Preview & Prediction: By Fairway Jay
Memphis and Massachusetts will tip-off ESPN's 24 hours of basketball coverage.
Along with some key player match-ups, a pair of friends and coaches will display their team’s dribble-drive up-tempo motion offenses. New Massachusetts head coach Derek Kellogg was a star point guard for the Minutemen in the early/mid 1990’s while playing for coach John Calipari. Kellogg then became an assistant coach and worked under Calipari the past 8-seasons at Memphis.
Plenty of up-tempo pressure offense and defense as each team relies on superior and experienced guard play. UMASS features a talented trio led by point guard Chris Lowe, a senior who is widely considered the Atlantic 10’s top point guard. He struggled in the new offense with 10 turnovers in UMASS’ loss at Southern Illinois last Wednesday. He’s a solid scorer and led the A-10 in assists last season. Junior shooting guard Ricky Harris is a talented shooter with no conscious and is already 9-18 from the expanded 3-point arc in two games. Anthony Gurley transferred from Wake Forest and provides another scoring threat for one of the nation’s most feared back courts. UMASS lost the services of 7-foot center Luke Bonner for a month when he was injured in the Southern Illinois contest. The Minutemen lack the needed depth and that could show again versus Memphis after UMASS wore down in the second half against Southern Illinois. Still, coach Kellogg should have a solid working knowledge of how to defend the Memphis dribble-drive offense and have his players prepared for the challenge.
Memphis is not rebuilding but reloading following the losses of three stars and major contributors from last year’s national championship game runner-up team. Willie Kemp provides experience at the point, and the national TV audience will get to see one of the nations top freshman talents in 6-6 shooting guard Tyreke Evans. He scored 19 points in his debut Saturday versus Fairfield, but is less than 100% as he nurses a right ankle sprain. Antonio Anderson is a multi-talented 6-6 swing/guard that can score, dish and rebound. He was the leader with 7 assists versus Fairfield as they used a zone defense and tried to slow the Tigers attack, but ultimately wore down to the more talented Tigers. But UMASS will push the pace much more and make Evans and his Memphis teammates work much harder on both ends of the floor. Senior forwards Robert Dozier of Memphis and Tony Gaffney of UMASS each lead their teams in rebounding and will be instrumental in minimizing second chance opportunities.
Calipari can become the winningest coach in Tigers history with a victory tonight. He’ll likely get it, but not without a contested challenge from his former team and assistant coach.
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About Fairway Jay
Previews & Predictions
Jay Ginsbach, also known as "Fairway Jay’"joins the CHN team and staff this season from Sportsmemo.com. He’ll provide his insight and expertise covering the college basketball scene with periodic thoughts from a Las Vegas perspective.