The AAC held its first official Media Days on Monday and Tuesday, and this morning, the media’s picks on the league’s teams from top to bottom were released. There was no surprise with who they picked to win the conference, as the Louisville Cardinals received 28 of the 30 first-place votes. What was a surprise to some was who they picked to finish last.
Despite finishing with their best record since the 2008 season and returning the bulk of the starters on both sides of the ball, the Memphis Tigers got no love from the voters on Tuesday morning, as they were picked to finish 10th out of 10 teams. If the Tigers can take anything away from this, it is motivation.
The voters made it obvious that, although the Tigers are headed in the right direction, Memphis still has not gained the respect that they can compete week in, week out with good programs. Head coach Justin Fuente and the players would be the first to tell you that they pay no attention to picks and rankings. But, it would also be naïve to think that the Tigers will not use this as a motivating factor in 2013.
Memphis will open the season against the Duke Blue Devils on Sept. 7 on a three-game winning streak, dating back to last season. At the end of 2012, all the hard work began paying off. The Tigers return 15 starters who are hungry to keep on winning, something they had not done much of in the four seasons prior to Fuente taking over.
The atmosphere is changing, so people can tell Memphis that they are bad, losers, irrelevant and what have you. The Tigers will not be listening, but then again, they will be. Things like being picked to finish last in your conference does nothing but add fuel to the fire. You can bet that Memphis will think about that every time it takes the field this season. After all, no one likes being the kid that got picked last.