The pageantry that is "Memphis Madness" was on display as University of Memphis Tigers basketball fans packed the FedExForum – again – on Friday (Oct. 18). With the pyrotechnics and special performances, the atmosphere was more like that of a circus or a carnival, rather than a basketball game.
The Memphis cheerleaders (all-girl, co-ed, and pom) started the festivities with a spirited performance showcasing some acrobatics and new age dance routines. And as the arena went dark, the song "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons was fittingly chosen to blare from the speakers.
With the refrain, "Welcome to the new age", the new basketball court was revealed. The silhouette of the "M" bridge and the Memphis skyline was on one side and the new American Athletic Conference logos on the other.
With four preseason games left, the Memphis Grizzlies are looking to cut down on turnovers and careless mistakes.
The "preseason sloppiness" will cease, Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger said on Tuesday after the team defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 102-99 at FedExForum.
Now 2-2, the Grizzlies entered the game averaging 20 turnovers but only turned the ball over 13 times. They played without Mike Miller, Zach Randolph, Kosta Koufos, Tayshaun Prince, Willie Reed and newly-signed guard Andre Barrett. The team will play its next three tilts on the road before finishing the preseason against Houston on Oct. 25 at FedExForum.
Against Milwaukee, Quincy Pondexter topped his career single-game high of 17 points, leading all scorers with 24 points in his first start of the season.
An underdog going up against the Cougars in Houston last weekend, the University of Memphis football Tigers had been steadily improving and the thought of a victory wasn't beyond the realm of reality.
The Tigers clearly believed that, holding a 15-10 lead with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter. Unfortunately for the "Big Blue Nation,"the Cougars rallied handing the Tigers (1-4) a 25-15 setback, their fourth loss this season.
For Memphis, it was the second time in as many games in conference competition that the Tigers had the lead late in the game and couldn't come away with a win. After a chaotic finish, Memphis stumbled the week before against UCF after edging ahead early in the fourth quarter.
"It was a hard-fought battle."
"It didn't turn out the way we wanted to."
"That was a tough football game against a really good program."
"We came up a little bit short but I was awfully proud of the way our kids continued to fight and battle and play for each other."
After making it to the Western Conference Finals – a punctuation mark on the franchise's best season ever – the Memphis Grizzlies are back in training camp with their starting five.
They have a new head coach, Dave Joerger, who served as defensive coordinator under former head coach Lionel Hollins.
They've brought back sharpshooter Mike Miller, who earned championship experience with the Miami Heat after an earlier stint with the Grizz.
They've acquired a new down-low force in Kosto Koufos, beefing up the frontcourt and providing much-needed back up to All-Star center Marc Gasol.
After starting the season with two road games, the Tennessee Titans on Sunday were on home ground as they faced off against the San Diego Chargers, who were flying high after a big victory over Philadelphia.
The Titans franchise had not beaten the Chargers since 1992 when the Titans were then doing business as the Houston Oilers. That drought ended with a stellar performance from Titans quarterback Jake Locker. Locker threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to rookie Justin Hunter with 15 seconds left and the Titans rallied to beat San Diego 20-17 at LP Field in Nashville.
The catch was Hunter's first NFL reception and the timing couldn't have been better.
I cringed as the scores came in over the weekend: Ohio State 76, Florida A&M 0; Florida State 54, Bethune-Cookman 6; Miami 77, Savannah State 7. Our Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have traded their proud, rich football heritage for money. And I don't think it's worth it.
There's only one reason our HBCUs schedule games against schools whose head coaches make more than their entire athletic budgets: they earn a big payday, even if that means being publicly humiliated along the way.
The irony is that the SEC wouldn't continue to have a lock on national football championships were it not for their black players. And it wasn't all that long ago that blacks were as unwelcomed in the SEC as they were at KKK rallies. But when Sam Cunningham ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries in 1970 as the University of Southern California routed Alabama 42-21 in Birmingham, the conference got the message that they couldn't win without black talent.