Please, Don't Be So Nice

By Josh Herwitt - January 03, 2008


Well, it looks like I won't be welcomed down on Beale Street at any point this season, but I want to thank all of you for your warm and kind comments the other night. Please keep them coming, as they're keeping me rather nice and toasty on some of these cold and windy nights in the Big Apple.

Of course, don't forget also that I did say at the end of my last entry that I do believe that Memphis will be No. 1 in the polls once North Carolina loses in the next few weeks during ACC play, but please don't consider that when you're thinking of your next heart-warming compliment for me.

But to answer your questions, concerns and lovely insults, of course...

Yes, I'm quite aware that Memphis played UConn and Oklahoma in the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic at the Garden because I was there covering those games. I was also at the Oklahoma-USC and Kansas-USC games at the Galen Center in Los Angeles and have gotten to see the Sooners play on more than one occasion this season. Sure, Jeff Capel's team has picked things up of late with back-to-back wins over Gonzaga and West Virginia, but to say that the Sooners have a legitimate shot at topping Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M and even Kansas State in the Big 12 would be foolish to do at this point in the season. Remember that loss back at home in November to Stephen F. Austin? Sorry OU fans, I didn't mean to ruffle your feathers, too, like all of my fans down in Graceland now.

As for UConn, let's look at the wins the Huskies have accrued this year: Morgan State, Buffalo, Gardner-Webb (twice), Florida A&M, Northeastern, Quinnipiac, Maine and UCF. Is there something I'm supposed to be impressed about? Especially after the Huskies just escaped against UCF, a team that Memphis will destroy when it first meets the Knights, I'm not sure why a victory over UConn has that much value at this point (let's just wait and see how Jim Calhoun's squad does during Big East play, please). And while I'll give you that UConn had the majority of the fans that night at MSG, the Memphis fans could be heard loud and clear, too. You guys do know how to travel better than a lot of schools let me say.

So instead of continuing to beat a dead horse, I'd like to explain that while Memphis will be No. 1 in due time (not for the moment but in a few weeks that is) the Tar Heels are just as worthy of the spot until that loss in ACC play knocks them down a few tiers.

Because for one, UNC has the best player in the country. You have to be kidding yourself to not think that Tyler Hansbrough is clearly the most dominant and capable college player in the country right now.

Sure, Michael Beasley is having an unbelievable season and Chris Douglas-Roberts is starting to shine once again after impressive performances against Georgetown and Arizona, but when it comes down to it, Hansbrough is consistent night after night after night. The guy is nearly averaging a double-double at 22.4 ppg and 9.6 rpg, and that's what it takes to win national championships nowadays: Consistency.

But that's not all. Hansbrough does the little things, too. He wants to win, and he plays hurt because he just wants to win. Nothing more, nothing less.

After the Rutgers game in which he suffered a concussion from conking the back of his head straight on a photographer's knee under the basket, Hansbrough took questions from a crowd of reporters in the locker room and handled himself like the quiet, classy gentleman from Poplar Bluff, Mo., that he is.

More than just Hansbrough's play, though, has been the players that surround him. The Tar Heels have got it done so far with stellar play from wingman Wayne Ellington, who shoots over 40 percent from three and holds averages of 16.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, under-appreciated point man Ty Lawson (13.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg), who leads the team in assists with 71, and high-flying Danny Green (12.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg). Throw in a much leaner and more confident Deon Thompson in the frontcourt along side Hansbrough, and Roy Williams' team is going to be a handful for any opponent, at home or on the road, this season.

Yet I'll be honest in saying that I do believe North Carolina will lose in the next two months. The ACC, after all, isn't what it was last year but it's still one of the top three conferences in the country without a doubt. Unfortunately, we can't say the same right now about Conference USA, a partner of CSTV's after all. And when you look at the non-conference games that the Tar Heels played, yes, many of them were at home, but they also entered difficult environments like The RAC, Value City Arena and Rupp Arena. Sure, each of those teams have had their issues this year and are not ranked in the Top 25 at the moment, but playing in those sort of atmospheres is something I'd like to see Memphis do, too.

After all, if you want the utmost respect from across the country, why not schedule at least one tough road game before your schedule gets hit with East Carolina, a team that just lost to NAIA school Lee (Tenn.), Rice, Marshall, Tulsa, SMU and Tulane?

Sure, the Tigers played on the road against Tennessee, Arizona and Gonzaga -- with losses coming against the Wildcats and Vols -- but that was last year. If Calipari really wanted to test his team during non-conference play, he could have taken them on the road to a handful of schools between Kansas, Marquette or even Texas A&M.

Of course, that's just one take on the matter, and with any hope, games against UAB and Houston could provide some comparison to what the Heels have endured so far.

But it's my belief going forward that it's going to take continued progress from C-USA as a whole to help the Tigers garner the respect that Calipari has worked so hard to earn in his eight years at the helm.

Posted by Josh Herwitt at 06:37 AM on January 03, 2008
Comments (10)

Comments

i see where you are coming from josh-Last season we did not have any good home games!! trust me i am a huge fan and only missed 1 game last season. i also want to add that i do think that UNC has a MUCH easier schedule than memphis, yes UNC played away and it is more difficult to play away in college-but i cant say that i agree that they should be worthy of being ranked #1- i mean you can throw their stats out there, but if you swapped their schedule for any top 10 teams i believe each would produce similar stats against UNC's opponents. and finally, do you really think that because they have hansborough they deserve #1? you say its one reason, but just because you have the best player in college does not mean you should be the #1 team....but i believe thats how they were ranked ahead of memphis from the start of the season, memphis should have started out #1 anyways- having lost only 1 player from last year-jeremy hunt- and he didnt even start! but obviously josh you cant do anything about that. and i heard that you did give credit to memphis when credit was due- so i think youd be ok on beale st- its more seth davis that everyone in memphis hates!! haha

Josh you say hansburgh is the best player in the country but how many minutes does he play every night to obtain that nearly double/double i say if you look at cdr (chris douglas-roberts)youll find that he avgs. slightly overtwenty minutes a game. and as you witnessed at msg against uconn
he absolutely took over that gamewith a career high 32 pts if your voting for a team based on one player than you give memphis their props. besides i have no doubt that Memphis's depth is much deeper than UNC.

go tigers

It is awesome that you are hating! It keeps things in perspective because right now I personally don't think any team in the country is better than the Tigers.

I find your logic flawed. You are saying that Memphis is not #1 because they scheduled top 20 teams at home or on "neutral" courts whereas UNC took on low-RPI opponents on the road. I'm not seeing it, but I think you will find that my contrarian opinion will be validated come April.

Josh, you aren't slick by any means. Sure you mention we will take the #1 spot but if I am judging your tone correctly its more by default than you truly recognizing Memphis as the #1 team in the country. As far as Tyler Hansbrough being the #1 player in the country, GET REAL!!! The Tigers would eat him alive, just like we did against Roy Hibbert. Hansbrough does not have the athleticism to deal with what the Tigers would put on him. 22 ppg against a bunch of scrubs doesn't mean JACK! So before you get your chin to attached to Tylers NADS, keep this in mind, his ppg avg against half way competitive teams this year (Davidson, Ohio State and Kentucky) is 13.6 ppg and these teams aren't even that great, they are just the best UNC has played. Also, the Tigers have 2 players projected to be selected in the NBA Draft ahead of your guy.

Hey Kevin,

How did Dorsey do against Oden last year?

Josh,
You are SUCH A HATER. Get real!!! Everyone with any sense can see that Memphis has had the tougher schedule this year..they played higher ranked opponents than NC. Plus they won all of them! NC has not had a competitive opponent yet. Memphis would eat NC alive. Memphis has played Arizona, USC, Oklahoma and let's not forget....they beat down Georgetown! Has NC had that type of schedule and success. Stop hating on Memphis!

this guy should go cover some soccer somewhere because he obviosly does not know ANYTHING about basketball. GO TIGERS!!!

Oooooooh, I see. You want to compare Dorsey's game against the best center in the nation and the #1 draft pick (Oden), with Hansbrough's numbers vs scrubs. First of all, I never said Dorsey was the best player in the nation, even though I believe he can and would hold his own against your guy. Also, I thought we were talking about this years teams, not last years. Believe me, playing us won't be as easy as playing THIS YEARS Ohio State or Kentucky. As a matter of fact you had better hope you can beat Clemson this weekend. I would hate to see you back pedaling on Monday. We ARE as good if not BETTER than ANY other team in the nation and its about time you and rest of the world get off of UNC and Duke's JOCK! I wouldn't trade any of our top 7 players for ANYONE on Carolina's team. If for one second you think there is a team as talented from top to bottom as we are then you just don't know what you are talking about. But I guarantee you will soon find out! GO TIGERS!!!!

Oooooooh, I see. You want to compare Dorsey's game against the best center in the nation and the #1 draft pick (Oden), with Hansbrough's numbers vs scrubs. First of all, I never said Dorsey was the best player in the nation, even though I believe he can and would hold his own against your guy. Also, I thought we were talking about this years teams, not last years. Believe me, playing us won't be as easy as playing THIS YEARS Ohio State or Kentucky. As a matter of fact you had better hope you can beat Clemson this weekend. I would hate to see you back pedaling on Monday. We ARE as good if not BETTER than ANY other team in the nation and its about time you and rest of the world get off of UNC and Duke's JOCK! I wouldn't trade any of our top 7 players for ANYONE on Carolina's team. If for one second you think there is a team as talented from top to bottom as we are then you just don't know what you are talking about. But I guarantee you will soon find out! GO TIGERS!!!!

Josh, let me start by saying that I'm not a Memphis fan, but you did fail to mention the quality win against Georgetown. It was a good, solid win for Memphis.

However, I still agree with your view: North Carolina still deserves to be #1. Despite my personal views on the quality of the team(which I'll talk about in a second), the fact of the matter is that North Carolina will probably stay #1 until they lose, because they started #1 in the pre-season polls. This isn't the BCS, we don't look for quality wins, and even if Memphis is #2 in March it won't make one bit of difference in the seeding they get in the NCAA tournament, nor will it determine home court advantage. Really, I wouldn't see the point in throwing a hissy fit over a sportswriter not thinking that they should be #1.

Secondly, Memphis isn't playing as solid as North Carolina right now. Memphis has a lot of amazing athletes (which, I rather wish they didn't so sportscasters would shut up about how amazing the athletes from Memphis are, I don't need to be reminded of that fact fifty-six times a game), but they aren't playing together as well as North Carolina is. Unless you're a Memphis fan, you'll watch their games and notice that they have a tendency to take a lot of lousy shots--shots that could be turned into good shots with one more pass.

Once Memphis gets that lined up, I'll think about them as #1.

Or when North Carolina loses.

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