Finally, for the first time in years, Penny Hardaway and his Tigers can focus on the field. That’s exactly what they did on Friday.
Practicing in front of hundreds of fans at the Laurie-Walton Family Basketball Center – who were on the field for the Memphis Rebound Club’s annual happy hour basketball event – the latest incarnation of the Memphis basketball team spent more than 30 minutes on display The gritty mental strength fits into a plan that has weathered a particularly harsh NCAA storm over the past two-plus years.
Reigning AAC Player of the Year Kendric Davis showed the crowd some of the moves that have helped him become one of the most sought-after transfer players in the country this offseason. DeAndre Williams was one of the few remaining players on the team last season, showing a slimmer physique and equally crafty veteran performance that made him an All-AAC player for the 2021-22 season. Kao Akobundu-Ehiogu, a super athletic 6-10 center, dunks and blocks shots with all kinds of pleasing explosiveness.
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Hardaway conceded his trademark self-confidence by acknowledging the Tigers’ preference for slow starts in recent years.
“This year, we are locked down and ready in November,” he said.
Here are three takeaways from Friday’s proceedings.
Great defensive or offensive concerns?
The opening portion of Friday’s practice began with about 10 minutes of practice work, before the Tigers opened the scoreboard and engaged in a 15-minute pseudo-team scrimmage.
Davis, Williams, Kent Kennedy, Elijah McCarden and Jamal Young Jr. On one side are the starting five, and on the other are Alex Lomax, Damaria Franklin, Jayden Hardaway, Chandler Lawson and Malcolm Dandridge.
Scoring is not easy for any team. But Lomax’s lineup went 13-0. When asked about the one-sided low-scoring performance, Hardaway opted for the half-full approach.
“You know, defense is my heart,” he said. “You have to score, but it feels good to know that we can switch and a lot of guys can play multiple positions. They didn’t shoot well today, but in practice we had Keonte, Jayden, Elijah and those guys knocking down shots. “
Davis blamed fatigue for Friday’s offensive struggles.
“It’s a practice,” he said. “We’re in pain. Our bodies are hurting. We won 4.5 hours (practice on Thursday). We’ve been at it for three months. We have the right parts. We have enough money to take us where we need to go. .”
alex lomax ankle
The Tigers’ blue-collar defensive genius underwent offseason surgery to repair an ankle that has been well below 100 percent since February 2021.
Lomax tried it at the beginning of last season, but reinjured it last December and tweaked it a few times again during the NCAA Tournament earlier this year. On Friday, the former East High star, who didn’t exercise much last season, played confidently. Offensive and leading the defense, Lomax is back to what it was.
“It was a great operation for him and had to clean it up,” Hardaway said. “I’m delighted to see him fit for the first time in a long time.”
Lomax isn’t the only Tiger recovering from offseason surgery. Dandridge underwent knee surgery and recently declared that he is healthier than he was when he came to Memphis. In Friday’s practice, Dandridge carried more body but less weight overall, and he showed better jumps and better endurance on both ends of the floor.
“Marco has a sore knee from time to time, but it’s still good enough to be there every day,” Hardaway said.
As for the health of the rest of the team: “Everyone else is fine.”
About those lineups
They may be tempted to catch a handful of glimpses of the Tigers ahead of their first exhibition game in October. twenty three.
With Davis, Williams and Kennedy on the sidelines Friday, does that mean McCarden and Young will be prime candidates for the starting lineup? Well, Hardaway said.
“I don’t know who’s in the starting lineup,” he said. “I just let them fight it now. We haven’t put in a lot of games. We kind of let them learn how to play together first.”
Contact sports writer Jason Munz at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @munzly.