Memphis dropped their fourth consecutive game on Friday night, falling to Murray State, 74-72. It was a loss — and now a streak — that doesn’t sit well with head coach Penny Hardaway.
“I’ve gone through plenty of adversity in my life,” Hardaway said after the game, via The Athletic. “This is a low point for me besides my knee surgeries.
“Never saw this coming and I feel like it’s happening for a reason. Until we all bond together, this type of stuff can happen. Other teams to me seem closer. They’re having fun. They’re making plays. We’ll get there.”
Memphis was having fun and making plays not too long ago. They opened with a 5-0 record this season and were ranked No. 12 in the country. Then came losses to Iowa State, Georgia, Ole Miss and, of course, Murray State.
Hardaway now believes he is to blame for the recent struggles.
“Bad coaching, that’s all I can say on tonight’s game,” Hardaway added. “This game is on me totally. No players. It’s strictly on me.”
Things get no easier for Hardaway or the Tigers from here. Their next two games come against No. 9 Alabama and No. 13 Tennessee. After that, they’ll tip-off against Alabama State and then open conference play.
If Hardaway can’t get himself and the locker-room veterans in order, the wheels could completely come off down in Memphis.
Photo: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
Emoni Bates is headed to Memphis.
The Michigan native shared a photo of himself on Instagram Wednesday in Memphis basketball gear. His caption for the post was: “Memphis what’s da word!!!!!”
Bates also shared a video clip on his Instagram Story of himself in a Memphis hat.
Bates was expected to announce a decision on his future Wednesday. As we said on Tuesday, he was expected to head to Memphis, which is the case.
Bates was also considering Oregon. He made visits to both schools prior to making his announcement this week. Bates was also considering going to the G League.
The 6-foot-8 forward is a top recruit who reclassified from 2022 to the class of 2021. He will join Jalen Duren to form a promising freshman class at Memphis.
The Memphis Tigers already landed a commitment from Jalen Duren, and they could be adding another top prospect soon.
Emoni Bates, a top-5 recruit in the country, is expected to announce his decision on Wednesday. Bates recently reclassified from 2022 to 2021 and is deciding between going to the G League, Memphis, Oregon or Michigan State.
Dan Wetzel is among those who believe Bates will commit to Memphis.
247 Sports’ Travis Branham has also been expecting Bates to commit to Memphis. August 26 is the last day to register for school for Memphis, which could explain the timing of the announcement. Bates also already has a school email address.
Bates is a 6-foot-8 forward from Ypsi Prep Academy in Michigan. He was previously committed to Michigan State but decommitted in 2020.
Penny Hardaway continues to build quite the team in Memphis, and now he’s added one of the top recruits in the country.
Jalen Duren, the consensus top player in the 2022 recruiting class, announced Friday that he was reclassifying to 2021 and committed to the Memphis Tigers. Duren’s announcement was accompanied by a special film confirming the decision.
Memphis already had a top 15 recruiting class incoming even before Duren’s announcement. Duren’s decision could push that ranking into the top five, and the Tigers are finalists for Emoni Bates, another highly-touted recruit, as well.
Duren, a 6-10 center, comes from Montverde Academy in Florida. He has all the traits to be a dominant post player, and is regarded as one of a handful of players with a legitimate chance to go No. 1 overall in the 2022 NBA Draft.
It’s the second straight summer that Hardaway has landed a top recruit, though Moussa Cisse has since transferred to Oklahoma State. Duren profiles as a one-and-done player anyway, and should help spark high expectations for the Tigers.
Penny Hardaway could be making another interesting addition to his coaching staff.
Former NBA big man Rasheed Wallace could join Hardaway’s staff at Memphis, NBA reporter Marc Stein reported on Saturday.
Hardaway has been the head coach at Memphis for three seasons. He flirted with an NBA opportunity but is returning to his alma mater for a fourth season. He already added former college and NBA coach Larry Brown to his staff, and now Wallace is in contention to join it.
Wallace played 18 seasons in the NBA, making four All-Star teams. He was traded to the Pistons in 2004 and helped them win the championship that season. Brown was Wallace’s coach for two seasons in Detroit. Wallace was a colorful personality, known for his “ball don’t lie” saying.
Memphis went 20-8 last season and won the NIT.
Penny Hardaway was in consideration for an NBA head coach job, but he is staying at Memphis. He is also making an addition to his staff.
Hardaway said on Tuesday that he will remain at Memphis to continue building the program.
Jeff Goodman also reported that Hardaway is hiring Larry Brown as an assistant coach.
Brown, 80, has extensive coaching experience in both college and the pros. He last served as a head coach at SMU from 2012-2016. Brown is a good coach but frequently has gotten into trouble with the NCAA, which is what happened at SMU.
Hardaway, 49, has been the head coach at Memphis for three seasons. His team went 20-8 last season and won the NIT.
Penny Hardaway’s Memphis Tigers have landed a big commitment.
Moussa Cisse, a 5-star center, committed to the Tigers program and signed his National Letter of Intent, according to 247 Sports.
Cisse is a monster player in the middle and averaged 18.4 points, 15.3 rebounds and 9.2 blocks last season at Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis.
247 Sports has Cisse ranked as the No. 1 player in Tennessee and No. 2 center in the country.
Memphis is entering its third season under Hardaway. They had a tough break when center James Wiseman was suspended by the NCAA last year and decided to withdraw from school to prepare for the NBA. Much like Wiseman, Cisse is not expected to remain in college too long before heading to the NBA.
The NCAA announced last week that Memphis star James Wiseman has been suspended for 12 games and must make a sizable donation to the charity of his choice, and that decision is not going to be overturned.
On Wednesday, the NCAA issued a statement saying the disciplinary action against Wiseman has been upheld after Memphis appealed.
Wiseman has been ordered by the NCAA to donate $11,500 — the amount of money his family received from Tigers coach Penny Hardaway to move to Memphis — to the charity of his choice. He will be eligible to return on Jan. 12 when Memphis takes on South Florida.
Wiseman was a top recruit for Memphis and is considered a strong candidate to be selected first overall in the NBA Draft. He was initially cleared by the NCAA regarding his eligibility, but officials later ruled that Hardaway was a “booster” for Memphis because he had previously donated to the program, even though he gave the money to Wiseman’s family prior to being named the head coach of the Tigers.
Memphis initially received a temporary restraining order against the NCAA’s ruling and defiantly played Wiseman the first three games of the season before the big man decided to drop his lawsuit against the NCAA and sit out.
The NCAA may still be planning to drop the hammer on Memphis for playing Wiseman after he was ruled ineligible. As far as Wiseman’s eligibility is concerned, the suspension will be until Jan. 12. However, the school could face other fines or other sanctions for the way the situation was handled.
The Memphis Tigers took a risk and defied the NCAA by playing James Wiseman even after he had been ruled ineligible, and may pay the price for it.
According to Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated, sources familiar with NCAA enforcement procedures said that Memphis is likely to face a “major infractions case” for playing Wiseman despite repeated warnings from the NCAA about eligibility issues.
This stems from the Tigers openly flouted NCAA rulings relating to Wiseman. The NCAA had notified Memphis before their season opener that Wiseman could have an eligibility problem, but played him anyway. Wiseman was then ruled ineligible on Nov. 8 because his family received money from coach Penny Hardaway to move, but Memphis went to court and obtained a temporary restraining order against that NCAA ruling. Wiseman proceeded to play two more games before ultimately dropping the lawsuit and sitting out.
Wiseman was ultimately suspended until January, but that won’t clear the Tigers of potential wrongdoing. Memphis knew the risks of playing Wiseman, a potential No. 1 draft pick, despite those warnings. If the NCAA’s enforcement process isn’t respected, they’re a significantly weaker organization, so this is something they will not take lightly.
Potential top overall NBA Draft pick James Wiseman has dropped his fight against the NCAA, meaning the Memphis star will be sitting out games for at least the near future.
Wiseman was recently ruled ineligible by the NCAA because Tigers coach Penny Hardaway has a history with him and helped finance his family’s move to Memphis from Nashville in 2018. The NCAA ruled that this was against rules because they viewed Hardaway, a previous Memphis donor, as a booster for the program, meaning Wiseman received an improper benefit. A court then granted a temporary restraining order against the NCAA’s decision, so Memphis decided to play Wiseman anyway.
On Thursday, Wiseman announced that he has dropped his lawsuit and Memphis said he will sit out for now.
It could be that the lawsuit only made the issue more complicated and would have potentially resulted in more sanctions against Wiseman and/or Memphis, especially if the Tigers kept playing him while he was ruled ineligible.
Wiseman is one of the best players in the country and could be a No. 1 overall pick, so it is in the interest of both Memphis and the NCAA to have him on the court. This could be a step toward resolving the situation.