Prior to Monday’s exhibition game against CBU, Tiger radio analyst Matt Dillon — a Memphis sports historian of the first order — put together a list of Tiger games in which all five starters hail from the Memphis area. (Dillon’s chart includes Memphis-area suburbs. Importantly, West Memphis, Arkansas, is considered one of these burbs.)
Had Chris Crawford and Adonis Thomas not been benched for tardiness at a pregame meeting, the Tigers would have started five Memphians for the first time since Senior Day in 1995. (On February 28, 1995, coach Larry Finch sent the following five to the floor for tip-off: Lorenzen Wright, Justin Wimmer, Marcus Nolan, Leon Mitchell, and Jason Fox.) Tiger fans will be cheering a team with as much Memphis flavor as any since 1995-96, when Wright, Cedric Henderson, and Chris Garner formed the backbone of a Top-20 team. In addition to Crawford and Thomas, Joe Jackson, Tarik Black, and Ferrakohn Hall are rotation players who hail from the Bluff City.
Remarkably, over the course of four seasons (1984-85 through 1987-88), the Tigers played 134 games with all-Memphis starting fives. Which quintets played the most games together?
• Andre Turner, Baskerville Holmes, William Bedford, Vincent Askew, and Dwight Boyd — 32 games (1985-86)
• Keith Lee (that West Memphis native), Andre Turner, Baskerville Holmes, William Bedford, and Vincent Askew — 31 games (1984-85)
• Vincent Askew, Dwight Boyd, Sylvester Gray, Marvin Alexander, and John Wilfong — 30 games (1986-87)
• Elliot Perry, Dwight Boyd, Rodney Douglas, Steve Ballard, and Dewayne Bailey — 24 games (1987-88)
The very first all-Memphis starting five? They took the floor on February 13, 1984 (and beat South Carolina): Keith Lee, Baskerville Holmes, Andre Turner, Doom Haynes, and Willie Becton.
Consider this a salute to Tiger native sons. And to Matt Dillon.