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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

'We will be back,' Calipari tells crowd

'We will be back,' Calipari tells crowd

'One more year,' adoring fans ask of Rose after loss

By Jason Smith
Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The chant began as Derrick Rose approached a podium set up before a sea of blue-and-white clad University of Memphis basketball fans gathered Tuesday at Memphis International Airport to welcome their Tigers home.


Rose, the Tigers' freshman point guard, elected not to directly address the crowd's pleas that he return to Memphis for his sophomore season rather than declare himself eligible for June's NBA Draft.

"I want to thank y'all for y'all's support because we were just really trying to win the game for the city because we knew it would mean so much to y'all," said Rose, still visibly spent from the Tigers' 75-68 NCAA championship-game overtime loss to Kansas less than 15 hours earlier in San Antonio.

"Coming from Chicago, coming here, I'm proud that I made that decision to come here. I just want to say that I'm sorry that we lost the game, and there's always some more years."

Rose, senior Joey Dorsey and juniors Chris Douglas-Roberts, Robert Dozier and Antonio Anderson each took turns addressing a crowd that screamed its appreciation back at them and waved homemade signs reading, "Thanks for the memories," and "You are #1 in our heart."

"I just wanna say these last four years, y'all have really had an impact on my life, the way y'all have embraced me and everything," Dorsey said.

Like Rose, Douglas-Roberts elected Tuesday not to talk about whether he plans to return to Memphis for his senior season or enter the NBA draft.

"I'm speaking for me and my teammates when we say how appreciative we are for y'all," Douglas-Roberts told the crowd.

"More than anything, we wanted to win this for the city, and I'm not even from here. A lot of us aren't, but we respect the city, and we love the way y'all embraced us with open arms."

Memphis coach John Calipari said he wouldn't deter Rose and Douglas-Roberts from entering the draft if each projects as a first-round pick. currently projects Rose as the No. 1 pick in the draft and Douglas-Roberts as the No. 18 pick in the first round.

"You all know me well enough," Calipari said. "If they both have an opportunity to be drafted in that first round, what do you think I'm going to recommend? I'm going to say, 'You gotta go for it.'

"I'm proud of Joey. I think Joey now has put himself in a position to be a professional basketball player. This was a dream team, and you want those kids to reach their personal dreams, too."

Calipari declined to assess blame on his players for their missed free throws down the stretch Monday night or for blowing a 60-51 lead with 2:12 left in regulation.

"It would have been nice, but I told them it was all of us," he said. "I mean, I could have called a timeout here, a timeout there. They could have made a couple free throws. Maybe we don't turn it over. Maybe we grab a rebound. Maybe we make a stop.

"So you can't ... we're not going to beat ourselves up. We're just not. We all make decisions as coaches. They're thought-out decisions and they're based on your team. When they work, you're a genius. When they don't work, you're second-guessed.

"That's how it is, and I can accept it. I'd rather it be on me than these kids anyway."

Before leaving the podium, Calipari said he had "one last thing" to tell the crowd.

"We will be back."

-- Jason Smith: 529-5804

TV ratings huge

The University of Memphis' NCAA Championship game loss to Kansas Monday night attracted a mammoth audience on WREG-TV (3).

According to CBS, the Jayhawks' 75-68 overtime win drew a 50.4 rating in the Memphis market, meaning just over half the area's television households were watching. Memphis-Kansas also drew a 64 share, meaning roughly 64 percent of the households with TVs in use were tuned to the game.

Saturday's semifinal win over UCLA drew a 35.8 rating and 53 share on WREG.

Nationally, the Memphis-Kansas game drew a 12.1 rating and a 20 share, down 8 percent from 2007.

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