Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tiger Talk: Jamon Hughes

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 7:00 AM

In this week’s print edition, five former Tiger football stars weigh in on the past, present, and future of the program. Here’s one more.

JAMON HUGHES
Linebacker (20009-10) As a senior last fall, Hughes made 147 tackles, the fourth most in Tiger history. He was named first-team all-conference. Hughes played for coach Tommy West as a junior, then Larry Porter as a senior. The Tigers went 3-21 over his two seasons.

What drew you to the U of M as a recruit?
It was the coaches, and some of the players. They actually recruited me out of high school [Hughes spent two years at junior college]. They were real good people. I fell in love with Memphis. It was the people.

Jamon Hughes

What are your fondest memories of the program?
It was the time I had with my teammates. When I look back, I miss my teammates. Just being at practice, on campus, hanging out with the players.

Is it critical that the Tigers become a member of a BCS conference?

That would attract a lot of top recruits. Guys want to come to a place where they can win the big ballgame.

Do you like the idea of an on-campus stadium?
Oh, yes. That would make a difference. The stadium would fill up if it was on-campus. There are a lot of kids who live on campus who don’t have vehicles. It’s hard for them to move around in the city. It’s easy just to leave your dorm room and walk [to an on-campus stadium]. The Liberty Bowl is so far from campus. There are people who want to go to the game, but just can’t because of transportation reasons.

Is a 60,000-seat stadium too big?
I don’t feel it’s too big. More people from Memphis need to come out and support the football team, like they have the basketball team. It’s kind of unbalanced, the support factor.

You’re the athletic director and you have an unlimited budget. What’s the first thing you do to help the football program?
I would change the meal plan, and make sure all the facilities for the football team are top-notch. I’d improve the medical facilities. I’d make sure the football team has everything they need to become better athletes. You know, I can’t complain about anything at Memphis. My teammates and I came to love Memphis. They gave me everything I need to become a success.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hall of Fame Ribbon-Cutting

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 6:11 PM

With his name (and nickname) on the building facade above him, Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway took a very small pair of scissors (blue handles) and, along with University of Memphis president Shirley Raines, cut a ribbon (also blue) to mark the official opening of the U of M's spanking new Hall of Fame.

Built in less than two years (thanks largely to a $1 million donation from Hardaway), the Hall of Fame will now greet Tiger fans on their way to the adjacent ticket office with trophies, jerseys, and memorabilia across the years — and across sports — from the school's almost-100-year history. A wall in the back of the facility honors every member of the M Club Hall of Fame with plaques devoted to each year's honorees.

A few shots from tonight's grand opening:

Penny_ribbon-cutting.jpg

Dr. Shirley Raines, Anfernee Hardaway, and athletic director R.C. Johnson make the opening official.

Powers_jersey.jpg

A newspaper headline and the game-worn jersey of Chris Powers from some football game the Tigers won on November 9, 1996.

Williams_jersey.jpg

Game-worn jerseys from a pair of football All-Americas: DeAngelo Williams and Bob Rush.

Finch_jersey.jpg

Game-worn jersey from the greatest Tiger of them all, Larry Finch.

Monday, August 29, 2011

2011 Football Forecast

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 8:46 AM

Five angles to consider as the Memphis Tigers (and Mississippi State Bulldogs) open the college football season Thursday night.

Catch 22 — If there’s a single uniform number to watch Thursday night (and beyond), it would be that of sophomore tailback Jerrell Rhodes. A football team minus a running game is like a car minus its radials. Last season, Memphis rushed for a total of 1,099 yards (91.6 per game), the second-lowest total in the program’s history. There were countless second-and-longs for the Tigers a year ago. Worse, the Tigers scored exactly five rushing touchdowns in 12 games.

Rhodes will be the guy this season. He carried the ball 116 times as a freshman for 469 yards (second on the team to the departed Greg Ray). His carries should at least double this fall, even with the presence of freshmen Carl Harris and Artaves Gibson (Mitchell High School). Rhodes nursed some minor injuries through training camp, but there was a telling image late in practice two weeks ago. As the rest of the running backs worked through drills a few yards away, Rhodes performed a shuffle and ball-catching exercise with a personal instructor: head coach Larry Porter.

Andy Summerlin

He’s got the look — Say this about Andy Summerlin: He looks like a quarterback. The 23-year-old sophomore stands 6’5” and weighs 220 pounds. (Peyton Manning is 6’5”, 230.) Working through drills alongside Skylar Jones (6’1”, 190) and Taylor Reed (6’3”, 215), Summerlin looks like a lead dog. Whether or not he earns the responsibility of the offense’s most important position will come down to how many mistakes he makes. Since taking over the program, Porter has emphasized his quarterback will be the player who is (1) consistent and (2) mistake-free. The job, in Porter’s eyes, is getting the ball into the hands of playmakers . . . and keeping it out of the hands of the defense. About as basic a job description as any signal-caller could ask. It will be compelling to see how quick Porter’s hook will be should Summerlin falter. Reed appears game-ready himself.

Size matters . . . — Rhodes and his ball-carrying buddies will go nowhere without a few gaping holes opened by the Tiger offensive line. Three starters must be replaced from the 2010 unit (and if you look at those rushing numbers, this isn’t a bad thing). A pair of gargantuan newcomers — Jordan Devey (6-7, 315) and Nick Chartain (6-5, 320) — may start as early as the opener Thursday night. Senior Ron Leary (6-3, 325) returns and should man the critical left-tackle position. The Antonescu brothers (A.J. and Michael) will also play significant roles in the trenches.

. . . and so does speed — You can see size in practice. Matter of fact, you can see Jordan Devey’s size in a meeting room. But speed? You can’t tell if a team has speed until it lines up against an opponent and the ball is snapped. The 2010 Tigers were woefully short in the speed department. Linebackers were outrun by ball carriers. Defensive backs were outrun by receivers. And on the offensive side of the ball, there was little separation between Tiger ball carriers and opposing tacklers. It’s an ugly shortcoming to recognize, but doesn’t take long. Memphis must close this gap (literally) to win more games this season.

Larry Porter 2.0 — Is this the warm-and-fuzzy Coach Porter Memphis has been waiting for? Hosting radio programs, lunch meetings with local businesses, whistling on his way to work. You’d almost call his disposition sunny. After enduring a 1-11 season as a first-year coach, what gives?

Here’s a theory on why Porter was so reserved this time last year, why he ruffled some media feathers by shutting off freshmen and assistant coaches: he knew what was coming. Tiger fans have to hope that the program bottomed out in 2010. A single win and very few games competitive by halftime. It was a team with no strengths (possible exception: an emerging kicking game). Had Porter, as a first-year coach, chosen to pontificate about the hopes, dreams, and possibilities of his squad, he would have looked foolish by October. The guess here is that he knew that. So we (in the media) got the reserved treatment.

Now, by opening up and embracing the public-relations side of his job, is Porter forecasting a successful 2011? When you consider a record of 2-10 would be, by relative measure, a successful campaign, I think he is. There will be more Porter recruits on the field this fall. His staff has a sense of how game week will unfold. Any decent coach will learn from mistakes . . . but he has to make them (as the head man) first. This is a new variable for a second-year coach. Larry Porter may never be warm and fuzzy, but the version we see this season will be closer to the one around which the U of M football program must be built.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

TTT Answer

Posted By on Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 8:00 AM

The Tigers have faced Mississippi State to open their football season 13 times. How many times has Memphis won? Among the teams that beat the Bulldogs, what was their final record?

The Tigers have beaten MSU twice in season-openers. In 1979, Memphis edged the Bulldogs, 14-13, in Starkville. That team went on to finish 5-6 under coach Richard Williamson.

Larry Porter

In 1993, the Tigers beat the Bulldogs, 45-35, again in Starkville. Senior receiver Isaac Bruce caught seven passes for 112 yards in that game, scoring two touchdowns. Another two touchdowns were scored by senior tailback Larry Porter. Those Tigers went on to finish 6-5 under coach Chuck Stobart.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

2011-12 Basketball Schedule Released

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2011 at 11:49 AM

• Nov. 2 — LeMoyne-Owen College (Exhibition)
• Nov. 11 — Christian Brothers (Exhibition)
• Nov. 15 — Belmont (EA Sports Maui Invitational Opening Game)
• Nov. 21 — Michigan (EA Sports Maui Invitational Championship Round)
• Nov. 22 — Duke/Tennessee (EA Sports Maui Invitational Championship Round)
• Nov. 23 — TBD (EA Sports Maui Invitational Championship Round)
• Nov. 28 — Jackson State

• Dec. 3 — Austin Peay
• Dec. 6 — at Miami (FL)
• Dec. 10 or 11 — Murray State
• Dec. 17 — at Louisville (Basketball Hall of Fame Shootout)
• Dec. 19 — Lipscomb
• Dec. 22 — at Georgetown
• Dec. 29 — Robert Morris
• Dec. 31 — Charlotte

• Jan. 4 — Tennessee
• Jan. 7 — at UAB*
• Jan. 11 — Southern Miss*
• Jan. 14 — at Houston*
• Jan. 18 — at UCF*
• Jan. 21 — SMU*
• Jan. 25 — Rice*
• Jan. 28 — Marshall*

• Feb. 1 — at Southern Miss*
• Feb. 4 — Xavier
• Feb. 8 — at East Carolina*
• Feb. 11 — UAB*
• Feb. 15 — at Tulane*
• Feb. 18 — UTEP*
• Feb. 22 — East Carolina*
• Feb. 25 — at Marshall*
• Feb. 28 — UCF*

• Mar. 3 — at Tulsa*
• Mar. 7-10 — Conference USA Tournament (FedExForum)

*Conference USA Game

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tiger Trivia Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, Aug 23, 2011 at 8:00 AM

A two-parter this week.

The Tigers have faced Mississippi State to open their football season 13 times. How many times has Memphis won? Among the teams that beat the Bulldogs, what was their final record?

TIGER_zoo_.jpg

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pastner Picks Walton (Luke) for Staff

Posted By on Mon, Aug 22, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Thirty-eight years ago, Larry Finch and the Memphis State Tigers came up just short of a national championship. The primary reason, of course, was UCLA's Bill Walton, who hit 21 of 22 shots and scored 44 points in the championship game for the Bruins.

Now, in a full-circle development Hollywood might script, another Walton from Los Angeles appears to be headed to Memphis as an assistant coach.

Tiger coach Josh Pastner announced Monday that Luke Walton, a member of the 2009 and 2010 NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers (and Bill's son), has been recommended to join the Memphis men's basketball coaching staff. Walton’s hiring is pending approval by the U of M and Tennessee State Board of Regents.

Luke Walton
  • Luke Walton

In a release, Pastner said, “Luke is going to bring great excitement and great energy to the Tigers program, and we’re thrilled to have him. Luke is someone who has not only played for but also learned from arguably one of the greatest coaches in basketball history in Phil Jackson. Luke’s also played with and against the best-of-the-best at the highest level of basketball in the NBA, including being a teammate of one of the NBA’s all-time greats in Kobe Bryant.

“Luke will be a great coach because he brings a wealth of knowledge and a winning attitude to the Tigers program. His experiences, which include playing in four NBA Finals and winning two NBA championships, are lessons that he can share with our players to help them grow and develop their games.”

A 2003 second-round pick by the Lakers, Walton has played his entire NBA career in Los Angeles. In his eight seasons in the NBA, Walton is averaging 5.0 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Walton, 31, will remain on the Tigers staff until (or if) the 2011-12 NBA season begins. He has two years left on his contract with the Lakers.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

TTT Answer

Posted By on Thu, Aug 18, 2011 at 8:00 AM

The Memphis football program has at least 10 wins against four of the teams on its 2011 schedule. Name the four teams (with bonus love for the win total against each).

• Arkansas State (28)
• Southern Miss (21)
• Tulane (16)
• Mississippi State (10)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tiger Trivia Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2011 at 8:00 AM

The Memphis football program has at least 10 wins against four of the teams on its 2011 schedule. Name the four teams (with bonus love for the win total against each).

Thursday, August 11, 2011

TTT Answer

Posted By on Thu, Aug 11, 2011 at 8:00 AM

Since 1969, only five Tiger players have led Memphis in both scoring and assists in the same season. Name the five.

• Richard Jones (1968-69)
• Larry Finch (1970-71, 1971-72, and 1972-73)
Otis Jackson (1979-80)
• Elliot Perry (1988-89, 1989-90, and 1990-91)
• Penny Hardaway (1991-92 and 1992-93)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tiger Trivia Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 8:50 AM

All eyes will be on Joe Jackson this winter, as the sophomore point guard aims to steer the Tigers back to the NCAA tournament. Since 1969, only five Tiger players have led Memphis in both scoring and assists in the same season. (Jackson is not one of them.) Name the five.

Joe Jackson
  • Joe Jackson

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hardaway Hall of Fame to Open August 30th

Posted By on Mon, Aug 8, 2011 at 3:36 PM

Memphis Athletic Department officials announced today that the grand opening for the Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway/University of Memphis Athletic Hall of Fame, located at 570 Normal Street, will take place on August 30, from 5:30 PM to 7 PM. The ribbon-cutting ceremony, which will feature basketball great Penny Hardaway, Athletic Director R.C. Johnson and University President Dr. Shirley C. Raines, will take place on the front steps of the facility at 5:30 PM and tours of the facility will begin immediately.

“We are very excited to be able to have the official grand opening of the Penny Hardaway/University of Memphis Athletic Hall of Fame during the same week as our football season opener against Mississippi State,” said Johnson. “The opening of this facility will certainly add to the ambiance of the week for Tiger fans and we want everyone to come out on the 30th and take the walk through Memphis athletic history.”

The Hardaway/Athletic Hall of Fame became the centerpiece of the new Athletic Office Building addition, which opened in January of 2011. With the completion of construction of the building, efforts turned to compiling the 100-year history of athletics at the U of M and gathering artifacts collected by former lettermen and supporters.

Over 6,200 male and female letter winners have been identified since the school first opened its doors in the fall of 1912 and photographs of more than 4,000 of those student-athletes were collected for one of the three interactive databases. Memorabilia was gathered from many of the more than 400 inductees in the M Club Hall of Fame, including track national championship medals from Ed Hammonds, football jerseys from such noted players as Bob Rush, Keith Wright and Bob Ford, the basketball jersey of the late Larry Finch, the bat used by then-home run leader Terry Pressgrove and the boxing letter jacket of former Tiger football running back Frank Massa.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

TTT Answer

Posted By on Thu, Aug 4, 2011 at 8:00 AM

Since the formation of Conference USA in 1996, six Tiger football players have been named first-team all-conference more than one season. Name these stars.

• Marquis Bowling, DT (1997-98)
• Mike McKenzie, DB (1997-98)
• Ryan White, K (1998-99)
Wesley Smith, DB (2003-05)
• DeAngelo Williams, RB (2003-05)
• Stephen Gostkowski, K (2004-05)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tiger Trivia Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, Aug 2, 2011 at 8:00 AM

Since the formation of Conference USA in 1996, six Tiger football players have been named first-team all-conference more than one season. Name these stars.

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