Head coach Melissa McFerrin and the University of Memphis Tigers will face Tulane on Saturday in the first round of the American Athletic Conference Tournament. The coach is 164-151 after 10 seasons at Memphis. This season has been a tumultuous one, but McFerrin's time at Memphis should come to an end after this season.
Before the season started, McFerrin told The Daily Helmsman her team, although facing a few injuries, would be an NCAA tournament team. She said that last year, the 14-16 Tigers team, just barely missed the cut.
Four of McFerrin’s last five seasons with the Tigers have ended with losing records. The Tigers have not made the NCAA tournament under McFerrin and have not made it past the second round of the NIT, when they have seen postseason. This is expected to be the fourth in five seasons Memphis will miss postseason.
McFerrin has not had the best luck this season. This season, Memphis went 2-7 in their first nine games. Memphis went into conference play 5-8 and had already lost many players to injury. The Tigers had games this season where they had to play all five starters the entire 40 minutes. By the end of the season, they played a rotation of seven healthy players.
Although McFerrin had injuries to deal with, she did not give excuses for her players lack of performance. After the embarrassing 93-36 loss at home against No. 1 UConn, McFerrin was asked how much fatigue played into her team's lack of performance. She responded by saying “Life is tough,” and that her team should handle adversity better and learn to make the necessary adjustments–even with a short rotation of players.
Memphis’ star seniors Brea Elmore and Cheyenne Creighton have averaged 15 and 14 points respectively. They will not be available to McFerrin next season. The Tigers will feel their absence and lack of numbers on the board. Their defensive numbers will also leave a hole for the Tigers next season, and Melissa McFerrin does not have players like them to rely on.
The incoming four players that have signed have done well regionally, but have not done much beyond that and it will be hard to see them bring immediate impact that the Tigers will need.
With the lack of talent and setbacks McFerrin has had, the Tigers’ next loss is her cue to walk away from Memphis.
Head coach Melissa McFerrin watches the action from the sidelines against UConn. Despite their best efforts, the Memphis Tigers were unable to pull off the upset over the No. 3 ranked UConn Huskies, losing the game 102-45.