Memphis coach John Calipari has dealt with some formidable foes in the past. John Chaney. The UMass Board Of Regents. The Newark Star-Ledger’s Dan Garcia. But none of the above present the sort of challenge that Calipari’s Memphis Tigers will face tonight in the form of Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison.
A 6-8 junior, Morrison (above) comes in as perhaps the most-hyped college player since Syracuse’s Carmelo Anthony captured the country’s attention three years ago. He’s the early favorite to nab National Player of the Year honors, and his matchup with Carney has been heavily promoted. Yet given a choice, U of M coach John Calipari would rather avoid such an isolated scenario.
“It’s Morrison against us,” said the UofM coach. “The problem — and I’ve tried to tell this to Rodney — is that we have seven or eight guys who can all score about the same. So Rodney (Carney) can’t get into a head-to-head where Morrison scores, so now he has to shoot it. Because Morrison is taking 25 shots, and Rodney, in all likelihood, will not unless he has it going like he did last game. But the reality of it is that Rodney can’t be saying, ‘Well, he did it to me, so I’m going to do it to him.’ We can’t play that way and beat them.”
Though most media outlets have lauded Memphis, the Tigers were recently called overrated on national television by analyst Seth Davis. Ever since, Calipari has used the verbal jab as motivation, and mentioned it in virtually every interview conducted.
“There are some people who think we are a pretender,” Calipari said.
“Well, the bell is about to be rung here in a minute. So let’s see how we do.”