Memphis Tigers (33-1) vs. Texas-Arlington Mavericks (21-11)
When: Friday, 9:40 p.m.
Where: Little Rock
1. The Plush Club. The Tigers' late-night exploits at 380 Beale St led Coach John Calipari to institute an 11 p.m. curfew and no-nightclub policy. The first incident at the Plush Club happened in the early morning hours of September 2, 2007, when forward Shawn Taggart and shooting guard Jeff Robinson were charged with disorderly conduct and inciting a riot. The police report suggests that it was actually forward Joey Dorsey who got things going when he climbed up on the bar and "made it rain" (just whose money he was throwing is still undetermined). Dorsey had already left the scene before 20 police cars arrived to disperse the crowd. Charges against Taggart and Robinson were later dismissed. Despite Calipari's no-nightclub policy, Robert Dozier was involved in a second incident at the Plush Club on February 3rd. After an initial confrontation with ex-girlfriend LaParis Woods, Dozier followed her out of the club in his car before both pulled over and continued their argument on a downtown street corner. It was there that Dozier allegedly slapped her twice. Woods, a stripper at The Gold Club in East Memphis, has not filed charges but did take out a restraining order against Dozier. Dozier's current girlfriend, Andrea Brown, followed suit and took out a restraining order of her own against Woods, who allegedly had threatened her at the Plush Club and went to Brown's apartment later that night where she continued her tirade and warned, "I'll be back." Calipari, always the strict disciplinarian, suspended Dozier for one game, not for the alleged assault, but for breaking curfew. One particularly creative fan in Birmingham blacked out her eye for the Tigers' game the following week at UAB and wore a shirt that read "I dated Dozier." This is featured prominently in one of the greatest photos of the college basketball season. Backup forward Pierre Niles' blue-sleeved hand can be seen slapping someone resembling Larry the Cable Guy, though no disciplinary action was taken against Niles following the melee.
2. Blue and Grey. The Tigers' colors were established as a gesture of national unity to commemorate the opposing armies in the Civil War. Aside from the clichéd images of Elvis and Graceland, Tiger blue is emblematic of Memphis's long tradition of blues and soul music, made famous by artists like B.B. King, Furry Lewis, Booker T. and the MG's, Otis Redding, the Bar-Kays and Isaac Hayes. Famous alumni of the Memphis Tigers basketball program include Anfernee Hardaway, Keith Lee, Elliot Perry, Dajuan Wagner, Rodney Carney, Lorenzen Wright, Shawne Williams and 1998 Name-of-the-Year finalist, Paris London.
3. Style of Play. Calipari describes the Memphis offense as "Princeton on Steroids." Based on the dribble-drive system pioneered by Pepperdine coach Vance Walberg, Memphis's offense utilizes the Tigers' superior athleticism and ability to exploit one-on-one mismatches to beat teams off the dribble for easy lay-ups. Most teams employ zone defenses to slow the pace of the game and force the Tigers to rely on their average outside shooting. Freshman phenom Derrick Rose has drawn comparisons to Jason Kidd given his speed and strength and is a potential top-5 draft pick, should he decide to go. Junior swingman Chris Douglas-Roberts is the top scorer and veteran leader of the team. CDR, a Detroit native, is primarily known as a slasher, but he has developed his outside shot in the past year (45 percent from behind the arc). When at his best, Joey Dorsey resembles a young Ben Wallace, a tenacious defender and shot blocker who averages 10.4 rebounds per game. Though he has the size and talent to dominate, Dorsey is prone to mental lapses and foul trouble. Memphis's superior defense and athleticism could carry them to the final four and the title, but success in the tournament will largely depend on role players like Antonio Anderson, Willie Kemp and Donneal Mack getting hot from behind the arc. Memphis's Achilles heel is their team 58% free throw shooting, but if you remove Dorsey's 33% rate from the mix, the team shoots a more respectable 62%. Rose (68% FT) will likely receive the inbounds passes toward the end of games, so the Tigers' hopes may hinge on whether the freshman has the mental toughness to hit free throws with the game on the line. — Jay Lewis
1. You Ain't From Around Here, Are Ya, Boy? Ten of the eleven players listed as eligible on the UTA roster are from the state of Texas. The eleventh is 6'1" Guard Brandon Long, who hails from Richton Park, Illinois. The Junior was scoring 12 ppg before an injury vs. Texas Christian put him out for the season.
2. Screw You Guys, I'm Going Home. South Park fans will be surprised to see the name Trey Parker on the UTA roster. Considering that this guy is black, 19 years younger and has more manageable hair, we're thinking he's no relation to the co-creator of Eric Cartman. The redshirt freshman doesn't play much right now, so we're looking forward to his second season.
3. Also Known As. Since its inception as Arlington College in 1895, the school has had eight different names. It has been a military academy three time, and once went by the name Grubbs Vocational College. UTA was actually part of the Texas A&M system from 1917-1967, but balked when asked to change their name to Texas A&M-Arlington. Maybe they just don't like ampersands. — Storming The Floor