Preview & Prediction: By Raphielle Johnson
The 83-71 victory by
Memphis (3-0) over Chattanooga in a quarterfinal on Thursday was rather
routine, with Shawn Taggart going for 16 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks
in the win. What also helped was the shooting of guard Doneal Mack, who went
5-for-9 from downtown in scoring nineteen points. The entire buzz heading
into this season was about freshman guard Tyreke Evans, and given his talent
it’s deserved. But to focus solely on him is to ignore some of the players
back from last season’s 38-2 team. Forward Robert Dozier is back and could
be headed towards a breakout season in his senior year, and classmate
But instead of facing a ranked team in this semifinal, they’ll take on a gutsy yet undermanned Seton Hall (3-0) team that came back from fifteen down at the half to knock off USC 63-61. Guard play will be the focus in this one, with head coach Bobby Gonzalez having a talented group of backcourt players himself. Jeremy Hazell, who gave the Hall a 62-59 lead on a three with 1:20 to go, scored seventeen while Eugene Harvey added sixteen and five assists. Paul Gause and Jordan Theodore round out a backcourt that will be without Robert Mitchell due to suspension, so keep an eye on the stamina of this team since only seven played against the Trojans.
And for their lack of depth up front, the few big men that the Pirates do have will need to step up in this one. John Garcia brought his lunch pail to the arena in the quarters, going for eleven points and eighteen rebounds. Memphis doesn’t have true bulk outside of Pierre Niles-Henderson, but they’ve got more than enough bodies to come at the Pirates in waves. That’s the area in which the Tigers have a clear advantage, but don’t underestimate the fight that lies within this Pirate team. They’ll give Memphis all they want before the lack of bodies becomes too much.
Winner: Memphis Margin: 10+