I'm still trying to figure out the 2006-07 Memphis Tigers. Having won seven straight games, the Tigers appear to be running away with a second consecutive Conference USA championship. But that's part of the catch, isn't it? They're running away with, well, the C-USA championship. Sorry, but such title runs don't make the cover of Sports Illustrated. What will this team have to offer come March? Who is the go-to player in crunch time? (What would you have said a year ago about the answer to that question being Jeremy Hunt?) Can coach John Calipari toughen his young squad in ways C-USA competition cannot?
The answers to these questions await as winter winds gradually give way to spring's thaw. But for this week, here are three lessons we have learned at the season's midpoint.
Cutting to the present, Hunt is the team's second-leading scorer (13.6 points per game through Saturday's win at East Carolina) and one of the top sixth men in the country. Cooper has embraced the role of Joey Dorsey's backup, and played so well that highly touted freshman Pierre Niles has been a casualty of the limited minutes. Cooper's soft hands -- particularly evident on his lefty hook shoot -- complement the fearsome play of Dorsey and create matchup problems for Memphis opponents that can't go as large off the bench.
Through Saturday's win, Kemp, Allen, and Anderson have combined for 177 assists and only 93 turnovers. For some perspective, consider that last season, Darius Washington -- the team's starting point guard -- had 110 assists and 111 turnovers. It's the kind of efficiency that lets a coaching staff sleep well at night. And the kind of team play that helps a fan keep hope in his hip pocket, however many other questions remain to be answered.
One night before the big event, a gala pre-party at the Hard Rock club on Beale honored the two contenders in Thursday night's scheduled duke-out at The Peabody former heavyweight champ Smokin' Joe Frazier and Memphis mayor Willie Herenton ...