Top 10 Memphis Tigers of the Decade (Basketball)
It's been an exciting decade for Memphis Tigers basketball.
The decade started with the hiring of John Calipari and ends with a promising whippersnapper named Josh Pastner.
We had three straight Elite Eight appearances, a Final Four and six NCAA tournament appearances, plus some of the most memorable players in the program's history.
Some will be remembered as busts (Dajuan Wagner), while some will be immortalized in Tiger basketball lore.
The following list does not rank this decade's stalwarts simply in terms of wins, losses, and statistical achievement. It also takes into account how long a player was here, how memorable he was and whether he had an impact on the city itself.
No. 10: Shawne Williams
For a lot of Tigers fans, Shawne Williams is a guy who came in for one year, was ultra-talented but shot too many threes, made a memorable run that ended in pain and now once in a while tarnishes the city's image in the national media.
For me, however, Williams is the face of Calipari's time at Memphis. Coach Cal's inability to coach coherent offense was never more apparent than when a play ended with either Williams or Rodney Carney jacking up an unfathomable attempt from NBA range.
On the flip side of that coin, Williams' talent was incredible, He could play in the post, drive to the hoop, shoot the midrange jumper, rebound and play defense. In short, he was one of the most talented guys ever to put on the jersey.
He was the face of the 2005 team, Both the player and team can be summed up as such: wasted opportunity for greatness.
No. 9: John Grice
Grice was a huge disappointment when he first arrived at Memphis. He was the sharpshooter that couldn't shoot. He was the lockdown defender that held his head in shame when his man scored. He was the guy who cheated on a math test and got suspended.
However, Grice became quite a redemption story with himself, Antonio Burks and Jeremy Hunt leading Memphis over Louisville in 2003 and then making the NCAA tournament despite playing with a woefully undersized team.
A lot of fans might focus on how the team lost to Arizona State in a disappointing first round exit. I'd rather focus on how Grice had the balls to make a slit throat motion at the Louisville fans. I love this guy!
No. 8: Robert Dozier
The least of the touted Cal's kids that came in with the 2005 season (unless you count Kareem Cooper), the first time I saw Robert Dozier was actually at a Kroger on Highland before the school year started.
He was a pretty awkward, skinny tree-looking guy that walked with a rhythm that suggested he wasn't quite comfortable with his body. Maybe that's why I always felt I was prouder of Dozier than the people around me.
Others talked about "potential" and "inconsistency," but anyone that saw Dozier move up close knew that for him to be as good as he was, he must have been working pretty hard. I'm very happy that his career is still going.
No. 7: Tyreke Evans
"Evans to the hoop!" Tyreke Evans is like a very graceful, giant bowling ball that can jump. He couldn't finish with his left hand to save his life or shoot very well, but it didn't matter.
I thank Evens for basically being the offense in '08-09. He was a very easy player to root for as well and a model citizen in Memphis.
You'll always have a home here, Tyreke. I wish you could have stayed longer.
No. 6: Derrick Rose
We believed we had reached the promised land, but we had a false prophet. If he makes that free throw to beat Kansas, he is No. 1 not just for the decade but in history—swearing the city off and false SAT score be damned.
As it stands, Rose's team lost to Tennessee in Memphis, he missed the free throw that could have sealed the Kansas game, he has broken all ties with the city and all of his wins have been vacated. So, he's still No. 6.
Thanks Big D for the Michigan State and Texas games.
No. 5: Jeremy Hunt
I have mixed feelings about Hunt. I didn't like the off the court stuff at all. I also didn't like that Hunt shot about 37 percent for his career.
Putting him ahead of Derrick Rose sounds crazy, but in the end, Hunt was a part of more great victories than Rose and put a dagger in both Rick Pitino and Bob Huggins' hearts in his career.
He was the glue guy on a team ('07-08) that had no business making the Elite Eight. He was the only guy who played worth a damn against Greg Oden and Ohio State, and he was the craziest mofo to ever put on the jersey.
No. 4: Antonio Anderson
Anderson is one of those players that had the potential to be an NBA superstar coming into college. He has gifts other players only dream about—athleticism, length, basketball IQ, handling and court vision.
For some reason, though, he could never consistently find his stroke.
If you watched him play as intently as I did, you would see how his form changed over the years— sometimes for worse, sometimes for better. If Anderson had shot 45 percent FG and 38 percent from three-point range for his career, he might be the greatest Tiger of all time.
The easiest player to root for, our best defender and one of the stalwarts, Anderson will always have a warm welcome in Memphis.
No. 3: Joey Dorsey
Dorsey was undoubtedly our MVP in '07-08. Say what you will about Rose and CDR, when Dorsey was out, we were ordinary. When he was in, we were nearly unbeatable.
He was the gun on the top of the Tiger tank that steamrolled through the NCAA tournament in 2008. His absence (due to fouling out) was also our death knell in overtime against Kansas.
He did some dumb stuff, but definitely a top 10 all-timer in Tiger history.
No. 2: Antonio Burks
Look at the picture above. This guy was our whole team in '02-03 and '03-04.
A lot of pundits liked to talk about Rodney Carney. Pundits look at box scores. I watched the games.
Burks had the penetration moves of Rose and Evans combined. He was also our best defender and distributor. His senior season, he developed a consistent stroke and started making the defense honest. He was incredible to watch—a force of nature at 5'10".
It was no secret that Burks wasn't going to make it in the NBA. His stroke had a slow release, was old for his class, very small, and he was playing with guys like Duane Erwin in Conference USA.
However, he's a top 10 all-time Tiger and the second best Tiger this decade.
No. 1: Chris Douglas-Roberts
If this guy could shoot clutch free throws, he'd be the greatest player in Memphis history. As it stands, I've only been entertained by two players more than CDR while watching a basketball game—Allen Iverson and Steve Nash.
CDR drew a lot of attention from the defense, but I always felt like his game was entirely up to him. The way he played, did it really matter what the defense did? He just kind of threw it up there, defense or not.
He could also play D, dunk, run the team and rebound. What's not to like?
Along with Keith Lee, Penny, Perry, and Finch, CDR is a top five all-timer.