Saturday, November 1, 2008

El Capitan...

I hope no one was confused by the endless amount of compliments given to Cal by his players. Friends first, teammates second... Cal, the father figure and the genius... Cal, the bail bondsman... While part of Cal may be sugary sweet, there's another side to Cal that pries into the minds of his players, shines a light on their every weakness and forces them to plow through that weakness.

This is the father figure Cal. This is the practice coach Cal. This is National Championship Coach Cal.

Part II to appear next week.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hittin the Links (10/31/08)... has a little follow up to The Game of Which We Will Not Speak. Bitter taste, indeed, Dozier. conducted a Q&A with Coach Cal. Cal talks about reloading, the importance of our defense and the talent in NCAA basketball this year. Cal believes that everyone (except UNC) is a little bit worse this year. That statement will come back to bite him. He's referring to team's on a national level and I agree with him on that. However, the CUSA has made strides recently and the Tigers should keep an eye on the other CUSAers.

Gary Parrish is showing some love to the cream of the non-BCS crop. Adding more fuel to the February 7th fire, he placed the Zags 1st in the non-BCS pool, followed by the Tigers. Must be the excessive hair product seeping into his brain. Nonetheless, it's a good list, especially considering three CUSA teams made the cut. I like that call.

Mike Miller from gives some nice insight into the 3-point line change. Considering the Tigers have shot about 35% in recent years, expect that number to dip a bit. This will force the team to create some shots, get to the hoop and rely more on the big men. Cal could care less where the line is. Nonetheless, it's a good article with a few good links.

Goodman at FOX lists his Top 20 Freshmen here. He has Tyreke at #4. While Tyreke obviously will be #1, he'll be followed closely by Holliday, DeRozan and Shumpert. All the kids on this list are skilled, but these four guys are in the best situation to make the most of their time.

Old Man Roberts... Everyone at Memphis loves CDR, not because he was flashy like Rose, physically dominant like Dorsey, or slick like Cal. No, we loved CDR for his old-man game.
Lastly, I leave with the greatest sports headline that I've read this year. It needs no introduction, but it needs a lot of explanation... "Singletary dropped pants at halftime to make point to 49ers." I don't want to hear about anyone making any kind of point with his pants down.

Tigers #12 in the ESPN/USA Today Poll...

Staying pretty consistent with the other preseason polls, the ESPN/USA Today poll has Memphis ranked #12. We fared a little better than the Gayhawks, as they come in at #23.

With these opening rankings, the Tigers streak of remaining in the Top 25 has run to 61 consecutive weeks, matching UCLA for the longest active streaks.

1. North Carolina (31) 0-0 775
2. Connecticut 0-0 707
3. Louisville 0-0 694
4. UCLA 0-0 650
5. Duke 0-0 578
6. Pittsburgh 0-0 576
7. Michigan State 0-0 572
8. Texas 0-0 538
9. Notre Dame 0-0 525
10. Purdue 0-0 465
11. Gonzaga 0-0 437
12. Memphis 0-0 425
13. Tennessee 0-0 408
14. Oklahoma 0-0 387
15. Arizona State 0-0 304
16. Miami (FL) 0-0 233
17. Marquette 0-0 219
18. Georgetown 0-0 175
19. Florida 0-0 161
20. Davidson 0-0 158
21. USC 0-0 153
21. Wisconsin 0-0 153
23. Kansas 0-0 130
24. Wake Forest 0-0 129
25. Villanova 0-0 122
Others Receiving Votes
UNLV 60, Saint Mary's 59, Ohio State 54, Baylor 47, Xavier 27, Syracuse 23, Texas A&M 19, LSU 19, Arizona 18, Virginia Tech 15, Brigham Young 13, West Virginia 10, Washington 8, Siena 8, Kentucky 7, Vanderbilt 7, Oklahoma State 4, Clemson 2, Washington State 1.

Memphis is, of course, the only CUSA team present in the preseason rankings. Sadly, our old foes Loserville and Marquette have made a preseason appearance. I hate the CUSA.

Memphis and the Incredible Calipari Nonconference Extravanganza!

Brace yourselves. If you haven't been to the bathroom in a while, go now and return asap. We don't want any accidents. Are you ready for this, Tiger fans?

In an interview on AM 560 in Memphis this morning, John Calipari singlehandedly caused Memphis basketball fans everywhere to start dancing in the streets and speaking in tongues. On the radio with Dave Woloshin, Cal dropped a BOMB on Memphis fans.

Memphis has reached (what Cal calls) verbal agreements to play a home-and-home series with both North Carolina and Duke.

Is this for real? It appears so. Duke fessed up to talking with Cal. The Blue Devils even want a third game in the series at a neutral Chicago site. If there's a way, Cal will play.

North Carolina's AD played hard to get, that little rascal, saying he hasn't talked to anyone from Memphis, but that Roy Williams may have. Roy has friends in the area, so it wouldn't surprise me if he's been around a bit and, in the meantime, got together with Cal. I imagine the meeting was pleasant, but ended with Roy and Cal discussing whose was bigger... egos, that is. And what do you get when your cross two members of modern basketball royalty? A precious basketball lovechild that takes the form of a home-and-home between Memphis and North Carolina.

(We may not see Psycho T or Paulus, but commit their jerseys and facial expressions to your memory.)

When, might you ask, will these blessed series commence? Cal said they could happen as early as the 2009-2010 season! Kudos to Cal for striking while Memphis' iron is blazing hot and making an effort to get these incredible series. These agreements are why Cal makes the big bucks. Cal added that the 2009-2010 nonconference schedule may end up being Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, Gonzaga, Massachusetts and neutral-site games with Kansas (likely in St. Louis, a 4.5 hour trip) and Loserville (likely in Nashville, a 3 hour trip)! In case you didn't catch that last line, I'm going to write it again.

Cal added that the 2009-2010 nonconference schedule may end up being Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, Gonzaga, Massachusetts and neutral-site games with Kansas and Loserville.

Granted, the deals are not in writing, but Cal says everyone has verbally agreed to the matchups. The North Carolina and Kansas series would be incredible. At this point, Duke might be lucky to get a game with us (ha). You can listen to Cal's Glorious Proclamation here. Give it a listen, because at the end of the call, Cal gives his own little State of the Union address and it's cool to hear him so pumped about the Tigers.

You can read a little more about this story at, here. Notice at the end of the article that Pearl talks some smack about Cal. If the Memphis-Tennessee series ever falls through, I hope they replace it with a no-holds-barred cage match between Cal and Pearl. Cal with his mafia connections, Pearl with his big orange man-breasts. It would be quite a show.

Wanna Spoon?

The people have spoken, and by "spoken", I mean the people have picketed outside my house to inform me that Wesley Witherspoon will be known by no other name than "Spoon" or I will be tarred and feathered. With 85% of the votes, after a couple days, it was obvious the direction Tiger fans needed to go with Wesley's calltag. Although, don't be surprised if I sneak a little "Warhammer" somethin somethin into a post every now and then.

The poll actually had 5 days left, but due to the overwhelming response and the sheer awesomeness of the next poll, I decided to call it early. Spoooooooooooooooooooooon!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Danger Zone...

There have been murmurs among the Memphis fans and coaches about the possibility of the Tigers incorporating a zone defense into their repertoire this season. The past few years, these rumors have flown about here and there, but everyone, including Coach Cal, have laughed them off.

Our teams in the past have been built for man-to-man defense. They may have looked like Tigers on the outside, but, make no mistake, these players were all horses. They ran... and ran... and especially when the other team began to wear down, these guys ran some more. The full court pressure of other teams resembled a fire extinguisher, while the Tigers' press often registered as a Category 5 hurricane.

Last season, the Tigers boasted the 12th ranked defense in regard to opponent's field goal percentage (39.1%). The Tigers ranked 8th in the nation for blocks per game, at 6.1. Running man defense and ranking that high in the nation in blocks is an impressive feat. Defense that efficient is a result of quick-stepping guards who can keep the opponents from establishing a good offensive rhythm, backed by some beasts who can protect the goal if the guards get beat. Cal has said plenty of times that blocks are not the result of one man's defense, but of the second and third man helping. You can attribute the Tigers efficient defense to the athleticism of the big men, which freed up our guards to commit to playing such staunch defense.

Dorsey was an animal. Exhibit A:You can't replace 10 boards/2 third-row souvenirs/25-minutes of paint-prowling instantly. As much as we all love Dorsey, however, let's not forget his cohorts...

Robert Dozier, per game: 26 min, 7 boards, just under 2 stand-candies.
Shawn Taggart, per game: 17 min, 4 boards, 1 stand-candy.

Dozier has been hitting the gym and Tag's knee is in its best shape in three years. Can they own The Dorsey Zone this year? I think so, in limited minutes. These guys will be thrust to the forefront, as they are no longer filling time from the bench, but now must divide Dorsey's time between themselves and the new bench players. Speaking of those guys...

In the frontcourt, 6-11 Angel Garcia will (eventually... hopefully...) be hitting the hard wood, early reports are that Simpkins has a nose for rebounds, and Chris Massie 2.0 has been eating his greens, dressing on the side. Provided that CM2.0 is legitimate this year, the latter part of the season will offer two more talented big men than we had last year.

In regard to the man vs. zone argument, the zone is just not practical with the talent and speed we have in the backcourt. Provided Kemp and Mack can guard anyone this year, they will bolster the disruptive defense of Anderson, Evans, and possibly Spoon.

Garcia is currently hurt, Simpkins needs to get his academics in order, so that leaves the majority of the big man minutes to Dozier, Tag, and CM2.0 early in the season. If that's the case, the Tigers will continue to run, run, run with the speedy guards. Dan Wolken said in his Commercial Appeal spot that the Tigers have not even been running the zone in practice, so there's no reason at all to think they're going to bust it out anytime soon.

However, as our new big men get healthy and get their bookwork straight, they will be given minutes, because they're both very good. I see the young forwards contributing bench minutes and learning a lot this year. The rest of the team is too quick and too athletic to abandon the defense that has made the Tigers so successful in the past. If the zone is ever used, it will be sparingly, because the personnel that would be best for zone is not the best personnel for the dribble-drive offense we know and love. We should never sacrifice Spurtability for the Danger Zone.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Memphis Tigers: #13 according to FOX Sports' Jeff Goodman

Goodman is moving up the polls, starting from #25, and releasing his take on one team per day. He provides a brief summary of everything we already know about the Tigers. He didn't include Witherspoon in his article and it seems he has little faith in Willie Kemp.

Considering who we lost, #13 is a fair spot for a returning national finalist. Most importantly, Tennessee is #14 on the list.

Should we be worried about #13? I think not. Memphis has a habit of enjoying the underdog role.

Tomb of Doom

The people have spoken and, with little surprise, Tiger fans are most excited to see Tyreke Evans as he leads us to a national championship victory!

The DRose Era Begins Tonight in Chicago...

Tune in to WGN to see the beginning of a beautiful thing when DRose takes the court in his official NBA debut as a Chicago Bull. The game starts at 7:30p CT.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tiger News Throughout the Weekend...

Money, money, money, mo-nay... Dan Wolken wants to reassure all Tiger fans that Cal is the coach of the Tigers... at least until the 2011-2012 season.

Rumors have been swirling that Cal might be interested in the recently vacated Arizona spot. However, Wolken makes it abundantly clear that Cal loves money, I mean, the Tigers. He stands to make around $3.4 million per year coaching the Tigers and this number does not include the perks from the new Nike deal that Cal just orchestrated. Considering our next likely president will be bumping Cal's income tax up another 5% or so, I'd probably keep the money, too.

Wolken also touches on the issue that Cal is in the midst of a strong run with this Tiger's team. Good recent recruiting classes , success in the NCAA Tournament and even Seth Davis is starting to see blue and gray... Three to four years ago, 'Zona would have been a much more attractive spot for Cal, but he's riding a high tidal wave of momentum in M-town, and he refuses to lose.
For those who haven't heard, Derrick Favors skipped his trip to Memphis this week. He is supposedly coming to town next weekend, so we'll need another vigil at the Forum for prayer and chanting.
Witherspoon has been spending time running the point in practice. Cal seems to be impressed with his play and flirted with the idea of an Anderson, Witherspoon, Evans full court press, which would be nothing short of a deliciously dominant defense. That sounds a lot gayer now that I've typed it. The team practiced Saturday and Sunday, with the first organized scrimmage occurring on Sunday.