Top 68 Team Previews: #13 Memphis Tigers
Josh Pastner has a team that could make a deep run in March.(MemphisSport.com)
By Rob Stone
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Last season: 26-9 (13-3)
Key losses: Will Barton, Wesley Witherspoon
Head Coach: Josh Pastner
Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Joe Jackson 6-1 Jr.
SG: Antonio Barton 6-2 Jr.
SG: Chris Crawford 6-4 Jr.
SF: Adonis Thomas 6-7 So.
PF: Tarik Black 6-9 Jr.
PG: Charles Holt 5-10 Sr.
PG: Trey Draper 5-10 Jr.
PG: Anthony Cole 6-0 Fr.
SG: Geron Johnson 6-3 Jr.
SF: D.J. Stephens 6-5 Sr.
SF: Damien Wilson 6-6 Fr.
PF: Ferrakohn Hall 6-8 Sr.
PF: Hippolyte Tsafack 6-8 Sr.
PF: Shaq Goodwin 6-9 Fr.
C: Stan Simpson 6-10 Sr.
The Memphis Tigers finished with a record of 26-9 overall and 13-3 in Conference USA play before bowing out by a score of 61-54 to Rick Majerus’ Saint Louis Billikens in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last spring.
After winning the 2011-12 regular season Conference USA championship, the Tigers also took the tournament title with a 65-47 win over the University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP) Miners in the quarterfinals, an 83-52 win over the University of Central Florida (UCF) Knights in the semifinals, and an 83-57 win over the Marshall Thundering Herd in the finals.
With 6-7 sophomore small forward Adonis Thomas back in the fold, though, Memphis head coach Josh Pastner is forecasting a possible run to the Final Four for his Tigers.
“Adonis bleeds Memphis Tigers basketball,” Pastner said. “He’s grown up here in Memphis. I know that part of the reason Adonis came back to school was because he wants to try and play in the Final Four and continue to win a lot of games.”
Thomas has also already been named to the preseason All-Conference USA team.
“I think Adonis can really move his stock up even that much higher,” Pastner said. “We’re very excited to have him back, especially with the type of team we have. Adonis continues to grow as a basketball player, but more importantly, as a young man.”
While Thomas, 6-4 junior shooting guard Chris Crawford, and 6-1 junior point guard Joe Jackson have all been named preseason second-team all-conference, 6-9 junior forward Tarik Black has taken home preseason first-team All-Conference USA honors for the Tigers.
Crawford averaged 9.1 points per game (ppg), 3.1 rebounds per game (rpg), and 3.8 assists per game (apg) a season ago to back Black (10.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg), Jackson (11.0 ppg, 3.9 apg), and Thomas (8.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg). Joining them in the Memphis starting lineup should be 6-2 junior shooting guard Antonio Barton (6.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.6 apg).
“You look at this year, on the roster, we’ll have three former McDonald’s All-Americans,” Pastner said. “There aren’t a lot of teams around the country that can say that. The ones that can say that are considered the elite teams in the country.”
The former McDonald’s All-Americans Pastner was referring to are Thomas, Jackson, and Shaq Goodwin.
“It just shows you that we’re staying at a very high level recruiting-wise,” Pastner said. “We’re getting great players.”
The next great Tiger could be Goodwin, a 6-9 freshman power forward. Assuming he doesn’t end up starting, he’ll bolster a Memphis bench that will include 6-8 senior power forward Ferrakohn Hall (3.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg), 6-5 senior small forward D.J. Stephens (2.4 ppg), 6-10 senior center Stan Simpson (1.6 ppg), 6-8 senior power forward Hippolyte Tsafack (0.9 ppg), 6-6 freshman small forward Damien Wilson, 6-3 junior shooting guard Geron Johnson, 5-10 senior point guard Charles Holt, 5-10 junior point guard Trey Draper, and 6-0 freshman point guard Anthony Cole.