Saturday, October 18, 2008

Raisin' that banner...

I appreciate them using the smokescreen to cover up the word "Finalist" on that banner... Nonetheless, word has it that Memphis Madness was a hit. I wasn't able to attend, as a buddy was getting married yesterday evening, but everything I've read and seen shows it was a real winner. The crowd was going buckwild during the player intros, as you can see...

No sign of Mack in the intros. Where's the love? Could be that he was cut out of the video as punishment for letting SHAWN TAGGART beat him at the 3-point contest. I knew Tag was gonna be a leader this season. I did not expect that to be in the 3-point shooting department.

If you made it to the Madness, leave a comment and let us know what you thought!

Until next time, here's a little something to lift your spirits...

(Images linked from The Commercial Appeal)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Coming to America...

Fresh on the heels of my rant on the decline of the CUSA, the coaches show up on CUSA Media Day to raise the roof of the conference. Granted, pumping up all things CUSA related is essential on media day. It sits high on the Coach's Media Day Checklist:
  1. Pump up your team. Talk about returning starters, the new blood and having the best fans in the world.
  2. Pump up the Conference USA. Take it from a Top 5 Shmoozer of all time. You know him, you love him, Coach John Calipari...

    "Larry's team (Southern Miss), on the other hand, has five starters back," he said. "What's great with our league now … the Tulsa guys won their tournament. Barbee's team, he's walking with a foot between his feet and the floor so that tells you how good he believes his team is going to be. Mike Davis' team (at UAB), everybody is talking about. And all of you people are falling asleep on Marshall. They'll be outstanding.

    "Every team in our league has gotten better. There's a number of NBA-caliber players. I'm excited about the league and a little worried about my team. We've got good players, we just have to figure out who's going to be where and figure out how we're going to play."

  3. Scope for a hot interview to get your team in the media. Sports Illustrated? Those would be hot interviews, but I was thinking more along the lines of...

That's right, son! I'm takin' it back to puberty!

...It's Summer Sanders.

(On a horrible and hilarious sidenote, Summer Sanders left sportscasting to care for and spend an extensive amount of time naming her children, Skye Bella and Robert Charles Spider Schlopy. Come on, Summer. The boy is already gonna have to cope with Schlopy Seconds. Was it the Olympian in you? You just had to go for the gold and name the kid "Spider"?)

While Media Day is a chance for the conference coaches to smoke a peace pipe and stoke the fan's fires, it sounds like the coaches all feel that the Conference USA is on the verge of making a comeback. UAB, Tulsa and, possibly, UTEP have a chance to pick up some of the slack left Marquette, Cincy and Loserville. With Memphis getting as much national attention as it has the past couple years, there are plenty of opportunities for these teams to share in some of that spotlight (and I'm sure they have been in their recruiting). So, who is going to seize the reins and become part of the royal family of this league? Who will remain the court jester? Time will tell.

Dorsey, making a difference.

Dorsey (15) made his return visit to Memphis last night, as his Houston Rockets took on the Memphis Cuddly Bear Cubs. How did Joey do? Well, he simply made all the difference in the game.

The Rockets won by four, 101-97, with Dorsey chipping in five points and eight glorious, monster, if-I-had-some-wing-sauce-I'd-take-a-bite rebounds.

Joey, we already miss you.

Check CBS for the full recap.

Watch Joey reppin' Memphis in this ABC24 interview...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It's Hard Out Here...

It's hard out here... to get tickets for the 2009 NCAA Men’s Basketball South Regional coming to the FedEx Forum, March 27 and 29. That junt's already sold out!

While it's unlikely that Memphis will be starting this close to home in the 09 NCAA Tourney, it's still an awesome event. I had a meeting that kept me from Little Rock last year and I'll curse that day forevermore. I'm gonna try my darndest to score some tickets this time around, even if it means turning tricks Craig Brewer style.

C-USA Media Day Extravaganza!

Thursday, October 16th, is the Conference USA Media Day. Now, after my last post, I'm sure every one of you is excited about learning all there is to know about Angola, er, the C-USA!

The CUSA web site is offering a live feed of all the action. The men's basketball coaches are expected to come on at 4pm, Central Time. Check it out and let me know what you thought!

RIP, Tom II.

Rip, Tom II. Follow the link for his story.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Memphis Tigers: The Diamond Mine in the Heart of the Third-World Conference USA

For today's geography lesson, we turn to the impoverished, eye-sore of a country... Angola.

Angola, a country in sub-Saharan Africa, is searching for an identity. Years of war and filthy politicians have led to a state of disarray for this country. The life expectancy is 45 years and 65% of the citizens live in poverty. I'm tiptoeing the line of utter heartlessness, but I can't help but think of the Conference USA when I read about Angola.

Wait for it. Wait for it. Yep. Going to the hot place. But let me explain...

The country of Angola has one thing that defies its dastardly state... There is one glorious characteristic that keeps the country of Angola near and dear to the hearts of some...

Oops. Naughty Google. Ok, Angola has two things going for it...
Diamonds! The entire country of Angola depends on the presence of diamonds! The diamond trade offers a valuable asset for the leaders of Angola to use to maintain their validity and quite possibly their very existence.

Now, if I could claim my spot back in the line for the River Styx Ride, Memphis basketball is the diamond mine of the poverty-stricken Conference USA. As far as winning is concerned (and what else matters), most of the C-USA members who had won basketball championships (Cincinnati '61, '62; Marquette '77; Loserville '80, '86) were hijacked for wealthier conferences. UTEP has one championship under its belt ('66). However, the CUSA wasn't established until 1995, meaning all the championships just mentioned were credited to other conferences, leaving a big, fat zero CUSA teams with a championship.

Conference USA has become a cesspool when it comes to basketball. From its inception in 1995 to its unholy ransack in 2005, CUSA had an average of 4 teams go to the NCAA Tournament per year, equaling 40 teams. Of those 40:
  • four appeared in the Sweet 16 (Memphis '95, Loserville '96, Cincy '01, UAB '04),
  • two in the Elite 8 (Cincy '96, Loserville '97) and
  • one team made it to a Final Four (Marquette '03).
In the four years since the Basketball Rapture of 2005, seven teams (an average of less than 2 per year) have made it to the NCAA Tournament, with the number declining each year. Yet, while most of the teams in Conference USA are trying to start fires with sticks, Memphis has matched or surpassed the greatest successes of ALL the other teams in LESS THAN HALF the time. In only 3 years, Memphis can boast:
  • two Elite 8 appearances
  • one National Championship appearance, aka The Game of Which We Will Not Speak.
Credit Coach Cal. Credit the University of Memphis for forking over the time and money to pat Cal on the head and tell him he's special. Credit the players for becoming a part of a growing legacy, even though Memphis may not have the same appeal that other schools do. Lastly, credit the fans for falling in love with the team, taking ownership of the school and the players, and living and dying for Tiger Basketball. It truly is the diamond mine of the Conference USA.

That being said, the coaches have made their choices for Preseason Conference USA Honors. Granted, this is like picking a prom date from the school's Honor Club... lots of uggos, but every now and then you find a gem.

Preseason Conference USA Favorite: UAB

Nah, I'm kidding. We hate those guys. In case you didn't read anything before this line, Memphis has been picked and will win the Conference USA this season.

Preseason Conference USA Player of the Year: Robert Vaden, UAB, G/F, 6-5, Sr., Indianapolis, Ind.

This guy is legit. He came close to running the Tigers out of Birmingham last year, scoring 27 points on 8-14 shooting, 4-9 on three-pointers and grabbed 5 boards. In the Conference tournament, Memphis filled its prescription for a healthy dose of Antonio Anderson to be applied forcefully to Vaden, keeping him to 13 points, 9 fewer than his season average. The guy is very good. The Tigers still own him and UAB.

Preseason All-Conference USA Team
Robert Dozier, Memphis, F, 6-9, Sr., Lithonia, GA, wears a headband, likes the Plush Club
Stefon Jackson, UTEP, G, 6-5, Sr., Philadelphia, PA, 23.6 points per game
Jerome Jordan, Tulsa, C, 7-0, Jr., Kingston, Jamaica, break-out year from this guy
Jermaine Taylor, UCF, G, 6-4, Sr., Tavares, FL, 20.8 points per game
Robert Vaden, UAB, G/F, 6-5, Sr., Indianapolis, IN, we own him, good against other teams

There you have it. The teams and players will be broken down more extensively soon. Go to Memphis Madness on Friday! Tiger Basketball: Live it, Love it.

Your 2009 Memphis Tigers Starting Lineup...

Fear not, Tiger Fans.

Following The Game of Which We Will Not Speak, the departure of Derrick Rose, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Joey Dorsey was gut-wrenching for Tiger Fans. Memphis' Big Three made up for 50% of the points, 45% of the rebounds and 100% of TV attention, YouTube clips, and facials...

(Even though DRose is technically on the receiving end, it's clear to see that he won this battle.)

So what is a Tiger Fan to do? I am here to tell you, there is hope...

Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Willie Kemp 6-2 Jr. PG, Tyreke Evans 6-6 Fr.

Tyreke is on the far left, working his way up to the true blue in which he belongs. Using a picture from "The Street" adds a certain something, don't you think?

SG: Antonio Anderson 6-6 Sr., Tyreke Evans 6-6 Fr.
SF: Wesley Witherspoon 6-8 Fr.
PF: Robert Dozier 6-9 Sr.
C: Shawn Taggart 6-10 Jr.

Key Reserves: Doneal Mack 6-5 Jr. SG, Jeff Robinson 6-5 So. SG, Roburt Sallie 6-5 So. SG/SF, C.J. Henry 6-3 Fr. SG, Pierre Henderson-Niles 6-8 Jr. PF

While Tyreke will be getting a lot of the media attention, the guys around him are not too shabby. We are still strong in the guard department. Early reports claim that Kemp has grown significantly and will be a leader for the guards. Anderson will likely back Kemp up at the PG role. Tyreke will be getting playing time at the point, shooting guard, and possibly the three spot. The big question for the 08-09 Tigers is the reliability of the inside game.

As was seen so evidently in The Game of Which We Will Not Speak, the Tiger's inside presence could not hold their own when Dorsey wasn't prowling the paint. Can Dozier, Taggart and Niles step up? We shall see. Dozier (still) needs to add muscle and keep hustlin'. The Tigers will need his leadership this year. Niles needs to take Mike Golic's advice and "Get in the game!" with Nutri-System and stay away from the Golden Arches. I believe Taggart will become the focal point of the Tiger's inside game. He showed flashes of promise last year. With another season under his belt and some more muscle under his jersey, he will end up filling the void left by Dorsey.

Shaping the 2009-10 Recruiting Class...

The Tigers lucked out by signing sharpshooting small forward Darnell Dodson out of Miami-Dade Junior College. Darnell (Can we go ahead and call this guy Nelly? It's bound to happen. I'll be the first to call it.) had previously enrolled at Pitt and, when he tried to return from a stint in JC, discovered that the Big East rules prevented him from doing so. Que sara, sara and thank you very much to the Big East. You stole our top two rivals, but you'll never take Nelly!

Nelly will be a sophomore starting in the 2009-2010 season. He'll have 3 years of eligibility, so Tiger fans can expect to see him for a couple years.

Dodson joins a class already comprised of fellow former Shark (MDJC), power forward, Will Coleman, as well as cowpoke Nolan Dennis of Richland Hills HS.