The schedule calls for the 2020-21 UofM basketball season to tip off Wednesday (Nov. 25) at the Crossover Classic in South Dakota. And no, fans in attendance are not part of the mix. (Image: Memphis basketball on Twitter)

The University of Memphis men’s basketball team made its way to South Dakota to play in the Crossover Classic, which already has made headlines for the teams that will not be in it because of the coronavirus.

Designed initially as a star-studded get-together, the Tigers and West Virginia’s Mountaineers now are the top programs remaining in the field.

The Crossover Classic is set to run from Wednesday (Nov. 25) through Friday (Nov. 27). And no, fans in attendance are not part of the mix.

Tigers tip off against St. Mary’s in what is the season opener for both teams. And while Lester Quinones has some soreness in a knee, the Tigers have no major injuries.

South Dakota is currently a hot spot for COVID-19. Teams are in a mini bubble to reduce the possibility of any players getting infected.

Ahmad Rhad is the only Tiger player who did not make the trip. He was left in Memphis due to contract tracing.

Meanwhile, the playing status of the heralded DeAndre Williams is uncertain, but it doesn’t have anything to do with virus. It has to do with his transfer status.

“There is frustration. We went through this last year with Isaiah Stokes,” U of M head coach Penny Hardaway. “I know the system is going to work in favor of the kids this year. It is frustrating that it hasn’t happen so far.”

The tournament setup calls for the Tigers to play three games and in three days.

“It helps you because there are no favorites,” said Hardaway. “You are playing good teams. St. Mary’s is a good team that has upset teams in the NCAA tournament. It is going to be good for us and will bode well for us down the line. You respect the teams that are here.”

Here are some tracking-Tigers notes:

Jermaine Johnson 

The former Melrose High School coach has returned home to be a part the Memphis basketball coaching staff.

Hardaway said it would only be for one-year trial basis.  Johnson previously was at UT Martin from 2014-2020.

Johnson was successful at Melrose from 2007-13.  He developed the school into a top-25 program in the nation and he won five straight District 16 AAA championships. Melrose was the state title winner in 2010 in a 37-win season.

He played high school basketball at Ridgeway High School.

At Melrose, Johnson coached McDonald’s All-American Adonis Thomas.  He has coached 12 professional players, including eight who have played in the NBA.

This is his second stop at the University of Memphis. He was an assistant under John Calipari from (1999-2003).

Moussa Cisse

 There had been a chance that Cisse would not be available. On Saturday (Nov. 21), just before the Memphis football team took on Stephen F. Austin, it was announced that Cisse had been cleared to play. He had been practicing and did make the trip to South Dakota.


 Memphis basketball schedule was released Nov. 19 and, already, there is a change.

Ole Miss has canceled the game on Dec. 5 because of COVID-19 issues. The highlight out-of-conference game will be against the Auburn Tigers in Atlanta on Dec. 12.

The Tigers will have their home opener on Dec. 2 against the Arkansas State Red Wolves.

Fan friendly

Posters for the men’s and women teams have also been printed and made available across the city.