MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After watching the practice for the University of Memphis men’s basketball team, there are some new faces on the roster and coaching staff, but one thing is not new at all.
The end goal of making it back to March Madness as Memphis did last season with no postseason ban heading into this season is very possible.
“I thank God for all that being behind us,” said Penny Hardaway.
“I trusted it from day one or I wouldn’t be here,” said Kendrick Davis.
Tuesday, the IARP decided to remove the dark cloud hanging over the Tigers program by ruling against a post-season ban and instead decided on a fine and three-year probation.
With the team feeling what they call a relief, many of the players are focused on building on the success of last season.
“Just to be a part of that with coach penny to be a part of anything with coach penny in a city is a blessing by itself so just to be along this journey with the rollercoaster of everything it’s a blessing,” said Alex Lomax.
After celebrating senior day last season, it was for that reason that Lomax decided to return.
Familiar faces like Malcolm Dandridge, the Lawsons, and Deandre William also returned.
Despite most of the team being first-year Tigers, Williams said experience is not a problem for Memphis headed into the season.
“No pressure, we got a lot of guys with experience, fifth-year guys so it’s a smaller learning curve,” said Williams.
Less of a learning curve could make for a smoother transition with multiple new faces on the coaching staff as well.
“We got a lot of knowledge on the sideline,” said Hardaway.
Including the return of Larry Brown, and the introduction of former Whitehaven and Mitchell High head coach Faragi Phillips as an assistant coach, and Frank Haith, who’s no stranger to coaching in the postseason, as an assistant.
With a team in place, forward Deandre Williams said this team has no egos.
“We ended great, so we want to begin great. I know the history of tiger basketball doesn’t get going until like January or February. This year, we’re locked in and loaded on being ready in November,” said Hardaway.
Tiger basketball opens preseason by hosting Christian Brothers University Sunday, October 23, at 4 p.m.