Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Mercurial Memphis Tigers

The Memphis Tigers have a lot of raw talent and multiple NBA first round picks on their roster. But do they have a team? A team is what John Calipari has been trying to create. The impact on team chemistry of Jeremy Hunt has been under-rated. He is a glue-type of player that can play either guard position and get things done. His recent injuries and off-court allegations have kept him off the court and Memphis has not done well without him.

Another thing that Calipari is discovering improvement by subtraction. Without Banks in the line-up, the Tigers were a much better team against the over-stuffed with cupcakes Marquette team. Obviously Banks is a very talented player and if he can get back with the program so to speak, Memphis will benefit. But until then, it looks like they are better off without him. But then again, part of the improvement is the adjustment, maturation and improvement of guard Darius Washington. This year may end up looking like a re-run at Memphis: An NIT championship and freshman guard that bolts to the NBA (just like the D. Wagner year).

Obviously Calipari's recruiting strategy has something to do with the current sitatuation as he goes after a lot of high profile recruits and he is willing to give people 2nd chances or take players that need help academically. It's a high risk strategy, but if the pieces hit, he could end up with Top 5 teams. If they don't, then they'll struggle like this year. The other side-effect is that the team can end up under-manned with injuries and non-qualifiers. Having a solid group of walk-ons is a must for this high-risk strategy. A strategy that Rick Pitino has been using until recently, as he gambled on Telfair when he could have had Rondo or Lofton

Take this year for example: Shawne Williams, Robert Dozier, the 7-footer (Cooper I think), and the local PG Andre Allen did not qualify and they are all in Prep school. How good would they be if they qualified?

Next year is even more of a puzzle as a number of those players may or not qualify or want to play in Memphis and some of his current high talent players may bolt for the NBA. It looks like a feast or famine situation is a possibility.

1 comment:

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