Stefon Jackson may have been one of the nation's most underrated players last year.
After all, the junior shooting guard unfortunately didn't get much national exposure playing in Conference USA, but he has been UTEP's top scorer the past two years and there's something to be said about that.
Even better, Jackson ranked among the nation's best scorers this past season with a seventh-best scoring average of 23.6 points per game.
Yet even worse, the Philadelphia native does not know what the future as a college basketball player now holds for him after being arrested Tuesday for hindering the investigation of a Pennsylvania shooting.
John Calipari's heart may be broken after Monday night's loss to Kansas in the national championship game, but the eighth-year Memphis coach can feel good about the job he did this season in Graceland.
HOUSTON -- They will share an ovesized stage on Sunday afternoon, underneath an enormous retractable roof in front of a mass of 30,000-plus fans and oh yes, a few folks from the little towns of Hickory, N.C., and Moon Township, Pa., will probably tune in.
MEMPHIS -- Things are picking up here a bit. Four tables of fans are eating lunch. Whitney is about half way done polishing. Big Al has called back to his old high school, Bishop Ready High School, where he was AD and head basketball coach, and informed the hard-working students to log on to CSTV.com.
MEMPHIS -- We're changing pace a bit for today's liveblog as we come to you from a Beale Street establishment to get a flavor-flave for the C-USA Tournament from a little different perspective. Namely, a bar. More specifically, the Flying Saucer bar on the corner of Second and Peabody Place.
The Fluff was flying on Wednesday night in Houston as senior guard Robert McKiver finished with 52 points in the Cougars' 95-67 win against Southern Miss. It was the highest single game total in the NCAA this season and the most by a Cougar since 1966 (Elvin Hayes scored 55 against Southwestern on Feb. 12). It is also the all-time single game record for points in Conference USA.
Earlier this week we learned that Detroit coach Perry Watson would be joining Arizona's Lute Olson and San Francisco's Jessie Evans in taking a leave of absence for the rest of this season with his being for unspecified medical reasons.
Now there's a possibility of adding another coach to that list after Southern Miss' Larry Eustachy announced Wednesday afternoon that he would also be taking an indefinite leave of absence in order to take care of his sick mother, who is currently battling cancer.
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...
After last weekend's assortment of upsets and surprises, there now remain six teams in the nation who have yet to suffer defeat this season.
One of those happens to be, of course, second-ranked Memphis, who gained some more first-place votes this week from the AP voters, yet only trails No. 1 North Carolina by 28 points now.
But while I've given my fair share of props to John Calipari and his kids, I'm not about to write the Tigers off as national champs or even the No. 1 team in the country as we ring in the New Year with conference play beginning this week.
MEMPHIS -- John Calipari is becoming fond of telling his charges to "play with amnesia," to forget prior plays - good or bad - and to focus on the next opportunity. For junior guard Chris Douglas-Roberts, Calipari had to induce the amnesia earlier this week with a grueling individual workout.
"It was a workout I did with my NBA guys," said Calipari after Memphis's convincing 85-71 win over No. 5 Georgetown before a frenzied FedEx Forum crowd of 18,864. "I used to do it with Kerry Kittles, Lucious Harris, Kendall Gill - a lot of guys. I did it for 30 minutes with CDR (on Thursday before practice) and he whined like he was exhausted. There was sounds coming out of him and I didn't know if they were female or male sounds."
"It was," said Douglas-Roberts, "the hardest drills I've done in my life. He didn't give me any slack. He just cared about me going hard. Coach really thinks highly of me and I appreciate that. I needed it. I needed it."
MEMPHIS -- It will not be the big man matchup which unfolded almost a quarter of a century ago when Patrick Ewing's Georgetown Hoyas faced Keith Lee's Memphis Tigers in the second round of the 1983 NCAA Tournament. But very few big men -- and none in today's game -- could possibly live up to that epic duel where Lee went for 28 points and 15 rebounds in the 66-57 win over Ewing, who had 24 and nine.
Still, there is intrigue and import in the Internet Age's version of Georgetown (8-0) vs. Memphis (9-0) as All-American 7-foot-2 Hoya Roy Hibbert matches up with the reigning Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year, Tiger Joey Dorsey for Saturday's battle of Top 5 teams at the FedEx Forum.
"It's going to be great to see Roy," said Baltimore-native Dorsey, who got to know the Hoya center when both played for Team USA in this past summer's Pan American Games in Brazil. "We're texting each other all the time. I'm watching his games, he's watching mine. We just clicked. We became really close because we had so much time to spend together. "
NEW YORK -- It was a full hour after the 45th minute of a game where the two teams had combined to miss 89 shots, meaning that for every minute of game time, two shots went errant, array and wayward. There had been a full hour to digest the 43 combined turnovers, the horrible shot selections (Hello, Mr. Mayo) and the missed opportunities that came in the filthfest at Madison Square Garden where No. 2 Memphis downed No. 24 USC, 62-58, in overtime.
Even with those 60 minutes to let it settle in, Joey Dorsey and Chris Douglas-Roberts couldn't stop shaking their heads in the Memphis locker room.
"Did you see that triangle and two?" asked Douglas-Robert to a post-game visitor. "What was up with that, yo?"
NEW YORK -- This was the kind of game that John Calipari wanted.
This was the kind of competition that No. 3 Memphis needed.
And after 40 minutes of hard-fought, chest-to-chest basketball, it was the kind of result that the Tigers and their head coach was ultimately looking for.
"These are the kind of games we schedule that we want to play," Calipari said after Memphis took the championship crown in the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer with an 81-70 victory over UConn. "We don't want to play 'Popcorn State.' It does nothing for us."
Welcome to Night #2 of the 2007-08 college basketball season.
After seeing third-ranked Memphis run all over Tennessee-Martin in the first round of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic last night, the second round of games at the Memphis Regional begins tonight with the host Tigers facing off against Atlantic 10 foe Richmond.
The Spiders are coming off a 44-42 win Monday afternoon over Maine, who almost won at the buzzer on a half-court shot from Mark Socoby that rimmed out, but they'll have their hands full in matching Memphis' athleticism and overall depth.
The 2007-08 season kicked off with two games in the Memphis Region of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic Monday night, and third-ranked Memphis showed in its season opener why many people are picking the Tigers to cut down the nets in San Antonio this spring.
After staying close in the early going with last year's Conference USA champion, Tennessee-Martin couldn't keep pace with Memphis as the Tigers ran away with a 102-71 victory at the FedEx Forum.
MEMPHIS -- We're all done from the FedEx Forum as the Tiger Dancers have once again taken the floor.
Some highlights form the scrimmage won 48-43 by the blue team. (Kellogg's bribe paid off):
Andre Allen to Doneal Mack on an alley-oop fast break. . . Three-point airball by Derrick Rose. . . Kemp to Dorsey alley-oop. . . Coast to Coast dunk by Jeff Robinson. . . Baseline slam by Dozier. . . Any number of Joey Dorsey dunks. . . 360 dunk on breakaway by Dozier. . . Steal and off the backboard dunk from Anderson to Robinson. . . Several smooth moves by CDR. . . Block by Hashim Bailey on Chance McGrady.
MEMPHIS -- The dunk contest is coming up and not a minute too soon. Building has lost some energy. Or at least I have.
Each contestant, Jeff Robinson and Doneal Mack, had 30 seconds to do his best dunk. Robinson got in three, including two windmills. Mack tried a between the legs but failed and made just one of his dunks.
MEMPHIS -- Entering the arena to the Rocky theme, "Eye of the Tiger," and emerging from a fog-filled tunnel, the 2008-08 Tigers were introduced follwing a rousing ovation for the grey Adidas sweatsuit clad, John Calipari.
MEMPHIS -- The Lady Tigers basketball team is now being announced to the crowd that has filled in the entire lower bowl section of the arena and probably numbers well over 10,000 Tiger fans. You could say this team owns the town.
The Lady Tigers have only one senior and are coming off a tough season.
The build up continues to the men's introductions.
MEMPHIS -- Just before the start of the player introductions, a four minute video excerpt of the on-going documentary being made about the Chines coaching contingent's visit to Memphis was shown on the big scoreboard. The documentary, which will be shown in China and possibly in the states, is far from done and will probably take four months to sort through the hundreds hours of tape that will eventually be "in the can," but the excerpt was extremely well done and the project looks to be a keeper.
MEMPHIS -- The mats have been placed over teh court and the Memphis cheer and dance teams are pumping up the crowd. Not quite sure how I'm avoiding the distraction of the Tiger dancers, but for you, the dedicated Hang Time hanger-on, I'm fighting through the battle.
Was able to get time with several of the recruits in the building but was kindly rebuffed by the most intriguing prospect of them all, New Jersey's Michael Gilchrist (scroll down), a class of 2011 prospect.
MEMPHIS -- Welcome to the FedEx Forum for Memphis Madness and the official start of college basketball 2007-08.
Fans, who were gathered in the courtyard in front of the Forum were allowed in the building at 7 p.m. CT and are filtering into the lower bowl of the arena. The Chinese Coaching Contingent, decked out in new blue Memphis warm-up suits, led the parade of people entering the building as Tigger players went to the foyer to sign autographs for the Tiger mad fans.
MEMPHIS -- The Hang Time eating tour of Memphis has continued in earnest since we last checked in and our fear of gaining 30 pounds in five days looks like it will come to fruition. Not that we're complaining...
MEMPHIS -- We've just about hit our blogging limit for the day, so we'll finish up with a "Best Of C-USA Media Day" and remind you to join us for Memphis Madness on Friday night when we'll be live-blogging from the Forum beginning in the 7 p.m. CT hour.
MEMPHIS -- With coaches in a meeting and players hanging loosely in the interview room, Hang Time barged into a three-way conversation between UTEP junior guard Stefon Jackson, Tulane senior David Gomez and Houston senior Marcus Malone.
Here are some of the highlights of the conversation:
MEMPHIS -- As expected, the table with Memphis players Joey Dorsey and Chris Douglas-Roberts is drawing the biggest gathering of media-types. Dorsey's pre-Ohio State game comments from the NCAA Tournament last season were a big topic of conversation and Dorsey, to his credit, did not dodge the questions.
MEMPHIS -- The final grouping of coaches has finished and the media free for all will begin shortly. We'll work the room to the best of our ability and then report back with tidbits and information that we gather.
MEMPHIS -- We got a bit distracted over lunch by some great storytelling by Houston coach Tom Penders and therefore missed early portions of the coaches' availability on the dais. Order for the groupings has changed from what were told yesterday and the group that just finished included John Calipari, Matt Doherty, Dave Dickerson and Mike Davis.
MEMPHIS -- Hello and welcome to Hang Time's comprehensive coverage of Conference USA Media Day live from the FedEx Forum. We're currently stationed in the Methodist Healthcare Practice Facility located within the Forum, which has been transformed into a large working media area, a seated table interview section and an interview dais.
MEMPHIS -- Conference USA has announced it's preseason honors and there are no surprises of merit. Memphis is the favorite to repeat as the league champ and Tiger junior Chris Douglas-Roberts is the preseason Player of the Year.
Following the jump is the full release from C-USA. We'll be back in about an hour from the FedEx Forum.
MEMPHIS -- We need to get our beauty rest for the big day of blogging from C-USA Media Day on Thursday, but we couldn't leave you with nothing for the morning read.
So, for something completely different, here is the incredibly bountiful and scrumptious menu that was served to the Calipari Chinese Contingent at an authentic Chinese Banquet held at the hidden gem, New Asia Restaurant on the outskirts of Memphis.
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.
MEMPHIS -- When the Boss informed us that we'd be getting the repeat assignment for Conference USA Media Day, we did what any red-blooded, red meat eating college hoops head would rightfully do: We booked a couple of extra days on Beale Street, doubled up on the Lipitor and prepared ourselves for five magnificent days and four luxurious nights on the outskirts of Graceland.
So here we find ourselves a full 36 hours before the start of C-USA Media Day having already scarfed down a half rack of Blues City Cafe ribs, imbibed a handful of adult beverages and enjoyed the musical meanderings of the oustanding "high energy rockabilly trio," The Dempseys.
Forget March Madness, we've got Memphis Madness in early October.
In light of Joey Dorsey's recent disasters, I thought it would be appropriate to share a little clip of the senior forward joking around with some of his Memphis teammates during their Elite Eight run last season.
MEMPHIS – Hang Time has had a few hours to digest the happenings of Conference USA’s 2006 Men’s basketball Media Day – and a few more to digest the scrumptious charcoal ribs at the famous Rendezvous restaurant.
(Yes, Mission: Eat Ribs was a smashing success – thanks for all your email tips and suggestions.)
The lasting impression – aside from a stained dress shirt and the lingering smell of dry rub – is that C-USA is a league with many intriguing possibilities for the 2006-07 season; but also one struggling to gain its identity.
MEMPHIS - We've got some bad news on the Tiger cheer squad and dance team. Not only are they no longer stretching, they have, as Elvis once did, left the building.
Hang Time is vowing to launch a full investigation into the sudden disappearance, but initial reports indicate that because of rainy weather the scheduled outside performance was cancelled. We will not sleep until we get to the bottom of this travesty.
MEMPHIS - Ahhhhh - that's much better. Not only can we now see our keyboard, we have been given a legitimate excuse to belly up to the bar as we have commandeered center space at the Jack Daniels Old. No. 7 sports bar.
Even more exciting is the fact that we've managed to get fourth-year Marshall head coach Ron Jirsa to join us for a first-of-its-kind (for Hang Time anyway) live-blogging session.
"I'm a one finger typer," said Jirsa.
No worries - Hang Time will type, Coach can provide the answers:
HT: What is that makes you think Marshall can be a basketball power year in and year out?
RJ: It starts at the top for us with our Athletic Director, Bob Marcum. He has has had tremednous success at schools known for basketball like UMass, where he had a great run with John Calipari. He's got a clear vision, and he was a strong propnent of us getting into C-USA. You get a sense of working together when you work with Mr. Marcum.
MEMPHIS - The last 60-90 minutes got a bit away from your Hang Time hanger-on, and for that we must apologize.
We're pretty confident we can lay the blame at the feet of Houston head coach Tom Penders, who got us enthralled in a wide-ranging conversation of everything from heart medications to international basketball to - and this really got us - some memories of going to long-ago Celtics practices to "steal" plays and philosophies from Tom Heinsohn and Red Auerbach.
We also got trapped by a serious internal debate that UAB's new head man, Mike Davis, is having over whether or not he should allow his young son and his wife to procure a dog. "I don't want it, I don't want it on my property and I don't want to hear about it," laughed Davis, as he unbuttoned his suit coat, took it off and began to relax after surviving his first C-USA media day.
In other words - you can fully expect the Davises to be adding a dog to the household in the very near future.
After the jump is some random scribblings form the Hang Time notebook following our table-to-table bounce around.
We're heading over to the FedEx Forum for tonight's live CSTV broadcast of Full Court Press (6-8 p.m. EST), so you can expect continued updates through the early evening and leading up to Hang Time's newly announced initiative: Operation Eat Ribs.
MEMPHIS - The Hang Time operation has relocated to Salon C of the Hilton as assorted media, administrators, coaches and student-athletes are beginning to gather and mingle.
A TV interview room has been set up for the schools' local affiliates to conduct interviews with players and coaches and Salon A will facilitate the print media's interviews with players and coaches.
Salon B is housing the feeding tables, so that's where we're headed.
One last reminder that it's not too late to get in your questions for Hang Time to pose to your favorite coach or player. Our list is getting pretty long, so bring it strong and give us quality over quantity. Send questions to cstvhangtimATyahoo.com.
MEMPHIS - Set up for C-USA Media Day is underway as the Hilton's "Salon A" is festooned with member banners and interview tables set up throughout the ballroom.
Players scheduled to be in attendance along with the league's 12 head coaches are: Houston's Dion Dowell, Marshall's Tre Whitted, Rice's Morris Almond, Tulane's Chris Moore, Tulsa's Charles Ramsdell, UCF's Josh Peppers and the host city foursome of Antonio Anderson, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Joey Dorsey and Robert Dozier.
MEMPHIS - Coaches and media were trickling into the Memphis Hilton during Wednesday's evening hours and the league's annual media confab is nearing its official commencement in the noon hour on Thursday. Spotted in the Hitlon's spacious, tres-chic lobby were first year UTEP head coach, Tony Barbee; CSTV analyst (and story teller extraordinaire) Pete Gillen; former Georgetown coach (now CSTV employee) Craig Esherick; second-year Tulane head coach, Dave Dickerson; and the ubiquitous CSTV talent Seth Davis.
Barbee told Hang Time he is adjusting nicely to life in El Paso and has been leaning heavily on the de facto Mayor of El Paso, Hall of Famer Don Haskins. "He's an incredible man," said Barbee. "It's amazing to be able to talk basketball with him."
Barbee, proving to be a wily veteran even on the eve of his first media day, is already trying to temper expectations for his inaugural season. "We've got one senior (guard Kevin Henderson, Minneapolis), so we'll have to see how our young guys play."
Speaking of expectations, you, the Hang Time Hangers, have already exceeded ours with the bevy of great Media Day Questions which you have submitted to our special email: CSTVhangtimeATyahoo.com. We won't be able to ask all of your tremednous queries, but we will select more than a handful and report back throughout the day with players' and coaches' responses. Keep 'em clean and keep 'em educated.
MEMPHIS - Hang Time has landed in Memphis for the CUSA Media Day Extravaganza and we’ve headed straight to the on-campus Larry O. Finch Recreation Facility, where Coach John Calipari is currently putting his Tigers through a rigorous workout.
Joining Hang Time at midcourt is CSTV’s Seth Davis, who is preparing for Thursday night’s Full Court Press Conference USA preview special (6-8 p.m. EST on CSTV), which he’ll work live form the FedEx Forum with Pete Gillen. Adam Zucker will anchor from the CSTV New York studio.
The Tigers, in blue and white practice jerseys, are, as the coaches like to say “getting’ after it.” Calipari, the consummate teacher, stops things periodically for instruction, criticism and even some good-natured ribbing.