#17 Memphis Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Memphis Tigers

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #17
Conference Rank:  #3 American

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Head Coach Josh Pastner has made getting to 100 wins with the same program seem easy.  In just four seasons, he has eclipsed the 100-win milestone and kept Memphis in the national conversation since John Calipari left.  Last season he led his team to an undefeated record within Conference USA.  After going 31-5, they were defeated by Michigan State in the NCAA tournament.  While it may have been a disappointing exit, the Tigers enjoyed one of the great seasons for their program in recent history.  They try to repeat the feat in the new American Conference this year.

2012-2013 record:  31-5, 16-0
2012-2013 postseason:  NCAA
Coach:  Josh Pastner
Coach Record:  106-34 at Memphis, 106-34 Overall

Who’s Out:
The Tigers lose Adonis Thomas and D.J. Stephens.  Stephens was the team’s best enforcer on the inside.  In fact, he led the conference in blocks with 2.64 per game.  His defensive presence will be missed.  He averaged nearly seven rebounds per game as well.  He was not the biggest guy either (6’5”), but his defending was second to none.  Adonis Thomas is also gone.  He declared early for the NBA draft after a strong season.  He scored over 11 points per game for the Tigers and was a strong free-throw shooter.  On a team that does not do a great job shooting foul shots, high-percentage shooting becomes even more valuable.  

Who’s In:
The influx of talent on this year’s team is undeniable.  There are nine new players joining the active roster for Memphis this season.  They welcome two good transfers: Michael Dixon, Jr. from Missouri and David Pellom from George Washington.  Dixon is still waiting to hear from the NCAA on his eligibility status, but he was a double-digit scorer at Missouri.  Pellom is a great rebounder and adds significant depth on the blocks.  Seven freshmen come in from a great recruiting class.  Forward Austin Nichols and guard-forward Nick King come in as the most decorated players.  Both averaged over 20 per game in their final high school years.  Both have a chance to play significant minutes or even start at times.

Who to Watch:
Joe Jackson is the unquestioned leader on this team.  He led the team in points, assists, and minutes played per game last season.  He is essentially an extension of Pastner on the floor.  He is a senior this year also.  His leadership will play a key role.  He is also one of the best defenders on the team.  He was tops on the team in steals last year.  He will go up against tougher competition this year after the conference switch.  Will he make a smooth transition?

Final Projection:
It is impossible to deny that Memphis is a great basketball program that has not missed a beat in the last couple of years under Pastner.  He is a relentless worker and recruiter, and it is reflected in his team’s performance year in and year out.  Switching conferences is always difficult.  Going against the likes of Louisville and Connecticut will only make it tougher for Memphis to escape a conference season unscathed.  But the Tigers have proven they can do it.  No matter what, with the talent they have, they should finish near the top of the American Conference.  A good seed in the NCAA tournament should be expected at the end of the year.

Projected Postseason Tournament:  NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Joe Jackson, Senior, Guard, 13.6 points per game
Shaq Goodwin, Sophomore, Forward, 7.4 points per game
Geron Johnson, Senior, Guard, 10.4 points per game (2011-2012)
Chris Crawford, Senior, Guard, 10.4 points per game
Austin Nichols, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season

By the numbers:
Scoring Offense: 74.5 (28th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.9 (124, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.1 (21, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.5 (65, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.1 (161, 8)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.2 (46, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.0 (275, 10)
Rebound Margin: 4.0 (55, 3)
Assists Per Game: 16.8 (5, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.5 (264, 7)

Madness 2014 NBA Draft Rankings:
#93 Joe Jackson

Madness 2013 Men’s Basketball Recruiting:
#20 Austin Nichols
#32 Kuran Iverson
#36 Nick King
#89 Markel Crawford
#94 RaShawn Powell


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