MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s an exciting day to be a Tigers fan as the team heads to the semifinals of the AAC tournament Saturday afternoon, and fans say they will be out in big numbers to show their support.
Fans say they feel “it” in the air — the momentum and excitement building around this young Tigers team. A lot of them believe the University of Memphis basketball program is headed in the right direction.
“I think everybody was looking forward to next year but their like hold up, wait a minute, we got something started here,” Roderick Brown said. “So I think we’re building right now and I think the sky’s the limit.”
A lot of that being attributed to Penny Hardaway. The Memphis native is in his first year leading the Tigers and many believe he`s building something special here.
“Just to come in and be Memphis born and Memphis bred. Just to bring that excitement back here when everyone was growing up watching the Tigers. I think he`s brought that excitement back,” Brown said.
In fact, after today’s tournament win, many saw Penny Hardaway turn into Coach Hardaway.
“Oh it’s huge for us because our crowd understands that we need the energy,” Hardaway said. “They understand that the situation that we’re in and they’re going to do their part, and they’ve done their part all year, letting us know they’ve got our backs and that they want to support us and help us win and they’re doing that.”
That makes Friday’s win against the University of Central Florida mean more as the city rallies around this young team.
“Just the excitement level,” U of M alumnus Cameron Symlar said. “I see it on Twitter, from scrolling on Twitter, seeing the excitement from Memphis fans. Just being down here you can just feel a different vibe.”
And diehard fans are hoping to see that excitement pour over into a packed arena for Saturday’s matchup against top-seeded Houston.
“Worth it because we’re Tiger nation,” Bryan Cox said. “We live and bleed blue. So we`ll be down here and we’ll be partying.”