Penny Hardaway wants to take on toughest competition at Memphis
Penny Hardaway is looking to return the Memphis basketball program to its days as a perennial NCAA Tournament presence, and one of the ways he hopes to do that is by taking on some of the best teams in the nation.
Hardaway, who agreed to replace Tubby Smith this week as the next coach of the Tigers, said one of his first orders of business will be calling coaches like John Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski in an attempt to schedule games against their teams.
“I want to play the big boys. I want to know where we stand. I want to go against those guys and learn what makes them great,” Hardaway said. Said he’d call Calipari, he’d call Duke, he’d call Michigan State. Wants to schedule tough because that’s what the fans want.
— Jonah Jordan (@_JonahJordan) March 20, 2018
Memphis reached the Elite Eight twice and played in the NCAA championship game once in Calipari’s final four seasons with the team from 2005-2009. The Tigers were considered a national powerhouse at the time, and they went on to make four NCAA Tournament appearances under Josh Pastner from 2010-2014. Memphis parted ways with Pastner after the team failed to reach the tournament in two seasons after that, and Smith didn’t do much to improve things.
Hardaway wasted no time landing his first recruit after he was hired by Memphis, and that should be one of his strongest areas. If the former NBA star can find ways to attract top talent to the program, scheduling games against teams like Duke and Kentucky shouldn’t be much of an issue.