," Taggart said, explaining why he and Dozier were able to get so many quality opportunities. "They were packing it in the middle, the four man was staying in the paint while our four man was on the 3-point line. That's why I think we got open shots, and it helped other players get open shots."

It was not exactly the way Memphis expected to win Saturday against an Arizona team that stayed with its man-to-man defense most of the night, bucking conventional wisdom. Instead of a high-flying track meet, the Tigers had to grind out a victory, making 29-of-61 field goals and forcing 19 turnovers, which gave them a handful of easy opportunities.

The Tigers also got 17 points and five rebounds from junior guard Chris Douglas-Roberts, who never quite found a rhythm but still impacted the game by making 6-of-11 from the field, including a 3-pointer with 39 seconds left to put an exclamation point on the victory.

"We win on defense," Douglas-Roberts said. "Every game, we win on the defensive end. In order for us to get great offense and transition we must create turnovers and bad shots, and that's what we strive for."

It was something of a miraculous comeback for Douglas-Roberts, who collided with center Kirk Walters with 8:11 to go and landed hard on his left elbow (it was called an intentional foul). After remaining on the ground for nearly two minutes, Douglas-Roberts made two free throws for a 53-44 lead. Earlier in the game, Douglas-Roberts scored his 1,000th career point on a high-flying dunk for a 31-18 lead.

Much of the luster from this matchup was lost when Arizona revealed Saturday that star freshman point guard Jerryd Bayless had sprained his right knee the night before during a practice at the Finch Center. Already, the Wildcats were without senior forward Bret Brielmaier due to a shoulder injury, meaning they would have to face Memphis without two starters.

The situation became even more severe for Arizona just two minutes into the game, when 6-10 forward Jordan Hill committed two fouls and went to the bench for the remainder of the first half. Hill finished with 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting.

Though the Tigers didn't take advantage of his absence early, starting just 3-for-14 from the field, Memphis took an 18-17 lead with 7:41 left in the half on Dozier's free throws and never looked back.

Memphis made 14-of-22 from the free-throw line, after starting 3-for-9.

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

Saturday, December 29, 2007

My Short Summary on the Arizona Game


In a game very similar to last weeks Georgetown game in regards to the Tigers lulls and defense, Memphis defeated a Jerryd Bayless-less Arizona team, 76-63.

While the Tigers did not look particularly sharp, a sufficating defense over the last ten minutes of the first half held Arizona scoreless for approximately eight minutes and allowed the Tigers to reverse a three point deficit and build a double digit lead into half time.

It felt like Derrick Rose committed about ten turnovers, but the play of Shawn Taggard and Robert Dozier was excellent and allowed Memphis to control the glass and put the short-hand Wildcats in foul trouble.

Memphis got a solid game from CDR, but not much else from the guards.

More later..............

Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News - Memphis faces obstacles on course to perfection

Memphis faces obstacles on course to perfection
Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News
Posted: December 28, 2007

The season was exactly 30 days old when I got the first call of the season from a reporter asking my opinion about whether a particular college basketball team could go undefeated. There's no real need to identify the gentleman who called or the newspaper that employed him, but it seems fair to point out the team in question lost before the week was out.

Undefeated is kind of a theme this weekend, so maybe USA Today can be forgiven for bringing up the subject in Friday's editions. That story singled out the Memphis Tigers as a team that could pursue perfection this season.

Memphis has played 10 games. Even if the goal only is to match what Saint Joseph's achieved in 2003-04 -- going through the regular-season schedule unbeaten -- there are 21 games remaining before the Tigers enter the Conference USA tournament. So they're not even a third of the way home.

And though the Tigers have played some spectacular basketball, notably in last weekend's destruction of Georgetown at the FedEx Forum, they haven't been so dominant as to warrant talk of a perfect season. They struggled against Cincinnati's sagging man-to-man defense and won by only 10. They trailed Connecticut at halftime. They needed overtime to escape the Southern California Trojans.

Memphis is a terrific basketball team. It is one of the leading contenders to win the 2008 NCAA championship. It will be favored in every game it plays for the remainder of the regular season. There are plenty of occasions when the Tigers could fall, though, between now and the unofficial beginning of March Madness:

Saturday, 10 p.m. ET, vs. Arizona. This will be among the most intriguing games for the Tigers because most opponents that have caused them problems have played zones or junk defenses. That's not what Kevin O'Neill does. His teams play hard man-to-man, and the Wildcats gradually are catching on to his approach. Will it work against an offense with so much depth and athleticism? Hey, it worked pretty well against Kansas.

Jan. 26, 12 p.m. ET, vs. Gonzaga. The Zags have made dramatic defensive improvements thanks to Jeremy Pargo's ability to guard the ball. Gonzaga still hasn't gained the offensive consistency we've come to expect from this program, but there's another month to get it figured out.

Jan. 30, 8 p.m. ET, at Houston. If the arena is full of Cougars, as it was for Houston's game against Kentucky, it can be as challenging as any opponent's court. And Houston is a very good team that will be seeking a resume-making victory to enhance its chances of reaching the NCAA tournament. Beating Memphis might be the one item that puts the Cougars over the top.

Feb. 23, 9 p.m. ET, vs. Tennessee. Nobody attacks with pressure defense more effectively than the Vols, and they're getting better at it with each game. They have excellent athletes and will be highly motivated against a cross-state rival.

There might be a time when it'll be safe to talk about the Tigers finishing the regular season with a perfect record.

I'd say Feb. 24 at the earliest.

Mike DeCourcy is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at decourcy@sportingnews.com.

Tucson Citizen - UA faces tough test vs. Memphis

UA faces tough test vs. Memphis
Steve Rivera
Tucson Citizen
Dec. 28, 2007 10:13 PM

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Kevin O'Neill didn't hesitate when he talked about facing No. 2 Memphis on Saturday night at the FedEx Forum.

"It's a great challenge at their place," said O'Neill, Arizona's interim coach. "If we have a chance to win, we'll have to play a great game."

Is No. 17 Arizona (9-2) capable?

Through 11 games, UA has found incredible stretches of success. It came back from double-digit deficits against Texas A&M and Illinois, found a will and a way to defeat Nevada-Las Vegas (52-49) and played then-No. 4 Kansas to the final buzzer with a chance to win in regulation, only to lose 75-72 in overtime on the road.

And although O'Neill wouldn't say this was Arizona's biggest test to date, he did admit that the Tigers were a "legit top-five basketball team."

"We've got to play our best game," he said.

O'Neill joked that one way to beat them is "to get them away from home."

Memphis has won 37 consecutive games at home.

Yet, UA has bought into the challenge.

"It's no secret," senior Jawann McClellan said of what UA needs to do to win. "It's obvious we have to do a good job of playing man to man (defense)."

In the process, he said, the Wildcats have to stop talented junior Chris Douglas-Roberts and freshman Derrick Rose. Then they can't let 6-9 forward Robert Dozier score in double digits.

Dozier is averaging 9.8 points and 6.9 rebounds.

"He had (19) points against Georgetown (last weekend)," McClellan said. "We can't let the other guys (Dozier included) go off on us. Rose and CDR (Douglas-Roberts) are going to get their points, but we can't let the others get theirs."

How can that happen against a team that plays what UA used to play - at a breakneck pace? And against UA, a team lacking the same type and scope of depth the Tigers have.

"We want to go in and play the way we play," O'Neill said, referring to his methodical approach. "If we need to run we'll run. We need to hit open shots . . . run our stuff."

It's easier said than done against Memphis. It might be even tougher if senior forward Bret Brielmaier cannot play. On Friday night, O'Neill said Brielmaier is "very questionable" for the game because of a shoulder injury.

"This is really a game we could use Bret in," O'Neill said. "(But) if he can't play we'll play somebody else."

KNXV-TV, Phoenix - Memphis vs. Arizona Game Preview

Memphis vs. Arizona Game Preview
KNXV-TV, Phoenix

GAME NOTES: Still sporting a flawless record, the second-ranked Memphis Tigers close out the 2007 portion of their schedule this evening, as they play host to the 17th-ranked Arizona Wildcats in top-25 action at FedExForum. John Calipari's Tigers have looked strong throughout the season, but are coming off their most impressive victory to date, an 85-71 win over fifth-ranked Georgetown last weekend. The win moved Memphis to 10-0 on the year, one of just eight unbeaten teams left in the nation. The Wildcats have just two losses on the season and bring a six-game win streak into this game. Last weekend, it was a tough San Diego State that fell to Arizona, as UA posted a 74-58 win at home. This is the seventh all-time meeting between these two teams, with the series knotted at 3-3.

The Young Wildcats are starting to gel and that is not good news for the opposition. The team is converting nearly half its shots on the season (.494), resulting in a healthy 75.5 ppg. The defensive effort has been top-notch as well, holding foes to just 64.3 ppg and outrebounding them by 4.9 rpg. There are quite a few freshmen making headlines across the nation and Arizona has one of its own in guard Jerryd Bayless. The 6-3 youngster has done it all for the Wildcats this season, leading the way in scoring (18.5 ppg) and assists (4.2 apg). Sophomores Chase Budinger (15.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Jordan Hill (13.5 ppg, team-high 7.5 rpg) have also made solid contributions. In the win over SDSU, the Wildcats shot .542 from the floor, with four players finishing in double figures. Bayless and Hill led the way with 15 points apiece. Hill recorded his second straight double-double, grabbing 10 rebounds. Budinger and Nic Wise filled out the scoring list with 13 and 12 points, respectively.

There have been several impressive victories for Memphis this season, but none better than last weekend's 14-point decision over the Hoyas. Against what was supposed to be a physical, defensive team, the Tigers shot a solid 46 percent from the floor, while dominating the boards (43-30). All-American candidate Chris Douglas-Roberts snapped out of a little slump to score a game-high 24 points. Junior forward Robert Dozier and freshman guard Derrick Rose where also instrumental offensively, pouring in 19 and 18 points, respectively. Senior forward Joey Dorsey added a double-double with 11 points and 13 boards, including eight rebounds at the offensive end. The team has gotten plenty of scoring help on the year, averaging a robust 80.5 ppg, despite having just two players boasting double-digit averages. Douglas-Roberts is the top scoring threat with 17.4 ppg. Rose, who was recently named the Conference USA Player of the Week, adds almost 16 points per game (15.9), while doling out a team- high 43 assists. Dozier (9.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and Dorsey (8.1 ppg, 9.8 rpg) give the team a pair of bangers in the paint.

Arizona is a young team that is starting to scratch the surface of its potential. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Memphis is a team that has arrived and with each win, builds more and more momentum heading into conference play.

Toughest game of the year?

Toughest game of the year?
Posted by Dan Wolken

A number of people have asked me over the last few weeks which game on the Tigers’ schedule will provide their first loss of the season. My answer was never Georgetown — in fact, I predicted a Memphis win on this blog some time ago — but rather Saturday’s game against Arizona. Keep in mind, I’m not predicting that Memphis will lose. But I think it’s the toughest and most dangerous game of the year for a variety of reasons.

1. The “Letdown” effect. Quite simply, it will be difficult if not impossible for the Tigers to bring the same kind of emotion and intensity Saturday that they brought to the Georgetown game. It’s human nature. Especially in college sports, it’s pretty easy to pinpoint when a team will have a letdown. There was such a rush of emotion and satisfaction in beating Georgetown, John Calipari will have a huge task on his hands trying to get the Tigers to get back “up” once again, no matter who the opponent is.

2. Style of play. It will be interesting to see what Arizona tries to do against the Tigers. But in last year’s game, the Wildcats were certainly comfortable getting up and down the court with Memphis. Unlike Georgetown, Arizona has the personnel to play fast and win a game in the 80s.

3. The Killer B’s. The Tigers are a great defensive team. But with guys like Chase Budinger and Jerryd Bayless, you can play good defense and they can still make crazy fallaway jumpers in late shot clock situations. Budinger is a really tough matchup and as pure of a catch-and-shoot guy as you’ll find.

4. Tested team. Even though Georgetown is a top-10 team, I’m not sure the Hoyas were really prepared to play a team like Memphis since their non-conference schedule had been pretty light to that point. Arizona is a different animal. They took Kansas to overtime at Kansas (Arizona really should have won the game in regulation), beat Texas A&M at home, beat Illinois in Chicago and got a nice road win at UNLV. They won’t be shaken by the crowd or by the opponent.

Posted Tuesday, December 25th, 2007 at 1:34 pm

Philly Daily News - In aftermath of shooting, Tyreke Evans fears for safety

Posted on Thu, Dec. 27, 2007

In aftermath of shooting, Evans fears for safety
By JOSEPH SANTOLIQUITO

For the Philadelphia Daily News

Tyreke Evans fears nothing on a basketball court. It's been his sanctuary almost since he was able to walk.

Now, the 6-foot-6 American Christian basketball star is faced with an undercurrent of reaction to a fatal shooting in Chester, and could have to look over his shoulder every time he walks on the court this season.

Evans, considered by many as the country's best high school prospect, witnessed a homicide that involved his cousin, Jamar "Mar Mar" Evans, who is charged with first-and-third-degree murder in the shooting death of 19-year-old Marcus Reason on Nov. 25. Jamar Evans, 16, turned himself in to Chester Township authorities Saturday.

Tyreke, 18, has cooperated with authorities in the case.

The Evans family has employed an armed bodyguard to shadow Tyreke the remainder of this season, according to sources close to the family. The bodyguard will sit at the end of the American Christian bench during games.

"I do know that there are genuine concerns for Tyreke's safety; the family doesn't know why there were shots fired at Tyreke's vehicle," said Brian McMonagle, the Evans' attorney. "Tyreke is a national high school star, and the real key to this is that the district attorney's office considers him a witness to a crime.

"What gets lost here is that Tyreke has stepped up and he's been placed in the horrible position of speaking up about a relative. It speaks volumes about the character of the kid," McMonagle continued. "There might be nine of 10 kids from Tyreke's environment who might not speak up like Tyreke did, which is really a shame. It makes this kid a target. Every gym he walks into, there is always going to be a concern for his safety."

The incident apparently has not hurt the recruiting of Tyreke, who has listed Louisville, Memphis, Texas, Connecticut and Villanova as his final five.

"No schools have backed away because of this," said Reggie Evans, one of Tyreke's four older brothers. "If anything, we've been given great support from all of the coaches at the schools we're interested in, making sure that Tyreke is all right. This whole situation has placed a lot of stress on our family, and we're all concerned for Tyreke's well-being. What we want is for this thing to go away."

The case will not hurt his chances of possibly winding up at Villanova, according to Reggie. Wildcats coach Jay Wright attended an American Christian home game on Dec. 13.

"We love Jay Wright," Reggie said. "Jay and his staff have been to most if not all of Tyreke's games, even after this thing occurred. I give coach Wright credit, because he knows Tyreke and this family. We're not ruling out Villanova, and we hope Villanova doesn't rule us out. But my biggest concern is that Tyreke doesn't get painted in a bad light, which has already happened in some people's eyes. That's messed up. It's what has me and my whole family angry right now."

The fatal shooting occurred at about 4:45 p.m. on Nov. 25 in Chester's Toby Farms section, according to a police affidavit. Tyreke Evans, Jamar Evans, Rasheen "Ra-Ra" Blackwell and Tyreke's American Christian teammate, Dwayne Davis, had watched the end of the Chicago-Denver NFL game at Tyreke's aunt's home when his mother called his cell to tell him some pies she had baked were ready.

Tyreke Evans, according to the affidavit, got behind the wheel of a gold Ford Expedition with chrome rims and dark-tinted windows. Jamar Evans sat in the front passenger's seat, and Blackwell and Davis sat in back. They were heading to Tyreke Evans' mother's house, when Blackwell and Davis noticed someone with a gun coming from an alley, the affidavit said.

According to Tyreke Evans' account, Blackwell and Davis began yelling, "Go, he's about to shoot."

Tyreke almost drove into a fire hydrant to escape the shooting, family sources said.

"Davis and Blackwell said they saw [Reason] coming out of an alleyway with a handgun and yelled at Tyreke to get moving, because there was going to be shooting," Delaware County Detective Michael Palmer confirmed.

"They said they heard a gunshot fired. Tyreke said he ducked behind the wheel and hit the gas.

"Tyreke went on to say he heard a second shot fired that was louder, but he didn't know where the second shot came from, and he didn't even know Jamar Evans had a gun until he saw him put it in the front pocket of his hoodie jacket. When they got back to his mother's house, they started getting calls from friends telling them that someone was shot."

Palmer said Tyreke Evans originally was suspected of being an accomplice in the shooting.

"We put some pressure on Tyreke and his family to cooperate, and Tyreke isn't a suspect now," Palmer said. "He's being treated as a witness. It was basically one of those things that Tyreke and the people he had in his car were shot at by the victim."

Palmer said he did not think Tyreke knew his cousin had a gun until after the second shot.

Palmer said he thinks Tyreke Evans was caught in a gang war between the Toby Farm Bullz and the Maddi Block. Jamar Evans, who family sources say was pistol-whipped along with his brother coming home from Chester High last year, and Blackwell have criminal pasts and connections with the Maddi Block, according to Palmer.

"Tyreke and his teammate were just in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said. "That's why I really wanted to hear Tyreke's story, which is what I got; my gut feeling was that Tyreke wasn't involved. I was telling my people we can deal with the kid. He'll tell us the story, because it wasn't like we were dealing with a person with a three- or four-page rap sheet."

Palmer dropped off a business card to the Evans family the day after the shooting, and Reggie Evans invited Palmer over to talk about what had happened. Palmer advised the family to get an attorney before going into any detail.

"I'm happy Tyreke's doing the right thing and cooperating, because it's very rare someone in Tyreke's shoes comes forward like this," Palmer said.

But the situation has placed the family on alert.

"That's the way the family has to react," McMonagle said. "He's a target, for good or for bad; he now has to pay a price for doing absolutely nothing wrong." *

Send e-mail to santolj@phillynews.com.

On Tyreke Evans

On Tyreke Evans
Posted by Dan Wolken

There is a good story in this morning’s Philadelphia Daily News with more information on the shooting involving Tigers recruit Tyreke Evans, which came to light last weekend.

It appears as though authorities have now ruled out a charge against Tyreke Evans, who was driving the car from which gunshots were fired on Nov. 25, killing a 19-year old in the Philadelphia area. The shooter, Jamar Evans (Tyreke’s cousin), has turned himself into authorities.

My sources have indicated that this incident won’t have an impact on the Tigers’ recruitment of Evans, assuming the situation is as it appears to be. But certainly, whichever program gets Evans will take a public relations hit and have some questions to answer. Though Evans may not have been directly involved in the crime, he clearly got caught up in the middle of gang-related activity, which brings up a whole set of issues that must be addressed by both Evans and the program he goes to.

Joe Lunardi = stat geek

Joe Lunardi = stat geek
Posted by Dan Wolken

Look, I give ESPN’s Joe Lunardi full credit for finding a way to take a pretty fruitless exercise — projecting the NCAA Tournament bracket — and using it to turn himself into a quasi-ESPN celebrity when he’s not doing his real job as a college administrator at St. Joseph’s.

But the dude has to stop with all this talk about a perfect season for Memphis. After the Tigers beat Georgetown last Saturday, Lunardi immediately went on ESPN and started babbling about Memphis running the table. And today, he posted an article on ESPN.com — it’s a subscriber-only article, so I won’t link it here — flat-out predicting that Memphis would be 34-0 entering the NCAA Tournament.

My advice to Lunardi: Stick to what you know best, which is posting your bracket five minutes before the real one comes out, then proclaiming for the next full year that you’ve projeted 64 of 65 teams correctly. What a racket.

Anyway, the problem I have with people like Lunardi is that when you see basketball strictly within a prism of numbers and RPIs and power ratings, the game becomes two-dimensional. It’s hard for them to wrap their arms around emotion, timing, injuries, luck, officiating, and all the other little factors that make the game three-dimensional.

Here’s a more appropriate way to look at Memphis. After what should be a very tough test Saturday, the Tigers go into a very manageable portion of their schedule with Siena, Pepperdine, East Carolina, Marshall and Rice (the latter two on the road). It’s the four games after that — Southern Miss (home), Tulsa (road), Gonzaga (home), Houston (road) — that will tell us a lot about what chances the Tigers have to go undefeated. Southern Miss, of course, nearly beat the Tigers at home last year. Tulsa will be a tough environment against a team that always plays well against Memphis (last year’s game at Tulsa was teetering on the edge until midway through the second half, when a couple buckets kind of turned momentum). Gonzaga, of course, is projected to be a difficult game. And winning at Houston will be a handful, as that game could very well determine whether Houston is an NCAA Tournament team or not, much like UAB two years ago.

If Memphis rolls through that and gets to 20-0 on Feb. 1, then we can start to entertain conversation about an unbeaten season. Until then, it’s a ridiculous exercise that will only set you up to look silly. Then again, when you’re a recruiting guru or bracketologist, nobody really holds you accountable for bad predictions.

Posted Friday, December 28th, 2007 at 12:04 pm

Friday, December 28, 2007

My Pregame on (#2 RPI) Memphis v. (#1 RPI) Arizona

Ok, so you thought the Georgetown game was important to the Tigers? Well, it was. Georgetown was in the Final Four last year and by all accounts, they are at least expected to make it to the Elite Eight or better in 2008.

So, is Arizona more important? From an RPI perspective, it is clearly a bigger game. A victory over #1 RPI Arizona will move Memphis up to the top spot and help keep them in the top 10 all season even with a weak C-USA schedule right around the corner.

Should the Tigers win the game? Las Vegas puts the Tigers at a 8.5 point favorite (three of those goes to the home team by default).

I suspect Memphis wins for three reasons - 1) I believe they have equal to better talent that is more experienced, 2) They have some revenge on their mind after losing in Tucson last year in a very competitive game, but not one where the Tigers played particularly well (though Andre Allen had his best game of the season, IMO), and 3) Memphis is the home team, will have 17,000+, loud, fans dressed in blue, and has won 37 straight in the FedEx Forum.

This is a pretty different Wildcats team from last year. Gone are Mustafa Shakur (23 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in last year's outing), Ivan Radenvic and Marcus Williams. Gone is Lute Olson (and replaced with former Tennessee Volunteer head coach Kevin "bad hair" O'Neill - who Memphis fans will love to hate once and again).

Of course, Memphis was lead last year by none of this year's usual suspects. Jeremy Hunt lead the team with 21 points on 4 of 9 from the 3 point line. Andre Allen chipped in 15 and Kareem Cooper had 11. Joey Dorsey had 8 points and 5 rebounds, but he was in foul trouble the whole game (only played 18 minutes) and fouled out with just under four minutes to play.

CDR was sick with flu and Robert Dozier had one of his classic "AWOL" games where he just doesn't show up.

Tonight will be different. Look for Memphis to win by 6 in a close, competitive game, but not one where Tiger fans are ever really worried about the outcome.

O'Neill has 'Zona in the zone

O'Neill has 'Zona in the zone
Interim coach tries to help surprising team keep focus
By Jim Masilak
Friday, December 28, 2007

When Arizona rolls into FedExForum on Saturday night to face the No. 2 University of Memphis, interim Wildcats coach Kevin O'Neill says it will just be more business as unusual for his resilient bunch.

Thrust into the top job when Lute Olson took an eve-of-season leave of absence, O'Neill and his surrogate Wildcats have thrived despite the uncertainty surrounding their legendary head coach. No. 17 Arizona's 10-2 record, including wins over No.9 Texas A&M, Illinois and UNLV and an overtime loss at No. 3 Kansas, belies the almost unprecedented level of turmoil the Wildcats have faced this season.

"There's no real blueprint for what we've went through," O'Neill said Thursday. "It's been different, I'll give you that. I've got a lot of admiration for our players and how they've handled that situation. I couldn't be more pleased."

Given the circumstances, that's understandable.

On Nov. 4, Olson opened his 25th season at Arizona by announcing that he was taking a leave of absence in order to deal with what was described as a "private family matter." As speculation grew, and with continued uncertainty about when or if he would return, Olson earlier this month extended his leave through the remainder of the season.

Shortly thereafter it emerged that Olson, who has won 589 games at Arizona and led the Wildcats to the 1997 national title, had filed for divorce from his second wife, Christine.

Olson's decision to extend his leave, however, provided "clarity" for the Wildcats, O'Neill said

"It also gave Lute some clarity and allowed him to focus on what he needs to in his personal life," he added.

O'Neill, who was already serving as interim coach, has since been publicly named as Olson's eventual successor. As Olson's assistant at Arizona from 1986 to 1989, O'Neill helped the Wildcats to their first Final Four appearance, in '87, and earned a reputation as a top recruiter and basketball mind.

He spent most of the next two decades bouncing between jobs at the college and pro levels. The increasingly itinerant O'Neill went 36-47 at Tennessee from 1994 to 1997 in between head-coaching stints with Marquette, Northwestern and the NBA's Toronto Raptors.

When the 50-year-old returned to Arizona this year as a replacement for longtime Wildcats associate head coach Jim Rosborough, his $375,000 annual salary made him the third-highest paid member of the Arizona athletic department. Although O'Neill's compensation package raised eyebrows in the desert, it is well below what he would have commanded as an NBA assistant.

And while O'Neill's hiring led to speculation that he was being brought in as the 73-year-old Olson's handpicked successor, O'Neill says he agreed to come back to Arizona after an 18-year absence because he "wanted to help Lute finish it out the right way."

O'Neill said he conferred with a number of former Arizona players, including Phoenix Suns president and general manager Steve Kerr, before deciding to return to the college ranks after seven years away. He said he had NBA options, but decided this was "the right thing to do at the right time."

"When I took the job, I didn't really ever envision taking over for Lute," O'Neill said. "I probably planned on being here for a couple years and then going back to the NBA. The way things worked out with Lute taking a leave of absence -- he plans on coming back next year -- I've been (picked) to be his successor."

In an interview with the Tucson Citizen in June, Olson described the effect O'Neill had upon his return to Arizona. Given what has since transpired, Olson's comments have an almost prescient feel to them.

"Kevin has brought a lot of discipline to the program," Olson said. "They've responded well to him. When you've got guys whose goal is to eventually get to the NBA, it's nice to have somebody on the staff who knows from first-hand experience what it takes to get to that level."

O'Neill has also been received warmly by Arizona fans, many of whom now wonder if Olson will ever return to the Wildcats' bench.

"The people in Arizona have been very gracious to me and my family. Because of that, it's made the job easier," O'Neill said. "Of course, we've won six in a row, so it's easy to be gracious when you're winning."

If Olson does return for a couple more years, however, the eventual passing of the whistle should be smoother if this is indeed a trial run.

"I realize it's not gonna be an easy job anytime you follow a Hall of Fame guy," O'Neill said. "But I think this is gonna make for an easier transition. It's also going to make recruiting easier. When any coach nears the end, you always have questions about who's going to be there. Now we can say if Lute's not going to be there, Kevin's gonna be there."

Memphis coach John Calipari, whose Tigers (10-0) lost to Arizona last year in Tucson, has been impressed with what he has seen of the Wildcats under their caretaker coach.

"Kevin has brought in a man-to-man mentality, more of a toughness. So they're a little different," Calipari said. "They don't score as many normally -- now they'll probably go for 105 against us -- but they're scoring a little bit less and they're being a little more efficient in how they play. They're grinding it out."

O'Neill, who credits senior guard Jawann McClellan with "really being a leader and holding together a young team in a tough situation," said the turmoil of the past two months has made the Wildcats even more single-minded.

"It forces you to focus," he said. "If you're not focused against Illinois at the United Center, you're gonna lose. Bad. Our guys have done a wonderful job of staying focused on the business at hand."

- Jim Masilak: 529-2311

Next for Tigers

Opponent: No.17 Arizona

When, where: 9 p.m. Saturday at FedExForum

TV: ESPN2

No time for Tigers to relax

No time for Tigers to relax
Arizona provides different set of challenges for U of M
By Dan Wolken
Thursday, December 27, 2007

When senior Joey Dorsey arrived in Baltimore on Saturday night, he was welcomed home by a sign his mother and sister hung across the living room reading, "Memphis 85, Georgetown 71."

Though the Tigers didn't need a banner to remind them, it further underscored the impact of how well they played last weekend, how thoroughly they dominated a top-10 team in the second half and how important the victory was to their national image.

But the schedule has not given No. 2-ranked Memphis much time to revel. Indeed, as the Tigers returned to practice Wednesday evening, they were faced with an even bigger challenge than the one they overcame last Saturday: Doing it again.

Though it would be unrealistic to routinely expect a performance as thorough as the one they mustered against Georgetown, the Tigers might need a quick recall Saturday at FedExForum against No. 17 Arizona.

"This team is going to be way harder, in my opinion, for us to beat," coach John Calipari said. "They're totally different than Georgetown."

Indeed, Arizona (9-2) presents a new set of issues for the Tigers (10-0).

While Georgetown is talented, even the Hoyas can't boast two projected 2008 NBA lottery picks like Arizona's Jerryd Bayless and Chase Budinger. Arizona may be one of the few teams in the country with the personnel to compete with Memphis in an up-tempo game, something Georgetown struggled with in the second half. And unlike the Hoyas, whose Princeton-style offense often hinders their ability to come back quickly from deficits, Arizona has already this season beaten No. 14 Texas A&M and Illinois after falling behind by double-digits.

"There's more mano-a-mano challenges in this game," Calipari said. "Can you guard Bayless? We're going to help you, but can you guard him? Can you guard Budinger? We're going to help and play team defense, but the bottom line is, can he guard you better than you can guard him? That's what this will be."

The bigger problem for Memphis, however, could be simple physics. The Tigers reached an emotional pinnacle against Georgetown, and what goes up in sports usually comes down. Is it even feasible for Memphis to duplicate the level of execution and intensity that carried it to a win over Georgetown?

"That," Dorsey said, "is gonna be tough."

Tough, but not impossible. After all, Arizona is one of just four red-letter days on the Tigers' non-conference schedule, along with dates against Tennessee and Gonzaga. And Memphis has, to this point, relished its early-season opportunities against elite opponents.

Calipari compared this portion of the schedule to preparing for a conference or NCAA tournament, when you can only enjoy a victory for a short time before turning your attention to the next round.

"You've got to be disciplined," junior guard Antonio Anderson said. "Every day we get here, coach tries to keep it disciplined so when we get to that point we'll get to that performance. But it's very hard to do that. Fortunately we got to do it against a great team, and hopefully we can do it against teams aren't as good as Georgetown and teams as good as Georgetown."

Though some fans might expect the Tigers to play as well as they did against Georgetown all the time, it's admittedly tougher for them to get as amped up for teams they are heavily favored to beat.

The good news for Calipari is that his bench is deep enough that he can usually find someone to help Memphis win. Already this season, the Tigers' reserves have bailed out starters on several occasions, whether it was Andre Allen making 3-pointers in Cincinnati or Willie Kemp and Doneal Mack firing away against Arkansas State.

And if Memphis' starters do suffer the dreaded letdown against Arizona, Calipari hopes he has a bench full of players hungry to make an impact after they played sparingly against Georgetown.

"They're not robots. They're not machines," Calipari said. "You're not going to play perfect every time out. Things are going to happen; we just hope we have enough guys that we can do it anyway. With a team as deep as ours, if one or two of those starters don't have it, you hope you can plug in two others and you can keep it. That's what you're striving for, and what a game like (Georgetown) does is show you what they're capable of."

Next for Tigers

Opponent: No.17 Arizona

When, where: 9 p.m. Saturday at FedExForum

TV: ESPN2

Tigers' Dozier shines in spotlight

Tigers' Dozier shines in spotlight
Consistency sometimes eludes talented junior
By Dan Wolken
Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Robert Dozier does not have an evil twin, but as perhaps the most candid self-evaluator on the University of Memphis roster, he wouldn't begrudge those suspicions.

Even Dozier, a 6-9 junior, acknowledges that the range between his good days and bad can be so vast, there sometimes seems to be an impostor wearing his No. 2 jersey.

"I can go out and have a big game and not score any points the next game," Dozier said. "I've got to cut that out and be more of a man."

It's a mysterious routine. Against opponents Dozier should dominate simply with his athleticism and 7-3 wingspan, he often lacks aggression, gets pushed around in the post and can't find a way to impact the game. But when the No. 2-ranked Tigers play the very best teams in the country, Dozier transforms into a hulking presence who blocks shots, rips away rebounds in traffic and busts open zone defenses with his work in the middle of the lane.

The Tigers saw it last year in the NCAA Tournament, when Dozier outplayed more heralded forwards. And they saw it again last weekend, when Dozier had 19 points and six rebounds in an 85-71 win over Georgetown. Now, they'll hope to see it Saturday, when the Tigers host No. 17 Arizona.

"Rob really gets up for these teams; he likes the challenge just like all of us," junior forward Chris Douglas-Roberts said. "We came into the game knowing this was a big team, and they were athletic just like us. He took that challenge. Rob always has been a top-tier player."

Indeed, it would not be hard to craft an argument that Dozier has been the key figure in Memphis' biggest victories since the beginning of last season.

When the Tigers beat Kentucky last Nov. 22 in the EA Sports Maui Invitational, Dozier led the team in points (15) and rebounds (seven). When Memphis won at Gonzaga, Dozier filled up the box score with 14 points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots.

Dozier played arguably the best basketball of his career in the NCAA Tournament. Though had had nine points and eight rebounds in a second-round win over Nevada, his defensive presence harassed All-American Nick Fazekas into a 7-for-18 shooting performance.

After Dozier went to the bench with two fouls early in the Sweet 16 game against Texas A&M, the Aggies big men had their way with Memphis and built a 42-37 halftime lead. When Dozier came back in the second half, he immediately blocked Antanas Kavaliauskas twice. Kavaliauskas, who scored 13 first-half points, was never a factor after that.

"The reason we're in the Elite Eight is the way Robert Dozier is playing," Calipari said at the time. "Obviously, the other guys are doing their thing, but we have no one else like Robert Dozier."

That was evident again Saturday, as Dozier set up camp in the middle of Georgetown's zone and made 6-of-12 field goals, 6-of-6 free throws and stood up to the Hoyas' physical pressure, which was considerable.

"When you're a basketball player, you're growing up, you want to be on national television playing the big games," junior guard Antonio Anderson said. "Rob wanted that, and their big guys got all the hype. Everyone was talking about Joey (Dorsey), and they didn't respect Rob, so Rob wanted to make a name for himself."

Though it's nice to know Dozier can be a huge presence in important games, last season he often appeared passive against less-talented teams, leaving fans and NBA scouts wondering which player they were watching.

Dozier has been more consistent as a junior, averaging 9.8 points and 6.9 rebounds, but he's still working toward the day when he can bring a Georgetown kind of effort against Popcorn State, as Calipari would say.

"I just have to put forth that extra effort and make sure I'm more consistent in what I do," Dozier said. "It goes to show what we really can be if guys are more consistent."

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Rose Named Conference USA Player Of The Week

Rose Named Conference USA Player Of The Week
Tiger freshman received first league weekly honor.
Dec. 24, 2007

IRVING, Texas - University of Memphis' Derrick Rose has been named Conference USA Player of the Week for Dec. 17-23, the league office announced Monday. It is the first conference weekly honor for Rose this season.

Rose is the second Tiger this year to earn the league's weekly accolade, as junior Chris Douglas-Roberts was selected C-USA Player of the Week twice in November.

Last week, Rose helped lead No. 2/2 Memphis to a pair of victories over Cincinnati 79-69 and No. 5/4 Georgetown 85-71. He averaged 22.0 points and 6.0 assists in the two wins. Rose shot 44.4 percent from the floor, 50 percent from the arc and 76.5 percent from the free throw line in the two contests.

Against the Bearcats, the 6-foot-3 freshman guard scored a season-high 26 points, and also posted season bests for three-pointers made (5) and attempted (8). He also added four rebounds and six assists. Rose hit a three-pointer late in the game to help the Tigers maintain their lead.

He followed up the Cincinnati game with an 18-point, three-board and six-assist performance versus Georgetown. The Chicago, Ill., native had a key assist to Antonio Anderson to give Memphis a 69-56 lead in the second half. Rose also hit 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

For the season, Rose is averaging 15.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 10 starts. He is shooting 46.8 percent from the field, 36.7 percent from the three-point line and 73 percent from the charity stripe.

Earlier this year, Rose was named the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic/Memphis Regional MVP, and also picked up 2K Sports College Hoops Classic All-Tournament Team honors.

The No. 2/2 Tigers (10-0) return to action Saturday, Dec. 29 when they host No. 17/19 Arizona (9-2). The game, to be televised by ESPN2, is slated for a 9:00 p.m. (CT) start at FedExForum.

Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News - College hoops roundup: Rose in bloom for Memphis


College hoops roundup: Rose in bloom for Memphis
Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News
Posted: December 24, 2007

Hustling along the road to March: The Holiday Edition:

Player of the week: Memphis freshman point guard Derrick Rose showed why he is the best pro prospect in college basketball -- and, more important, why the Tigers have a serious shot at winning their first NCAA basketball championship. On a night when many of his teammates appeared disinterested in their visit to Cincinnati, Rose dazzled with 26 points and six assists in a too-close 79-69 victory.

When Georgetown showed up at the FedEx Forum three days later and every one of his teammates came to play, Rose still was in command of the team and delivered 18 points and six assists in a too-much 85-71 Memphis win. For a guy whose college experience now consists of nine games, it is amazing how cool he is on the court.

Team of the week: Andy Kennedy's Ole Miss Rebels left for Puerto Rico as one of the few unbeaten teams that couldn't crack the AP poll. Well, voters, how do you like them now? Ole Miss swept three games in the San Juan Shootout, including what must have been a thrilling showdown with then-unbeaten Clemson. (If that game was on TV somewhere, I couldn't find it). The Rebels took out La Salle and DePaul on the two prior days and now stand 11-0. They've got only two games remaining before opening the SEC -- home games against Southern Mississippi and Alabama A&M.

Player to watch this week: Redshirt freshman Gilbert Brown is the likely successor to Pitt small forward Mike Cook, who was lost for the year with a knee injury in the Panthers' big comeback win against Duke. Brown is an extraordinary athlete who can give his team a new dimension, though he can't be expected to have the same level of creative ability as Cook. Brown will face his first full test in an 8 p.m. Saturday road game at Dayton.

Game to watch this week: Having crisscrossed the country for games in Philadelphia, Boston and Oklahoma City, Gonzaga doesn't have to travel too far for the next big one: across the state to Seattle's Key Arena for a meeting with Tennessee. The Vols regained a little bit of their swagger with a victory at Xavier and might find some success attacking the Bulldogs' ballhandlers. But the Zags will field a powerful frontcourt now that Josh Heytvelt is back from injury.

My top 10, based on achievement: 1. Memphis; 2. North Carolina; 3. Kansas; 4. Pitt; 5. Miami; 6. Washington State; 7. Ole Miss; 8. Vanderbilt. 9 (tie). Texas, Michigan State, UCLA; 10. Duke.

That'll leave a mark: Appalachian State 74, Arkansas 67.

Monday, December 24, 2007

ESPN - Weekly Watch - Pitt, Memphis stay unbeaten in huge matchups

Player of the Week: Levance Fields, Pitt
By Andy Katz

Last week: 21 points on 7-for-13 shooting with four assists and two steals in a 65-64 overtime win over No. 7 Duke

Sometimes one shot can change a season, a career and a national profile.

Levance Fields' 3-pointer to beat Duke in Madison Square Garden on Thursday night will be a highlight he'll never forget.

Fields decided to go for the win, not the tie, in overtime. He had the confidence instilled in him from his coaching staff, and the smarts to read a situation that he had the slower David McClure defending him near the 3-point line. And instead of driving into the lane, he stepped back for the game-winning 3-pointer.

Fields scored 21 points, had two steals and made all four of his free throws. Sure, he committed a travel and offensive foul late, but he didn't get rattled with time winding down and Duke holding a two-point lead.

Fields had plenty of emotion for him to take over the game. He was upset over the knee injury to Mike Cook -- his best friend on the team -- and he also had a slew of family and friends visiting from Brooklyn.

The win, even with the loss of Cook for the season, puts Pitt in a position to earn a No. 1 or No. 2 seed if the Panthers win the Big East.

Team of the Week: Memphis Tigers
Andy Katz

Last week: Defeated Cincinnati, 79-69, on the road and beat No. 4 Georgetown, 85-71, at home

Memphis won the top-five matchup with Georgetown on Saturday. The second-half runaway was as impressive a performance as any team has put forth this season.

Memphis clicked offensively in the second half, relying on the shooting and driving of Chris Douglas-Roberts, timely buckets from Derrick Rose and the rebounding work of Joey Dorsey.

If Memphis were to play the rest of the season like it did in the second half, then a Patriots-like pursuit of perfection will be in order. But alas, even the Tigers admitted that they're human and won't be able to bring the same effort every game.


3-Point Shot
Jay Bilas

1. Few have been bigger allies to college basketball officials than I have, and rightfully so. By and large, officials do a good job. But the game has changed, and many officials have not. They work too many games and are unprepared for the games they work.

So far this season, I have seen too many games in which the officiating crew, overall, has not done a good job. I have said it before, and I will say it again: Officials need to watch tape of the teams they have in upcoming games in order to adequately prepare for what they will see. All coaches do it, and so do the better broadcasters. Officials should, too. The players are bigger and more athletic, and the coaches are more innovative and prepared than ever. The officials need to keep up. And don't tell me that they don't have time. When I travel, I take a computer with me and I watch tape of teams from all over the country. I often see officials on planes, and I have never seen one with a computer or watching anything in preparation for games. They do it in the pros, and they should do it in college. I have never done this before, but if I continue to see what I consider to be poor performances by officials, I will start naming names. The officials get paid, and the players and coaches who get called out by name when they perform poorly deserve the best the officials have.

2. Memphis put on a performance against Georgetown that should quiet any concerns about just how good the Tigers can be. The most impressive thing to me was just how tight and focused Memphis was on Saturday and how hard the team played together. Memphis has talent, depth and an outstanding coaching staff, but that is not enough. Like any championship team, they need to have a collective will, and they must be willing to sacrifice individual wants and needs for the success of the team.

On Saturday, Memphis was the best team in the nation, and it had nothing to do with shots falling. I was impressed with Memphis for the little things it did.

Speaking of little things, the manner in which Georgetown left the floor of the FedEx Arena was really impressive.The Hoyas filed out after shaking hands with heads held high and with a great demeanor. The Georgetown roster is loaded with great talent, but also great kids with great character. That loss to Memphis will not shake those kids.


3. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo loves to say that players play, but tough players win. Well, coaches coach, but prepared coaches win, too. While so many coaches do a great job of preparing their teams, it is futile to try to suggest that one guy is the best. But it is impossible to refute that Izzo is one of the most prepared. If you watched the set plays and actions that Izzo ran against Texas' zone and box-and-one defenses, you saw a well-drilled and well-organized Spartans team. Some may just have seen the final lob look to Marquise Gray on one of Izzo's sets in the second half, but it was all set up by ball reversal, Drew Neitzel running off a baseline double screen and taking a defender with him, and the middle man being left to guard a flash and a slip. It was beautiful. Michigan State is the real thing this season. The Spartans can be beaten, but they have good talent, they score easier baskets and they defend the elbow and block well. Michigan State can beat anyone out there. And most of it is because of Izzo.

And One: Memphis coach John Calipari made a great point when asked how his team could duplicate the effort against Georgetown in every game. He said they couldn't do it every single game because they aren't machines, they are people. Well, he's absolutely right. These kids lay it on the line day after day, game after game, and they face high-level athletes and teams that are doing everything they can to stop them. In today's age, we seem to dissect every single movement and action of players and coaches, making judgments about their character, heart, mental and physical courage, and whether they are winners.

I am not suggesting that we should not critique things that we see in the game. But we should respect the effort and the difficulty faced by such high-level competitors. I wonder if critics like us would be so judgmental of ourselves or our colleagues in the jobs we do -- and we don't have anyone preparing all week in an effort to stop us from doing what we do. These kids and coaches hang their tails out there on national television, and whether they succeed or fail in their efforts, they deserve our sincere respect.

Upset Watch
By Reggie Rankin

Scouts Inc.'s Reggie Rankin takes a look at four upsets that could happen this week:

• Friday: Southern Illinois over Butler, ESPNU, 9 p.m. ET
SIU defends its home court as well as anyone in the country. The Salukis are 16-1 at home since the start of last season. Butler will arrive in Carbondale, Ill., with experience, a great system and an abundance of shooters. A.J. Graves leads a Bulldogs attack that shoots better than 41 percent from 3-point land. Freshman forward Matt Howard has come into his own to give Butler a fourth double-figure scorer and legitimate post presence. The Salukis' man-to-man defense is always very good; at home, Randal Falker & Co. will turn up the heat another notch. If leading scorer Matt Shaw and Bryan Mullins can make some shots in the motion offense, and if Falker can dominate the glass with his great knack for rebounding and shot blocking, this will be a statement win for Southern Illinois.

• Saturday: Winthrop over Miami, 4 p.m. ET
The Hurricanes are off to a terrific start, and their trio of double-digit scorers -- Jack McClinton, James Dews and Anthony King -- have been consistent. Both McClinton and Dews are deadly behind the arc, and King has been a monster on the glass. But Winthrop, in recording 115 wins the past five seasons, is a giant killer. After beating Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament, the architect of the program, coach Greg Marshall, moved on to Wichita State. Assistant Randy Peele took over, and like all programs, a period of transition is expected. All-conference guard Michael Jenkins and forward Taj McCullough are the scoring leaders, while point guard Chris Gaynor runs the show. With a win over Georgia Tech in the books and a chance to get Miami on a neutral floor in the Orange Bowl Classic, the Eagles could get their second win versus an ACC team.

• Saturday: Dayton over Pittsburgh, ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET
More than 13,000 of the Flyers faithful will welcome the ninth-ranked and talented Pitt Panthers to UD Arena. Brian Roberts will need to play like he did against Louisville when he denied Rick Pitino his 500th-career win by scoring 28 points in Freedom Hall. Freshman Chris Wright, the Flyers' second-leading scorer, has dominated the A-10 Rookie of the Week award, winning it for four times already. The Panthers are experienced in the backcourt, but junior forward Sam Young and freshman forward DeJuan Blair are the team's leading scorers and rebounders. Pitt and Dayton are both terrific defensive teams, holding opponents to fewer than 60 points per game. The Flyers could pull off the upset if the defense holds and if last season's A-10 Sixth Man of the Year, forward Charles Little, steps up his game.

• Saturday: Boise State over BYU, 9 p.m. ET
Cougars coach Dave Rose has the BYU program hitting on all cylinders after posting 45 wins the past two seasons and back-to-back Mountain West Coach of the Year honors. BYU has a complete inside-out attack that averages more than 80 points per game. Junior center Trent Plaisted leads BYU in scoring and rebounding. Point guard Ben Murdock is the coach on the floor and has two double-figure scoring wings in Lee Cummard and Jonathan Tavernari. Both are excellent 3-point and free-throw shooters, which makes it difficult to double Plaisted in the post. But traveling to Boise to tussle with the Broncos could be a challenge for BYU. Boise State coach Greg Graham, a former Oregon assistant now in his fifth year, runs an exciting, high-scoring style similar to the Ducks; Boise State also averages more than 80 points per game. The senior-led frontcourt of leading scorer Reggie Larry, Matt Nelson and Tyler Tiedeman may be the best in the WAC. The Broncos could earn a big win if they can defend Plaisted and maintain their scoring output against a defense allowing just 63 points per game.

What I'm looking forward to this week
By Andy Katz

• If undefeated Ole Miss can avoid dropping a potential trap game on the road at Southern Miss on Friday.

• If Connecticut can win a road game that you would think it should at Central Florida on Friday.

• If Butler can pull off a quality road win at Southern Illinois on Friday (ESPNU, 9 p.m. ET).

• If Oklahoma is tough enough to bully West Virginia and beat the Mountaineers in Morgantown on Saturday (ESPN2, 6 p.m. ET).

• If Memphis plays with the same type of intensity defensively against a more defensive Arizona team on Saturday (ESPN2, 10 p.m. ET) at FedEx Forum.

• If Dayton can pull off the upset by beating Pitt at home on Saturday (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET) and give the Flyers a quality nonconference NCAA résumé.

• If Wisconsin can put forth a better road showing at Texas on Saturday (ESPN2, noon ET) than it did against Duke last month.

• If Gonzaga can pick up a much-needed top-25 win by beating Tennessee in Seattle on Saturday, (ESPN2, 4 p.m. ET).

Geoff Calkins - On a day to remember at the Forum, Tigers and Tiger fans can take a bow


On a day to remember at the Forum, Tigers and Tiger fans can take a bow
By Geoff Calkins
Sunday, December 23, 2007

So that's what it looks like when the Memphis Tigers put it all together. So that's what it looks like when Chris Douglas-Roberts is scoring and Joey Dorsey is pounding and Robert Dozier is hitting that little jumper inside the zone and Derrick Rose is firing on all turbojets.

"Pretty scary," said Douglas-Roberts, beaming.

Or just plain pretty. As in beautiful. As in No. 2 Memphis over No. 5 Georgetown, 85-71, in front of a raucous and delighted crowd of 18,864.

"How about the environment?" said Calipari and, absolutely, how about it?

The place was packed. With people and emotion and scouts and national media.

Even Joe Theismann couldn't find a seat. Theismann wandered down to the FedEx section just before tipoff and, um, sorry Joe, can't help you.

The one empty seat was reserved for Keith Lee.

"He's bigger than Joe," said FedEx's Dan Mullally.

Also, Theismann didn't put up 28 and 15 against Georgetown in the 1983 NCAA Tournament.

Theismann wandered off to the FedEx suite. Not that many noticed. Everyone was standing, and everyone was screaming and some said it felt just like the Coliseum used to feel, only with higher concession prices.

And then Georgetown went up by eight. Well, dang it.

Every Georgetown basket was easy as a sugar plum. Every Memphis basket was an effort.

Keith Lee, care to step in and help the cause?

Oh, wait. Never mind.

Because at that moment, the Tigers showed why they have a chance to win it all this year. Down by eight points, struggling to get good shots, the Tigers hung with and ultimately overwhelmed Georgetown by taking turns, almost, by sharing the responsibility for achieving greatness.

"We got down eight and Rose just said, 'I'm making plays.'" Calipari said. "Then all of a sudden CDR starts making plays."

The next thing you know, Dozier is getting open inside the zone for easy jumpers and Pierre Niles -- Pierre Niles! -- is throwing backdoor bounce passes.

This last bit happened after Dorsey went out with two fouls. In came the hefty one for four glorious minutes.

OK, Niles did tip in a basket for Georgetown. But he was good! He helped Memphis survive 12 minutes without Dorsey. And that backdoor bounce pass to Douglas-Roberts with 1:56 left in the half -- take that, Georgetown -- helped Memphis to a 3-point lead at intermission.

At which point, well, let's listen to Dorsey's explanation.

"We just got a big spark from -- me," he said.

Someone had to say it.

Dorsey had seven rebounds in the first 4:01 of the second half. Seven rebounds in four minutes. Georgetown's Roy Hibbert finished with six rebounds total.

A close game became comfortable. A comfortable game became a beat-down.

Memphis by 10. Memphis by 13. Memphis by 15.

"I said telling Roy to be more vocal, tell them to throw him the ball," Dorsey said.

You were helping Hibbert?

"He's my friend. They were down by 18," said Dorsey.

Actually, it never made it past 17. But that's how persuasive this was, how utterly emphatic.

Calipari let his five starters play pretty much the whole second half. He wasn't tinkering with complete domination.

"I wasn't coming out," said Dorsey.

Would you want to be the one to ask him?

By the end, it was less a basketball game than a celebration, of the day, of the city, of the team and of the moment.

The Tigers are now a perfect 10-0. They've beaten Oklahoma and UConn and Southern Cal and Georgetown.

After the game, one of the ESPN types said he expected Memphis to go undefeated. It's a fun idea to think about but, on this day, it seemed almost beside the point.

The game was enough. The game was everything it promised.

It was two great teams, and it was a densely packed gym, and it was close for a while, and it was thrilling, and then the home team won and the home fans danced and the whole place brimmed with happy bedlam.

Up in the stands, Benson Bland blinked and burped at the commotion.

Benson is six months old. It was his very first Tigers game.

His mother, Jennifer Bland, was asked if she had warned the little guy that every game won't be like this.

Jennifer smiled at the question. Some people just have no faith.

"Sure they will be," she said.

To reach Geoff Calkins, call him at 529-2364 or e-mail calkins@commercial appeal.com. You can hear his radio show, "The Geoff & Gary Show," starting on Jan. 2, from 7 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN 730.

Tigers Replay


Tigers replay
Sunday, December 23, 2007

As The Game Turned

After senior forward Joey Dorsey committed his second foul with 12:06 left in the first half, the Tigers struggled for the next 10 minutes and found themselves behind 35-27. Without Dorsey to serve as a defensive backstop, Georgetown made 14 of its first 22 field goal attempts and appeared to have everything going its way. But the Tigers found life in the final minutes of the first half, with a 3-point play from freshman guard Derrick Rose sparking a 16-5 run to end the half. The run included second-chance buckets by Robert Dozier and Chris Douglas-Roberts and a dunk by Dozier near the buzzer for a 43-40 lead. Though Memphis made just one of its first 11 shots in the second half, the Tigers took control with a 9-0 run capped off by a Douglas-Roberts 3-pointer and a breakout dunk off a steal with 12:16 to go. After taking a 54-46 lead, the Tigers never looked back and led by double-digits for the final seven minutes.

As the rotation turned

Though Memphis' starters went almost the entire second half, the backups were effective in keeping things afloat when called on late in the first half. After Dorsey picked up his second foul and sophomore Shawn Taggart his third, coach John Calipari turned to Pierre Niles, who played a solid four minutes. Niles had to come out of the game briefly for a bloody nose, giving sophomore Hashim Bailey a chance to get up and down the court a few times. Other backups, however, did not play as much as they are accustomed to. Sophomore guard Doneal Mack, who averages 13.7 minutes per game, played just three. Senior guard Andre Allen played five minutes, well below his average of 15.6. And Willie Kemp played half as much as usual, getting in for eight minutes, though he was the most effective of the three, going 1-of-1 from the field and collecting two assists.

Rim gems

Early in the game, Dorsey was having a difficult time finishing layups due to the physical play officials were letting go. But with 13:19 left in the first half, Dorsey left no doubt. Kemp, who showed off a quick first step several times Saturday, got into the lane for what appeared to be a layup attempt. Instead, Kemp threw the high lob to Dorsey for an alley-oop dunk that gave Memphis a 9-7 lead.

Hide your eyes

Free-throw shooting wasn't a problem for the Tigers Saturday. Memphis made 22-of-29 from the line. Georgetown, however, wasn't so fortunate. The Hoyas went 12-for-23, below their season average of 58 percent. Though that sounds bad, there were really only two culprits. Forward DaJuan Summers went 3-for-9 from the line, while forward Vernon Macklin went 0-for-4.

Scorer's table

Long-range shooting wasn't much of a factor either way. Georgetown took just 14 3-pointers, making three, while the Tigers went 5-for-15. In the second half, the teams combined for just 10 3-point attempts. Typically, both teams rely on the 3-pointer more than that. The Hoyas came into the game averaging 21.8 attempts per game, and Memphis took 24.6 per game before Saturday.

Lockerroom chatter

"Why do you play Georgetown? Why did we want to schedule the game? Because I knew everybody said there was this blueprint that would beat us, which is play very deliberate offensively, pass the ball, cut, move, take shots late in the shot clock and then on defense, sagging, man-to-man, switch, play zone, make it hard and then rebound the ball. That is Georgetown to a T, so we needed to play them to say,'OK, now we're playing this team.' ...That blueprint everybody saw, I'm not sure it's it. Maybe, maybe not." -- Calipari

Odds and ends

Multiple players praised the four-minute effort of Niles in the first half. Though the little-used sophomore didn't have much to show for it in the box score, he ate up important minutes as Dorsey and Taggart sat through foul trouble. Niles also had a nice bounce-pass into Douglas-Roberts, who drew a foul. "Once Joey got in foul trouble, and I seen Tag wasn't having a good time, I said I have to come in and play hard and stepped my game up to another level," Niles said. "I think I performed all right. I snatched one ball but didn't come up with it. I didn't play to my abilities."

Briarcrest junior guard Leslie McDonald and Mitchell sophomore guard Mardracus Wade -- both top 50 players in their respective classes -- were among the recruits spotted sitting behind the Tiger bench Saturday.

Though the Tigers were higher-ranked and favored by Las Vegas oddsmakers, they pulled out the underdog card Friday night at the team's pre-game meal. "Everyone picked us not to win this game, and that was a spark," Dorsey said. "It was a spark for us to get us amped up for this game. We did not feel the pressure because everyone put it on Georgetown to win the game."

Players scattered after the game to return home for a short Christmas break. Calipari gave the team off until Christmas night, when players are expected to return and begin preparations for next Saturday's game against No. 19 Arizona. For some players, it was the first chance to return home since last Christmas. "It's going to be good going back to Boston for the first time in about a year," Anderson said.

Dozier came into the game struggling more than anyone from the free-throw line, making just 7-for-18 on the season. But Dozier, who is 67.9 percent from the stripe for his career, said he found a technical flaw in his stroke recently and worked to correct it. "It's just a little mechanics," Dozier said. "I've been holding the ball a little too low when I'm shooting my free throws. I've got to hold it up a little higher. That's the biggest thing for me."

Looking ahead

Tigers vs. Arizona, Saturday, 9 p.m.

-- Dan Wolken and Jim Masilak

Nice Analysis by MSNBC's Mike Miller - MEMPHIS' AMAZING RUN COULD END IN A TITLE

Beyond the Arc
Mike Miller
MSNBC

MEMPHIS' AMAZING RUN COULD END IN A TITLE

In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a big game Saturday between No. 2 Memphis and No. 5 Georgetown. (It’s not even the only Top 10 game. No. 4 Texas plays No. 10 Michigan State in Auburn Hills. Score one for hoops fans.)

Nearly 19,000 people are expected (including 15 NBA scouts, or so) to watch the Tigers and Hoyas face off in what could be a Final Four preview. Memphis is among the nation’s most talented teams, while the Hoyas are consistent and return most of their Final Four team from last season. Both are unbeaten, but neither have turned on the juice yet this season. Yes, I’m saying both should be better by season’s end.

I’m already on record for picking the Hoyas (also my choice to win the whole shebang), but considering Pitt’s upset of Duke on Thursday, my picks ain’t worth much. (Jay Bilas’ also siding with Georgetown; some others have gone with Memphis, though.)

Yet, for all that buildup, I’m avoiding a game preview. You’ve got links for that. And for a detailed matchups breakdown, click here.

I’m more amazed at the run Memphis is likely embarking on, which could result in a title for John Calipari.

The Tigers have put together back-to-back 33-4 seasons. Only 14 teams have racked up more wins in two seasons’ time, and five of them involve those loaded Duke and Kentucky teams from the late ‘90s. If the Tigers reach the Elite Eight for the third straight year, they’ll likely be 34-4, or 100-12 in that span. They get to the Final Four, even more wins.

And even fewer teams have won games in a three-year clip like that. They include Kentucky, 96-98 (104-11); Kentucky, 46-48 (102-8); Montana State, 27-29 (102-11) and Duke, 99-01 (101-11).

Consider for a moment just how many games a team has to play to even approach 100 wins in a three-year span, let along actually do it.

Now, part of that achievement comes from playing in the weak Conference USA (where Memphis is 29-1 in regular-season play that last two seasons, and 6-0 in conference tournaments), but the Tigers also are 196-79 since 2000, which means they were winning at a pretty good clip before C-USA went belly up.

It makes me think this is what Jerry Tarkanian’s UNLV teams were like in the 1980s. The Running Rebs were 271-65 in the 80s. More importantly, Tark’s teams ran, which helped with recruiting (this guy did too) and eventually led to a title where UNLV had more talent on the floor than any other team.

Calipari’s set himself up for the same kind of run and talent influx Tark did. Memphis may not win the Big Dance this season, or next. But eventually, by running, winning and recruiting, he’ll have a team that can.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Pictures From Memphis v. Georgetown










My Analysis of the Georgetown Game


I know that many of you reading this didn't get to attend the game in person......Wow! I have been attending college basketball games since I was nine years old (30 seasons). That was the very best atmosphere I've ever witnessed. My previous greatest game was a Memphis victory over Kansas in about 1984 or 1985. I think Memphis won 83-81 in a sold-out Mid South Coliseum.

Anyway, I forgot to tape the game so I couldn't go back and see what the atmosphere was like from a television viewers' perspective, but I'm sure it didn't do it justice.

I've been really fired up since the game ended. Most of the media outlets appear to be giving Memphis a strong nod for the nation's best team. It was without a doubt their best showing of the year (I know, very obvious statement). I was really hoping that coming back home would be the item to get the Tigers back into form.

Ok, where to start. The starters were all very solid. I think you have to give CDR and Robert Dozier A's. I'd give Derrick Rose an A-, Joey Dorsey an A- and Antonio Anderson a B+. All five had great games. CDR started slow, but then was an All-American the last 27 minutes. Joey Dorsey and Robert Dozier had silly reach in fouls early, but held off committing fouls when it mattered in the second half. I really thought Derrick Rose kept the Tigers in the game in the first half with some great plays. Anderson was solid as always and even hit a 3 pointer at a critical time.

Were there weaknesses? Yeah, a few, but, Georgetown IS a Final Four caliber team, so you have to expect they will get theirs. Memphis' biggest problem is just periods of "lull". What was going on the first four minutes of the second half? Luckily, Georgetown really didn't take advantage of the lull and Memphis only went from up three at the half to down one before the technical on Cal.

Ok, what about Cal? I was pretty critical of him in the USC game where I believed he was really out-coached. But, yesterday, he did a great job with substitutions, with getting his team to make the proper adjustments to cut off the back door passes the Princeton offense produces (and G-Town runs very effectively).

Was Cal really pissed at the officials four minutes into the second half or did he just place a very well timed technical foul? Did he know that his team and the 18,864 FedEx Forum crowd needed a shot in the arm? Did anyone notice that the technical came when Georgetown had possession (so it didn't cost the Tigers a possession)? So, obviously, I think Cal wanted the tech at exactly that moment.

If you think about the times in the second half when Georgetown did score, it was on very difficult shots (at least until the final six minutes, when the Tigers got a bit too soft and didn't want to commit fouls, but left the lane too open). The Tiger defense was outstanding. I hope these guys realize just how much the defense means. If no one can score on you, it only takes a single bucket to win the game.

Defense - A+
Rebounding - A+
Ball Control - A- (only 11 turnovers versus Georgetown, nice)

Ok, enough of the past. Be looking for my next entry on the upcoming Arizona game.

#1 RPI Arizona Vs. #2 RPI Memphis (this may actually be bigger than the Georgetown game).

Dan Wolken - Post-Game Blog


Post-game blog: Georgetown
Posted by Dan Wolken

If you wanted to know what the Tigers would look like when all their pistons were firing, you saw it today. And what they looked like was a Final Four team. You have to give Memphis tremendous credit for how the improvement in offensive execution since the USC game. It’s now back to how the Tigers looked last year, when they simply tore up zones with their ball movement. Watching the Tigers today zip the ball from one side to the other and get great shots from the middle of the zone, you got a sense of just how good this team can be.

Defensively, Memphis struggled for a stretch of the first half when Joey Dorsey was out. For about 10 minutes, the Tigers were giving up too many quality shots. But in the five minutes right before halftime, Memphis played probably as well as it can play without Dorsey to take a 43-40 lead. In the second half, the Tigers simply dominated.

Collegehoops.net - Daily Dribble: Memphis/Georgetown Thoughts


Daily Dribble: Memphis/Georgetown Thoughts
December 22nd, 2007
By Shawn Siegel

For whatever reason, I got more feedback than usual on my recent Pittsburgh/Duke Thoughts Dribble, so I figured I'd fire it up once again for Memphis/Georgetown. So without further ado, here are some scatter-brained thoughts on the game:

#2 Memphis 85 - #4 Georgetown 71

- Someone wake up Roy Hibbert. Granted, the game was early and Hibbert isn't exactly the Energizer bunny, but he's got to get himself going for such a big game. From about the 5th to the 35th minute, Hibbert spent the game moping around with his shoulders shrugged

- Its only one game.. so I dont want to be too harsh towards Hibbert, but I've never been a huge fan. He's going to be a Top 15 pick and then 3 years from now, when he's sitting on the end of someone's bench, people are going to wonder in the world he was..

- Remember last year when Joey Dorsey challenged Greg Oden and got owned? Well, he didn't challenge big Roy, but this year it was Dorsey doing the owning.

- Dorsey will be picked 25 spots after Hibbert but have a better career. Which isn't to say Dorsey's great.. Jay Bilas called him an "extraordinary" shot-blocker which is just plain silly, but he can make an impact on defense.

- I guess CDR's three game slump is over. The senior had scored just 9 points in his last two and was shut down by USC, but Douglas-Roberts scored 24 and provided a huge lift on offense. People talk a lot about offensive sets and schemes, but CDR was so effective because he was able to break down the D by himself.

- You think of Memphis is being a 3-point shooting team, but they consistently shoot very low percentages from long range. Guys like Rose and Anderson for example, seem to only hit shots when they have extra time to lock and load.

- Playing 26 minutes, Austin Freeman got more run then he's seen all year. The freshman was coming off two solid efforts against bad teams (15 and 21), and carried the momentum into today's tough atmosphere. He led the team with 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting, and you figure his minutes will only grow as the season progresses.

- As bad as the 2nd half was (Georgetown scored 6 points in the first 9 minutes of the half), the first half featured some great basketball. At half, John Calipari was pretty complimentary in describing Georgetown as a great team. That respect carried over into a great effort by Memphis after the break. It was the type of effort Duke didn't have coming out of the break against Pitt.

- Going along the last post, as bad as Georgetown was in the 2nd half, this team is admittedly better than I thought. I pegged them as a 10 to 15 team before the season, but they're better than that. There's no shame in going to Memphis and losing, its been 37 games since someone was able to come out of the River City with a win.

- Looking at the stats, you'd think the game went down to the wire.. both teams shot similar percentage's, had similar turnover, assists, and 3-pt totals. The difference was in the toughness categories, more rebounds from Memphis and a more aggressive offense that led to more foul shots. (It also didn't hurt that G'Town missed 11 of 23 ft's)..

- How bout 320 pound Pierre Niles giving 4 solid minutes. Not that he did much, but he hadn't played in 3 weeks.. and for his pre-game meal he ate a small child, so that has to count for something.

That's all for now.. hope you enjoyed a great day of hoops.

New York Times - College Basketball: Top of the Heap


College Basketball: Top of the Heap

By PETE THAMEL

The rankings will tell you that North Carolina is the No. 1 men’s basketball team in the country. (The R.P.I., for the record, will tell you that it is Vanderbilt.) But after No. 2 Memphis dismantled No. 4 Georgetown on Saturday, it is fairly obvious that the Tigers (10-0) will be the favorite to win the national title.

The Tigers won, 85-71, dictated the tempo in their favor and forced Georgetown to rush its meticulous offense. Chris Douglas-Roberts led the way with 24 points.

Now the question is whether Memphis will lose for the rest of the regular season. The Tigers play Arizona, Gonzaga and Tennessee — all at home — along with the typical feast of Conference USA cud. They will be a heavy favorite in all those games, but can they remain motivated and focused against all of the inferior competition?

Let us know what you think. Is Memphis the favorite from here on out? Will playing in Conference USA hurt the Tigers as the season wears on?

ESPN's Andy Katz - Calipari's extra work helps Memphis' Douglas-Roberts shine


Calipari's extra work helps Memphis' Douglas-Roberts shine

By Andy Katz
ESPN.com
Updated: December 22, 2007, 8:57 PM ET

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Look, there was no way Memphis coach John Calipari was going to go into the most-hyped nonconference game in his eight-year tenure with his leading scorer, junior Chris Douglas-Roberts, in some sort of funk.

No way. This game was too important to Calipari and -- as he would say later in the day -- to the potential No. 1 seed possibilities for the Tigers come March.

So, he did what he hadn't done yet in college: He took over the individual workout for Douglas-Roberts this week, not just once, but twice.

"For the first 30 minutes, he whined like he was exhausted," Calipari said. "There were sounds coming out of him that I didn't know if he were a female or a male."

Calipari was in Douglas-Roberts' grille. Rod Strickland, who is the team's director of student-athlete development/manager, held a pad pushing back every time he drove.

"I was doing anything to jar the kid out of what he was in," Calipari said. "I was trying to get his motor going. That's all it was."

Calipari said he had done the same tactic with Keith Van Horn, Lucious Harris and Kerry Kittles when he coached the New Jersey Nets in the late 1990s. Let's just say he might not want to wait as long to do it again with another player.

Douglas-Roberts scored a team-high 24 points as he and the rest of the No. 2 Tigers ran away from No. 4 Georgetown 85-71 Saturday afternoon at the FedEx Forum in a matchup between undefeated teams.

Douglas-Roberts said he admittedly was flustered by USC's triangle-and-two gimmick defense the Trojans threw at him in New York earlier in the month. He scored only 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting in the ugly overtime affair. Middle Tennessee State tried the same D in Nashville. But a combination of that and an overall lack of aggression clouded his mind and led to a 2-of-5 shooting night for five points, followed by a less than inspiring 1-for-3, four-point game at Cincinnati.

Why did Calipari resort to taking matters into his own hands?

"I watched," Calipari said. "He couldn't get by anybody. In this offense, if you can't beat your man, they're not going to call a foul. He's not the kind of physical player that can play with people hanging on him.

"He wasn't cutting hard enough, busting hard enough."

"They were hard workouts before practice," said Douglas-Roberts, who made seven of 13 shots and drew fouls to shoot 9-of-12 from the free-throw line. "It got me in the right frame of mind. It was all about pace. My pace the previous two games wasn't where it was supposed to be."

His teammates noticed it, too, and Robert Dozier and Derrick Rose said they shared his frustration the past three games. But CDR's play Saturday was "what he is for us, a great scorer," Dozier said.

But we would be remiss if this were all about CDR's awakening. The Tigers put away the Hoyas in the second half by deciding to increase their intensity on the defensive end. In the first half, they did get burned by the classic backdoor cuts of the Hoyas. But the power of ball pressure and being physical every time Georgetown had possession led to a runaway. Joey Dorsey, who was in foul trouble in the first half, grabbed 11 of his 13 rebounds in the second half, blocked two of his three shots in the second half and provided enough of a presence to fluster the Hoyas' post.

Dorsey's power, the versatility of Dozier and the strength, even for just four minutes, of wide-body Pierre Niles, was enough to send preseason All-American Roy Hibbert to his lowest-point total of the season (six).

"All of our games [so far], there were one or two good players, but on their team, everybody is a scorer and everybody is a threat," said Hibbert, whose Hoyas' previously toughest game was against a depleted Alabama in Birmingham. "We need to get better on offense and defense."

Georgetown coach John Thompson III was even more direct, saying, "We will improve. We will improve."

The question is how often will Memphis' defense be so deflating for an opponent?

Will the Tigers bring the same intensity they did in the second half in every game? Will it be there for 40 minutes against Arizona, Gonzaga, Tennessee the next two months, against Houston and UAB on the road in Conference USA or in a second-round matchup in the NCAA Tournament?

"It's going to be real hard, honestly," Douglas-Roberts said. "We're not going to play like this every game. But we know every big game, this is what we have to bring, just like this."

Douglas-Roberts played the underdog role card, too. He said the Tigers will play "with a chip on our shoulder and are proving it to ourselves, not to the media," that they're worthy of their high ranking.

Not sure where CDR is getting that no one thought the Tigers would win this game. This was at home. As are the upcoming games against Arizona (Dec. 29), Gonzaga (Jan. 26) and Tennessee (Feb. 23), which is quite remarkable in this era of teams not always getting a plethora of marquee nonconference home games.

"This is a big one, a huge game if you win," Calipari said. "If you don't, it's Dec. 22. But they're never taking it away. They can say that's in December, the [NCAA Tournament selection] committee can say whatever it wants -- in December, not in January and February, at home -- don't act like they can't move the numbers around. All we can do is go play ball and put a résumé together, and they decide where we should go and what seed we should be.

"Now, my question is: Are we No. 1 next week?"

The way the polls work, probably not because -- for whatever reason -- media and coaches don't like to jump a team too high, especially if the No. 1 team (North Carolina) hasn't lost. But it really doesn't matter in college basketball. All that is relevant is being a No. 1 seed and, for Memphis, playing the first two rounds in nearby Little Rock, Ark., and, if the Tigers advance, being the top seed in a regional semifinal and final in Houston en route to San Antonio.

Beating Georgetown helps put Memphis on that path.

"We knew a game like this helps our seeding in March," Douglas-Roberts said. "That's why we didn't want to get beat."

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.