Conference USA (23-9, 13-3)
Big Wins: 11/30 Oakland (77-46), 2/13 at Tulsa (93-86), 3/3 at UAB (70-65)
Bad Losses: 12/19 at Massachusetts (72-73), 1/30 at SMU (60-70), 3/11 vs Houston (65-66)
Coach: Josh Pastner
Why They Can Surprise:
Memphis ranks in the top ten in the nation in turnover margin. This is a team that will record a ton of steals and block a lot of shots. Even just their tough defense will create turnovers against inexperienced players. But to have a great turnover margin you need to hold onto the ball as well and the Tigers average a mere 11.5 turnovers per contest.
The reason for the lack of turnovers is the abundance of ballhandlers on the team. Willie Kemp is arguably the most efficient of the group. He dishes out 4.3 assists and only turns the ball over 1.9 times. Kemp is not much of a scorer, although he can hit the outside shot enough to keep the opposition honest, so when he is on the floor the Tigers will have at least two ballhandlers available. Roburt Sallie leads the team in steals, but he also shares the ball very well for a player who can get really hot from long range and do a ton of scoring. But it is Elliot Williams, a transfer from Duke, who does the most scoring. Williams easily leads the team with 18.3 points per game and also adds a healthy 3.8 assists.
Why They Can Disappoint:
The problem with this team is rebounding. As it is the Tigers are simply not as talented as they have been over the last few years and not having Coach John Calipari on the sidelines makes a difference as well, but having a negative rebounding margin is not acceptable for any Memphis team. Wesley Witherspoon usually starts at the four spot. At 6-9 he certainly has the size to play there, but he spends most of his time out on the perimeter where he knocks down an impressive 42.7 percent of his attempts from long range. That is good for offense, but not so good for the rebounding. That often leaves Will Coleman as the lone big man in the paint. He leads the team in rebounding and is a superb shot blocker, but he is still developing his offensive game.
Who To Watch:
Coach John Pastner does have a problem because of the talent on the perimeter. Doneal Mack joins all of the ballhandlers and it is hard to leave Kemp or Mack on the bench in favor of Coleman. Mack has started a majority of the games this year and probably will do so in the tournament as well since he is a good outside shooter, but he is pretty much a shooter and, against certain competition, it would make since to try and keep Coleman on the floor a little longer if he can stay out of foul trouble.
Willie Kemp, Senior, Guard, 7.5 ppg, 4.3 apg, 1.6 spg
Elliot Williams, Sophomore, Guard, 18.3 ppg, 3.8 apg, 4.1 rpg
Doneal Mack, Senior, Guard, 10.3 ppg, 1.5 apg
Wesley Witherspoon, Sophomore, Forward, 12.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg
Will Coleman, Junior, Forward, 7.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.1 bpg
Angel Garcia, Sophomore, Forward, 5.4 ppg, 1.1 rpg
Roburt Sallie, Junior, Guard, 10.8 ppg, 1.9 apg, 1.8 spg
D.J. Stephens, Freshman, Guard, 2.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.7 (45th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.7 (82, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.8 (62, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.0 (110, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.4 (15, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.5 (26, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.5 (150, 8)
Rebound Margin: -1.8 (248, 10)
Assists Per Game: 13.9 (104, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.5 (28, 2)
Joel’s Bracket Says: First Round loss to St. John’s