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Monday, July 15, 2024

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GritGrindGrizz: While the Grizz are away, the Hustle and Tigers will play

As I’m writing this, the Memphis Grizzlies are 2-1 on their five-game (mostly) West Coast road trip, narrowly avoiding catastrophe Tuesday night by squeaking out a 98-97 win over the Portland Trailblazers.

Before they come home to FedExForum though, they’ll face an angry Houston Rockets team (now 9-3) in Houston on Saturday and wrap up by facing off with early MVP candidate Giannis Antetekounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday. If they split these last two games, I’ll call it a win.

But just because the Grizzlies are away, that doesn’t mean you can’t feed your hoops craving. Last weekend, the Memphis Hustle tipped off their inaugural season as the Grizzlies’ G-League affiliate with a 120-116 loss to the Sioux Falls Skyforce. But they bounced back to defeat the Salt Lake City Stars, 102-99. Nice.

This Friday, in honor of Veterans Day, the Hustle is hosting Military Appreciation night as they take on the Rio Grande Valley Vipers at The Landers Center in Southaven. Hustle players will suit up in special military-themed jerseys that will be auctioned off. The event is presented by Belhaven University.

The Hustle will be fun to watch for a few reasons. One, tickets are extremely affordable at only $10. Two, you’ll get to see which of these NBA hopefuls breakthrough to land on an NBA roster.

But Grizzlies fans got a chance to see what Ben McLemore will bring to the table. McLemore was signed in the offseason but has yet to play for the Grizzlies because of injury. To help accelerate his recovery to game speed, McLemore suited up in Hustle Red against Salt Lake City, posting eight points, two rebounds and two steals. McLemore will make his Grizzlies debut Saturday against the Houston Rockets.

Similarly, there was going to be little playing time for young players like big men Ivan Rabb and Deyonta Davis. Granted, it’s not NBA caliber talent, but playing with the Hustle will still give these guys valuable experience — especially because Hustle Head Coach Glynn Cyprien is also on the Grizzlies’ coaching staff. That means that both teams are practicing the same plays. Who knows, McLemore, Davis and Rabb might be ready to contribute to the big league team sooner than later.

But if you still prefer college hoops to minor league, your University of Memphis Tigers tip-off the regular season against Alabama on today at 5:30.

Much has been made of who Tigers’ Head Coach Tubby Smith has (or hasn’t) been able to recruit. The roster is made up of prospects that most fans won’t easily recognize.

I’m just glad that the games are about to be played. Smith has won everywhere he’s coached. Maybe he will mold this squad into something memorable.

We’ve seen it before — a Memphis team made up of castoffs and nobodies. They made us believe, Memphis.

Here’s hoping the Tigers can do the same.

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