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2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

Monday, April 7, 2008

Tigers’ aggressive offense to test KU

Current Kentucky coach John Calipari responds to a question during a news conference at the 2008 Final Four when he was still coach at Memphis.

Current Kentucky coach John Calipari responds to a question during a news conference at the 2008 Final Four when he was still coach at Memphis.



2008 NCAA Tournament

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2008 NCAA Tournament

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— It's called the dribble-drive motion offense, a type of rim-crashing attack that Memphis basketball coach John Calipari adopted five years ago. Since that time, he has tweaked it and, more importantly, recruited the perfect players to make it work.

And, man, has it ever worked. Memphis is 38-1 and rolling into tonight's showdown with Kansas University for the NCAA championship. The Tigers' combination of athletic ability and a system to bring out every bit of it has worked wonders.

It expects to get its best test tonight against a Kansas team known for its great defense.

"The offense is geared to all four perimeter guys being able to start the offense, and some of it is scripted," Calipari said. "That's why I say it's like Princeton on steroids. It's just faster."

Calipari's offense - which he picked up from a junior-college coach over dinner one night in 2003 - is a sophisticated way to bring out playground talents, something standouts like Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts grew up on.

"If you can't really play one-on-one, this offense will exploit you and you'll look really bad," said Douglas-Roberts, who grew up in Detroit. "For me, I fit right in because I have been playing that style my whole life. I've never lost a one-on-one game in my whole life."

Memphis' attack was too much for UCLA to handle in a 78-63 victory Saturday in the national semifinals. But take a closer look at the stat sheet: Memphis made just four three-pointers and had 38 points in the paint despite getting just six from its starting forwards.

That's a sign of what Calipari preaches: Attack, attack, attack. And if a transition opportunity presents itself, attack it even harder.

"There is some serious thought that's gone into this," KU coach Bill Self said. "Driving straight lanes, getting the ball to certain areas of the floor which creates penetrate-and-pitch opportunities, angles to drive it. They're great at creating isolations off what they do.

"It's really good, and it's even better if you got really good players."

Which makes Memphis as dangerous as any team in the country. Douglas-Roberts earned All-America honors and averages 18.0 points per game. There's also Rose, an electric freshman point guard out of Chicago who is averaging 14.8 points and 4.6 assists per game.

The two make up the majority of the Tigers' scoring - they had 53 of Memphis' 78 points Saturday - but are complemented wonderfully by Antonio Anderson, Robert Dozier and Joey Dorsey.

After the UCLA beatdown Saturday, Calipari opened his postgame news conference at a loss for words. He came back to one thought, which was surprisingly poignant.

"I've got a good team," he said with a grin.

Save a second-round survival game against Mississippi State, Memphis has rolled through the NCAA Tournament with few problems heading into tonight's showdown.

Much of that is the talent, with guys like Douglas-Roberts and Rose certainly in line to make NBA riches soon. But Calipari has made sure to bring out the most in them, and it has been successful 38 of 39 tries this season.

One more success and Memphis will have its first national championship in school history.

"You have to count on your team to be unselfish, you have to count on your team being able to make great decisions on the run, and you have to understand that what makes it good is they feel unleashed," Calipari said. "They never feel like they can't make a play."


KU 12 years, 11 months ago

CDR: "I've never lost a one-on-one game my whole life."You haven't played stiff enough competition to prepare you for this moment then, son.

KU 12 years, 11 months ago

If we have trouble containing the dribble penetration, maybe we'll see some one-man and two-man zone with our Bigs camped out in the lane?How about triangle and two with Rush guarding CDR and Russ guarding Rose?How about we forget the quirky strategies and just give them a beatdown man-to-man?

KU 12 years, 11 months ago

jayhawkinatl.......I love the Reds, but I hope they go Blue tonight. Danny and the Miracles won in blue in 1988.

jayhawkinATL 12 years, 11 months ago

Play loose again tonight, fellas. All the pressure SHOULD be on Memphis...they've been No. 1 pretty much most of the year. They've been shooting lights-out from the FT stripe lately too...that could change in out favor tonight though, particularly in a TIGHT game. I LOVE BEING THE UNDERDOGS!!!!

truehawkfan 12 years, 11 months ago

I really think you will see a 2-3 zone tonight at times just to take them out of their one on one game. I think it would be smart, but we will and should start in man. It is what we did all year, but Self has shown he is not opposed to switching defenses. A good, solid half court zone should force Memphis to take some shots they normally would not take. I think our defense will be too much for them. We have experience, talent to match, and bigs that will contest every shot. I love our chances, and our match ups. Go Hawks. Play your best and leave it all on the court. I have butterflies already. DADGUM!!

truehawkfan 12 years, 11 months ago

I also want the miracle blues tonight. Love the reds, but the blues have already won a NC!!

jayhawkinATL 12 years, 11 months ago

If we go with the BLUES, I think it should be the retros.

jayhawkinATL 12 years, 11 months ago

I think we like 5-0 in the REDS, aren't we?

jayhawkinATL 12 years, 11 months ago

The butterflies are slowly working their way in, truehawkfan.

KU 12 years, 11 months ago

jayahwkinatl........GREAT idea! The retro blues we wore for the 110th reunion would be awesome. (I can see the people in the University Of Kansas Marketing Department cringing right now. "What? We can't not wear the Tragen Font!")

Michael Leiker 12 years, 11 months ago

KU - good post - what an arrogant SOB. Confidence is one thing, then there's just flat out bragging yourself up. Put him on the ground tonight hawks.

jayhawkinATL 12 years, 11 months ago

I agree, fihsh. Keep the TOs to a minimum...hear that Sherron?!?!

Ted Toulouse 12 years, 11 months ago

Would be a sweet link to have the reds, just like the Orange Bowl baby! Rock Chalk Year of the 'Hawk!

Ted Toulouse 12 years, 11 months ago

Looks like Championships bring out the thread hackers...

classfan 12 years, 11 months ago

Anybody getting nervous yet....How about butterflies....All I can say, is after tonight I hope all the KU fans have new excuses. Its been 20 years since two Carolina guys brought a NC to Lawrence ( Brown and Manning) and all the excuses since are getting old. A curse has been laid upon the KU doorstep. You can watch for it tonight. You will be able to tell when it enters into the game. Its a magical thing to see. The only way for KU to get rid of the curse is to find a little class. Wouldn't it be cool tonight if in the final seconds of the game, with the Chokehawks down, all the fans of the other schools starting chanting Rock Caulk Chokehawk. I can't wait. See you all at the game. I'll be the one in crimson and blue....Rock Caulk Chokehawk....Rock Caulk Chokehawk....Rock Caulk Chokehawk.

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