CONT TENTS NOV/DEC 2006
22 22 SMALL COLLEGE, BIG BASKETBALL
4 STARTING FIVE 6
BRING IT ON
10 GAMING 11 UNDER REVIEW 12
26 CARNEY RIDE
16 THE GREAT DEBATE 18
40 GET FIT
SUPER CAL AND FRATELLISTIC
46 TAILGATING 48
Publisher Mike Bullard 901.229.4749 firstname.lastname@example.org
History and Heroes
Editor-At-Large Laura Blanton
Heroes. Memphis has a lot of them. Try naming a few and you will find that most of them have one thing in common.
Contributing Writers Jeff Brightwell Kevin Cerrito Terry Davis Jack Eaton Peter Edmiston Andre T. Johnson Jason Jones Ed Land Jr. Randy Malone Tyler McClellan Allie Prescott IV Charles Sligh
Basketball. When you talk about sports in Memphis, it doesn’t matter what you are talking about, it usually leads back to basketball. The rise in popularity of local sports can all be attributed to the 1973 NCAA title game. You know the one. Larry Finch scored 29. Bill Walton dunked. And dunked. And dunked his way to 44 points. Memphis State lost. But it was just the beginning. Memphis was suddenly in the national spotlight. The rest of the country expected more. The Memphis fans expected more. The Tiger program leapt into the big time after that game. 30 years later, we landed an NBA team and a new reason to cheer for basketball in Memphis. It is the sport that makes this city tick. The Louisville rivalry. Keith Lee and the Final Four run. Dana Kirk, Gene Bartow and Larry Finch. Anfernee Hardaway and Todd Day. Imagine if Memphis never had the pleasure of watching the quickness of Elliot Perry and Andre Turner. Or the sheer athleticism of Michael Wilson. Memphis is basketball. Memphis Sport is basketball.
Contributing Photographers Leigh Ann Williams Graphic Design Mike Bullard Account Executive Kim Bullard 901.229.3613 email@example.com Advisory Board Mike Bowen Johnathan Epstein Harold Graeter Allie Prescott III David Winker Contributions Memphis Sport will consider, but assumes no responsibilty for, unsolicited proposals, manuscripts, photos, and illustrations. All such materials not accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope will not be returned. Memphis Sport retains all reprint rights.
Mike Bullard, publisher Memphis Sport 1138 N. Germantown Pkwy Suite 101-176 Cordova, TN 38016 www.memphissport.net ©Copyright 2006 Memphis Sport Magazine LLC All rights reserved
Cover photo illustration by Mike Bullard
2 | Memphis Sport
www.memphissport.net | 3
five questions with...
Vertie Sails Jr. Athletic Director and Head Basketball Coach Southwest Tennessee Community College
1. What keeps you going after 28 years of coaching at Southwest? I enjoy what I am doing—the enthusiasm is still there. The good Lord has blessed me with good health and strength, and we have been successful. Put all that together with the fact that the administration has really gone to bat for us, helping us with the facilities improvements and other things.
2. What is your most memorable season? I have had so many. If you want to go back to high school—when I was at Melrose, the last year I was there, we went undefeated 35-0. That record stood for over 30-plus years. Since I have been at Southwest—in 1998 we finished second in the national tournament.
3. Who were some of the players on that Melrose team that went undefeated? Everybody knows “the big three”: [ John] Gunn, [Alvin] Wright and [ James] Bradley. Then there was Zach Armour, who works around town now and is very successful. There was ‘Pee Wee’ Jackson; Daryl Horton, whose two sons are
4 | Memphis Sport
playing Division One basketball right now; Eddie Hill; Sammy Campbell; Bill Brooks Prentice; Hamilton Golden and Wiley McKeenan. I hope I have not left anyone out—all of those guys contributed to what we did. It was a fantastic team.
4. What was the hardest season you have had? The hardest season I had was probably my third year at Melrose, when we took Gunn, Wright and Bradley. They were sophomores, but Bradley was a freshman, and we decided to put them on the floor and play them. Of course, at Melrose they are used to winning—they have been spoiled. I learned a lot about who my friends were. I learned a lot about myself, and that stuck with me even to this day. It was a positive experience out of a negative situation.
5. You are the current Tennessee Junior and Community College Athletic Association (TJCCAA) Coach of the Year. How many Coach of the Year honors do you have? I really do not know. After a while, you try not to think about it. My focus now is on these young people—the fact that in the last six or seven years, we graduated probably 90 percent of the young folks who stayed here two or three years. We have been very successful in getting them out of here and getting them to other schools.
5 Memphis Sports Storie You May Have Missed s 1. Joe Theismann remain s undefeated against Jerry “the King” Lawler in the new Monday Night cable ratings grudge match bet that feature color commenta ween two shows tors who live in the Memphis area. On a weekl y basis, Monday Night Football ratings more than double the amount of viewers watching cable’s former champion, Monday Night Raw. 2. John McEnroe and Jim Courier played at the Racquet Club in the new Outback Champions Series. 3. Glen Carver’s new haircu t. 4. Marc Gasol, a 2003 Lau sanne graduate, helped contribute to Spain’s World Ch playing some of the best bal ampionship by l of his career. 5. The Riverkings started their fifteenth season.
5 Things To Top 5 Most Memorable Yell At Moments in Memphis Memphis Hoops Football 1. Memphis State is beate Games Now n by UCLA 87-66, in the 1973 NCAA Champio nship game. But the That You Can question remains: was Bill Wa lton dunking and goaltending during the UC No Longer Yell cha LA Bruins 1973 NCAA mpionship win against the Tigers (dunking was “Fire Joe Lee not legal then)? 2. The Grizzlies first home Dunn” playoff game. Heisley sang the nat
3. “Beat the spread !”
ional anthem. Hubie was awarded coach of the year trophy. The gam e was competitive. And, Memphians were introduce d to growl towels. 3. D-Wash free throws. Ma ke two and you tie, make three and go on to the NC AA toruney. He only made one.
4. “Kick it deep, Gibson”
4. Dana Kirk goes to jail
1. “The bathrooms are ou t of paper towels!” 2. “Play ‘I’m so Glad’”
5. “Hire Joe Lee Dunn”
for income tax evasion. 5. Bill Russell wheeling La rry Finch to midcourt at halftime of the Grizzlies-Tr ail Blazers game in 2003.
&5&3 . .&5 $& "/$& 4"/ /6* *4 /6
The Mustache The Beastie Boys wig-andmustache routine seems lik e it is on every commercial bre ak.
HIGHLY ANNOYING DirecTV
Peyton vs. Titans “I gotta run. Wait, I think I’ll pass.” You do that, we’ll change the channel.
MILDLY ANNOYING nflshop.com
Making Breakfast with Eli and Archie “Checkin’ to pancakes, pan cakes.” C’mon, you only bro ke three eggs...don’t be a quitte r.
Gatorade Rain Peyton hatches from a foo tball. You are not Kevin Garnett. And put your arm s down dude.
PRETTY FUNNY MasterCard
Professional Fan Peyton roots us on in our daily grind.
www.memphissport.net net | 5
BRING IT ON NOELIA Grizzlies Dance Team
by MIKE BULLARD photography JOE MURPHY/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES
Age: 31 Birthday: March 12 Did you study dance? Yes, in high school I went to the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, and I danced at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Tell me about your most memorable moment. It was my last senior dance performance in college, and we have to wear certain types of undergarments that go with our costumes. My bra had come detached from my costume, and it fell on stage. But as a performer, things do happen on stage, and you have to keep moving! To me, that was the most embarrassing moment in my dancing career. So it was a real wardrobe malfunction? Absolutely What movies have you worked on? I was a dancer in Spike Lee’s Malcom X and I was in Belly with DMX and Naz. I was also Jada Pinkett Smith’s body double in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled.
If you could only take one thing with you before you left the planet, what would it be? My daughter Are there any big changes to the dance team this year? With pretty much a new squad, it’s going to add a new dynamic. Every time you dance with someone you don’t know, everybody’s personalities add a different spice to what happens throughout the season. I’m probably the oldest woman on the team; I am the more nurturing, motherly one. I’m the one to kind of a bring everybody together. How does the Grizzlies dance team compare to the other NBA teams? I think we have a variety of not only different looks on the team, but different styles. Being a Bible Belt city, we can still be edgy—but edgy with class.
What is your day job? Dental assistant and full-time mom Have you gotten any really cool souvenirs from your days as a Grizz dancer? I have so many bobbleheads, I don’t know what to do!
How do you stay in shape? Exercise, exercise, exercise.
What do you watch on TV? Noggin, with my twoyear-old.
6 | Memphis Sport
Post-Season Preparations and Mid-Season Updates by ED LAND, JR.
very Sunday afternoon, you’re geared up, jacked up, riled up and pumped up to watch your players perform. Every yard they gain and every touchdown they score makes you even more of a genius. Or, at least that’s what you tell your friends.
But have you reached the height of fantasy football entertainment? Have you exhausted your resources to ensure victory? Even if you’re leading the league, you’ve still got work to do and improvements to make. At this point, almost every team is still battling for a playoff spot. This is not the time to coast or give up!
Post-Season Preparations: 1. Analyze strengths and weaknesses of all league teams. Do you have a surplus or shortage of quality players at any particular position? Is a competitor of yours sitting on loads of talent in one area while enduring a deficit in another? In short, what could you spare and what do you need? 2. Make the necessary moves. Is there a big-time player on waivers or in free agency who you should pick up immediately? Who could you drop from your team to make that happen? Is there a potential trade looming that you should take a look at?
4. Talk loads of smack. By now, your league should have assigned team owners with key fantasy football roles. a. The Idiot (has the worst team, by far). b. The Statistician (knows your players’ yards per carry). c. The Vulgar Mouth (behaves like an immature kid). d. The Quiet Guy (probably is married with four children). e. The Girl (probably the league owner’s sister or girlfriend). f. The Best (odds on favorite to win it all). You’ve got all the ammunition you need to propel yourself into your league’s 200607 fantasy football playoffs.
3. Pay attention.
Do you know when your players are off on bye weeks? Are you keeping up with injury reports? What do your match-ups look like during the fantasy playoff weeks? What surprise players are breaking out during mid-season?
Let’s take a look back at the Top 10 performances through week four in the NFL: 10. Heath Miller’s 101 yards and one touchdown (an 80 yarder, nonetheless),
www.memphissport.net | 7
in week one against the Miami Dolphins. Yeah, he was out of bounds…but it counts anyway! 9. Jeff Wilkins’ six field goals in week one against the Broncos. Had he gone seven for seven, he’d have the NFL record! O.K. Admittedly, kicking a football is much more difficult than it looks. 8. The Baltimore Ravens’ three interceptions, three sacks, one defensive touchdown helped shutout the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 1. That was a beat-down like I’ve never seen. 7. Santana Moss’ 138-yard, threetouchdown, overtime-game-winning performance in week four against, of all teams, the Jacksonville Jaguars. 6. Brian Westbrook’s 164-yard (117 rushing, 47 receiving), three-touchdown (two rushing, one receiving) performance against the 49ers in week 3. Guess that’s all over now. I wonder if it’s tough to run without any cartilage in your knees? 5. Peyton Manning’s 400-yard, threetouchdown (two passing, one rushing) performance against the Texans in week two. Good thing Houston selected Mario Williams over Reggie Bush.
8 | Memphis Sport
4. Donovan McNabb’s win week four against the Packers, with 335 yards (288 passing, 47 rushing) and four touchdowns. Of course, that gave me my first loss of the year. Thanks, D. 3. Stephen Gostkowski’s five-for-five extra point and one-for-two field goal effort in a blowout against the potent Cincinnati Bengals in week 4. Tough shoes to fill, but he’s doing fine. 2. Isaac Bruce’s seven-catch, 100-yard, one-touchdown performance in week four against the Lions. How many years is Ike gonna play this game?! 20?! 1. DeAngelo Williams’ 98 total yards (74 rushing, 24 receiving) and one touchdown against the Vikings in week two. Let’s hope for a speedy ankle recovery and significant DeAction in the NFL post-season.
If you have any fantasy football questions or would like to play in a fantasy football league, email Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
www.memphissport.net | 9
Madden ‘07 by ED LAND, JR.
The football dynasty is back with all new features, all new fun
The Madden Curse Shaun Alexander is the eighth NFL superstar to grace the cover of America’s favorite home console football video game. Unfortunately, he is also the eighth consecutive player to endure “The Madden Curse.” Not superstitious?
2000: Barry Sanders retires abruptly, The fact is, you probably already own Madden NFL 07 and don’t need a detailed list of game features. Sure, you can step it up a notch and play in online tournaments against people around the world. Yep, you can even create an entire franchise, go through a live NFL-type draft, play full seasons, win the Super Bowl and develop a dynasty, if you’ve got the time. You can even listen to NFL Network’s Sterling Sharpe as he breaks down offensive and defensive game strategies— while watching the play develop on screen. There’s almost nothing you can’t do on Madden NFL 07. But you already knew that. It’s also unlikely that you need any strategic playing advice. You already know that the new highlight stick rocks, but that the ball carrier will probably fumble if you use it twice on the same play. You’re aware that you can actually play as an o-lineman, but who wants to do that? And you certainly know that it’s not really that fun to kick extra points in lieu of going for two. So consider the top 10 Madden quotes and take a close look at the Madden Curse.
Top 10 Madden Quotes: 10. “Heck, this is a good one to call.” 9. “This is not a good time to sneak in a running play. You need lots of yards, real fast.” 8. “It’s tough to be successful if you can’t convert on third down, and it’s tough to convert on third down if you can’t hold onto the ball.” 7. “Well, it all comes down to the secondary. They don’t have great team speed, so they’ve got to keep everything in front of them. That’s a real tough deal.” 6. “When it comes down to a play like this, the man with the lowest leverage is going to have the advantage. The offensive line just got lower this time around, and they got the touchdown.” 5. “What you want to do as a receiver is get into the secondary, find a hole and show the quarterback your numbers. He did a good job there.” 4. “They took the bull by the horns. They weren’t about to take that favorable situation and make it unfavorable.” 3. “Putting pressure on quarterbacks can disrupt passes.” 2. “These new balls are a little slick. When you start adding rain and water, you start getting a little slick-finger stuff goin’.” 1. “Big players make big plays.”
10 | Memphis Sport
immediately prior to training camp.
2001: Eddie George coughs up the football in a key playoff loss.
2002: Daunte Culpepper goes 4-7 and has major reconstructive knee surgery.
2003: Marshall Faulk suffers ankle injury and never again reaches 1,000 yards rushing. 2004: Michael Vick fractures his fibula the day after the game hits the shelves.
2005: Ray Lewis injures his thigh midseason and sits out the remaining games.
2006: Donovan McNabb suffers through a sports hernia and T.O. controversy all year long.
2007: Shaun Alexander suffers a non-displaced foot fracture early in the season.
UNDER R REVIEW Tales From The Memphis Grizzlies by KEVIN CERRITO In Tales from the Memphis Grizzlies, local sports writer Ron Higgins takes on the difficult task of telling the stories of a professional basketball franchise whose greatest success to-date has been making the playoffs. Released on opening day of the Grizzlies 2006-07 season, Tales is Higgins’ first book, as well as the first book about the Grizzlies that’s not a media guide. Split into 15 different chapters, readers will find it easy to locate certain topics. Not surprisingly, there are individual chapters about Pau Gasol, Mike Miller, Shane Battier, Lorenzen Wright, Don Poier, Jerry West and Hubie Brown. The hardback chronicles most of the team’s notable moments, but it does so in an erratic manner. Instead of telling a story from start to finish, the 185-page book jumps back and forth between years,
offering a sporadic timeline that clogs the flow of the book with repetition and confusion. The book is a great read for new followers of the Grizz who are interested in learning about the team’s history. But, if you have been a frequent reader of The Commercial Appeal’s sports page since 2001, you will not find much new information within these pages. Tales would have been more relevant had it given more space to firsthand accounts of the Grizzlies’ most important and controversial moments like the multiple playoff runs, Brown’s sudden resignation, Wright’s contract dispute, Bonzi Wells’ troubles and the infamous Jason Williams/Geoff Calkins locker-room confrontation.
WRITER: Ron Higgins GENRE: Nonfiction Sports PRICE: $19.95 suggested retail price APPEARANCE: Book signing at Border’s in Germantown, November 19, 2 p.m. GRADE: B-
Considering its reasonable price, the nostalgic value and the lack of other local sports books available (Hubie, when are you going to write an autobiography?), Tales from the Memphis Grizzlies could make a good holiday gift for the NBA fan on your list.
www.memphissport.net | 11
The Circus Comes
to Vegas by ALLIE PRESCOTT IV photography by LEIGH ANN WILLIAMS
o say that poker has taken off during the past few years would be a monumental understatement. Stars have been born. Fortunes have been made. Prime-time television spots have been invaded. But what caused it all? What transformed a game from being a backyard pastime between older gentlemen wearing cowboy hats to a mainstream “sport” that people can’t help but catch a glimpse of if they turn on ESPN? One word: Moneymaker. Chris Moneymaker, the native Tennessee accountant now known as “the man with the golden name.” A nobody from nowhere whose journey started at home on his computer with a seat in a $39 satellite and ended at Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in downtown Las Vegas. He competed in the most prestigious poker tournament in the world against the game’s best players, and—against all odds— prevailed over all the rest. Moneymaker’s World Series of Poker Championship title in 2003 and the $2.5 million that came with it have proven to be all the great game of poker needed to be catapulted into the mainstream. That’s all it took: the illusion of easy money. The perception of obtainable riches beyond your wildest dreams gave life to a new phenomenon.
came the tours and the television contracts. Enter Steve Lipscomb and the World Poker Tour, which every poker fanatic knows to look for on Wednesday nights on the Travel Channel. Not to be outdone, Harrah’s and ESPN teamed together to create the WSOP Circuit. Where sports fans once turned on ESPN on Tuesday nights to catch a ballgame, they are now greeted by a hypnotic array of holecard cameras, stacks of chips and piles of money. What does this all mean? It means more interest. It means greater participation. It means larger prize pools than ever before. The pots have gotten so big now that people simply can’t resist taking a shot at it. Whether or not they understand the game of poker is merely an afterthought. It seems inconsequential that what stands
A $90 million prize pool, with a mere $12 million going to the winner.
After Moneymaker, poker on the internet exploded to unforeseen levels. The number of players and the money generated on a daily basis are absolutely astonishing. Then
12 | Memphis Sport
between them and unbelievable prizes is a gauntlet of the best poker players in the world. They think, “Moneymaker did it, so why can’t I?” What have these dreamers done to the game? They have re-created
u Try us o
Do you know who the best poker player is?
! E E R F this Bring in
*limit bers Only Non-Mem
Mid-South poker players rejoice! Finally, you have a live action game with real dealers, a true sports environment and a great game. We have developed a live poker room that isn't gambling but still pays cash to winners of our invitational tournaments. Your performance truly matters. No arbitrary points, no more smoke in your eyes and no more fold up tables with tablecloths! Our concept is getting national attention from investors and sponsors. Here are some great amenities National Poker Challenge has to offer: No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em Sit-N-Go League Challenge Individual League Challenge (No Limit Texas Hold’Em and Omaha) 5 vs. 5 Texas Hold ‘Em Team Challenge (Coming Soon!) Food and Beverage Service (Private Parties/Corporate Events) No more wasted gas to go all the way to Tunica to risk losing money!
Cash and value prizes available on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis!
NATIONAL POKER CHALLENGE 901.473.9436 5703 Quince Road Memphis, TN 38119 www.npcpoker.com No purchase, donation or service ever required. You must be 18 years of age to participate.
lue.* a $2o0nevpaer person,
! o D e W ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
eceive ad and r
ALL IN poker by bringing it into the spotlight and making it the craze that it is today. But, are they destroying the game at the same time? It’s difficult to know. What I do know is that at the highest level of poker—at the most prestigious tournaments with the most sought-after titles—this gold rush of sorts by anyone with the means to compete has created an atmosphere comparable to a Ringling Brothers production. Don’t get me wrong—there were no clowns, midgets or bearded women, but nonetheless, when the doors to this year’s Amazon Room opened in the Rio Hotel and Casino on July 28 in Las Vegas, attendants witnessed the assembling of the biggest circus the world has ever seen. Nearly 9,000 competitors forking over $10,000 apiece. Costumes from Wonder Woman to Spiderman to Elmo to captain Jack Sparrow. I even saw the Grinch Who Stole Christmas running up and down the halls one afternoon. Anything for the cameras. The bait was a $90 million prize pool, with a mere $12 million going to the winner. So really, can you blame a dreamer for wanting to give it the old college try? So what if they can’t even spell “poker,” as Phil Hellmuth would say. It’s $12 million, baby! In 2003 when Moneymaker won, there were 839 willing participants who forked over the cash. In 2004, the year of Greg “Fossilman” Raymer, 2,576 paid to play. Then this year—8,773. That jump alone illustrates the enormous impact of the victory by the Tennessee accountant with the magical name. In 2005, Joseph Hachem overcame a field of 5,619 to take down the title. Which brings us back to 2006 and the 8,773 who bought their ticket and stepped right up to see the dancing bear. The event was hosted in the largest poker room in the world, a venue made specifically for this World Championship and built to a size that Harrah’s thought would accommodate the current demand—even with extra room for future growth. I think it’s fair to say that they undershot a bit. This year’s field was so large that it took four entire days just to finish day one of the
14 | Memphis Sport
event. There was a day 1a, 1b, 1c and 1d. There were also days 2a and 2b. And then, if you were lucky enough to make it through the first week of play, you still had to navigate through a minefield of roughly another thousand players, all of whom were foaming at the mouth over the pot at the end of the rainbow. Easy money, right? Moneymaker did it. Suffice it to say, Barnum and Bailey were not smiling down on me for this particular event. Or maybe it just wasn’t in the cards. Regardless, six hours into day 1d, after taking two “bad beats” on the chin, my WSOP Main Event 2006 came to an end. No extra $12 million in my bank account. No fame, no glory. Just another $10,000 flushed down the proverbial toilet. So I exited stage right, packed up my bags and jumped on a plane back to Memphis. Only then did I ask myself, “Was it worth it?” Paying $10,000 to compete in a tournament that was nearly impossible to win? But then I remembered I had just played my part in the poker circus, “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Who can put a price on greatness? Ten days later, I ordered the pay-perview coverage of the final table. The field had been narrowed to nine players, all of whom were already guaranteed a prize of at least $1.5 million. In the homestretch of the gold rush were eight relative-nobodies and a seasoned pro. It was shaping up to be another Cinderella story. About 10 hours later in the wee hours of the morning, a new champion was crowned. Boy were the Harrah’s execs happy. The latest peg in their 10step poker recruitment program had just been nailed into the coffin. When the trophy was handed out and the money was awarded, the recipient was none other than a man by the name of Jamie Gold. Sorry Moneymaker—in a gold rush, your name packs a punch, but Gold really says it all.
Y ’ S
TAP INTO THE LATEST FITNESS TREND.
FOR A FULL BODY WORKOUT THAT IS UNPARALLELED BY ANY OTHER EXERCISE REGIME.
G R A N DG N O P E N I A L S P E C I
S TALS CLAS FUNDAMEN FOR DETAILS CALL
COMBINATION OF AEROBIC AND MUSCLE- BUILDING EXERCISES THAT MAKES THIS OLD SPORT THE HOTTEST NEW WORKOUT AVAILABLE.
GROUP CLASSES A
INDIVIDUAL TRAINING AVAILABLE
6 5 4 2 Q U I N C E M E M P H I S , T N
So how many dreamers should we expect next year? Fifteen thousand? Is this really good for the game of poker? It just might be.
www.memphissport.net | 15
THE GREAT DEBATE
espite three consecutive playoff appearances, the Memphis Grizzlies have once again become the underdog. The Grizzlies will open the season without their two biggest stars, Pau Gasol and Shane Battier, and many experts are predicting the team will be thinking about lottery balls by the All-Star break. However, with a nice balance of veterans and emerging young players, as well as a solid defense and a second-half boost from Gasol’s return, the Grizzlies will indeed earn a fourth straight playoff berth.
grizz make the playoffs
The return of Stromile Swift alongside developing younger players like Hakim Warrick, Lawrence Roberts and Rudy Gay adds a new athletic dimension to the team. Mike Fratello can run exciting, up-tempo plays that will compensate for an ineffective half-court offense without Gasol. The Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns began their recent resurgences by installing similar fast-paced styles that masked half-court deficiencies. Veteran leadership is still prevalent, with Damon Stoudamire and Eddie Jones as the starting backcourt and NBA Sixth Man of the Year Mike Miller coming off the bench. These three can help correct a lot of the mistakes the younger players will make throughout the season. The Grizzlies can also play exceptional defense, which will allow for a lot of close games against more-talented teams. Eddie Jones, Dahntay Jones and Swift are all capable of locking down their opponents’ top offensive options. If Gasol can return by January, that means he will have missed the first 32 games of the season, 18 of which are against playoff
Featuring Sports56 Personalities: Peter Edmiston of the Morning Rush and Tyler McClellan
16 | Memphis Sport
hen Pau Gasol broke his foot in the semifinals of the basketball World Championship this summer, the Grizzlies’ playoff hopes broke along with it. There are a number of reasons why this Grizzlies team will not make the playoffs for the fourth straight season, but the biggest one will be sitting on the bench for the first few months. Coming into this season, ESPN’s John Hollinger rated Pau Gasol as the eighth most valuable player in the entire NBA. Gasol has been a sure thing since he began his professional career: 20 points and eight-plus rebounds per game, every game, every night. Not many players can perform like that. The Grizzlies have a very experienced backcourt, to be sure. Damon Stoudamire and Eddie Jones have been outstanding contributors throughout their careers, and they provide steady leadership on and off the court. However, it’s fair to question just how effective they’ll be this season. Stoudamire is recovering from a serious knee injury that kept him off the basketball court for six months, while Eddie Jones is 35, and his numbers have dropped significantly over the last four years. Who will rebound the ball for this team? Jake Tsakalidis? He’s not a great rebounder for his size, and he tends to get into foul trouble quite easily. Lawrence Roberts or Alexander Johnson? They’ve both been completely untested in the regular season. Brian Cardinal or Stromile Swift ? They’re not really outstanding rebounders, either. The fact remains—this team, which struggled to rebound the ball last year with Lorenzen Wright and Pau Gasol inside, will now try to do it without either of them.
teams from last year. But if the Grizzlies win one-third of those 18 games and half of the other 14 games, the team will be 13-19 when Gasol comes back. Over the last five years, the average record for the eighth seed in the Western Conference is 44-38. The Grizzlies would have to be 31-19 (.613) after Gasol returns to reach that record, which is only a slightly better percentage than last season’s 49-33 record (. 598). The best news is this: of the team’s last 38 games, all of which Gasol should play, only four are on the road against playoff teams from last season. Gasol’s absence will surely hurt the Grizzlies in the short-run, but the team will grow together during the first two months of the season. Then, rallying around the returning All-Star, the Grizzlies will be able to sneak into the playoffs for the fourth straight season. –Tyler McLellan
I wouldn’t count on significant contributions from the Grizzlies’ rookies either. That’s not to say they won’t have their moments; you are, indeed, likely to see some amazing plays from Rudy Gay throughout the season. But those moments will be countered by mistakes, turnovers and missed opportunities. That’s what rookies do. Twelve of the first 19 games are on the road, which means the toughest part of the Grizzlies’ schedule will be played while Gasol is still injured. The Western Conference is tougher than ever. The team is in transition between owners. There’s little in the way of rebounding. The backcourt is getting older and more injury-prone. One or two of those factors would be enough to derail most teams. But all of them together, unfortunately, guarantee the Grizzlies won’t get a spot in the playoffs this season. –Peter Edmiston
www.memphissport.net | 17
lthough it is still possible that the Grizzlies will finally win in the playoffs next spring, fans may have to find satisfaction in the more-realistic expectation of a Rookie of the Year trophy for Rudy Gay or a first-ever franchise win against the Pacers.
Either way, the Grizz have a loyal and continuously growing fan base around the Bluff City. So here it is —a collection of some simple ways to tell who bleeds Grizzlies blue and occasionally coughs up old Grizzlies teal. You know you are a Grizzlies fan if... Your favorite colors are Beale Street Blue and Hubie Brown. You have seen Elmo and the Shades live in concert more than any other band. You think the next ESPN reality show should be “Tsakalidis on Tsakalidis.” You tell people the crock pot in your kitchen is a miniature model of FedExForum. After the team colors changed, you dyed your dog blue. You have eaten a meal that consisted of two pieces of KFC chicken, a KFC biscuit and a Sonic breakfast burrito. You call three-point shots “three-bangers” and “rainmakers.” You wonder if the Grizzlies will ever be as good as they were in NBA Live 2005. You can tell the difference between impersonations of Hersey Hawkins and The Ladies Man. You refuse to get your car’s tires rotated anywhere that does not offer a 10-man rotation. You have tried to order a prize cannon at Lenny’s Sub Shop. Your favorite FedExForum memory does not include a Rodney Carney dunk.
you know you are a
fan if... by KEVIN CERRITO
Your favorite Pyramid memory involves Game 3 of the Grizz/Spurs 2004 playoff series. You think it would be a good idea to open a human bowling alley. You know that FedExForum calls dip cones “Chart Toppers.” You think that Bryant Reeves is the biggest country not in the United Nations. You have been given a live animal as a prize at a basketball game. Soul Classics 103.5 FM was not one of your radio presets until Fall 2004.
You are certain NC State will start this season at least 0-8. You think it is unfair that the Stro Show has never won an Emmy.
18 | Memphis Sport
The Memphis Sport All-Stars section sponsored by Velocity Sports Performance features only the best in area athletics. From the pitching mound to the end zone and from the fairway to the ice rink, the Memphis Sport All-Stars are always looking for a few new faces to highlight each issue. If you have an achievment worth noting or know someone who has, e-mail your accomplishments along with a photo to allstars@ memphissport.net and you just may see your face here in an upcoming issue.
www.memphissport.net | 19
The Memphis Sport All-Stars are proudly sponsored by Velocity Sports Performance. Velocity offers the most proven speed, power and agility programs available, training more than 1000 athletes a day. All coaches have a Human Performance-related degree. Velocity specializes in semi-private, small group training in the only world-class, climate-controlled facility in the area â€” no matter what your age, gender, skill level, athletic or fitness goals. Call 901.756.7116, mention the Memphis Sport AllStars and get a FREE training session.
20 | Memphis Sport
www.memphissport.net | 21
. Crichton College . Christian Brothers University . . LeMoyne-Owen College . Rhodes College . . Southwest Tennessee Community College . by TERRY DAVIS photography by MIKE BULLARD
ith the Tigers and Grizzlies dominating the basketball scene in Memphis, it is easy to overlook some of the other talent in the area, so weâ€™ve taken a look at some of our local college teams. Legendary coach and current head coach of the Southwest Tennessee Saluqis Vertie Sails, Jr. joins us and comments on the area teams.
22 | Memphis Sport
Crichton College Coach: Jeff Walker 2005-06 Record: 18-12 Key Returns: Jonathan Bohanna and DeShawn Danzey Key Losses: Jonathan Loe
his year marks head coach Jeff Walker’s second season with the Crichton Comets. Walker wants his team to compete for a NAIA National Championship every year and will not settle for anything less. He feels confident about the teams they will face and knows his team is much improved from last year. The Comets feature a local, national and international roster including three freshmen from Serbia (Uros Pavlovic, Zarko Brankovic and Uros Komadinic), DeShawn Danzey from Abbeville, Alabama, and Jonathan Bohanna from Overton High School in Memphis. Newcomer Stanley Brownlee was the national runner-up for Junior College Player of the Year in 2006. The Comets were ranked 13th in the nation for the NAIA division. VERTIE SAILS: “Crichton Jeff Walker is a hard worker. He has done a great job of recruiting and getting young people interested in his program. He is going to be successful; there is no doubt. He already is successful—his first year he had a great year. I would be surprised if he does not have another good year this year.”
Christian Brothers College Coach: Mike Nienaber 2005-06 Record: 15-13 Key Returns: Kevin Weybright and Nick Kohs Key Losses: None
ike Nienaber is entering his seventh season as head coach of the CBU Buccaneers. Last year, the Bucs had a winning season, but Coach Nienaber hopes to return CBU to top tier competitors in the Gulf South Conference. Transfer guard Reggie Peyton will join CBU this fall after playing 25 games at Birmingham Southern. Nienaber says that Peyton will add strength at the point position and could be one of the best guards in the GSC this season. The Bucs also have three returning starters, including sophomore 1st Team All-GSC Kevin Weybright and GSC West Freshman of the Year Nick Kohs, who averaged more than 10 rebounds per game. The returning talent, along with the newcomers, should make for an immediate impact on the GSC. VERTIE SAILS: “Coach has told me he has three starters, maybe four back from last
www.memphissport.net | 23
year’s squad, and they are young starters maybe sophomores and juniors. When you implement that with a few other players and I think he has done that, you are going to see those teams rise again.”
LeMoyne-Owen College Coach: David “Smokey” Gaines 2005-06 Record: 8-12 Key Returns: Torrance Tucker and Tyrell Curry Key Losses: none
he Magicians hope to improve their weaknesses—the lack of a scoring threat, three-point shooting percentage and consistent rebounding—after a disappointing season under first-year head coach David “Smokey” Gaines. However, the core of last season’s team will return, including leading scorers Torrance Tucker and Tyrell Curry, both averaging 11.9 points per game and Curry leading the team with 7.8 rebounds per game. In his second year at LeMoyneOwen, Coach Gaines hopes to have conquered the learning curve of playing basketball in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Team chemistry and getting off to a fast start will be very important in returning the Magicians to their winning tradition. VERTIE SAILS: “Smokey Gaines and I played on the same college team for three years. Actually, he he played and I looked a lot of the times. We both are passionate about the game. David is going to get that situation turned around. He works hard, knows the game has worked on a Division One level, knows a lot of people and has contacts. He is going to get the program turned around. In fact, I would be surprised if you don’t see a big turnaround this year.”
Rhodes College Coach: Herb Hilgeman 2005-06 Record: 14-13 Key Returns: Jared Hoskins and Reid Hamilton Key Losses: Rami Almefty and Matthew Jakes
erb Hilgeman is another coaching icon in Memphis, having been at Rhodes College for 28 years. With a very good recruiting class and a good core of quality players returning, Rhodes is expecting to cause trouble in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Lynx will have to replace their top two scorers and will be a youthful team with only one senior and two juniors. Coach Hilgeman will
24 | Memphis Sport
look to three talented freshmen to make an immediate impact: guard Jared Hoskins, forward Reid Hamilton and forward Larry Cunningham, who should bring size and toughness to the interior play on both ends of the court. Two-year starter at point guard Joe Thompson will need to provide floor leadership and strong play, while sophomore Cory Smith should have an outstanding season. VERTIE SAILS: “Coach Hilgeman talked about this the other day. As he said, you never know what is going to happen” but let me tell you: when you got three starters back, that is a big start. After talking to the coaches, and after seeing what has happened I think you are going to look at basketball in Memphis, and you are going to see a big turnaround among all of the schools.”
Southwest Tennessee Community College Coach: Verties Sails, Jr. 2005-06 Record: 23-8 Key Returns: Greg Grimes and Chris Evans Key Losses: Lester Hudson
he Saluqis finished last season with a 23-8 record, a Tennessee Junior College Championship, a Region VII Championship and a National Tournament appearance. Head coach Verties Sails, Jr. enters his 28th year, leading a team that has won 14 state championships and competed in another 10 during his tenure. The Saluqis have a history of hitting the ground running and having fast point guards. Watch out for Donald Boone out of Hamilton High in Memphis, who averaged 9.5 points per game coming off the bench. James Hooper sat out last year but is now expected to have a breakout year. With three seasoned starters, talented transfers, plenty of experience returning from the bench and a highly regarded incoming freshmen class, the Saluqis are expected to compete for a National Junior Championship again.
www.memphissport.net | 25
Rodney Carney begins the ride of his life as he enters the NBA circus by RANDY MALONE photos courtesy of THE UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS photo illustrations by MIKE BULLARD
26 | Memphis Sport
www.memphissport.net | 27
is blue and gray uniform, sporting the familiar number 10, has been replaced by a black model, trimmed in red, accented with white stars with a new number—25. His signature white kneehigh hosiery was scrapped in favor of black ankle socks. And, the next time he plays at FedExForum, he’ll be dressing in the visiting team’s locker room. A lot has changed for former Tiger Rodney Carney since being taken as the 16th pick in the 2006 NBA draft. But, as French novelist and journalist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr once wrote, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” The more things change the more they stay the same. The Rodney Carney who hit a game-winning three pointer against the Phoenix Suns in the pre-season is still the same Rodney Carney who played right here in Memphis. He has the same desire to take the crucial shot, and he has the same desire to lock his man up defensively, just as he did against college All-Americans J.J. Reddick and Adam Morrison last season. He still has the same “Did you see that?” smile that made him one of the all-time fan favorites at the University of Memphis. It is a feat he’d like to duplicate in the City of Brotherly Love.
Flying Under the Radar
arney’s draft night took longer than most analysts had expected. Most mock drafts had projected him to be selected in the top 10, but Carney wasn’t selected until the Chicago Bulls took him with their 16th pick. Then, completing a trade earlier in the night in which the Sixers selected Switzerland’s Thabo Sefolosha and dealt him to the Bulls, Chicago sent Carney on his way to Philadelphia. Did the previous 14 teams (New Orleans had two picks in the top 15) simply miss the boat on Carney? Or, was he, once again, in the familiar spot of flying under the basketball radar like he did as a senior coming out of Indianapolis? As a high school senior, Carney went against tradition and did not sign a college letter of intent in the early signing period. In fact, he wasn’t even listed among the top 250 high school recruits in the country by the recruiting experts. “[Not being listed] was because I didn’t play AAU
28 | Memphis Sport
basketball,” Carney says. “My coach said it would give me bad habits. So, I listened to him and look where I am.” In the spring of his senior year, Carney was offered a scholarship by Memphis head coach John Calipari when Tiger recruit Qyntel Woods chose to enter the NBA draft. The rest, as they say, is history. On draft night, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced that the Bulls had taken Carney and handed him the team’s red cap as he strode to the stage. That cap wouldn’t stay on Carney’s dome very long, as the deal with the Sixers came full circle. As far as playing in Philadelphia goes, Carney says, “It’s going to be a great opportunity. I’m going to bring athleticism and as much as I can to the organization. It’s a real honor to be up here.” That’s the same Rodney Carney that Memphians came to know and love. The same skinny kid from Indianapolis who flew under the radar looking for an opportunity and making the most of the one he found.
Rook Hits a Big Shot
t took Carney exactly two pre-season games to make his presence known in the NBA. His breakout took place during a nationally televised game against the Phoenix Suns played in Cologne, Germany. With 10.5 seconds left in the game and the Suns leading 100-99, Sixers guard Rick Brunson drove the lane and found Carney open on the left wing. Carney, toed up behind the three-point line, rose above the defense and sank the game-winning bucket. According to Sixers forward Kyle Korver, that wasn’t the play head coach Maurice Cheeks had called during the previous timeout. “That wasn’t our play, I don’t think,” Korver said, smiling. “I don’t even know what the play was. Rook hit a big shot for us. He hit that shot and I looked at him like ‘The NBA’s fun isn’t it?’” After the game, Carney said being able to be on the floor for the duration of the fourth quarter allowed him to get into the flow and gave him the confidence he needed to take the game-winning shot. “It
felt great to get out there and play the whole fourth quarter of the game,” Carney said. “Coming in as a rookie, I didn’t know what to expect—if I was going to play or not—so for me to win a game like that is just crazy.” Carney credits his teammates for helping him get used to the speed of the NBA game and for keeping him focused on his responsibilities, both defensive and offensive. “I’ve learned a lot defensively since I’ve been here,” Carney says. “[Andre Iguodala], teaches me a lot, and Kyle tells me a lot on the defensive end. Offensively, [Allen Iverson] tells me to slow down, and Coach tells me to slow down a lot.” Again, the same Rodney Carney. The same defensive specialist who impressed national television audiences by clamping down on Reddick and Morrison. The same human highlight reel that wowed Tiger fans so many times that it’s impossible to count them all.
The Philly Phanatics
ut what about playing in Philadelphia? A city whose fans are famous, or infamous rather, for their sports passion— to the point of launching an all-out snowball assault at Santa Claus during an Eagles game in 2003. Fans who, despite their undying support, are also quick to voice their discontent with their own teams. What do those fans think about Rodney Carney? To get a true sense of what Philadelphia fans think, all you have to do is drive out to northeast Philly to the corner of Robbins Street and Mulberry Street. That’s the original location of Chickie’s & Pete’s Crab House and Sports Bar, rated by ESPN as one of the top three sports bars in the country. The fans there are more than happy to give you their opinion. “To be honest, I don’t know that much about him,” says 36-yearold Philadelphia native Tim Nolan. “I do remember seeing him on ESPN a few times throwing down some insane dunks. If he’s able to do some of that during his rookie season, the fans here will fall in love with him.” Dan Cichetti agrees that Carney’s signature shots could be his way in with local fans. “What I’ve seen of him has been really good,” Cichetti says. “I think he won a lot of Philly fans over when he hit that three-pointer against the Suns. But, you know, we are Philadelphia fans, and it’s what-have-you-donefor-me-lately that counts, so he’ll have to continue to do it in the regular season in order to really win the fans over permanently.” It looks like it is more of the same for Rodney Carney. When his career began at Memphis, most Tiger fans didn’t know who he was either—much less have an idea of what kind of collegiate career he would have. It was Carney’s athleticism and heart that won over the Memphis fans. Yes, Alphonse Karr was right. The more things change, the more they stay the same. At least, they do for Rodney Carney. The uniform, the colors, the number, the socks, the name across the front—all different. But the guy wearing it, the smile, the heart? Still the same Rodney Carney.
www.memphissport.net | 29
The team is coming off an “Elite 8” appearance, over ten-thousand showed up for Memphis Madness, and expectations are high for the upcoming Tiger basketball season. This is where John Calapari envisioned this program when he took over six seasons ago. “I appreciate the fact that people have respect for our program nationally” says Calapari. Now every time the Tigers play it’s their opponent’s biggest game of the year. Calapari says some places they go “It’s like their national championship”. This makes every game a high pressure situation for the team. For the Tigers to continue to progress toward their ultimate goal, Conference USA must progress as well. Some of the newer coach’s in the league should help attract more talent according to Calapari, such as Mike Davis at UAB, Matt Doherty at SMU, Tom Penders at Houston, and Larry Eustachy at Southern Miss. Teams in the conference also have to look past Memphis and the Conference title if they are to compete on a national level. Calapari says teams need to look beyond, “You need two or three other teams in here saying, look, we want to get to a final four”. He feels teams have the potential to be a good seed coming out of the league, last season’s number one seed for the Tigers proved that.
N JONES Despite the recent success, Calapari by JASOsaid it may have been a little tougher that he first thought. At the time of his hiring, the graduation rate stood a 0%, practice facilities were in dire need, and there was apathy in the city, “There was so much stuff you were fighting that you didn’t know was there”. Now the program has graduated 15 players since 2001 and 12 of the last 15 seniors have received degrees. Calapari said that when you’re building a program and you’re not a Duke, North Carolina, or UCLA, you don’t always have the choices they do. “Right now, we’ve got a group of guys that understand”, and what they understand according to Calapari is that it’s all about the team.
Despite losing fifty-percent of it’s scoring and rebounding, Calapari is already excited with what he is seeing, “I’m
30 | Memphis Sport
A conversation with the University of Memphis head basketball coach, John Calipari on the teamâ€™s recent success, Jeremy Hunt and the E BULLARD graphy by MIK goal. Meanwhile the Memphis Grizzlies photoultimate head coach Mike Fratello answers questions about injuries, Pau Gasol and playoff problems.
a t c e f i r e Tiger T
John Calipari by JEFF BRIGHTWELL Mike Fratello by JASON JONES and RANDY MALONE photography by JOE MURPHY/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES photo illustrations by MIKE BULLARD
www.memphissport.net | 31
John Calipari Head Coach, University of Memphis
etween more than 10,000 people showing up for Memphis Madness and the Tigers coming off of an Elite 8 appearance, expectations are high for the upcoming U of M basketball season. This is what head coach John Calipari envisioned for this program when he arrived more than six seasons ago. “I appreciate the fact that people have respect for our program nationally,” says Calipari. Now, every time the Tigers play, it’s their opponent’s biggest game of the year. For some places they go, Calipari says, “It’s like their national championship.” This makes every game a highpressure situation for the team. For the Tigers to continue to progress toward their ultimate goal, Conference USA must progress as well. According to Calipari, some of the newer coaches in the league should help attract more talent, such as Mike Davis at UAB, Matt Doherty at SMU, Tom Penders at Houston and Larry Eustachy at Southern Miss. Teams in the conference also have to look past Memphis and the Conference title if they are to compete on a national level. “You need two or three other teams in here saying, ‘Look, we want to get to a final four,’” Calipari says. He feels teams have the potential to be a good seed coming out of the league—last season’s number one seed for the Tigers proved that. continued on page 34
One Final Four 32 | Memphis Sport
Head Coach Memphis Grizzlies
n the surface—at least to basketball fans in the Memphis area—it would be safe to say that Memphis Grizzlies head coach Mike Fratello has one of the best jobs in the city. Think about it—Fratello’s job gets him the best seat at FedExForum during Grizzlies games. He works for the Logo. He has the coolest nickname in the Memphis; he is simply known now as The Czar, thanks to his former TV gig partner Marv Albert. But as great as the life of an NBA coach may seem, the truth of the matter is: it’s a job that carries with it an enormous amount of stress. Consider the pressure that awaits Fratello as he enters his third season at the helm of the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies are coming off of the bad end of three consecutive playoff sweeps. The pressure to win a playoff game—just one game—is substantial. Pau Gasol, the team’s franchise player, is out for at least the first month of the season after suffering a broken foot while playing for Spain in the World Basketball Championships. And, to further complicate matters, an offer is on the table from a group headed by Brian Davis to buy majority interest in the team from current owner Michael Heisley. You can be assured that both Davis and Heisley would like to see the team put more digits in the win column as the deal moves toward league approval. How does Fratello plan to take a bunch of young players, who make up the third youngest team in the league, in fact, and mold them into a group that meets or exceeds his and the organization’s goals? “That’s a tough question to answer, because we’ve had so many guys missing who haven’t practiced or played,” Fratello says. “Pau, obviously. Mike [Miller] got a whiff of practice. Brian [Cardinal] is coming back after basically missing the last year or so—playing good, feeling good—and then he has the collision with his knee, and now he’s back out. Stro [Swift] has just started practicing with us. Hasn’t played a game with us yet.” Fratello says it’s difficult to evaluate the team’s strengths and weaknesses pre-season. “You can do it on paper, but you haven’t continued on page 35
Playoff Games Won: 20 www.memphissport.net | 33
continued from page 32
Despite the Tigers’ recent success, it has been tough reaching that level of achievement. At the time of his hiring, the graduation rate stood at zero percent, practice facilities were in dire need and there was apathy in the city. “There was so much stuff you were fighting that you didn’t know was there,” he says. Now, the program has graduated 15 players since 2001; 12 of the last 15 seniors have received degrees. Calipari says that when you’re building a program and you’re not a Duke, North Carolina or UCLA, you don’t always have the choices they do. “Right now, we’ve got a group of guys that understand,” he says. And what they understand is that it’s all about the team.
One Nit Championship
Despite losing 50 percent of their scoring and rebounding, Calipari is already excited about what he is seeing in the Tigers. “I’m having a lot of fun with this team right now because they’re competing,” he says. The promising team just added an outstanding recruiting class that features five freshmen, including highly touted Willie Kemp and Pierre Niles. Regardless if you’re a newcomer or returner, everyone has a chance to contribute for this team. “There’s no one I’m going to hold back,” he says. “I’m trying to win.” The most notable change to the Tigers this season is the return of Jeremy Hunt. After being suspended for his wellpublicized off-court troubles, the Craigmont High alum returns for his last season. Fans made it obvious at this season’s Memphis Madness that they were happy to see Hunt return. Calipari was pleased with the reception, as well as what they were saying: “We appreciate that you got your degree and are on the right track, but if you screw up, you’re gone.” Expect to see another up-tempo season for the Tigers. “What I’m trying to instill is that we’re an attacking team,” Calipari says. “We’re trying to teach them to compete and win in everything we do.” Even though the offense puts people in the seats, the defensive presence of last year’s squad is overlooked. Memphis was nationally ranked in field-goal defense, blocks, rebounds and steals. “We were a terrific defensive team, and we were supposedly an offensive team.” The secret for success in the upcoming season is simple, according to Calipari, if the supporting players from last year fill the roles of the departed and if others can accept their roles. “It comes down to supporting players becoming stars, but sometimes a supporting player is just that,” Calipari says. “If you’re a supporting player, you still have to get it done.”
College Record: 341-130 34 | Memphis Sport
continued from page 33
seen it on the court yet. On paper, you can say we should be this or that, but that’s not what the game is about,” he says. “It’s about how they mesh and blend and play together—how the parts all work together.” The youth of the Grizzlies might make that meshing and blending difficult to do in the early stages of the season. Nine of the 16 players on the preseason roster have five years or less of experience in the NBA. Four of those are rookies, and two others are in their second year. Even more telling, 13 of the team’s 16 players have six years or less of NBA experience. Early in the season, Fratello will be counting on rookie Rudy Gay out of
Connecticut to pick up the slack in Gasol’s absence. Gay, along with Swift, was acquired in the draft-day trade that sent fan-favorite Shane Battier to Houston. Fratello likes what he sees in his rookie forward. And, even though some questioned Gay’s work ethic while he was in college, Fratello has no reservations about inserting Gay into the team’s first rotation. “You first have to have the opportunity to work with the young man on a regular basis to see what he does,” Fratello says. “What people say doesn’t mean anything to me. Who are these people who say he’s not aggressive enough? Have they seen him in practice every day? Have they watched him play 35 games? You’re entitled to your opinion. But, someone else’s judgment of a guy is not going to determine how I feel about him.” Fratello is not making any bold predictions about how his team will compete this season. He’s also not conceding defeat. With the league being possibly as rich in talent as it has ever been, he says it’s important to find players who will willingly accept their roles as the ninth, tenth or even eleventh player on the team. “You keep searching from a larger and larger pool of talent,” he says. “As we keep developing these young players in other countries and in our own, maybe one day they’re as good as the bench players on those teams in years past. Let’s face it—there are guys in this league that would not be in the league if there weren’t 30 teams.” It’s true that Mike Fratello is faced with an uphill battle this year as head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies. Youth. Injuries. New players. New ownership. But, you can bet your bear claw there’s nowhere else The Czar would rather be than sitting in the best seat in FedExForum.
Coaching Record: 661-528 www.memphissport.net | 35
Rise & Shine By ANDRE T. JOHNSON
Just five-feet-ten-inches tall, Keiron Shine’s post-college basketball career has taken him to the world-renowned Harlem Globetrotters to play alongside Michael “Wild Thing” Wilson, another former U of M baller
“I was never looked at by any of the scouts,” Shine says. But that didn’t stop him from pursuing a professional career. He tried out for a number of European teams, but he wasn’t what they were looking for. Consequently, one of his co-workers, an avid Tiger hoops fan, told Shine she had connections to the Harlem Globetrotters. He auditioned several times and was eventually invited to the Globetrotters’ 2000 summer veteran camp in Phoenix. He tried out for the Globetrotters’ competitive and show squads, but failed to make the cuts. “I felt like I was too little—just wasn’t the right size for the team,” he says. “After I got cut, I came home and kept practicing and
36 | Memphis Sport
trying and trying and trying. I didn’t let my size get to me.” The 29-year-old didn’t feel sorry for himself either. However, someone else did: Mannie Jackson, long-time owner of the Globetrotters. Several months had passed since tryouts, and the team had begun its tour across the United States, when Shine fielded one of the most shocking phone calls of his life. Jackson called and said he felt his club had made a huge mistake by letting him go. His performance against Miami had nothing to do with it—he felt Shine had made a good impression on the Globetrotters. “He said he couldn’t sleep, and that I was on his mind,” Shine says. “He said, ‘Every time I think of you, something bothered me.’” Jackson asked Shine to join former U of M player Michael Wilson and the Globetrotters in Chicago, where he made his professional debut in front of an estimated crowd of 17,000 in the United Center. “I was shocked really,” Shine recalls. “That was scary. I was nervous. And I was out there with a lot of professional people.” Nevertheless, he didn’t disappoint. All he’s done since joining what’s arguably the world’s most extraordinary basketball franchise is collect a few team awards, including Most Valuable Player, and make the most of a career that’s lasted more than five years. He’s toured a dozen countries with the Globetrotters, and he considers all the traveling to be a yearlong vacation.
Photography courtesy THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS
he truth of the matter is, Keiron Shine didn’t expect to be treated this way. The five-foot-ten-inch point guard enjoyed a stellar high school career, in which he earned 1st Team All-District honors his senior season at Craigmont High. And despite playing for two different junior colleges, he was fortunate to earn a scholarship to a major Division One school. During his two-year stint at the University of Memphis, he registered a record-setting performance that still stands today. Who could forget Shine’s 39-point outburst against Miami when he set a Pyramid record for the highest three-point field goal percentage? Who could forget that night he set a Conference USA–best for most points in a season by a senior? Apparently, NBA scouts and general managers had forgotten.
www.memphissport.net | 37
Race for Grace
enefiting the F MEMPHIS 4th @ 9:00 am Church located y Grove & Yates egister online at acesonline.com November 2nd. gistration is $20.
MEMPHIS MADE Memphians will get to see Shine, Wilson and the Globetrotters January 7 at the FedExForum as part of a fourcity tour across Tennessee. Wilson, a former Melrose High star, has visited 56 countries as a 10-year veteran with the team. Nicknamed “Wild Thing” by his teammates, the six-foot-five-inch Wilson holds the world record for a 12foot vertical slam dunk. In addition, he’s considered one of the most electrifying leapers and high-flying dunkers in Globetrotter history. “He’s funny,” Shine says. “He brings a whole lot to the table. And seeing him jump like that is amazing. He’s taught me the ropes. And I have to listen to him, because he’s a vet.”
“I felt like I was too little—just wasn’t the right size for the team.” Considering Shine is in and out of the country at least nine months out of the year, he says it’s difficult to keep track of the Tigers. However, he’s proud of the success the program has enjoyed in recent years under head coach John Calipari, who is entering his seventh season with a team that’s expected to be a repeat CUSA champ and make another dramatic run through the NCAA tournament. “I think Coach Cal is doing a good job with those kids,” Shine says. “I go over there sometimes, and he’s big on the kids going to class and working in the weight room. I was trying to keep up with them [during the NCAA tourney last year]. They should have made it to the Final Four. But for all those guys to be that young, [advancing to the Elite Eight] was great for them.” As for finally accomplishing his dream of playing professionally, Shine says, “Everything is just beautiful. Being in Memphis, I’ve never seen anything like it before. There’s no place I wouldn’t mind going back to. It’s a chance for us to entertain and put smiles on people’s faces. I’m blessed. I’m having the time of my life.” The truth of the matter is he didn’t expect to be treated this way.
38 | Memphis Sport