You Won't Believe These Tigers

After grinding out a W against a defense that Coach Brad Soderberg had to consult his father on how to implement it, the Zags take a brief Christmas break before challenging the high-flying, ultra-talented Memphis Tigers in front of a soldout FedExForum. We take a brief look at John Calipari's 4th-ranked squad.


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MEMPHIS TIGERS

Head Coach: John Calipari
Last Season: 22-16
Postseason: Lost in the NIT semifinals
This Season: 9-1 with wins over Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Alabama, UCLA, Lamar, Jackson State, Cincinnati, Providence, Mississippi and Louisiana Tech, and a loss to Duke.

2005/06 Outlook: After an up and down 2004/05 campaign that at least ended on a semi-positive note, the Tigers are clearly one of the best teams in the country this year. Their performance thus far has been amazing considering how young the team is - there is only one upperclassmen in their top 9, and he comes off the bench. While Memphis returned this year with a pair of really good talents in Darius Washington, Jr. and Rodney Carney, the key to this team has been the splendid freshman class - namely, the much celebrated Laurinberg Four, which consists of Antonio Anderson, Shawne Williams, Kareem Cooper and Robert Dozier. Those four guys played for Laurinberg Prep last season on a team that didn't lose a ball game. Their winning experience and extreme athleticism have given Calipari the deepest team in the country, which he uses to try to wear down teams through full court pressure. Two of the four Laurinberg kids, Anderson and Williams, might be the best two freshman players in the country. Williams is a very special talent who is likely one and done. The whole operation is spearheaded by a point guard in Washington who is fantastic in transition, along with running mate Rodney Carney at his side.

Key Players:

#35 PG Darius Washington, Jr. (6-2, soph. 2005/06 = 14.1 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 3.9 APG, 46% FG, 41% 3PT, 78% FT)

Enormously quick. Bulky body enables him to finish well in the lane and be a force defensively. Can play at different speeds better than any point man in the nation. Tremendous at driving into the lane and kicking out or finishing near the rim. Always moving the ball up the floor. Kills teams who are lazy getting back in transition. Was a two guard in high school, and tends to be turnover prone due to his aggressive play. Willing to take big shots.

#12 G Antonio Anderson (6-6, freshman. 2005/06 = 8.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.5 APG, 43% FG, 44% 3PT, 54% FT)

One member of the much acclaimed Laurinberg Four. Probably the biggest surprise on this year's team. Has played tremendously well. Great perimeter shooter. Can stick 3's on the break and under duress. Very pesky on ball defender. Constantly getting his hands on balls and causing chaos. Tends to exclusively play out on the perimeter. You must force him to put the ball on the floor to score.

#3 G Chris Douglas-Roberts (6-6, freshman. 2005/06 = 10.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 52% FG, 39% 3PT, 78% FT)

One of the best prep guards in the 2005 class. Hails from Detroit. Very lanky, versatile playmaker and solid ballhandler. Has good defensive instincts. Lacking in strength.

#4 F Shawne Williams (6-9, freshman. 2005/06 = 16.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.7 APG, 48% FG, 35% 3PT, 72% FT)

Another member of the Laurinberg Four. Perhaps the best freshman in the country to date. Ridiculous offensive talent who can score all over the floor. Has NBA range on his 3 point shot, but can also post up in the middle. Very fluid. Mature floor presence. Has quick hands on defense. Has the best upside of any Memphis player at the next level.

#32 F Joey Dorsey (6-9, soph. 2005/06 = 6.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 2.2 BPG, 55% FG, 31% FT)

Long armed athletic big. All Freshman selection in Conference USA last year. Ranked first in shooting percentage on last year's team. Solid shotblocking presence. Effort tends to not be consistent at times.

#10 F Rodney Carney (6-7, senior. 2005/06 = 17.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 46% FG, 41% 3PT, 69% FT)

It goes without saying – the best 6th man in college basketball. Could start, but feels more comfortable coming off the bench. Perhaps the best pure athlete on the D-1 level. Has a 45 inch vertical. Tremendous handles for a player his size. Deadly in transition where his high flying dunks can change game momentum. Good perimeter shooter, but streaky. Tends to get too jump shot happy at times.

#42 F Kareem Cooper (6-11, freshman. 2005/06 = 7.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 59% FG, 93% FT)

Yet another member of the Laurinberg Four. Has a nice set of offensive skills – especially a good lefty hook. Lost a ton of weight since high school. Can shoot it from the perimeter as well.

#2 F Robert Dozier (6-9, freshman. 2005/06 = 4.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 32% FG, 83% FT)

Another member of the Laurinberg Four. Has a 7 foot 3 wingspan. Needs to add weight. Really good at driving into the lane from the perimeter. Tends to hang around the perimeter too much at times, and take ill advised perimeter jump shots.

#15 PG Andre Allen (5-10, soph. 2005/06 = 4.2 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 2.2 APG, 36% FG, 39% 3PT, 39% FT)

Was academically ineligible last year. Quick point guard figures to replace Washington once he goes pro. Has good handles. Generally holds the fort down well when Washington needs a breather.


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