MEMPHIS – With just six games to go in the regular season, I think it’s safe to say this is crunch time for Penny Hardaway and the Memphis Tigers.
Thanks to back to back wins last week, Memphis sits one win away from its fifth straight 20-win season under Hardaway. But at 19-and-6 and 9 and 3 in the AAC, the Tigers still find themselves back on the bubble, now less than a month from Selection Sunday.
While most of us are fixated on all the bracketology talk… last four in….first four out, Hardaway keeps his mind on one thing… winning.
“I don’t really look at a lot of that. Obviously, when you watch games now, Joe Lunardi is on somebody’s telecast and they see the first four out. Last four in and all of that,” Hardaway said. “I think we just win, it just takes care of itself because it doesn’t matter what we’re looking at on TV. If we’re not winning, then we’re not going to be there. So, we just have to continue to win.”
That NCAA Tournament bid is a big reason Hardaway was able to put together one of the most veteran and experienced teams in the country. Guys like Kendric Davis, Keonte Kennedy and Elijah McCadden all transferred in for a chance to make it to the Big Dance.
Something none of them have ever experienced.
“It’s a big motivating factor. That’s why I think most of the names you said, came here to play in the NCAA Tournament. It was a big reason I came,” McCadden said. “It’s still the motivating factor now. Just to get there. I mean, we’re close. I mean, we’re not done yet.”
“Just got to put our hard hats on and just grind out wins right now. Take as many wins as we can. That’s basically what I’m telling them,” said Tigers forward DeAndre Williams. “Because this, it’s tough to get to that tournament. It’s tough to play in it, too. But it’s the greatest tournament in the world. So, we definitely want to be there.”
The U of M continues that quest Thursday night when the Tigers host UCF.