The 30 Most Influential NCAA MBB Groups of SLAM’s 30 Years: ‘08 Memphis

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To rejoice SLAM’s thirtieth anniversary, we’re spotlighting the 30 most influential males’s school groups from our previous 30 years. Stats, data and chips aren’t the principle issue right here, it’s all about their contribution to the sport’s cultural cloth. For the subsequent 30 days—Monday by way of Friday— we’ll be unveiling the full checklist right here. We’ve additionally bought an unique retro collegiate assortment, out now, that pays homage to every squad’s threads. Store right here.


Let’s take it again to ‘08. The Memphis Tigers, led by then-head coach John Calipari, had misplaced within the South Regional Closing the season prior, however going into the ‘07-08 season, all eyes have been on them to see what they might do subsequent. 

In fact, the arrival of a 6-3, top-ranked standout from Chicago who had caught the eye of the nation throughout his time at Simeon Profession Academy, gave the hype surrounding the Tigers an additional increase. Increase could be an understatement. We’re speaking concerning the Rose who would finally turn out to be one of many youngest, ever, to win the NBA’s MVP award. Not a what-if story, or what-was, however what stays: he’s one of the crucial aero-dynamic gamers of all time and has set the usual for what the phrase even means. 

Even again then, and with far much less tattoos, Derrick Rose was bouncier than ever when he suited up for the Tigers and averaged 15 factors and 4 assists per recreation. His courtroom imaginative and prescient and skill to orchestrate performs elevated the Tigers to unprecedented heights as they launched into a 26-game profitable streak to start out the season, incomes them a No. 1 rating for the primary time in 25 years. Whereas Calipari, who is without doubt one of the best school coaches ever, led the helm, Rose and veteran leaders like Joey Dorsey and Chris Douglas-Roberts helped information the Tigers all the best way to the NCAA match. 

They defeated No. 16-seeded Texas–Arlington and 8-seed Mississippi State, triumphed over No. 5 seed Michigan State and, in a dramatic regional remaining, outclassed a No. 2-seeded Texas staff and No. 1 seed UCLA to make all of it the best way to the Nationwide Championship recreation towards Kansas. Rose, ever-so composed for somebody who had but to play on the large stage, held his personal for a whole 45 minutes of the extra time matchup. He dished out dimes effortlessly, commanded the offense like a real flooring common and went at it towards two, typically three defenders as he made his option to the basket. 

Regardless of the loss, that recreation was only a glimpse into the long run. The Tigers despatched three gamers to the League that June: within the ‘08 NBA Draft, Rose was chosen by the Chicago Bulls with the No. 1 choose, whereas Douglas-Roberts and Anderson each have been drafted within the second spherical; a testomony to Calipari’s legacy in molding the sport’s brightest stars. That ‘07-08 season can be tied for probably the most wins (38) in a single season in NCAA historical past, a feat solely Calipari holds. He’d do it once more throughout his tenure at Kentucky, however the document books will inform you that the ‘07-08 Memphis Workforce did it first. 


Photographs by way of Getty Photographs.



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