Ford in Maui: Memphis-Tennessee notes
November, 22, 2011
By Chad Ford | ESPN.com
LAHAINA, Hawaii -- It was a double-overtime street fight between two in-state rivals, but the Memphis Tigers pulled out the win 99-97 on Tuesday at the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
Here are some notes from Tuesday's opening game.
1. The win was an important one for the Tigers. While they are loaded with terrific athletes, they were out-executed by Michigan on Monday and almost out-hustled by the Volunteers on Tuesday. The talent is there for Memphis ... but can it jell into a team?
There still are serious questions about who will emerge as the leader on the team. Will Barton led the Tigers with 25 points but made a number of questionable decisions when the game got tight. Still, coach Josh Pastner was pleased that Barton took only two 3s and instead concentrated on getting to the basket. Barton also added 11 rebounds Tuesday.
The Tigers' two other top scorers, Antonio Barton (21 points) and freshman Adonis Thomas (19 points), came off the bench.
Point guard Joe Jackson recorded just one assist. Big man Tarik Black was plagued by foul trouble again, and, despite a lot of preseason hype, had just six points and three rebounds. Wesley Witherspoon, the team's most veteran player, also had just six points and continued to play soft.
If Memphis is going to live up to its lofty early ranking, it is going to have to get much more out of all three.
2. It's pretty clear the Tigers’ best player on the floor is Thomas. He played very well Monday but did so without any plays really being run for him. Thomas was much more active Tuesday, and when he touched the ball, good things happened.
"Adonis was in attack mode," Pastner said. "He's a hard matchup. Whether a 2-man is guarding him, a 3-man guarding him or a 4-man, he's a tough matchup because he's a multidimensional guy."
Thomas looks frustrated at times when his teammates ignore him on the floor. But on Tuesday, he made a more concerted effort to get things done when he got the opportunity. After the game, he said he's willing to be patient coming off the bench.
"Basically I just wanted to come in and make an impact whether I started or got off the bench," Thomas said after the game. "Coach recruited me as a freshman to get things done. Whether I start or come off the bench, what's important is that I just come in and play hard. "
3. Jeronne Maymon is a beast. The Tigers brought a bevy of elite athletes to the fight. The Vols? The lightly regarded squad was carried by big man Maymon, who did the bulk of the damage with 32 points, 20 rebounds and the shot that sent the game into its first OT. Maymon took the last shot of the game for Tennessee, but it fell short and the Volunteers walked away with yet another heartbreaking loss.
Maymon, a 6-foot-7, 260-pound transfer from Marquette, was a beast in the paint. He pounded the Memphis big men inside all game, getting both Black and Stan Simpson into early foul trouble. Maymon's 20 rebounds were a record at the Maui Invitational.
Even more impressive? According to Jeremy Lundblad of ESPN Stats & Info, his 30-point, 20-rebound performance puts him in rarified air. The past three players from the "power six" conferences to do it? Blake Griffin, Michael Beasley and Kevin Durant. Maymon won't get the same love those three did from NBA scouts, but he's a big reason the Volunteers should be much better than predicted this season.