The Memphis Tigers are coming off of a fairly successful season where they made a miraculous comeback to win the Conference USA Championship by 1 point. Unfortunately, they met up with a tough Arizona Wildcats squad in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament and were squeezed out by a bucket to finish at 25-10 on the year.
Let's see if Memphis has what it takes to make it farther into the Big Dance in
the upcoming season. Here's a preview of the Memphis Tigers for 2011-2012.
The NCAA Basketball betting lines at Bodog have listed Memphis at 25/1 shots to win the NCAAB Championship. The Tigers can also be found in the SBR Sportsbook at +2500. With most of their starters returning, are these NCAAB odds worth taking or are the Tigers being overrated?
Memphis landed a big-time recruit in freshman small forward Adonis Thomas. The
Tigers have almost all of last year's players returning except for Will
Coleman. That being said, Thomas will be a welcomed addition to an already
strong basketball squad. Adonis Thomas was ranked number 9 in ESPN's top 100
recruits and was the only player that the Tigers picked up in the top 100.
At 6 foot 6, 210 pounds, Thomas is a multi-talented player that lacks a true
position on the floor. He's known for his quickness, athleticism, and most
importantly intelligence. This is a player that can possibly fill in at
shooting guard or small forward. Thomas is a native of Memphis, Tennessee and
his future looks bright.
"Its in the blood"
Aside from their frail frames, brothers Antonio and Will Barton will play a key
role in this run and gun style offense for Memphis. Both players are shooting
guards and can score from outside. Will Barton led the team in scoring in his
freshman year at 12.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per
game. Not bad for a guy that's 6 foot 6 and sports a body frame of just 175
Antonio Barton is a smaller version of Will, standing 6 foot 2, who
averages 8.2 points per game. Both players will need to improve their poor free
throw shooting. Through the years, Memphis has never been a team known for its
Point guard Joe Jackson will be a major focus in the offense. He'll be looking
to distribute the ball in this fast paced offense while providing offense also.
This is a young team. Jackson is just a sophomore and like the Bartons, he's
not a big man at 6 feet, 175 pounds. Rumor has it that he's really improved his
game during the offseason. He was the second highest scorer on the team last
year and blends in well with the fast pace.
The Tigers are very deep at the guard position. Senior guard Charles Carmouche
will be able to provide minutes for the Tigers. Efficiency isn't his game, but this
40% shooter can still score and clear the glass when needed.
Chris Crawford is another young player that lacks the shooting touch. Crawford
shot an awful 32.9 % from the field in his freshman campaign but looks to do
the little things. He can rebound (3.1), is a passer (3.3 assists) and is very
active on the court. He averaged 1.6 steals per game and gives the Memphis
backcourt some much needed mass at 6 foot 4, 205 pounds. This is a player that
will improve his game and see a lot of playing time.
The Tigers are a well rounded team to go along with their youth. Forward Wesley
Witherspoon will give this young team some senior leadership. He's primarily a
small forward but can also play the off guard at 6 foot 9!. Weatherspoon's
numbers dropped slightly to 9 points and 4.3 rebounds in 22.9 minutes per game.
Expect them to increase with the new JUCO transfer that the Tigers picked up this
The Tigers are a little thin upfront. Expect Adonis Thomas to make an immediate
in his freshman season as he's a perfect fit for this team.
With the loss of Will Coleman at power forward, the Tigers will rely heavily on
sophomore Tarik Black, who gives the Tigers some bulk up front at a hefty 6
foot 8, 252 pounds. He'll be huge on the glass and efficient on the inside
offensively. Last season, Black averaged 9.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.6
blocks per game. Black isn't someone the Tigers want to see at the line (58.7
%) but he was outstanding 52.8% from the field. Expect to see definite
improvement from Tarik Black this season.
Well, that's overdoing it but JUCO transfer Stan Simpson should fit in well
here. He'll allow the returning forwards to get more offensive opportunites.
Word has it that Simpson isn't in "Memphis shape" but they're working
on it. He averaged 12.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks last season at
John A. Logan College.
Once in shape, Simpson will do well in his 2 years of
eligibility. I dug deep for this folks, he's the cousin of superstar running
back Darren McFadden of the Oakland Raiders. If Simpson can play a quarter as
well as his cousin, he'll do fine at Memphis.
Summary- This is a young team that's
very deep in the backcourt and has a lot of athletic ability. Free throw
shooting is a concern in a close game. Other than that, this team will improve
this season and will be a contender to be reckoned with.
Prediction - Memphis 27-7