RODNEY CARNEY (2002-06)
No player in Tiger history combined sky-walking flare and long-distance marksmanship like Carney delivered over four seasons. While he played anywhere from shooting guard to power forward, on this team he fills the four spot. First caught national attention as a sophomore, scoring 26 points (with six three-pointers) and grabbing 10 rebounds in the Tigers' opening-round win over South Carolina in the 2004 NCAA tournament. Led Tigers in scoring as a junior (16.0 ppg) and senior (17.2). Named Conference USA Player of the Year in 2006, when he also earned second-team All-America honors from the AP. Holds Tiger records for three-pointers made in a single season (102 in 2005-06) and for a career (287). Carney's 1,901 career points trail only Keith Lee and Elliot Perry in the Memphis record book.
CHRIS DOUGLAS-ROBERTS (2005-08)
Consensus first-team All-America in 2007-08, when he led Tigers with 18.1 points per game. (First Tiger to receive such honor since Penny Hardaway in 1992-93.) Also led Tigers in scoring as sophomore in 2006-07, with 15.4 ppg. Herky-jerky style as a slasher; quick release allowed him to convert off-balance shots. Known as CDR from his first game as a freshman, now ranks ninth on Tiger alltime scoring chart (1,545 points in three years). First-team all-conference selection as sophomore and junior; 2008 C-USA Player of the Year. Member of three C-USA champs (both regular-season and tournament); MVP of 2007 tourney. A 72-percent free-throw shooter for his career, missed three late foul shots in 2008 NCAA championship game, allowing Kansas to tie and eventually win game in overtime. Second-round selection of New Jersey Nets in 2008 NBA draft.
ANTONIO ANDERSON (2005-09)
Contributed to more wins — 137 — than any previous player in NCAA basketball history. Tigers won at least 33 games in each of his four seasons with team and enjoyed 25-game winning streaks each of his last three. Only player in Tiger history to accumulate 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, and 500 assists. On January 3, 2009, became only second Tiger (after Penny Hardaway) to record triple double. Played in more games (150) than any Tiger in history. Member of four consecutive Conference USA champions (both regular-season and tournament). Ranks fifth in career assists and fourth in career steals. C-USA's Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 and 2008 C-USA tourney MVP. Played in 17 NCAA tournament games, a school record. Graduated on schedule in 2009.
ANTONIO BURKS (2001-04)
One of the two or three quickest point guards in Tiger history. Averaged 8.4 points as a sophomore for the 2001-02 NIT champions. Led Tigers in assists all three years with the team; career total of 487 is seventh in U of M history. Also led club in steals three straight seasons, accumulating 177 for his career (sixth in school history). Scored 22 points in his final game as a Tiger, a loss to Oklahoma State in the second round of the 2004 NCAA tournament. Scored 1,028 points and was named 2004 Conference USA Player of the Year. Played two seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies before earning his U of M degree in 2008.
Our series continues.
The Rolling Stones released 13 studio albums before Coach Pastner was born. (Only nine since he arrived in 1977.)
The Tigers looked like a team that welcomed a return to the hardwood Tuesday afternoon, racing out to a 10-0 lead on their way to a 30-point drubbing of Southeast Missouri State (coached by former Arkansas State boss, Dickey Nutt). On a day when former Tiger coach Gene Bartow was honored with a banner denoting his recent election to the Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, Memphis supplemented the ceremony’s cheers with a return to the win column.
Tiger senior Doneal Mack followed up his 23-point outing (last Saturday in the loss to UMass) with 19 points, making 7 of 11 shots, including 4 of 8 from beyond the arc. The Tigers were led in the scoring column by Elliot Williams who, after scoring only four points in the first half, finished the game with 20. Three other Tigers reached double figures (Pierre Henderson-Niles, Willie Kemp, and Wesley Witherspoon), the first game this season Memphis has had five such performances.
The Tigers will try and get back in the win column Tuesday afternoon, when they host Southeast Missouri State (tip-off is noon at FedExForum). Members of the Ohio Valley Conference, the Redhawks will enter the game with a record of 4-7. The schools played twice in the 1934-35 season, but only once since (a Tiger victory on March 2, 1994). They’ve had one common opponent this season. The Tigers beat Arkansas State, 74-55, while the Redhawks fell to ASU, 73-49.
The biggest cheers Tuesday will be reserved for former Tiger coach Gene Bartow, a new member — as of November 22nd — of the College Basketball Hall of Fame. A banner will be raised in honor of Bartow at halftime of Tuesday’s game. The 78-year-old Bartow has been battling stomach cancer since April.
Bartow coached Memphis for four seasons, during which he won Missouri Valley Conference championships in 1972 and 1973, and led the Tigers to the 1973 Final Four, where they fell in the title game to Bill Walton’s UCLA Bruins. He was honored in ’73 as the national Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. His overall record in Memphis (1970-74) was 83-32. He left in 1974 to take over the Illinois program before succeeding the legendary John Wooden at UCLA. He later founded the basketball program at UAB, where he coached for 18 years.
Among Bartow’s fellow Hall of Fame inductees this year are Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Beyond his credentials as a basketball coach, Bartow remains among the finest gentlemen the Memphis sports community has known.
You gotta wonder how John Calipari enjoyed today’s broadcast of the Tigers and UMass from Boston. The timing couldn’t have been better. Two days after Hall of Fame coach Bobby Knight called into question the integrity of college sports — the focus of his ire on Calipari being employed at Kentucky after putting two programs “on probation” — the two programs Calipari led to the Final Four faced one another on the floor normally occupied by the Boston Celtics.
With all the discussion of Calipari’s impact on the two teams — each now coached by former assistants of his — you’d think he brought the sport to UMass and Memphis, that he was to the Minutemen and Tigers as Gene Bartow is to UAB. But a guy named Julius Erving played at UMass before John Calipari first wore a tie. Larry Finch and Penny Hardaway did their thing in Memphis before local fans could pronounce Calipari’s name properly.
And the programs live on in his aftermath, however soiled.
• The Tigers will hit the floor at TD Banknorth Arena in Boston (remember Boston Garden?) after enjoying their longest layoff of the season. With fall semester exams behind them, the Tigers aim to extend their winning streak to seven games against the UMass Minutemen, coached by former Tiger assistant Derek Kellogg.
• Kellogg is in his second year at the helm of his alma mater, having gone 12-18 in 2008-09. The Minutemen enter the game with a record of 5-5, but have won three of four since being dismantled by Michigan State on December 2nd. Guards Anthony Gurley (16.6 ppg) and Ricky Harris (17.7) are the Minutemen’s top scorers. Swingman Terrell Vinson had 20 points and 11 rebounds in his team’s last contest, a win over Grambling.
• Memphis has played UMass only twice before, but the first meeting was historic. When coach Larry Finch led his Tigers (featuring Lorenzen Wright) against coach John Calipari’s Minutemen (featuring Marcus Camby) on January 4, 1996, it marked only the second game in Tiger history between two teams ranked in the Top Five nationally. The top-ranked Minutemen edged the third-ranked Tigers, 64-61. Five more top-five battles have taken place involving the Tigers since then, four of them during the 2007-08 season.
The Tigers beat UMass at FedExForum last season, 80-58. Players still on the Tiger roster accounted for 21 of those points a year ago.
Our series continues.
Coach Pastner can call Tiger Woods — born in 1975 — “Pops.”
Tiger punter Matt Reagan was named a third-team All-America by the Associated Press this afternoon. The senior becomes the first Memphis football player since DeAngelo Williams in 2005 to earn All-America accolades. One of ten semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award as the nation's top punter, Reagan averaged 45.5 yards per punt in 2009, third in the country.
Reagan is the seventh Tiger football player in history to earn at least third-team All-America honors from the AP:
• Harry Schuh (OL) - 1964
• David Berrong (DB) - 1969
• Mike Stark (OL) - 1971, first team
• Joe Allison (K) - 1992, first team
• Jerome Woods (DB) - 1995
• DeAngelo Williams (RB) - 2004, 2005
• Matt Reagan (P) - 2009
The Tigers will enjoy a full week to prepare for their next game, in Boston Saturday against old friend Derek Kellogg and his Massachusetts Minutemen. While the U of M sports a handsome record of 7-1, its current RPI ranking (through Sunday) is a less-than-flattering 83. (The Tigers' strength-of-schedule to this point is ranked 218th out of 347 teams.)
While a win over UMass (RPI ranking of 174) won't do much to help bump Memphis into near-elite territory, a pair of upcoming home games certainly will. IUPUI (visiting FedExForum on December 28th) is currently ranked 60th and Tennessee (here on December 31st) is number 44.
Four other Conference USA teams are in the RPI's top 100: Southern Miss (11th, thanks largely to a road game against Ole Miss), Tulsa (20th), UAB (80th), and UCF (96th).
For what it's worth, the RPI ranking of Kansas — the top-ranked team in the land — is 21.
Tiger guard Elliot Williams — a "defensive specialist" as a freshman at Duke, you'll recall — will enter some rarefied air if he scores 20 points Saturday afternoon against Arkansas-Little Rock. Not since Penny Hardaway has a Tiger scored 20 in seven straight games. Hardaway pulled the trick in 12 consecutive games between December 9, 1992, and January 11, 1993.
You won’t read these words often this season: The Memphis Tigers had too much size for tonight’s opponent. Memphis blocked 10 shots and grabbed 18 offensive rebounds to earn its fifth straight blowout win in the finale to the team’s longest homestand of the season. In contrast to their slow start last Saturday against Arkansas State, the Tigers raced out to a 21-7 lead 12 minutes into the game and all but coasted the rest of the way against MSU.
Wesley Witherspoon came off the bench to score 13 points and pull down eight rebounds, while sophomore guard Elliot Williams led the team in scoring (as he has all seven games this season) with 22 points. It was Williams’ sixth straight 20-point outing. Roburt Sallie filled the stat sheet as well, with eight points, seven rebounds, and seven assists (and only one turnover).
In what amounts to the season’s opening act — a series of games against quite beatable opponents — the Tigers won their five home games since their narrow loss to top-ranked Kansas by an average score of 28 points. Williams, for one, feels the team has made some progress with all the home cooking, but sees an advantage to getting back on the road (Saturday night in Little Rock against Arkansas-Little Rock).
• The Tigers and Bobcats have met only once before, on December 17, 1960, when Memphis won, 77-50, in Bozeman. Led by Wayne Yates (17.5 ppg), that Tiger team went 20-2 before losing in the first round of the NIT. This will be only the third time Memphis has faced a team from the Big Sky Conference (They beat Eastern Washington in 1951.)
• The Bobcats enter the game on a two-game winning streak, with a record of 4-3. Their wins have come over Colorado Christian, San Francisco, Northern Colorado, and Northern Arizona. (MSU lost to Southern Miss on November 21st, 66-62.) They have three players averaging double figures in scoring: forward Bobby Howard (15.6), guard Erik Rush (13.4) and guard Marquis Navarre (11.5). Howard is the team’s top rebounder (6.7).
• Sophomore guard Elliot Williams has led Memphis in scoring in each of its six games. He has five consecutive 20-point outings, the longest such streak since Sean Banks had six straight near the end of the 2003-04 season.
• Almost a month into the season, the Tigers are still looking for a breakout game from sophomore swingman Wesley Witherspoon. His top scoring game came in the opener, when he had 13 points against Jackson State (but shot only three of nine from the field). Learning — defining, maybe — Witherspoon’s role will be critical for coach Josh Pastner before conference play begins in January. (Said teammate Roburt Sallie after the win over Central Arkansas last month: “We’ve got to get Wesley going a little more. He’s a tremendous scorer.”)
• Tonight will end the longest stretch of home games — five — the Tigers will enjoy all season. They’ll travel to play Arkansas-Little Rock and Massachusetts the next two Saturdays before finishing 2009 with three home games in ten days.