Moreira re-aggravates knee injury
Before practice started, Larry Brown told me Yanick Moreira had a chance to play on Saturday. "We will see how he does today," Brown said. "I don't know. I think he is in the doubtful area, but if he feels like he can go and the doctors say its fine than maybe we will see." However, Moreria appeared to have reinjured his knee during a drill in practice. While guarding Cannen Cunningham in the post, Moreria suddenly screamed and walked off the court. He left the court very frustrated and didn't return. I doubt he plays tomorrow.
Brown prepares for Memphis
Head coach Larry Brown was very complimentary of the Tigers and head coach Josh Pastner. "Their whole team presents challenges because they are terrific," Brown said. "They are deep. It starts with Joe Jackson. He is as good of a point guards as there is in the country. They have reactive bigs and depth there. They have guards who can defend and put the ball on the floor. They are one of the elite teams in America, so you figure they are going to create some problems." Brown also said his team will try to slow the pace of the game down. "I don't know many teams that don't like to run," Brown said. "Our guys like to run, but I like to do it off of defensive stops, blocked shots and steals. If you take bad shots against Memphis or turn the ball over, you will give up easy baskets. We have tried to stop teams from running all year." Senior Shawn Williams is excited for the chance to play a great team like the Tigers. "Memphis has always had a great team. I've never beaten them since I was at SMU," Williams said. "We are looking forward to playing against a good team and it's a chance for us to get a statement win." Nick Russell added, "We want to come out and play harder than every team we play. They are very guard-orientated and they beat us last year. We have a chance to get them in our gym now though. I think we match up well. All our guards can play to their level because we also have high caliber guards and very good big men. We play inside-outside, so it will be a good matchup. It may just come down to who plays the hardest."
Team excited about sellout
Tomorrow's game against Memphis will be just SMU's second sellout of the season. Shawn Williams and Nick Russell say the support from fans is a part of culture change at SMU. "It used to just be everybody's mom and dad at the games," Williams said. "Now, people actually recognize me. Somebody stopped and talked to me when I was going to the bathroom the other day. It was awesome. It made me feel like a real basketball player." Nick Russell says the team definitely fed off the crowd against Connecticut and they are hoping for more of the same tomorrow. "Students are almost camping out to get tickets and that's not normal at SMU," Russell said. "In college basketball, home court advantage is a big key. With the things we have going here and the sellout crowd, we should be able to take care of business. We are comfortable at home and it's supposed to be a great atmosphere." Williams added, "The chants and people in costumes are awesome. It's a big advantage for us. I think the atmosphere and environment will be similar, so hopefully the result will be similar as well." Larry Brown has also been blown away by the support. "Oh man, it's been amazing. Ever since we came to Moody for Connecticut, we experienced something we have never had here before," Brown said. "We were hopeful, but the crowd exceeded expectations and that meant a lot to he kids, especially the guys that have been here before. The guys really appreciate it, we all do."
Russell embraces defensive mindset
Nick Russell has built a reputation this year as being the team's defensive stopper. "I didn't really expect it and that's kind of funny because growing up a lot of people told me that I need to guard more," Russell said. "I always thought in my head I was playing D, but its different now. Now, I'm getting that recognition from the outside eye. I don't feel like I'm doing anything different. I'm just staying engaged and assertive. If it helps the team win, I will do it. It's a good feeling when you stop somebody and the game of basketball has two sides to it, so I can't just play offense." Larry Brown has preached defense to the team whole season and Russell has been his poster-child. "Ryan and Nick guarded great last year in man-to-man, but it was tough playing them so many minutes. We had shortcomings late," Brown said. "All our guards are capable of being good defenders, but Nick has been phenomenal. In this conference, you don't have nay nights off. Its like guarding point guards in the NBA with Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, and those guys. The off nights are guarding guys like Deron Williams or Kyrie Irving." Brown also said he was worried about opposing guards in the AAC before the season, but Russell has helped ease his mind. "In this conference, we got (Russ) Smith, (Isaiah) Sykes, (Shabazz) Napier, (Ryan) Boatwright, and (Sean) Kilpatrick. The Tigers alone have (Michael) Dixon, (Geron) Johnson, (Chris) Crawford, and (Joe) Jackson. You aren't getting nights off. It comes with the territory. If your guards can't defend and your bigs aren't active, you will have problems."
• The team practiced in Moody Coliseum and did a lot of X's and O's.
• The practice started off slowly, but Larry Brown quickly lit a fire under the team and they brought a lot of energy.
• Assistant coach Ulric Maligi was not in attendance. He was more than likely out recruiting.
• Keith Frazier was out early working on his jump shot. He looked really good on offense in practice all day.
• Sterling Brown and Shawn Williams went at one another the whole day. Brown pretty much dominated Williams in the matchup and both players talked a lot of friendly trash.
• Nic Moore struggled shooting the ball, but had a few very nice passes. Crandall Head also struggled shooting.
• Jean-Michael Mudiay shot the ball really well today and Markus Kennedy knocked down a few jumpers from the outside as well.