Tigers and Vols entertain with alumni game
Oh, and Memphis won.
Terry Davis, Special to The New Tri-State Defender | 6/30/2017, 9:50 a.m.
When former players for the University of Memphis Tigers and the University of Tennessee Volunteers met at White Station High School’s gym last Saturday, more than a game was going on.
It was a chance for fans of both schools to see some of their favorite players.
It was a chance for parents to have their kids meet the players, get autographs and maybe get a picture or two. It was a time to reminisce about the times when the Tigers and Vols had great games on the court.
It was an opportunity to talk about possibly the two teams meeting again on the hardwood. Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes and the Tigers’ head coach Tubby Smith have not ruled out the possibility for the two teams meeting in the not to distance future. The two schools last played each other in 2008 when the Tigers were ranked No. 1 in the nation and the Vols were No. 2
Dane Bradshaw, Wayne Chism, Duke Cruise, Taylor Smith and Bobby Yarbrough took the court for the Volunteers. Chism and the Tigers’ Willie Kemp played on the same high school basketball team. For Bradshaw, it was a return to his high school gym. He played for the Vols from 2003-06, scoring his most points in a Tennessee uniform against the Tigers on January 8, 2006 in Memphis.
The Tigers’ alumni squad featured Chris Crawford, Robert Dozier, Joe Jackson, Gerron Johnson, Kemp, Shawn Taggart, Adonis Thomas and Jeremy Hunt. Hunt and Kemp organized the game. High school, college and NBA star player Penny Hardaway, the head coach of the back-to-back state champion East Mustangs, sat in the coaching seat for the Tigers.
There wasn’t much coaching to be done doing this game. Both teams wanted to put on an entertaining show for the fans. In the end, the Tigers outscored the Vols 150 to 128. Many of the players had just finished the playing season in various leagues around the world; so their wasn’t much defense.
The game was also a chance for the latest additions to the University of Memphis basketball team to get a taste of basketball in the city. Returning point guard Jeremiah Martin showed the group of new Tigers the ropes, introducing them to former Tigers and to Tiger fans throughout the game. Tubby Smith even showed up to support the game.
Hunt had to convince co-organizer Kemp that the game would be successful after last year’s game at the field house featured only former Tigers players. Kemp was hoping for some additional players to play in the game, but the schedules weren’t able to coincide.
“It is always hard to get guys to come back, but we are glad we had a chance to put on a show for the fans,” Hunt said. “This game is good for Memphis, it is good for Tennessee. We are happy for everyone that decided to come out to support us.”
A large crowd was on hand. Part of the proceeds were designated for the Kidney Foundation of Memphis and the Mid-South Food Bank.
“I hope we can make this an annual event,” Hunt said. “Maybe we can alternate between Memphis and Thomas Boiling Arena in Knoxville.”