COLLEGE / JAN 11, 2008 / 2:56 PM
WHO’S THE BEST TIGER?
BY ANDREW KATZ
6-5 freshman Jeff Robinson is probably the 10th-best player on the #2-ranked Memphis Tigers. But on most other teams in the nation, Robinson would easily make the cut as one of the best five. Don’t believe it? In just 12 minutes against Siena, Robinson ripped off 20 points and 10 boards. That’s the only time this season that he’s attempted more than five field goals in a game. Yet on this Memphis team, he barely makes the final five. So who’s the best player on John Calipari’s squad?
Here are the nominees:
Chris Douglas-Roberts – 16.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.0 spg, 54.3% FG, 51.4% 3FG
Derrick Rose – 14.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.5 apg, 1.1 spg, 48.9% FG, 38% 3FG
Joey Dorsey – 8.1 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.2 spg, 2.7 bpg, 71.9% FG, 34.9% FT
Robert Dozier – 11.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.5 spg, 2.2 bpg, 46.3% FG, 33.3% 3FG
Antonio Anderson – 7.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.4 spg, 36.7% FG, 28% 3FG
OK, let’s scrap Antonio Anderson. He’s a solid all-around player and a strong leader, but can’t throw a grape in the ocean.
At first glance, it might seem that Robert Dozier’s numbers are good enough to put him in this conversation. Dozier is a talented player who had two excellent games against Memphis’ toughest competition: 19 points, 6 rebounds against Georgetown, and 18 points, 5 rebounds against Arizona. And his defensive numbers might be the most impressive. But don’t be fooled. Those metrics are misleading; when you watch Dozier, it feels like a lot of his steals come from balls tipped away by the Tigers’ guards. On the offensive end, he is far too inaccurate a shooter for someone his size (6-9), and generally plays without the tenacity that you expect from a Coach Cal project.
Just as Roy Hibbert is Georgetown’s most valuable player, Joey Dorsey is Memphis’ most important player. He runs the floor like a two-guard even though he is a stone-chiseled 6-9 265 lbs. He shoots just under 72% from the floor because he dunks absolutely everything. Still, that doesn’t make up for his laughable 35% free throw shooting. Do you even think he practices free throws? Dorsey is even more integral to the Tigers on the defensive end, challenging everything. He once told me that he tries to block “every single shot” that he can. Who cares about weakside rebounds anyway?
Derrick Rose torches the field in a footrace. But his scoring has come in bursts, unevenly spread over Memphis’ 14 wins. He had 9 points against USC, 5 points against Pepperdine, 19 against East Carolina and 26 at Cincinnati. His 3.1 turnovers per game are emblematic of his propensity to play slightly out of control. He hasn’t quite learned how to harness his speed.
The nod goes to Chris Douglas-Roberts both as this team’s best player and the man with the skinniest legs in college hoops. He rebounded from three sub-par games with 24 points and 8 boards against Georgetown. Most importantly, he’s improved drastically from three-point land from last year – from 32.8% to 51.4%. Though he doesn’t have Rose’s speed, he is Memphis’ most lethal weapon, especially when he unleashes the short-arm leaner which he used to give UConn’s Stanley Robinson 33 points of terror.