Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season. We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
After years of dominating Conference USA, the Memphis Tigers have a new home in the American Athletic Conference. With Louisville and UConn standing in their way, it won’t come as easy this season. However, thanks to a talented, experienced backcourt and deep roster, Josh Pastner’s team is certainly capable of once again being a major player on the national stage.
Last Season: 1st, 16-0 in CUSA, 31-5 overall
Predicted AAC Finish: 2nd
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Shaq Goodwin (So)/Dominic Woodson (Fr)/Hippolyte Tsafeck (Jr)
F: David Pellom (Sr)/Austin Nichols (Fr)
G/F:Geron Johnson (Sr)/Kuran Iverson (Fr)/Nick King (Fr)
SG: Chris Crawford (Sr)/Damien Wilson (So)/Markel Crawford (Fr)
PG: Joe Jackson (Sr)/Michael Dixon (Sr)/RaShawn Powell (Fr)
Gone: G/F-Adonis Thomas, F-D.J. Stephens, F/C-Tarik Black (transfer-Kansas), PF-Ferrakohn Hall, C-Stan Simpson, G-Antonio Barton (transfer-Tennessee)
That backcourt is led by reigning C-USA Player of the Year, Joe Jackson who has made major strides with his leadership and decision-making. He received a ton of criticism after a disappointing freshman season at Memphis but has truly become the maestro of the Tiger offense.
It helps that Jackson has a pair of dangerous scorers alongside him in Geron Johnson and Chris Crawford. Johnson made an immediate impact in his first season at Memphis after transferring in from a junior college and is a capable scorer from deep or off the bounce. Crawford was the C-USA Sixth Man of the Year but figures to move back into the starting line-up. He is a physical guard but also the team’s top three-point threat.
The losses of Tarik Black and D.J. Stephens means the frontcourt undergoes a bit of a facelift. Shaq Goodwin is looking to build off a solid freshman campaign and will be the bruiser down low. George Washington transfer David Pellom is a junkyard dog type of player and should ultimately play a Stephens-like role since he doesn’t need to score to be effective on the floor.
Memphis gets a boost off their bench with the addition of Missouri transfer Michael Dixon who led all reserves in the country in scoring in 2011-12. He was kicked off the Tigers roster after being accused of sexual assault for a second time but has been cleared to play this season by NCAA and given new life with the Tigers. Besides being an explosive scorer, Dixon is also a terrific defender who should thrive in Memphis’ up-tempo attack.
Pastner also brings in one of the top recruiting classes in the country featuring five top 100 recruits and there should be tremendous competition for playing time off the bench. Newcomers Nick King, Kuran Iverson, Markel Crawford, RaShawn Powell, and former top 100 recruit Damien Wilson who played sparingly as a freshman, will battle for minutes on the wing. King and Iverson are top 50 recruits with Iverson being a very intriguing prospect due to the fact that he is 6-10 and can play multiple positions which will give Pastner even more flexibility with his rotation.
There are a pair of top 100 recruits who should factor into the frontcourt mix as well. Austin Nichols is the most highly regarded of Pastner’s 2013 class and adds some needed versatility to the frontcourt. 6-10, 310 pound Dominic Woodson was originally a Baylor commit but arrives at Memphis to provide more muscle down low. He is still a work in progress offensively and must improve his conditioning before he can become a true contributor.
With all that talent, you have to pose the question; how can Pastner spread around the minutes and keep everybody happy? I suspect at least one or two guys might end up transferring due to an unhappiness with a lack of playing time. For the time being, Pastner has tons of options and should be able to go deep into bench which will benefit a team that loves to get up and down the floor at every possible opportunity. With that being said, it will still be the experienced backcourt that drives Memphis into March.
Player to Watch: Joe Jackson
The key for Jackson has been playing within himself and not trying to do too much. Memphis love to push tempo and that is when Jackson is at his best. Dixon’s addition to the team will help take some of the pressure off the Memphis native but Jackson is still the leader and driving force of this team.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/19 at Oklahoma State
11/28 vs. Siena (Old Spice Classic)
11/29 vs. LSU/St. Joseph’s (Old Spice Classic)
12/1 vs. Oklahoma State/Purdue/Butler/Washington State (Old Spice Classic)
12/17 vs. Florida (Jimmy V Classic at MSG)
2/8 vs. Gonzaga
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#15 Notre Dame
#21 Wichita State
#23 New Mexico
#29 St. John’s
#33 Boise State
#36 St. Louis
#37 La Salle
#38 San Diego State
#40 Arizona State
#44 Iowa State
#52 Boston College
#53 Ole Miss
#56 Saint Mary’s
#60 Florida Gulf Coast
#64 Florida State
#66 N.C. State
#67 Kansas State
#70 Miami FL
#72 Texas A&M
#73 Long Beach State
#76 Indiana State
#77 Georgia Tech
#84 Washington State
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#95 Seton Hall
#97 George Mason
#99 Penn State
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#108 Virginia Tech
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 to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks