After a crushing last second loss to the Houston Cougars, 61-58, the Memphis Tigers were knocked out of the American Athletic Conference Tournament, finishing the season with a 21-13 record. However, the question remains, was the roller-coaster season a success or a failure?
When facing tough competition, the Tigers kept the games competitive, losing to Tennessee by 10 and falling to LSU by nine early on in the season. While also defeating teams like Temple and a top 25 ranked UCF. Overall, Penny Hardaway said he views the season as an accomplishment.
“I think the season was a success, especially the way it started off,” Hardaway said. “We changed so many lineups early. A lot of things were going on, new coach, new system, took along time for the guys to really fully buy in as a group, but overall, I think the season was a success. Because we saw them go from being just an average team to being a really good team.”
Senior Jeremiah Martin finished the season leading the Tigers with an average of 19.5 points and 4.5 assists. While Martin didn’t start the season off on the best foot, he finished the latter half of the year strong.
Martin became 10th all-time in scoring for Memphis, was the only Tiger to ever record two 40-point games in a single season. Hardaway said Martin was the “savior” for the Tigers this season.
“It’s big for us to have him because without him, where would we have been,” Hardaway said. He’s done a phenomenal job. I had him off the ball earlier in the year. He didn’t look like himself, and I put him back on the ball and everything went back to normal. But it’s been huge to have him because he’s been our savior, honestly. He’s put the team on his back and that’s a phenomenal thing.”
Senior Kyvon Davenport was a double-double machine early on in the season, when he was coming off the bench, and finished second on the team with an average of 13.4 points. Davenport said he also views the season as a success, but the team could’ve improved it.
“I thought we had a good season, it could’ve been better,” Davenport said. “I’m glad I wouldn’t change it for nothing and I live the team. We had a good run.”
Freshman guard Alex Lomax played a played a more significate role on the team than the numbers indicate, averaging 4.8 points per game, 2.7 rebounds and shot 44 percent from the field. Lomax was often a go-to player when the games got gritty. He said he grew a lot as a player in his first season and now he has an idea of what to expect for next year.
“It was great for me because I got some experience,” Lomax said. “Now I just know the ropes, not a freshman anymore so next season I’m gonna have to come in and just be consistent with the team and do what I can do.”
Looking a ahead to next season, the Tigers will have the number one high school recruit in James Wiseman along with fellow five star DJ Jefferies, while also bringing in four star recruits Malcom Dandrige and Damion Baugh. This gives them the number 7 overall recruiting class for the upcoming season.