MEMPHIS — After a ten day pause and having gone over two weeks without a game, the Tigers are back to practice, returning from their COVID outbreak over the weekend with the focus on finishing the regular season strong.
The Tigers haven’t played since a win over East Carolina back on February 6th. Winning for the sixth time in seven games.
Then came the COVID issues that shut down the program for ten days. Ten days without any basketball related activities.
The pause forced the postponement of four consecutive games, leaving just four games left on the tigers schedule.
Thanks to the virus, it has been slow going since the U of M returned to practice on Saturday meaning the Tigers will need to use their depth as an advantage as the team tries to ramp back up to full speed after so much time off.
“I think from everybody, the lingering issues of just being off for ten days. They were very winded in the sprint work we were doing, getting up and down,” said Tigers coach Penny Hardaway. “But you could tell, today, since Saturday up until today, it’s getting better and better every single day. Trust your teammates. We’re going to have to do it in numbers. That’s our strength. Our strength is numbers. We have 10 or 11 guys we can go to so you don’t really have to play a lot of guys a lot of minutes. We’re going to have to do it by committee.”
Here’s a look at what is left on the tigers schedule beginning Wednesday night at home against Tulane before road trips to Cincinnati and South Florida followed by the regular season finale, a week from Sunday, March seventh at FedExForum against 12th ranked Houston.
But even more important might be the U of M’s postponed games…five of them.
In order for the Tigers to have a realistic shot at an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament they really need the road games against Wichita State and Houston to be rescheduled. Problem is, time is running out.
“You have to look at the conference because we’re right there, at the top. With us beating Wichita, we definitely want that game, another game because they just beat Houston,” Hardaway said. “We’re hoping to get to make up that other Houston game. Nationally, that’s what they’re saying. They’re only giving us a one bid conference and you gotta beat Houston. They are the bar.”.