2008 Memphis Tigers Basketball Preview
In 2007- 2008, the Memphis Tigers (38- 2, 16- 0 Conference USA) went perfect in their Conference USA schedule. In the NCAA Tournament, they went to the limit in the final game, taking Kansas into overtime. In OT, the Tigers lost to the Jayhawks 75- 68. Since losing that last game, head coach John Calipari has had to replace half of his team and two assistant coaches. What he’s done in the off-season is assembled another fine team.
Forward Robert Dozier (26.0 MPG, 9.2 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.1 APG, 44.0 FG%, 67.5 FT%), now a senior, seems to have unlimited potential but has been unable to provide consistent play. Dozier has talent, but he needs to be more aggressive and leverage his muscle around the basket. Junior Shawn Taggart (17.1 MPG, 5.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 0.4 APG, 50.0 FG%, 64.6 FT%), who has been a key reserve, will start this year. Junior Pierre Niles (3.8 MPG, 0.7 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 0.1 APG, 40.0 FG%, 27.8 FT%) has little experience and is out of shape. If he can get himself together, he could be a contributor. Freshman Matt Simpkins is tough and rough and could see immediate minutes.
Freshman guard Tyreke Evans has a great resume. Evans was MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game and co-MVP of the Jordan Brand Classic. Calipari hopes that the six-foot-six, 215-pound guard can take the place of Derrick Rose and his 14.9 PPG. Senior guard Antonio Anderson (29.5 MPG, 8.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.4 APG, 40.8 FG%, 57.0 FT%) is a versatile performer, offering defensive skills and leadership. But the Tigers need more points from him. Junior Willie Kemp (13.8 MPG, 5.0 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 1.5 APG, 38.3 FG%, 64.0 FT%) will try to win back the point spot.
To get to the NCAA Finals, the Tigers defeated five teams including
Michigan State, Texas and UCLA. Can this club do the same when once
again it gets into the melee of March Madness? Although anything
is possible, this Memphis club will have a tough time repeating
lasts year’s performance. The Sweet 16 is probably as far
as they’ll go. Then again each of the last three years, they’ve
made it to the Elite Eight or better.