SPORTS JAMBALAYA 

SPORTS JAMBALAYA

OUT ON A LIMB . . . I have been taken to task for being wishy-washy on the issue of Memphis and the NBA in my sports column this week. So, I’ll take a stand: Memphis should not build a new arena in order to attract the NBA Grizzlies to town. It requires too much money and would do irreparable harm to the basketball program at the University of Memphis. If the city of Memphis had spent as much time, energy, and resources supporting the Tiger athletic program, especially football, as it did in pursuit of the NFL there is no telling where the U of M would be now. The NBA is a risky endeavor, especially with an owner who lives in Chicago. Let’s make The Pyramid better. Let’s build an on-campus facility for Tiger football. Let’s take care of what we have before we go off again chasing a pipe dream. TIGERS GOOD FIT FOR NIT Some times you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t. The same is true of the NIT. Lots of teams don’t like to play in the tournament. Teams who thought they should have been invited to the NCAA and teams that lost conference tournament games that kept them from going to the Big Dance often cannot muster any enthusiasm for the NIT. Larry Finch’s Tiger teams back in 1990 and 1991 are a good example of the phenomenon. After going to the NCAA seven of the previous eight years, they were not interested in the NIT and lost to Tennessee and Arkansas State. But this year’s Tiger squad is the type of hungry team that often does well in the tourney. With only three seniors on the squad, the extra experience and practice time can only pay dividends in the future. And John Calipari has even found a way to make the tournament worthwhile for Marcus Moody, Shamel Jones, and Shannon Forman -- the old men of the team. He is giving them more playing time and talking up their chance of playing professionally, most likely overseas. And for Jones, he has a goal for the team. “Wouldn’t it be nice for Shamel Jones to play the last two games in New York at Madison Square Garden?” Calipari asked after the win at Utah. Jones is from Brooklyn. TIGER FOOTBALL COACHES TAKE NOTES AT CLEMSON The Greenville (S.C.) News reports that Tommy West, the new head coach at Memphis and a former head coach at Clemson, sent his offensive coaching staff to Clemson to study the high-powered offense of the ACC team. Staff writer Marc Weiszer filed the following report: Former Clemson coach Tommy West sent his entire Memphis offensive staff to his old stomping ground to study the offensive tempo and no-huddle. They traveled eight hours by van, arriving Monday night and were to leave after Wednesday's practice. "He's got a lot of good friends that are still here," Memphis offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said. " [Assistant Rick] Stockstill has been great to us. You can tell [West] had some great days here. Everyone's had open arms. Coach [Tommy] Bowden has made us feel really comfortable. We're taking from them. We haven't shared much of ours because they haven't asked and they don't have to. They're doing a great job." CAL on ESPN John Calipari was the guest on ESPN’s Up Close on Wednesday afternoon. The media savvy coach did not say anything of particular interest to Memphis fans, but just the fact that he was on the national show is a plus for the Tiger program. Can you imagine previous Memphis coaches being asked to appear on the show? Cal’s pick for the national championship? Kansas. An admitted sentimental choice, Calipari says he just wants to see veteran head coach Roy Williams win a championship.

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