There is plenty of excitement surrounding the Memphis Tigers program. Beginning their fourth season under coach Josh Pastner ranked No. 16 in USA Today’s preseason coaches poll and No. 17 in AP Top 25 preseason ranking.
The Tigers have their most experienced squad under Pastner plus depth. The talent level of the depth was on display in a recent scrimmage held amongst the team. What seemed to be a one-sided scrimmage of veterans versus majority newcomers, turned into a confidence booster for the newcomers after coming from 16 points down late in the game to force overtime.
However, experience nor depth matters if the players can’t play in the games. Senior forward D.J. Stephens (hamstring), junior forward Tarik Black (strained back), junior guard Antonio Barton (sprained hand) and freshman forward Damien Wilson (pulled back muscle) were all sidelined for the contact portion of practice Saturday.
Sophomore forward Hippolyte Tsafack went down in a five-on-five drill and didn’t return after banging his right knee against a teammate’s knee. Tsafack, who’s still recovering from off-season surgery on the knee, had been a full participant in Memphis’ last three practices.
Memphis is relying on walk-ons, assistant coaches, former players and who else they can find to challenge the healthy players in practice.
Tigers could still be relatively thin when they see their first game-style action of the season Saturday Nov. 3 against Alabama Crimson Tide in a closed scrimmage in Tuscaloosa. The Tigers host the Christian Brothers Bucs in an exhibition at FedExForum on Nov. 7 before opening the season Nov. 12 at home against North Florida Ospreys.
Patosha Jeffery is the Memphis Tigers Featured Columnist at Rant Sports. Be sure to follow her on Twitter: @patoshajeffery