Tigers ready for new season

Tonight's exhibition game against LeMoyne-Owen marks a new and much-anticipated start, one that the No. 11 Tigers welcome with open arms.

It's been a long offseason for the University of Memphis.

The team has had nearly eight months to revisit the final play of its game against Arizona, in which Derrick Williams blocked a last-second Wesley Witherspoon shot attempt to end the Tigers‘ season in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Tonight's exhibition game against LeMoyne-Owen marks a new and much-anticipated start, one that the No. 11 Tigers welcome with open arms.

"It's been a long road getting here," sophomore forward Tarik Black said. "We've gone through the summer, went through Memphis Madness. It's been a long road, and now we're here at the final destination, which is the season. It's about to start."

It will be the public's first real look at the Tigers this season, who by all accounts have grown up quickly.

Last season, the Tigers were marred by typical freshmen mistakes. Black said he doesn't anticipate that to be the case this time around.

"We're a lot more prepared," Black said. "It's just a whole year of experience. You're going to be more prepared than you were as a freshman. The team looks much better than we did this time last year."

Tonight is also a welcomed relief for Memphis coach Josh Pastner, who is entering his third season as a head coach.

"It'll be nice to get a gauge of where we're at," Pastner said. "Our theme, whether it's practice or a game, is it's gotta be about us. It's got to be about the name on the front of the jersey."

While a consistent rotation probably won't take shape by tonight's exhibition, sophomore guard Antonio Barton said it should provide a decent measuring stick on how much the team has progressed since last year.

"We'll take a lot from it," Barton said. "Whether it's our defense or offense, whatever we need to work on, we'll just come back after this game, get back in the gym, and work harder."


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