C-USA: The Savage Nation

By Jean Neuberger - October 12, 2006

Memphis finished 3-25 overall last year, 1-15 in the conference, scratching only a 71-66 over UTEP for their only C-USA win. However, with the obvious enthusiasm of Coach Blair Savage-Lansden, one can expect a lot more success from the Lady Tigers this year.

The Memphis head coach sat patiently, answering the questions directed at all three coaches, while listening to the majority of questions that were being asked to the other two coaches in the second session. When a question was finally asked her way (on raising twins while coaching basketball), she perked up and answered with unwavering excitment.

"Having twins is like being a freshman," Savage-Lansden said. "Every so often you get used to their actions, then they turn around and change on you. It's helped though with the players, because they see their coach as human. So many times, if a coach is hard on them, players think their coach is cold-hearted, but seeing Delaney and Madeleine, they see the personal side."

When it was time for the media to address the coaches one-on-one, Savage-Lansden stood smiling, watching the reporters surround SMU's Rhonda Rompola and UAB's Audra Smith. Walking up to her, she seemed surprised, but very happy to have someone interested in what Memphis was up to.

"With so much parody in the league, it should be an interesting year for everyone," said Savage-Lansden. "We have eight new players..."

Wait a second...did she say EIGHT?

Yes, Memphis actually has eight new players, making this a VERY young Tiger team.

"We'll rely on Devin Necaise and Paris Leonard for leadership," said Savage-Lansden. "They'll be our go-to-girls. It will be fun though to see who's more consistent."

It has to be more fun for the Memphis staff, who finished with just seven players on the bench last year.

"Our newness is our strength," Savage-Lansden said. "With so many new players, it brings forth competition, which makes this team better. Our starters from last year come back this year knowing that their starting jobs are up for grabs. However, with all that youth, it will also be our weakness too."

The new depth though gives Memphis a chance to establish their game plan much better.

"We should be a lot more balanced," said Savage-Lansden. "We'll have some long defenders and more speed. We'll try to do what we do best."

A realist, Savage-Lansden is excited about bringing her team into the FedEx Center for two games, but isn't willing to play any more games there...for now."

"The FedEx Center is a beautiful place for basketball," Savage-Lansden said. "We'll play Tennessee-Martin there, and we'll have Tulane there as well. But we need the program to be at a higher level to play more games there."

For now, winning is what counts for the Lady Tigers.

"Any win over any team this season is going to really lift the morale of this team," Savage-Lansden said.

And rest assured, if the energy of the young Memphis coach from Media Days is carried out onto the court, Memphis has nowhere to go but up.

Posted by Jean Neuberger at 09:22 PM on October 12, 2006

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