Tiger fans, city reacts to Penny Hardaway being named new head coach of men’s basketball team

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Hundreds of Tiger fans surrounded their new men's basketball coach Penny Hardaway and showered him with support and Tiger pride.

"I'm excited and elated! I have all the positive feelings you could have," said Tiger fan Linda Case. "It's a full circle. I remember the beginning when he broke so many records playing, now he's coming to coach."

The anticipated announcement happened Tuesday morning at the Laurie-Walton Family Practice Center.

"I'm excited! I'm ready to go! I hope you are too," Hardaway said as he addressed the packed room.

Fans, alumni, students, season ticket holders and former players showed up hours before packing the entire place.

"You see Penny jersey's, Penny shirts. It's a great atmosphere. I think everyone is excited about it," said University of Memphis student Ryan Guyer.

The Raineys were also in the crowd. They have had season tickets for decades.

"The first game I went to was in 1952, and it's never been as bad as it was these last two years," said Win Rainey. "I'm 83-years-old. I hope I live one more year to see his first year coaching."

Excitement was felt across the Bluff City.

Restaurants like Sunrise Memphis offered one cent coffee when they heard the news.

"Just want to celebrate he's head coach. A lot of people around here love him. We love him too," said manager Ross Vego.

The part hit Autozone Park as well. The Redbirds are offering one cent deals for opening day in honor of Hardaway.

Tiger alum Mayor Jim Strickland shouted his support.

"I'm so excited!" he told WREG. "I have been a long time fan. Really admired what he has done on the high school level, and I'm excited for the future of Tiger basketball."

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