Before the professor can properly re-charge the batteries during our own mini-break, we need to close out the Grade Book on 2007 and in particular this past week of fantastic basketball.
Before we get into the nitty gritty (with a heavy Memphis-GTown bent), let us wish everyone a very happy and safe holiday break and the most prosperous of New Years in 2008. You've all been fantastic students thus far this season and we expect that to continue through the remainder of the year and beyond. Now sit up straight, stop doodling and pay attention. . .
A: Memphis Tigers
Every time we get around the Calipari Crew - as we were for the latter part of last week - we are reminded of just how different this program is from virtually every other college franchise. The inside joke around the team is that it's like a circus at any given moment complete with three rings, jugglers and clowns.
If there's not a Chinese contingent being followed by a documentary crew, there's a mega-hyped game like the Georgetown contest from Saturday at the FedEx Forum that came complete with reported sightings of Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel and Joe Thiesmann. If there's not a motivational guru taking one-on-one meetings with players, there's an NBA player (Sam Cassell) giving group advice.
And if there's not true motivational material, Calipari - in a very Bill Belichikian manner - will generate some out of thin air.
For the Hoya game, Calipari convinced his team that they were home underdogs when in fact they were six point favorites. And you know what? It worked as it usually does. Calipari has an uncanny knack for pushing the right buttons and invigorating his charges when they need it most. Chris Douglas-Roberts's bounce back game was only the latest in a string of Calipari creations that has led to big wins.
"This was big," said Calipari, "it's on the shelf now for (the committee to look at) and we have to get ready for Arizona."
The Tigers host the Wildcats on Saturday in a game that, as of Sunday morning, will pit the two highest RPI teams in the country ('Zona is No. 1) against each other.
A: Antonio Anderson, Memphis
Anderson, who does the dirty work for Memphis, was The Professor's wing man on our flight back to Boston (he's from Lynn, Mass. the city The Prof was born in). After a typical stat-sheet filling contest where Anderson contributed seven points, five assists, four rebounds, two steals and a block in 33 minutes, the junior was understandably fatigued for the flight home. Still, so experienced and so well-traveled is the 6-6 guard that he was able to sleep through almost the entire three hour flight. The Prof still can't get a sniff of in-air sleep without medicinal aids.
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