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Tigers revving up for block-party kickoff of basketball season

Terry Davis

Every fall, the city of Memphis looks forward to the University of Memphis basketball teams’ Madness event.

This year, there will be a block party on campus on Saturday (October 15) from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on the Luther C. McClellan Alumni Mall.

The block party will include introductions of the men’s and women’s teams, music, inflatables, games, food trucks and performances by the Tiger band and the cheer and dance teams. The introduction of the teams will begin at 4:30.

With the start of the season approaching, things are looking up for Penny Hardaway and the Tigers. (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

“We are looking forward to celebrating the start of the basketball season with our fans,” said men’s head coach Penny Hardaway, who this week agreed to a deal that extended his contract by two years. That adds up to a contract covering six seasons and $16.5 million plus incentives.

“This unique event will be something new for our fans to experience and we know our teams will feel the love of Tiger Nation during the Block Party.”

Free parking will be available in the Zach Curlin parking garage near Elma Roane Fieldhouse. Additional parking spots are available throughout campus.

Looking ahead

In the annual media days for the American Athletic Conference, the Memphis Tigers men’s basketball team was picked to finished second this season in the survey of media members. The Houston Cougars were picked ahead of the Tigers.

Memphis has a totally revamped lineup.

This year, Hardaway hit the transfer portal hard so he can compete more readily in conference play. Kendric Davis, the sharp shooting point guard from SMU, will be a key part of the roster turnover.

After transferring from SMU, Kendric Davis is ready to apply his sharp-shooting point guard skills toward the success of the Tigers. (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

“It has been cool,” said Davis of being in Memphis. “I love it. I am a gym rat. Outside of the gym, I am with my son. When I do go to places I try to go to the right spots.

“I appreciate all of the support.  You don’t always get this support from one city.  I am trying to embrace it and make the city proud.”

Davis and De’Andre Williams were both selected first team All-American in the preseason.  Davis has been the Player of the Year in the conference.

The Tigers recently held an open practice for the members of the Memphis Rebounder’s club.  It was the first public display of the team since the beginning of fall camp. After his interview with the media, Hardaway took selfies with everyone who wanted one.

Everyone gave a nod of respect to college and professional basketball icon Larry Brown, who is returning for his second season as a part of the Tigers’ staff.

On coming into the season, Hardaway said, “Last season ended great and we want to start the season great. I know in the past we normally don’t get started until January or February. This year we are locked and loaded on getting started in November.”

The Tigers are moving forward with the prospect of a post-season ban after a recent ruling on a nagging investigation of the program.

“I am glad to have everything behind us now,” said Hardaway. “We are trying to get to a level where we can represent the city in a good manner. It is a great feeling to know that guys won’t have any negativity hovering on our backs. It feels like a fresh start.”

As for how he get the transfers with the cloud than hung over the program, Hardaway said, “I just believed that we would not have anything to happen to us.  I was standing on what was right in my mind. They just bought in. They believed that we would be playing the NCAA tournament.”

Veteran Alex Lomax was asked why he returned this season.

“It was all prospective for me. I am still home with my family. I am with some of the best fans in the country. I want to do the same things and change a few things and go further.”

So, what is looking forward to this season?

“Memphis basketball is the pulse of the city. I am trying to keep a good pulse in the city for the entire year.  No high heart rates.” 

De’Andre Williams (right) will be depended upon for veteran presence. (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

Williams said he was excited and relieve to have the opportunity to return to the NCAA tournament.

“We are glad to have the opportunity to compete,” he said. 

“I am healthy. I took the time off to get healthy. I am feeling better than ever.”

The Tigers will play two exhibitions – CBU (Oct. 23) and Lane (Oct. 30) before the regular season tips off against Vanderbilt in Nashville on November 7.

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