Scenes From Tiger Town

By David Scott - October 10, 2007

MEMPHIS -- The interior designer Laurie Samuels, from Samuels Furniture and Interiors is putting finishing touches on the Memphis basketball offices' classy re-design. The Foreign 15 Chinese delegation is filtering through after admiring the myriad balls and mementoes in John Calipari's private office. Assistant coaches are busy recruiting and getting ready for the start of practice and Calipari himself is attempting to get a handle on all of it - the interior design, the Chinese contingent and the basketball (not in that order, of course).

Welcome to life in Tiger Town where the only thing faster than the Memphis offense is the rate at which things swirl under the Calipari circus tent.

"Oh, that looks super," says Calipari , wearing his design hat for a moment, after Samuels previews the specially commissioned Tiger logo artwork that will adorn ahallway wall. "This really came out great, Laurie. You did great work."

"I heard you moved some pictures around in your office," Laurie chides.

"I had to do it, couldn't help myself," says Calipari sheepishly. "Did you see what I did?"

With that, Calipari and his interior designer head into his office and a glimpse of life as a potential Final Four team disappears with them. It's not so much that Cal Circus has more rings than Barnum & Bailey's or that it's sometimes easy to forget just how amazing this rebuilding job has been at a school with half the resources of its closest competitors, it's more the fact that Calipari is able to keep it all under one Big Top and not fall off the high wire.

Soon enough though, the basketball will start in earnest. "We're getting there," says Calipari. "This China stuff has just been incredible, but I'm ready for the start of practice and the season."

. . . Memphis is expecting numerous recruits for Midnight Madness on Friday but perhaps the biggest name will be 6-foot-4 1,2,3 combo, Elliott Williams who will be on an official visit for the event. Williams, a Memphis kid at St. George's, is reported to be considering the Tigers, Duke, Virginia and Tennessee. Williams gained some degree of celebrity for the imressive video compilation below.

. . . The Chinese contingent and your faithful Hang Time hagner-on were treated to a fantastic lunch at the newer location of Memphis's outstanding Central Barbecue. And the pecan cobbler dessert was the perfect topper. Co-owner Craig Blondis once again outdid himself - but lost a few points when he claimed our Red Sox were going to be taken out by the Indians. He quickly redeemed himself by predicting a big rout by the Patriots over Dallas on Sunday. Blondis is quickly becoming our favorite Memphian.

. . . The schedule for tomorrow's C-USA Media Day is a bit different than in past years. Three groups of four coaches will be avaiable from a dais beginning at Noon CST and continuing through 1 p.m. Then, at 2 p.m., players and coaches will be available for one-on-one interviews. The day will culminate with the CSTV Men's Media Slam live from FedEx Forum starting at 5 p.m. CST.

Coaches' groupings look like this for the Noon presser:

Group 1 - Tony Barbee, UTEP; Kirk Speraw, UCF; Mike Davis, UAB; Doug Wojcik, Tulsa

Group 2 - Dave Dickerson, Tulane; Larry Eustachy, Southern Miss; Matt Doherty, SMU; Willis Wilson, Rice

Group 3 - John Calipari, Memphis; Donnie Jones, Marshall; Tom Penders, Houston; Mack McCarthy, ECU

It appears that not every school is bringing student athletes, although that is subject to change.

. . . A C-USA pre-season prospectus can be found here for nuts and bolts on the upcoming season.

. .. We're off to watch some individual workouts with the Tigers and we'll try to do a late-night post on the rest of our day on campus and with the China contingent (who are treated to a banquet this evening). But we'll definitely be back with you on Thursday, beginning in the late morning (local time) for more of the flavor and spirit of CUSA Media Day.

Posted by David Scott at 12:16 PM on October 10, 2007

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