HOUSTON -- The Memphis Tigers locker room had been cleared out of pesky media types and there remained four of the key elements to the team's Final Four run: The beefy Joey Dorsey; The elastic Chris Douglas-Roberts; The phenom frosh Derrick Rose; and The inimitable John Calipari.
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.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The Bear was in his makeshift cave, hidden from the on-coming intruders and protected by the thin blue apron skirting the table holding Powerade and water in the Memphis locker room .
"It was comfortable under there," said The Bear. "I was going to hide from you all today. I was trying to hibernate."
MEMPHIS -- Wireless card permitting, we've got a special treat for you this afternoon around 4:30 EDT when we'll exclusivel join the Memphis Tigers for their third annual pre-selection show Bus Tour of Memphis. All the Tigers and staff will board a tour bus leaving from John Calipari's East Memphis home and travel throughout the city to thank fans for their support and to energize them for the NCAA Tournament.
MEMPHIS -- PT Barnum had nothing on these two guys. Nor does Don King. Not even Hulkamania creator Vince McMahon holds a candle.
In terms of the ability to promote one's self, one's business (university) and one's brand (program), there may not be two more capable college basketball coaches in the land than the two who will share a (crowded) sideline on Saturday night at the FedEx Forum.
Need confirmation? The guy who once painted his chest orange to cheer on his school's women's team AND served as color analyst for a Lady Vols game, actually admits to being the lesser of the two promoters.
MEMPHIS -- Hang Time has touched down in Elvis's old stomping grounds and as much of a circus as the Tiger basketball program usually encompasses -- as the No. 1 team in the nation is won't to do -- the big top is approximately one thousand times crazier than usual as the gargantuan Saturday match-up between No. 1 Memphis and No. 2 Tennessee draws closer.
Admittedly, The Professor is liking NBA ball a lot better these days because our Beantown Five's sudden surge. Still, the Sunday night All-Star offering, combined with Wake Forest's upset of No. 2 Duke and the UCLA-USC tussle (won by UCLA, 56-46) made for our best Seventh Day evening since Tony Soprano went out of business over at HBO.
Beale Street Baskets: Patriotic Feeling For Tigers
MEMPHIS -- For at least a few more hours, they both sit at 18-0. By the end of Saturday, the Memphis Tigers could be exactly where the New England Patriots hope to be in another eight days: at 19-0.
While the comparisons between a full undefeated NFL season and half of an undefeated season in college basketball are a precious few, the possible parallels have not escaped Tigers' coach John Calipari.
MEMPHIS -- It's been a month since our last visit to the City of Elvis and in addition to not having lost a game all season long, the Memphis Tigers have elevated themselves to No. 1 in the nation. There is a palpable difference in the city as the Tigers reached the No. 1 spot for the first time in a quarter-century. "It hasn't been this way since I can remember," said a FedEx official we bumped into at dinner. "It's been building to this the past couple of years, but this is as pumped as the city has been about the Tigers that I can remember."
With the excitement comes expectations and with those expectations come a belief that because Saturday's opponent -- 15-4 Gonzaga -- is unranked, the Tigers should romp and continue their perfect season. Not so fast says the Tiger mentor.
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. "
MEMPHIS -- Welcome back to Graceland as Hang Time comes to you live from the FedEx Forum for the Memphis Tigers' day-before practice in preparation for tomorrow's much-anticipated non-conference showdown with Big East counterpart Georgetown.
MEMPHIS -- Welcome back to Tiger Town as Hang Time has once again descended upon Beale Street for some up close and personal time with John Calipari's No. 2-ranked Memphis Tigers. On Saturday at Noon (EST), the Tigers host No. 4 Georgetown at the FedEx Forum in what is probably THE marquee match-up of a three-day, pre-holiday stretch of many marquee match-ups (including Thursday night's doozies that saw Oklahoma and Pittsburgh emerge victorious).
NEW YORK -- They have not tweaked each other on the court in almost 18 years. Off the court, though, the tweaking and oneupsmanship has never stopped. Are John Calipari and Jim Calhoun mortal enemies? No, probably not. But are they golfing buddies who vacation with the wives?
If things go according to plan on Thursday evening, then you can expect the NCAA's new bench decorum rules to have their very first, true test on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Coaches vs. Cancer basketball classic hits New York City this week and with UConn facing Gardnerella-Webb in the early tilt (7 p.m.) on Thursday and Memphis getting Oklahoma in the nightcap (9 p.m.), it very much looks like a Cal on Cal final Friday at 8:30 on the hardwood of MSG. A John Calipari vs. Jim Calhoun match-up would have New York City's back page tabloid writers licking their chops and could save face for tournament organizers who lost the big draw of Kentucky with G-W's upset special (a slogan made into t-shirts being worn all over the GDub campus in Boiling Springs, NC).
Because of a lot of serendipity, CSTV.com is getting some special access to the 2007-08 Memphis Tigers basketball team of John Calipari. With that access comes a lot of material that might not quite fit into our regular coverage of the Top 5 Tigers.
That in mind, we're opening up the floodgates on a regular feature we're calling (until and if a better name surfaces): Beale Street Baskets.
While we'll certainly have our fair share of anecdotes, observations and insight into the Tiger's potential title run, we also urge you to share your thoughts for a recurring, season-long dialogue. Our comments section is always open for business.