- A couple of people have been asking me about this Grizzlies team, now 3-0 in the preseason with the final home preseason game tonight at The Pyramid. The question: "Are they for real?" It's tough to answer, since the eyes of the newly converted are bright with hope and aspirations of taking Orlando in 6 at The Pyramid for the national championship. Well ... let's not get ahead of ourselves. The Grizzlies have won this preseason because they wanted to win. The guys went on the floor and just flat-out played harder. And that's a good thing. Wanting it more than anyone else will get a team to a certain point in terms of record. If a team has some talent and really wants it bad, like the Grizzlies seem to, I can actually see this squad pulling out 40 wins this year, with the majority of them coming at home. But. In terms of the Grizzlies, please recognize that the preseason features none other than scrubs who won't see but five minutes a game in the regular season. Also, the regular superstars of the league do not get their butts into gear until at least March or April, if then. The Grizzlies will face very different versions of the Trailblazers, Clippers, and Sonics at that time. Give them a chance, though. It could be fun to watch.
- At 4-2, it must be good to be a U of M Tigers football player, right? No. Not even a little bit. Head coach Tommy West has always sported a singular reputation: He's meaner after a win than a loss. He tends to look past all the good things in a game and go right for the bad. That's not to say the guy doesn't like a win. Who doesn't? But West wants perfection in every area it's attainable. He demands everything the team can dish out. Every game. So, coach, how was your defense this weekend as Memphis beat Houston 52-33? "It was as bad as I have ever seen it," West says. "It's hard to imagine doing well, giving up 33 points [against Houston]. We were poor. And that's being nice." West's frustration is understandable given that last year's squad was so dominant. This year, West says that he would like to see something a bit more modest. On the coach's wish list? "I'd like to see, at some point, what we call a tackle." Now that is mean. Humor aside -- and the coach isn't really laughing when he cracks these one liners across the podium to assembled media -- West is dead serious about getting this defense back on track. It's great that the offense is finally clicking, but as the Tigers visit run-happy ECU with nationally ranked Leonard Harry (135.2 yards/game) at the running back position, West wants his defensive unit to step up and fill the gaps before Harry blows the thing open. "The thing that irks me," West says, "is the inconsistency and not knowing what to expect week to week." For example, the defense did fine against Southern Florida but folded against Louisville. It returned to form against Southern Mississippi, only to let Houston roll through. At least it's time for an up week, but West isn't counting on that. "I wish I was better at stopping and smelling the roses," West says. "You're always worried about something."
- With Tuesday night's loss to Louisville, Southern Mississippi is probably out of the C-USA picture. That means the title is Louisville's to win (or lose) and the Tigers' to wait for a loss and, more importantly, to win out its C-USA schedule. Of course, what about Cincinnati, currently top of the list in the C-USA? Well, fair enough. But look at Cincy's conference wins. All are against C-USA pastries Army, Tulane, and UAB. The Bearcats have not beaten any team worth mentioning just yet and still will have to get past Louisville and -- surprisingly enough -- the current U of M squad. Here's a good probability: Memphis plays Cincy in its last regular season game. While the game might decide the C-USA second-place spot, it more importantly might decide if Memphis gets to go to the conference's second- or third-ranked bowl (the GMAC Bowl and the galleryfurniture.com bowl, respectively). And if Louisville loses in some freak mishap ... well, there's much more football to play. Let's just leave it at that.