#10 Memphis Tigers: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

As expected, the Memphis Tigers went through their share of growing pains last season with a very young, but extremely talented roster.  After dominating Conference USA from 2006-2009 in which they only lost one league game, their reign of terror in the conference has hit a bump in the road the past two seasons.  Expect a new era of supremacy to begin this season for Josh Pastner and company.

MEMPHIS TIGERS
Last Season: 4th, 10-6 in CUSA, 25-10 overall
Predicted C-USA Finish: 1st

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Tarik Black (So)/Stan Simpson (Jr)/Hippolyte Tsafeck (So)
F: Wesley Witherspoon (Sr)/D.J. Stephens (Jr)/Ferrokohn Hall (Jr)
G/F: Will Barton (So)/Adonis Thomas (Fr)/Drew Barham (Jr)
G: Charles Carmouche (Sr)/Antonio Barton (So)
PG: Joe Jackson (So)/Chris Crawford (So)

Gone: C-Will Coleman

2011-2012 Outlook:
First and foremost, projecting the Tigers’ starting five is a bit of a crapshoot since nine players started at least ten games last season.  All of those guys return except for Will Coleman, but adding McDonald’s All-American Adonis Thomas to the mix only adds to the “problem” of having a deep roster that has nearly a dozen players worthy of being in the starting line-up.

In the backcourt, Joe Jackson and Chris Crawford struggled to acclimate themselves to the college game despite being highly-touted recruits coming out of high school.  Jackson actually had more turnovers than assists last season which allowed Crawford to earn more of Pastner’s trust handling the point.  Jackson still proved to be a dangerous scorer but must improve his decision-making.  Both guys have a ton of potential and that should shine through this season now that they have a year of experience under their belts.

New Orleans transfer Charles Carmouche and Antonio Barton did not receive the hype that Jackson and Crawford did, but were probably more consistent contributors.  Barton led the team in three-point shooting, connecting on 44.2% of his triple tries while Carmouche hit on 39.1% of his attempts.  They give Memphis a quartet of talented guards with each of them being factors on the defensive end as well.

Will Barton is another freshman who went through his share of ups and downs.  His athleticism and ability to attack the rim make him a dangerous threat especially in the open floor, but he needs to improve his outside shooting to be the complete package and the future NBA Draft lottery pick that many think he can become.  The addition of Thomas gives the Tigers even more depth and talent on the wing.  Thomas is the opposite of Barton in that he already has a NBA build and can effectively score from the inside or outside.  Drew Barham might himself the odd man out of the rotation.

wesley witherspoon memphisWesley Witherspoon was one of my sleepers to have a breakout season and I thought he had NBA lottery potential, but the versatile wing suffered through an extremely disappointing year as he found himself in and out of Josh Pastner’s doghouse even being suspended indefinitely from the team in mid-January.  At times, he was a complete non-factor when he was on the floor.  It will be interesting to see if he has learned from his mistakes and redeems himself in his last hurrah at Memphis.  D.J. Stephens brings energy off the bench at the forward spot and Seton Hall transfer Ferrokohn Hall will also factor into the mix once becomes eligible after the first semester.

Memphis relied on their speed and athleticism last season as they didn’t have a whole lot of size inside.  Tarik Black was the only player to average at least five rebounds per game and will return in the middle.  He is only 6-8 but has great strength and knows how to throw his big body around inside.  However, he must learn to stay out of foul trouble which was his Achilles heel last season.  Former Illinois big man Stan Simpson adds height and depth inside after transferring in from a junior college.  He is long and athletic, but needs to get stronger.  Redshirt freshman Hippolyte Tsafeck gives Pastner another option though he is still fairly raw in his all-around game.

Memphis will be put through the ringer in non-conference play including a trip to Hawaii for a loaded Maui Invitational.  Since C-USA is down as a whole this season, that challenging non-conference slate will show us just how much this team has matured since last season.

Player to Watch: Wesley Witherspoon
Witherspoon has the all-around game; handles the ball, can get to the rim, shoots it from deep, defends multiple positions, and is a tough match-up due to his versatility.  Pastner and Tiger fans grew frustrated last season and as I mentioned earlier, it is time for redemption.  If he can show the maturity of a senior and lead this young team, it will help him do some damage control and make Memphis a legit Final Four contender.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/15 vs. Belmont
11/21 vs. Michigan (Maui Invitational)
11/22 vs. Duke/Tennessee (Maui Invitational)
11/21 vs. Kansas/Georgetown/UCLA/Chaminade (Maui Invitational)
12/3 vs. Austin Peay
12/6 at Miami, FL
12/11 vs. Murray State
12/17 at Louisville
12/22 at Georgetown
12/31 vs. Charlotte
2/4 vs. Xavier

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#11 Florida Gators
#12 Xavier Musketeers
#13 Louisville Cardinals
#14 Arizona Wildcats
#15 Wisconsin Badgers
#16 Alabama Crimson Tide
#17 Gonzaga Bulldogs
#18 Marquette Golden Eagles
#19 Texas A&M Aggies
#20 Michigan Wolverines
#21 New Mexico Lobos
#22 Temple Owls
#23 Cincinnati Bearcats
#24 Kansas Jayhawks
#25 UNLV Rebels
#26 Washington Huskies
#27 UCLA Bruins
#28 Butler Bulldogs
#29 Missouri Tigers
#30 Texas Longhorns
#31 Villanova Wildcats
#32 Michigan State Spartans
#33 Florida State Seminoles
#34 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#35 Harvard Crimson
#36 Illinois Fighting Illini
#37 Oregon Ducks
#38 Wichita State Shockers
#39 Cal Golden Bears
#40 Belmont Bruins
#41 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#42 Saint Mary’s Gaels
#43 Purdue Boilermakers
#44 BYU Cougars
#45 Kansas State Wildcats
#46 West Virginia Mountaineers
#47 Virginia Cavaliers
#48 George Mason Patriots
#49 Old Dominion Monarchs

#50 VCU Rams
#51 Kent State Golden Flashes
#52 Arkansas Razorbacks
#53 St. John’s Red Storm
#54 Northwestern Wildcats
#55 Georgetown Hoyas
#56 Miami Hurricanes
#57 Nevada Wolfpack
#58 Detroit Titans
#59 UCF Knights
#60 Long Beach State 49ers
#61 Virginia Tech Hokies
#62 Clemson Tigers
#63 New Mexico State Aggies
#64 Tennessee Volunteers
#65 Iona Gaels
#66 Murray State Racers
#67 N.C. State Wolfpack
#68 Fairfield Stags
#69 George Washingon Colonials
#70 Indiana State Sycamores
#71 Oklahoma State Cowboys
#72 Indiana Hoosiers
#73 UAB Blazers
#74 Iowa State Cyclones
#75 Creighton Bluejays
#76 USC Trojans
#77 Weber State Wildcats
#78 Maryland Terrapins
#79 Tulsa Golden Hurricane
#80 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#81 Western Michigan Broncos
#82 Dayton Flyers
#83 Stanford Cardinal
#84 Yale Bulldogs

#85 Georgia Bulldogs
#86 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#87 Richmond Spiders
#88 Ball State Cardinals
#89 Utah State Aggies
#90 Arizona State Sun Devils
#91 Marshall Thundering Herd
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#95 Ole Miss Rebels
#96 Nebraska Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

 

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