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Sports staff talks Tiger basketball

<p>Tubby Smith coaches the players on the court from the sideline. This is Smith’s sixth head coaching job as he is heading into his 19<sup>th</sup> season.</p>
Tubby Smith coaches the players on the court from the sideline. This is Smith’s sixth head coaching job as he is heading into his 19th season.

Head coach Tubby Smith will start his second season as the Memphis Tigers head coach soon. The team went 19-13 last season, but they have seen a lot of player turnover since then.

            Sports editor Jon Bell and sports reporters Abigail Warren, Caleb Hilliard and Jeremiah Martin answer six questions about the Tiger basketball program.

1. Who will be the Tigers’ leading scorer?

Jon: I think this team could have a different leading scorer almost every game, but I’ll go with Kareem Brewton Jr. I think that he can come is as a junior college transfer and make thing happen.

Abigail: Jeremiah Martin because he’s the leading returning scorer, he has a lot of Division 1 experience.

Caleb: I’m going with Davenport. Martin will look to feed the post and Davenport will probably get a lot of touches in Tubby’s offense.

Jeremiah: I guess Jeremiah Martin. He is going to have the ball in his hand now more than ever. I think his high usage rate will mean more points.

2. Which newcomer will make the biggest impact?

Jon: I’ll say Kyvon Davenport because of his size and athleticism. I think he will be able to affect the game on both sides of the ball.

Abigail: Jamal Johnson because he is a good shooter. He can help improve the Tigers’ shooting beyond the arch.

Caleb: I’ll go with Davenport again. He is the most athletic newcomer and will become a fan favorite because of the way he plays.

Jeremiah: I say Raynere Thorton. I like his length because he can defend multiple positions on defense, and he can provide some rebounding.

3. Will the Tigers finish better than, as the Coaches Poll predicted, ninth in the AAC standings?

Jon: I think that nine is probably right. They have a lot of inexperienced players, at least at this level.

Abigail: Yes, I think they have more depth on their team this year. They will surpass people’s expectations.

Caleb: Yes. After last season, the media believes the program isn’t that good. But I think the talent they recruited is good enough to finish better than ninth.

Jeremiah: Actually I think yeah. I think this team is deeper and better defensively than last year. And I think having the Lawson’s cloud over the program helps with chemistry.

4. How many games will the Tigers win?

Jon: I think that they will win about 16-19. I really don’t see this team getting to 20 after losing a lot of talent from last season’s team.

Abigail: 22. I think they will mesh better as a team this year, and it will show on the court.

Caleb: I think that they will 25 games. This team has a lot better chemistry this season and they are buying into Tubby’s system.

Jeremiah: I can see them cracking 20 wins. I think they can get between 20-22 wins in Tubby Smith’s second year.

Martin Rivers

Jimaro Rivers and Jeremiah Martin talk to a referee during a game last season. The two are the top returning scorers from last year.

5. Will Jeremiah Martin and Jimario Rivers be able to improve on their stats from last season?

Jon: I think that their stats will be about the same. They may be relied on for leadership, but they are limited as players. The newcomers will have to step up. 

Abigail: Yes. I think the newcomers have to rely on Martin and Rivers to carry the offense.

Caleb: Yes, because they will be featured in the offense this season with a lot of last year’s team gone. I think the newcomers will be able to spread the floor better too.

Jeremiah: They really have no choice. They are going to have more chances because they will be relied on more. Martin especially because he will be the primary shot creator and will be more aggressive because of that.

6. How long will it take for the Tigers to make another NCAA Tournament?

Jon: I’m not sure. I would say that they miss out at least for the next two seasons, maybe longer.

Abigail: Not this season but next season. I think this year is going to be a building year, and they will make the big step next year.

Caleb: This year. The AAC is weaker than it has been in past year. If they Tigers can play well in conference and knock off a top 25 opponent, then they will have a good enough RPI.

Jeremiah: I say three to five years. It starts with recruiting, and it doesn’t seem like many Memphis kids want to come here anymore.  

Tubby Smith coaches the players on the court from the sideline. This is Smith’s sixth head coaching job as he is heading into his 19th season.

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