Friday, April 30, 2010

Tigers vs. Jayhawks: December 7th

Posted By on Fri, Apr 30, 2010 at 2:31 AM

ESPN announced Thursday that the Tigers will face Kansas at Madison Square Garden (and on national television, obviously) December 7th. The game will be part of the annual Jimmy V Classic, named in honor of former North Carolina State coach, Jim Valvano. The Memphis game will be followed by a contest between Syracuse and Michigan State. All four teams are expected to be ranked among the country's top 25.

Not only will the game be the third between Memphis and Kansas over the last four seasons (including the 2008 national championship), it will be a coming-out party of sorts for the Tigers' heralded recruiting class, which includes top-20 recruits Will Barton, Joe Jackson (of White Station High School), and Jelan Kendrick.

The Tigers' entry is quite a nod to the program, considering the other three teams all made the 2010 NCAA tournament, while Memphis was a second-round loser in the NIT.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

TTT Answer

Posted By on Thu, Apr 29, 2010 at 8:00 AM

Since 1970, the Tiger football program has seen 11 players selected in the first two rounds of the NFL draft. How many can you name?

First of all, a correction: there have been 12 former Tigers taken in the first two rounds. (Thanks to "A Lex" for spotting an oversight of mine.)

Isaac Bruce
  • U of M Athletics
  • Isaac Bruce

Bob Rush, C (1977)
Keith Simpson, DB (1978)
Keith Butler, LB (1978)
Earnest Gray, WR (1979)
Eddie Hill, RB (1979)
Richard Williams, RB (1983)
Derrick Burroughs, DB (1985)
Isaac Bruce, WR (1994)
Jerome Woods, DB (1996)
Idrees Bashir, DB (2001)
Michael Stone, DB (2001)
DeAngelo Williams, RB (2006)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tiger Trivia Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, Apr 27, 2010 at 8:00 AM

Since 1970, the Tiger football program has seen 11 players selected in the first two rounds of the NFL draft. How many can you name?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

TTT Answer

Posted By on Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 8:00 AM

The answer to this week's Tiger Trivia Tuesday:

Last season, Elliot Williams became the fourth player in U of M history to score 600 points in his first season as a Tiger. Who are the other three?

Dajuan Wagner, one-year-wonder
  • Dajuan Wagner, one-year-wonder

• Omar Sneed: 605 points in 1997-98
• Dajuan Wagner: 762 points in 2001-02
• Tyreke Evans: 632 points in 2008-09

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tiger Trivia Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, Apr 20, 2010 at 8:00 AM

Last season, Elliot Williams became the fourth player in U of M history to score 600 points in his first season as a Tiger. Who are the other three?

Elliot Williams
  • Elliot Williams

Monday, April 19, 2010

Big 10 Expansion?

Posted By on Mon, Apr 19, 2010 at 9:00 AM

Here's hoping U of M athletic director R.C. Johnson makes a phone call or two this week to his friends in the Big 10 (and Big East). Expansion would seem to be the word of the day for at least one power conference, and the Tiger program needs go be in line when invitations are handed out.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

TTT Answer

Posted By on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 8:00 AM

The answer to this week's Tiger Trivia Tuesday:

In 1990, Larry Porter set a single-game freshman rushing record for the Tigers, with 206 yards in a season-opening tie with Arkansas State. Whose record did he break?

In the third game of the 1979 season, freshman Danny Felts rushed for 145 yards for the Tigers in a 16-10 win over Wichita State. Alas, Felts' light shone but briefly. He never again topped 100 yards and did not reach 1,000 for his Tiger career.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Elliot Williams Turning Pro

Posted By on Tue, Apr 13, 2010 at 5:00 PM

If Elliot Williams leaves a legacy after his single season as a Memphis Tiger, it will be one of perfect timing. Williams would be the first to lift an eyebrow at such a suggestion, considering he transferred to Memphis primarily to be near his ailing mother, and the Duke team he left happened to go on to win the national championship. But when he cashes his first NBA paycheck later this year, the season he spent as a Tiger will come to feel well nigh perfect.

Elliot Williams, NBA-bound
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Elliot Williams, NBA-bound

The St. George’s grad returned to his hometown program rocked by the departure of coach John Calipari and a lost recruiting class that would have included (at least) Xavier Henry and DeMarcus Cousins. Had Williams not been granted an NCAA waiver that allowed him to play immediately for new Tiger coach Josh Pastner, the U of M win total for 2009-10 could well have been half the 24 they actually achieved. Williams was that integral. The only sophomore in Tiger history to score more points than the 610 Williams racked up was another Elliot (Perry). A durable two-way guard with an ability to score from inside or out, Williams embodied the prescription for what ailed a staggering program in transition from one of the most visible coaches in the country to a rookie not old enough to run for president of the United States.

But Williams’ decision to enter June’s NBA draft is the other side of his perfect timing. Currently projected as a late-first-round pick (draftexpress.com actually has him going 25th to the Grizzlies), Williams stood to lose ground with a return to the U of M program. With the arrival of Joe Jackson, Will Barton, and Jelan Kendrick next season, Williams would return to a complementary role not unlike that he filled as a freshman at Duke. He might be just as valuable in that role — guards who can contribute at both ends don’t fall from trees — but the value would be less pronounced . . . and much less visible to NBA scouts.

What kind of pro will Williams be? Like so many basketball players who turn pro shy of their 22nd birthday, he’ll be doing the bulk of his development in the NBA. Williams is quick and fast, but not extraordinarily quick or fast. He can shoot, but he’s not consistent. He can handle the ball, but not like certain point guards we’ve seen in these parts. As for his size, 6’5” guards are always in danger of falling into that “’tweener” category that can be deadly to career growth in the NBA.

The most valuable asset William's will take with him is between his ears. He’s a sharp young man, one who steered clear of clichés and errant wit in postgame interviews, one who will be more than capable of learning some of the details that your average NBA rookie might gloss over.

By the most strict definition, Elliot Williams was a “one-and-done” player for the Memphis Tigers. Something tells me, though, as the years pass along, he’ll be missed for his single season of contribution in ways his more famous predecessors will not.

Tiger Trivia Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, Apr 13, 2010 at 8:00 AM

In 1990, Larry Porter set a single-game freshman rushing record for the Tigers, with 206 yards in a season-opening tie with Arkansas State. Whose record did he break?

Larry Porter during his playing days
  • U of M Athletics
  • Larry Porter during his playing days

Monday, April 12, 2010

Q & A: Larry Porter

Posted By on Mon, Apr 12, 2010 at 8:00 AM

I sat down for a short chat with Tiger football coach Larry Porter last week, his office still bare as the details of spring practice consume his fifth month on the job. To summarize, Porter’s glad to be home, but knows there’s work to be done.

What has surprised you about the new job?
The kids, how well they’ve embraced the change, this transition. How hard they’ve been working. They’ve made this process . . . not necessarily easy, but they’ve given us a flow that’s allowed us to overcome some things that would have been hard to do. Being new, I was ready to embrace everything. I wake up with a great passion to come and improve this football program. Whatever challenges are presented to me, I look forward to embracing them.

Tiger football coach Larry Porter
  • Tiger football coach Larry Porter

Have you seen anything familiar from your playing days (1990-93)?
I look at things from this perspective: What do we need to do to be an elite program? That’s my vision, completely. I’m familiar with some things, but my vision speaks to what we need to have a successful program. It’s not about the past; it’s what we need to do now to put the program in a position to be successful. Five bowl games in the last seven years; there’s a lot to be said for that. There’s a lot of good that Tommy West did here. I just need to take where he left off and continue to improve.

Your predecessor would tell you this is one of the toughest coaching jobs in America. Why did you want it?
There’s nothing tough about something you love. This is my alma mater, a place I love dearly. I love the opportunity that’s been presented to me. I had some opportunities at other places that I chose not to pursue. When you’re in the position I was in [as an assistant at LSU], you can be somewhat selective about what you want to do. This was a no-brainer for me: the perfect place and the perfect fit. I understand the dynamics of this university, the city, the people.

Are there any Larry Porter rules (or philosophy) that your team has to follow first and foremost?
You have to have discipline in the program. I think the players understand our policy here; they’ve done a good job of conforming. We have a points system, and they understand it. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It’s about creating a culture and environment that you believe in. It’s about decision-making. You impress upon [players] the importance of making good decisions, as opposed to the do’s and don’ts. I could not be in a better situation, the way the players have embraced the staff.

Our program is not based on just developing football players, but developing the total person. When they leave here, we want them to be a better person than they are a football player. Because someday they’ll have to be someone’s husband, father, or boss. When you develop character, leadership, attitude, chemistry, and teach these guys how to work well with each other, it lends itself to being more productive in life.

Continue reading »

Thursday, April 8, 2010

TTT Answer

Posted By on Thu, Apr 8, 2010 at 8:00 AM

The answer for this week’s Tiger Trivia Tuesday:

Among former Tigers, which five players have played the most games in the NBA?

Wright__L..jpg

1) Lorenzen Wright (779 games)

2) Penny Hardaway (704 games)

3) Elliot Perry (551 games)

4) Larry Kenon (503 games)

5) Vincent Askew (467 games)


A few other former Tigers of note: Keith Lee (182 games), William Bedford (238), Hank McDowell (206), Cedric Henderson (260), and Andre Turner (170).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

2011 Hoops Forecast: Tigers Ranked...

Posted By on Tue, Apr 6, 2010 at 2:25 PM

24th??!!

Apparently, the nation's top recruiting class will only take you so far. In his first — quite early — ranking of college basketball's top teams for 2010-11, Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn has the Tigers clawing their way (barely) into the Top 25.

Tiger Trivia Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, Apr 6, 2010 at 8:00 AM

We're starting something new here at Tiger Blue. Each Tuesday, we'll post a trivia question on Memphis Tiger sports. Primarily men's basketball and football, but now and then we'll dig a little deeper. The objective: fine-tune the already sharpened knowledge of U of M sports history throughout Tiger Nation.

The answer (or a confirmation of the correct response) will be posted the following Thursday.

Today's TTT question:

Among former Tigers, which five players have played the most games in the NBA? Bonus points for listing the players in order of games played. (One hint: number-five on the list played in 467 games.)

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