The University of Memphis will host the University of Alabama at Birmingham for the final time as a member of Conference USA (C-USA). This will also mark the end of an era for four Tiger seniors. Ferrakohn Hall (Memphis, TN), Charles Holt (Jackson, TN), Stan Simpson (Chicago, IL) and fan-favorite D.J. Stephens (Killeen, TX) will all be honor prior to tip at FedExForum.
The most notable of the class is D.J. Stephens. Stephens has moved from a simple role player to becoming a vital force on the team. Before this season, Stephens had 55 career blocks in three seasons, this season he has 70 blocks.
The final season in C-USA is setting up to be a memorable one for the Tigers. Currently, the Tigers are 15-0 in conference play and have secured the top seed in the post-season basketball tournament. The Tigers have had a few close calls in conference play, but were able to prevail in the end.
Memphis has the respect of its fans and conference foes. They are looking for national attention and respect the only way to get type of respect is to earn it. Barring dramatic events from taking place, the Tigers should make the NCAA tournament and will have an opportunity to earn some RESPECT as a team this season by making a deep run in the tournament.
4 things to think about as the Memphis Tigers honor their 2013 senior class:
Hall’s energy off of the bench.
On several occasions this season, Hall has given the Tigers a need spark of energy in crucial times. When called upon, Hall always gives full effort to assist the team. Hall has not gripped publicly about his lack of playing time, but has shown that blue collar mentality all season.
From potential redshirt to fan favorite.
At the start of the year there was a chance that Stephens would be redshirted because of his nagging injury. Coach Josh Pastner has held Stephens out of practices all season. Pastner has stated on many occasions that Stephens practices like he plays. Coach Pastner doesn’t want to risk any type of injury, because of Stephens’ hustle in practice.
D.J. has entertained the crowds at the FedExForum with his high energy dunks, and have caused many opponents to have nightmares with his shot blocking ability. In the long run, the redshirt year may have been beneficial to Stephens, but there is no telling where this team would be without the productivity of Stephens.
Career year for Stephens.
Despite the lack of practice time this season, Stephens has had the best season of his career. Stephens will be the odds on favorite to win C-USA defensive player of the year. D.J. has scored a career high of 15 points this season had had two games with double digits points and rebounds including a season high of 13 rebounds in a game.
Could this be the final game for Adonis Thomas?
Coming into this season, Thomas was considered the best player on this team. In off season, Thomas gain weight. Thomas started the year very slowly, but has been on a tear as of lately. While Thomas struggled in the early going, other players have gelled as a team.
Thomas has had a more aggressive attitude in the past few games and the intensity of the Tigers has improved as a result. If this team wants to be considered a great team, they must make a deep run into the NCAA tournament. If this is the last home game for Thomas, he has proved his critics wrong by rising up late to become one of the best players in C-USA this season.