July 13, 2000
STAYING UP WITH THE TIGERS
Despite not having played a single game or even having a full-squad practice, life around University of Memphis basketball has been nonstop since the arrival of first-year coach John Calipari.
Calipari took the city of Memphis by storm from Day One back on March 11 when he was introduced as the Tigers' new coach. After meeting the media, Calipari attended a reception in The Pyramid in which over 1,000 fans turned out to greet the new coach.
The Tigers have a solid core of eight returning lettermen and Calipari rounded out the U of M's 1999-2000 signing class with three quality signees during the spring recruiting period -- Arthur Barclay (Camden, N.J., HS), Modibo Diara (Notre Dame Prep, Fitchburg, Mass.) and John Grice (Shelby State Community College, Memphis). The U of M signed two of the top prep stars in Memphis during the early signing period when it inked Raleigh-Egypt high school teammates Scooter McFadgon and Lou Wright.
Calipari's work earned the U of M class special mention among CNN/Sports Illustrated's Top 10 recruiting classes. Memphis was the only school to receive such an honor.
The month of June saw the Memphis coaching staff stage five different summer basketball camps which all ran at close to capacity and a sixth camp July 30-Aug. 3 will include NBA players as camp clinicians.
The University of Memphis returns all five players who started a majority of the Tigers' games while its other three returning lettermen also drew starting roles at one point or another during the season. The eight returners accounted for 84 percent of the 6,225 minutes of playing time a year ago.
The U of M returns 82.8 percent of its scoring and 91.1 percent of its rebounding from last year's squad which ended the regular season with a five-game winning streak, including back-to-back victories over Conference USA National Division co-champions Tulane and South Florida.
NOTING THE TIGERS
Earl Barron, C, 6-11, 205, So.
- Was a big surprise for the Tigers as a freshman, averaging 5.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and a 1.0 blocks per game as a rookie.
- Scored 15 points and had eight rebounds in his first career game against Georgetown.
- Had almost twice as many offensive rebounds as Grambling State had as a team (11 to Grambling's six). Scored 15 points and pulled down 19 rebounds.
Shyrone Chatman, G, 6-4, 209, Sr.
- Started six of the U of M's final seven games of the season, averaging 8.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists during the stretch. Shot 46.7 percent from the floor during the final seven games of the year.
- For the season averaged 4.4 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists.
- Late in the season, held Marquette's Brian Wardle to two points on 1-for-4 shooting and later held Tulane's Dylan Osean scoreless as the Green Wave guard went 0-for-4 from the field.
Shannon Forman, F, 6-6, 219, Sr.
- Started a team-high 30 games as a junior after transferring from Northwest Mississippi Community College.
- Averaged 7.2 points and 4.7 rebounds. Shot 44 percent from the field and 47.2 percent from three-point range.
- Of his 17 three-point baskets during the year, 14 came in the last 16 games.
Shamel Jones, F, 6-9, 220, Sr.
- Averaged 6.2 points and 3.8 rebounds as a junior.
- Played in 30 games, starting two last season for the Tigers. Has 17 career starts in his two seasons at the U of M.
- Season-high seven rebounds came in the Tigers' season opener against the school in which he transferred from, Georgetown, in the first round of the Maui Invitational.
Paris London, F, 6-8, 240, Jr.
- Has lost 20+ pounds during the off season.
- Averaged 4.6 points and 3.3 rebounds as a sophomore.
- Started the first 13 games of the season, but after missing the Arkansas game with a severe sinus infection, came off the bench in the remaining 17 contests.
Marcus Moody, G, 6-5, 185, Sr.
- Averaged 10.8 points per game as a junior. Also averaged 2.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.3 blocks during the season.
- Has 131 career steals, ranking him 10th all time at the U of M. Also sixth in career three-pointers at Memphis with 113.
- Scored the game-winning bucket when he drilled a 15-foot jumper with 10 seconds to play as Memphis defeated South Florida 60-58 in the first round of last year's Conference USA Tournament.
- Scored 20 points the following night in a quarterfinal loss to DePaul. Had a season-high five three-pointers in the game.
Courtney Trask, G, 6-3, 174, So.
- Named to Conference USA's All-Freshman team after averaging 9.4 points and 4.6 assists per game.
- Set a C-USA freshman record with 89 assists in league games.
- In addition to his 5.6 assists per conference game leading the league, also averaged 12.3 points (21st), 1.9 steals (3rd-tie) and 1.9 three-pointers (9th-tie).
- His 11 assists against DePaul equaled a C-USA freshman record.
Kelly Wise, F, 6-10, 213, Jr.
- All-Conference USA third-team selection as a sophomore.
- Averaged 14.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks as a sophomore.
- Rebounding and block averages as well as field goal percentage (.561) all ranked among the league's top three.
- In C-USA games, averaged 16.3 points (9th in the league), 9.1 rebounds (3rd) and 3.3 blocks (2nd) while shooting 54.2 percent from the floor (2nd).
- With 119 career blocks, ranks eighth all-time at the U of M. Had 71 blocks as a sophomore which ties for the seventh-best season total in school history.
The city of Memphis has always prided itself on its basketball talent. Among the Tigers' five-player signing class, three are from Memphis. This spring the U of M signed JUCO All-American John Grice who prepped at Central High School in Memphis and led Shelby State Community College to a third-place finish at the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament.
Grice averaged 17 points and 8.1 rebounds at Shelby State and was named to the NJCAA all-tournament team after averaging 25 points in four games at the championship.
Also inking with the U of M during the early signing period were Raleigh-Egypt teammates Scooter McFadgon and Lou Wright.
First-year coach John Calipari also solidified the Tigers' inside game during his first spring signing period with the addition of 6-8 forward Arthur Barclay and 6-9 center Modibo Diarra.
TIGER COACHING STAFF
If you are looking for one word to best describe the University of Memphis basketball coaching staff it could be "young." But a better description would encompass three words, "young AND experienced."
At 41, Memphis head coach John Calipari already has eight years of experience as a Division I head coach and six additional years as a collegiate assistant. Calipari also has better than two years experience as a head coach in the NBA and spent last season as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Steve Roccaforte is the veteran of the assistant coaches, with 11 seasons of experience at the Division I level. Roccaforte, 35, began his coaching career at Centenary and with four seasons of experience as an assistant at Tulane, is very familiar with Conference USA. Roccaforte spent the past two seasons as an assistant at Wyoming.
Tony Barbee's relationship with Calipari goes back more than 10 years ago when he was recruited by Massachusetts' head coach. Barbee played four seasons at UMass and following two seasons playing in Europe, began his coaching career at his alma mater. Barbee coached one season with Roccaforte at Wyoming before returning to UMass last year.
The Tigers' third assistant coach is also a former UMass player under Calipari. Derek Kellogg played on four Atlantic 10 Conference regular season and tournament championship teams while at UMass. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at UMass before coaching two seasons at George Mason. Last year he was an assistant coach at Youngstown State.
Providing a wealth of basketball knowledge this season is Milt Wagner, who begins his first season as coordinator of basketball operations. Wagner was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers' 1988 World Championship team. The University of Louisville All-American also played nine professional seasons in Israel and Europe as well as in the CBA.
WHO IS ON THE SCHEDULE
The U of M's 2000-2001 basketball schedule will definitely have a West Tennessee flavor with the addition of home games against Christian Brothers and Tennessee-Martin. Memphis has not played CBU since the Tigers' first collegiate season (1920-21) and has not played UT-Martin, the closest Division I school in Tennessee, since both schools were junior colleges back in the early 1930s.
During its first week of the season, Memphis will play host to perennial East Coast-power Temple in its season opener as well as travel to the Puerto Rico Shootout. The Puerto Rico tournament field includes Clemson, Georgia, Stanford and Utah.
In addition to a full Conference USA slate, the Tigers will also play three games against Southeastern Conference opponents -- road games against Arkansas and Tennessee as well as a home date against Mississippi.
The Tigers also wrap up home-and-home series with a home game against Kansas State while traveling to Miami of Florida.
Memphis will not play Jackson State for the first time since the 1990-91 season. Heading into the year, J-State is the only school to play the U of M every season in The Pyramid. Memphis is 9-1 against the Mississippi school and has won five straight and nine of 10 games in the series.
Also absent from this year's schedule is Louisiana at Monroe (Northeast Louisiana) which has been a U of M nonconference opponent the last six seasons.
And while both East Carolina and TCU join Conference USA next season, neither team is on the Tigers' schedule this year. Next season Memphis will play TCU as a home-and-home opponent in the National Division while East Carolina will be a possible C-USA regular-season opponent as a member of the American Division.
Memphis ended the 1999-2000 season on a high note by winning with defense. During its six-game winning streak at season's end, the U of M held opponents to 36 percent shooting from the field, including 26.2 percent from three-point range. Twice during the six-game winning streak, the Tigers held opponents to under 50 points and over the run had opponents averaging just 62.7 points per game.
Five of Memphis' six opponents during the streak shot less than 40 percent from the floor. During the last week of the regular season, Memphis held National Division co-champion Tulane to 12.1 percent shooting (4-of-33) in the first half and the Green Wave missed its first eight shots of the second period to drop, at the time, to below 10 percent shooting for the game.
And heading into the 2000-2001 season, it's just a matter of tapping from that late-season charge from a year ago.
Memphis came about as close to a share of C-USA's National Division and a first-round bye at the league tournament as one can get. With a win in either of two one-point, league losses (67-66 at Southern Miss and 64-63 at Tulane) the U of M would have finished conference play at 8-8 and would have received a first-round bye because of its head-to-head record with the Bulls.
The Tigers lost a second game to Southern Miss at home in overtime, 79-73, after Kelly Wise beat the buzzer to tie the game at the end of regulation with a tip-in off an inbounds pass.
Kansas State edged the Tigers 62-61 in Manhattan, Kan., while Tennessee escaped The Pyramid with a 74-69 win during the month of December.
The University of Memphis basketball team will begin its first full season in the Larry O. Finch Recreational Facility. The Finch Center has a regulation collegiate court which runs east to west. With the removal of portable goals, the building can be divided into three north-south courts for intramural play as well as shooting drills.
Additionally, the center includes a locker room, lounge area, weight room and training room for exclusive use by the U of M basketball team. Overlooking the court is a media room as well as coaching staff office and coaches' locker room.
Over its last seven games of the 1999-2000 season, Memphis averaged better than six three-pointers an outing while shooting 41.7 percent from behind the arc.
Memphis finished the 1999-2000 season with 36 charges drawn during the year. The tally tied for the second-highest number of charges drawn, matching the 1996-97 season. The 1994-95 team registered a record 44 charges drawn.
During its five-game winning streak to end the regular season last year, Memphis logged 3,772 round trip miles as the squad traveled to Houston (484 miles one way), Milwaukee (560 miles one way) and Tampa (663 miles one way) for road victories the final weeks of the regular season.
Memphis was 8-1 in games in which it made 20 or more free throws while the Tigers were 7-15 in games in which it made fewer than 20 during the 1999-2000 season.
The U of M is 48-31 all-time in games which go into overtime. During Conference USA play this season the Tigers sent their game with Southern Miss to overtime with a Kelly Wise tip-in off an inbounds pass with .4 seconds to play. However, Memphis never led in the extra period as the Golden Eagles defeated the U of M for the second straight year in Memphis.
Memphis was 11-6 in games played in The Pyramid last season and holds an overall record of 113-33 (77.4 percent) in the arena. The U of M has won at least 10 games in each of the club's nine seasons in The Pyramid.
The Tigers are 107-26 (.804) since 1992 when leading at the half. The U of M is 73-10 (.880) over the past 83 games when it has a lead with five minutes to play.