How do you get themost out of a team that could win many games on talent alone? That's thewelcome dilemma facing coach John Calipari. All five starters and seven of thetop eight players return, including the club's leading scorer last season,junior guard Chris Douglas-Roberts; the Conference USA defensive player of theyear, senior center Joey Dorsey (2.2 blocks per game); and versatile juniorforward Robert Dozier. Joining that core is point guard Derrick Rose, one ofthe nation's top five freshmen. "With guys like these, I've got to keepthem on their toes," says Calipari. "I've got to keep new things comingthat will make them think and stimulate them."
To that end,Calipari has changed his practices to create more gamelike intensity. A fewtimes a day the Tigers run full-court scrimmages with each side getting threepossessions and the coaches keeping score. "Everything we do now iscompetitive--somebody wins and somebody loses," says Calipari, who alsotracks every three-pointer and layup taken (and made) in drills. "It keepsthem thinking about one thing: beating the other guy and beating the otherteam."
Douglas-Robertsdid his part this summer to make sure that the wins keep coming. Instead ofentering the NBA draft, he returned to his hometown of Detroit, where he liftedweights and shot hundreds of jumpers each day. The 6' 7" Douglas-Roberts isnow up to 200 pounds (from 190) and has extended his range to NBA-three-pointdistance.
A motivatedDouglas-Roberts will only help his coach's cause. Calipari is patterning histeam after another ultratalented outfit, Kentucky's 1996 national champions,and will use a pressure defense and an offense he calls "drivingmotion"--a fast, aggressive take on the standard motion offense. "The[Wildcats] had seven first-round picks, and only two players averaged doublefigures in scoring," he says. "What [coach Rick] Pitino did to get guysto buy into the concept of team versus individuals is what we have to do thisyear." The NBA draft may not be as kind to these Tigers as it was to thatKentucky team, but Calipari hopes March Madness will be.
November 19, 2007
[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
|PG||Derrick Rose [*HIGH SCHOOL STATS]||6'3"||Fr.||25.2 ppg||8.8 apg|
|SG||Chris Douglas-Roberts [RETURNING STARTER]||6'7"||Jr.||15.4 ppg||3.4 rpg|
|SF||Antonio Anderson [RETURNING STARTER]||6'6"||Jr.||8.0 ppg||4.1 rpg|
|PF||Robert Dozier [RETURNING STARTER]||6'9"||Jr.||9.6 ppg||6.2 rpg|
|C||Joey Dorsey [RETURNING STARTER]||6'9"||Sr.||8.5 ppg||9.4 rpg|
|G||Willie Kemp [RETURNING STARTER]||6'2"||Soph.||6.4 ppg||2.2 apg|
Nov. 5Tennessee-Martin(W 102-71)
Nov. 6 Richmond (W80-63)
Nov. 15-16 Coachesvs. Cancer (in New York City, vs.¬†Oklahoma; plus Connecticut,Gardner-Webb)
Nov. 20 ArkansasState
Nov. 27 AustinPeay
Dec. 4 USC (in NewYork City)
Dec. 15 MiddleTennessee State (in Nashville)
Dec. 19 atCincinnati
Jan. 3 Siena
As members of asecond-tier conference, the Tigers have to play several major-conference foesto keep up their strength of schedule. Give Memphis credit for having thetoughest home slate of any Top 20 team, concluding with a finale against therival Volunteers.
Coach JohnCalipari (8th year)
C-USA record 16-0(1st)
NCAA tournamentElite Eight
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