Overall Rank: #2
Conference Rank: #1 C-USA
2006-07: 33-4, 16-0, 1st
2006-07 postseason: NCAA
Remember this about Memphis…they are really, really good. By March it will be easy to forget how good they really are after they cruise through the conference undefeated, but mark them in the Final Four for the office pool right now. As usual the Tigers scheduled in a couple non-conference games for January and February against Gonzaga and Tennessee, but that should be the only two contested games for Coach John Calipari after the New Year.
Five starters are returning, but super sixth man Jeremy Hunt is gone. Hunt was second on the team with 14.1 points per game and was the most prolific long range shooter on the team. However, finding another sixth man to come in and hit the three-pointer will not be a problem. Tre’Von Willis and Kareem Cooper are transferring. Cooper was a decent big man and there is a little bit of a depth concern up front, but no worse than it was last year. Clyde Wade and Jared Sandridge have also wrapped up their careers with Memphis and the little used guards will only be missed during practice.
The Tigers have a few guys who can run the point, but they will take a backseat to the point guard abilities of Derrick Rose. The incoming freshman should be starting from day one. Rose will not just use his athleticism to create shots for his teammates, he will create shots for himself and do plenty of scoring. As long as he is around, which will likely be one year, the team will run through Rose. Jeff Robison, a highly touted wing, is a great slasher and can finish around the basket. The Tigers are full of great athletic slashers who struggle with the outside shot, so Robinson will likely spend the year on the sidelines. Shawn Taggart will fill the role played by Cooper, and then some. The 6-10 transfer from Iowa State will fill in nicely when the starting big men need a rest or run into foul trouble and he can do some scoring and get on the glass. Robinson and Taggart ran into some off the court problems during the off-season and could miss a few games if Coach Calipari finds it necessary to take disciplinary action.
Who to Watch:
Few teams in the nation would not want to replace their backcourt with Memphis’ backcourt. Chris Douglas-Roberts led the squad with 15.4 points per game. He is not much of an outside shooting threat, but he will get to the basket and finish with the best in the nation. Douglas-Roberts could have headed to the NBA, but the junior will spend at least one more year at the collegiate level. Antonio Anderson and Willie Kemp were the other starters in the backcourt last year. The 6-6 Anderson is one of the toughest match-ups around. He is a great passer and led the team with 3.6 assists per game. On the defensive end he is a menace and he will do some scoring around the basket. The lone spot for improvement is his outside shooting. And that is where Kemp comes into the picture. Kemp, who can also handle the ball and run the show, hit the most long balls of the returning players. He is not a big rebounding threat like Anderson, so if the team needs to go big, Anderson will be in the game. If they need a shooter, Kemp will get the call. Either way, Anderson or Kemp will likely be relegated to the bench now that Rose is on campus. Doneal Mack and Andre Allen will add even more depth to the perimeter. Mack is a great shooter and will be one of the long ball threats off the bench. If he can improve on the rest of game the 6-5 sophomore will be a big time player. Allen, the lone senior of the perimeter group, was second on the team last year with 3.0 assists per game. Despite all the talent that may be listed in front of him on the depth chart, his senior leadership and defensive ability will earn him plenty of minutes.
Robert Dozier and Joey Dorsey will dominate every front line in Conference USA. Dozier has an amazing wingspan and the 6-9 junior will grab a ton of boards and tally a few blocks. On the offensive end he can step out to the three-point line and do some damage, but most of his 9.6 points per game last year came around the basket. Dorsey is nicknamed ‘Joey’ for a reason. He hops like a kangaroo, apparently a baby kangaroo. In any event, the 6-9 senior will use his jumping ability to dominate the glass. On the offensive end he thrives on easy putbacks after rebounds. The reigning Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year is comfortable defending inside and outside and ranked second in the conference averaging 2.2 blocks per game. With Dozier and Dorsey manning the frontcourt and six players who could be starting on the perimeter, not many teams in any conference will beat the Tigers.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Derrick Rose, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Chris Douglas-Roberts, Junior, Guard, 15.4 points per game
Antonio Anderson, Junior, Guard, 8.0 points per game
Robert Dozier,Junior, Forward, 9.6 points per game
Joey Dorsey, Senior, Forward, 8.5 points per game