Nov. 8, 2004
|John Calipari hopes Rodney Carney and the Tigers will soar in C-USA.|
In preparing for some of my early-season games -- including the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic tournament and the Tip-Off Classic in Springfield, Mass. -- I've been calling coaches to talk about their teams.
One coach will be at the Tip-Off Classic and could be at Madison Square Garden for the Coaches vs. Cancer finals: John Calipari of Memphis.
Calipari is really excited about his team this season, and when you mention the name of Rodney Carney, he gushes with praise.
Calipari says that Carney, a 6-foot-7 junior, is one of the five best athletes in America. The coach feels Carney will be a special and complete player by the end of the season.
Calipari noticed that I left Carney off my All-Rolls-Royce teams. The coach told me that I'll find out how good he is. Carney is an explosive athlete, a great transition player, a high-riser. Calipari made a strong case about his athletic ability.
Carney has to be consistent on both ends of the floor and with his shooting range from the perimeter.
He could be a name many people talk about by the end of the season. We'll find out how good he is soon, as the Tigers have several early-season challenges.
Tourneys on TV
Memphis will play Maryland in the Tip-Off Classic in Springfield, Mass., on Friday, Nov. 26 (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET).
Before that, Memphis plays in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, which has a new, expanded format for 2004: 16 teams from 16 different conferences tipping off the college hoops season at four regional sites nationwide.
Cal, Memphis, Mississippi State and Syracuse will host the opening rounds, with teams playing for the chance to advance to the semifinal and championship rounds at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The Coaches vs. Cancer opening games are Nov. 11-13. The championship rounds are Nov. 18-19, as follows:
Semifinals: Thursday, Nov. 18
(ESPN2, 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.)
Consolation: Friday, Nov. 19
(ESPN2, 7 p.m.)
Championship: Friday, Nov. 19
(ESPN2, 9:15 p.m.)
Calipari is beginning his fifth season at Memphis (his first year was 2000-01). His four-year record with the Tigers is 93-39.
Memphis has lost the quickness of point guard Antonio Burks to graduation, but the Tigers have added freshman Darius Washington of Orlando.
Some may remember Washington hooking up against high-school phenom Sebastian Telfair, who jumped straight to the NBA, in a classic prep confrontation last season.
Washington will be a diaper dandy on the perimeter, and Calipari is excited to add this newcomer to the mix with Jeremy Hunt and Anthony Rice.
Calipari feels he has three guys capable of making shots who will create havoc for defenses.
Then there's super soph Sean Banks, one of the premier players in Conference USA.
So you can understand why Calipari is enthusiastic. There's excitement galore in Memphis.
The Tigers will be a fun team to watch. Keep an eye on Carney to see if he's half as good as Calipari says. If he is, then he's a real gem.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.