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Volprofch05

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Memphis' Penny Hardaway expresses frustration with veterans, citing negativity in locker room

Memphis basketball head coach Penny Hardaway sounded off on the flaws within his program following Saturday's 67-63 loss to Ole Miss. The team has "so much negativity in our locker room with veterans being jealous,” Hardaway told The Athletic during a telephone interview on Saturday.

Hardaway said he feels his veteran players have been unwelcoming and selfish toward the younger players on the team. The Tigers feature star freshmen Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren. Memphis was ranked No. 12 in the AP’s preseason poll, mainly because of Bates and Duren's decisions to reclassify.

"Everybody’s trying to get to the NBA off the ranking we had, but nobody is willing to sacrifice minutes, touches, anything," Hardaway said. "It’s been miserable ... I’m going to have to be a complete a$$hole from this point on and only play the players that care."

"The main reason we have these losses is the veterans don’t want to take the young guys under their wings. They want it to be about them."

Hardaway promised to change the starting lineup in order to create more wins. His strategy is to distribute the minutes to players who intend to put the team first and play the hardest.

"I guarantee you we’ll start winning because you’re gonna see guys out there who care and will carry out the game plan," Hardaway said. "They might make mistakes, but there are not gonna be any character issues.”

Memphis is on a three-game losing streak and will play No. 16 Alabama at home on Dec. 14 and No. 13 Tennessee in Nashville four days later.

For more, read Seth Davis' full story in the Go Deeper section.

Are the Tigers' problems fixable?
Seth Davis, college basketball senior editor: On Dec. 4, all problems are fixable. The question is whether this team wants to fix them, and whether they believe in each other and their coach.


The pieces are still there for a successful season, but there has to be a complete buy-in. It takes a long time to build a championship culture, and clearly there is not one in place here.

Is Penny helping or hurting the situation?
Davis: It’s certainly unusual for a coach to speak publicly this way, but Penny is obviously frustrated and angry. His team could hardly play any worse. Ask me in a month whether it helped or hurt, but dire situations call for dire measures.


Penny was never a conventional hire. He says what he thinks, no filter attached. So this was very much on brand for him.

52489A32-79F5-4DDD-B8A8-4712D6F0CF1A.jpeg
 
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Volprofch05

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I think we all deserve full details on this particular story:

A few hours after Memphis’ 82-79 loss at Georgia on Wednesday night, Emoni Bates, the Tigers’ much-ballyhooed, highly scrutinized freshman guard, asked his coach, Penny Hardaway, to remove him from the starting lineup.

Bates, all of 17 years old, had shown flashes of potential while scoring 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting, but he committed four fouls and two turnovers in 26 minutes. The loss came five days after Memphis’ 19-point drubbing at the hands of Iowa State, and it was dealt by a Georgia squad that was riding a four-game losing streak. The 6-foot-9 Bates’ request to come off the bench was an uncommonly mature move for a player his age to make, but it also reflected the discomfort and desperation he and the entire team were starting to feel. “I was very surprised, but I understood,” Hardaway said. “He’s a 17-year-old kid who just wants to get comfortable.”

On Saturday, Bates came off the bench for Memphis’ game at Ole Miss, and he looked anything but comfortable. In 28 ragtag minutes, he shot 1-of-10 from the floor (0-of-4 from 3-point range) and scored seven points. His teammates were no better as the Tigers committed 20 turnovers, shot 2-of-11 from 3 and lost their third straight, 67-63. They will fall out of the rankings when they are released Monday. The Tigers were ranked No. 12 in the AP’s preseason poll largely because of the decision of Bates and fellow freshman forward Jalen Duren to reclassify and enroll as freshmen. It’s only early December, but the season already feels like it’s in tatters.

As the once-promising season has quickly spiraled downward, Hardaway has gone from confused to frustrated to downright pissed off. The focus of his ire is not his freshmen but rather the older players who, in Hardaway’s view, have been selfish, unwelcoming and destructive to the bottom line. “We’ve got so much negativity in our locker room with veterans being jealous,” Hardaway told The Athletic during a telephone interview after Saturday’s loss. “Everybody’s trying to get to the NBA off the ranking we had, but nobody is willing to sacrifice minutes, touches, anything. It’s been miserable. You can imagine what a 17-year-old is thinking as he’s trying to figure it out.”

Hardaway declined to name names — “I don’t want to do that. I don’t have time to deal with angry parents,” he said — but the three upperclassmen who had been in the starting lineup with Bates and Duren were 6-foot-5 junior guard Lester Quinones, 6-7 redshirt junior forward Landers Nolley and 6-9 senior forward DeAndre Williams. Quinones and Nolley combined to shoot 1-of-5 with four turnovers Saturday, while Williams had two rebounds in 23 minutes to go along with 13 points. Duren was limited to two points and four rebounds in 21 minutes because of foul trouble.

Hardaway said he intended to shake up the lineup in the days ahead, distributing most of the minutes to the players he believes will play the hardest and put the team first. “I’m going to have to be a complete ******* from this point on and only play the players that care,” he said. “There’s a group of people on this team that if I played them, I really feel in my heart we could be undefeated or only have one loss. The main reason we have these losses is the veterans don’t want to take the young guys under their wings. They want it to be about them. So when adversity hits, they run. I guarantee you we’ll start winning because you’re gonna see guys out there who care and will carry out the game plan. They might make mistakes, but there are not gonna be any character issues.”

Asked if had enough “a$$hole” in him to switch things up so drastically, Hardaway laughed. “I’ve got a lot of ******* in me. I’m from the ’hood. I’m respectful because my grandmother raised me the right way. But if you’re destroying the team from the inside and not caring, that’ll make me snap.”

Hardaway said he noticed a problem brewing as soon as Duren and Bates arrived on campus in September. “There was tension every day,” he said. “It kind of calmed down when we started playing because we playing against lesser talent. But once we got more nationally televised games, everyone went their separate ways.”

Hardaway is right to be frustrated with his team’s play, but he shouldn’t be all that surprised that chemistry issues have cropped up. Bates and Duren have great potential, but they are clearly not prepared to carry such a heavy burden out of the gate — especially since they didn’t arrive on campus until later in the summer. Most every coach bemoans the individual agendas that creep into a locker room and divide older and younger players. The potential for jealousy is especially high when the newcomers are highly touted prospects who garner huge attention.

Yet, Hardaway said he was taken off-guard by the extent of the resistance. “I didn’t think there’d be any issues,” he said. “I thought those guys would welcome the young guys with open arms. I know there’s going to be a jealousy factor and everybody’s not going to be happy that you have two young guys come in that have big names, but I didn’t think it would be like this. This is a tug of war over who wants to be the man.”

Even as he criticized some of his players, Hardaway was emphatic that the blame for Memphis’ troubles should fall squarely on his shoulders. “This is all on me. I’m the head coach,” he said. “I’ve tried to think it through as a guy that played the game. Our problems have nothing to do with X’s and O’s. We have character issues all the way around.”

Despite his frustration, Hardaway saw some things he liked during Saturday’s loss to Ole Miss. He said he liked Bates’ energy, and he noted that the team missed 14 free throws and still had a chance to win. Turnovers have been a huge problem all season. The Tigers average over 19 per game and rank 352nd in the country in turnover percentage, according to KenPom. Hardaway believes that problem results from players trying to beat defenses by themselves. “That’s not how we teach,” he said. “We had it under control (against Georgia), and we only had 11 turnovers. The 20 turnovers (Saturday) came from guys trying to do too much and breaking off the offense. That’s a big part of what’s going on. We’re playing nationally televised games, and they’re trying to be seen.”

Beyond dealing with the frustrations of his team, Hardaway has been stung by the criticism he has received from fans and the. media. “Being attacked personally like this, that shocks me,” he said. “People don’t understand what’s going on in the locker room. I know I’m the head coach, but I’ve seen other people get more grace than what I get. I understand I’m a former NBA player, I said I want to win a championship and all that. But I hear announcers going at me personally. You can have your opinions, you can go at me professionally, but don’t go at me personally.”

Alas, Memphis’ schedule won’t get any easier from here. The Tigers play No. 16 Alabama at home on Dec. 14 and No. 13 Tennessee in Nashville four days later. If they lose both those games, they will be operating with precious little margin for error in the AAC, where the opportunities for quality wins will be hard to come by. Hardaway is not giving up on his season or his team, nor is he deflecting responsibility for what has happened to this point. But he knows his team is running out of time, and he’s eager to get the turnaround started. In his fourth season, Hardaway has yet to make an NCAA Tournament, though he’s won 20 games in each of his first three seasons and the NIT last March.

“It gets very daunting and frustrating when you’ve got to deal with the whole gamut,” he said. “I’m not taking any pressure off myself. Again, it’s on me. I have to fix it, and I promise you I’m gonna fix it.”
 

orangemadam

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All I can say is that I am grateful for the fact that a big difference in Penny and Barnes is that Barnes has recruited kids with a strong culture that is indicative of their maturity.

Chandler, JJJ, Vescovi, and all the rest have shown a high degree of maturity that allows for great chemistry. The veterans have opened their arms and helped the newcomers adjust.

I often criticize the results that coach has when it comes to tournament time, but I will not criticize the type of players that he recruits, they all seem to display a high degree of character.
 

AthensVol2007

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I don’t doubt Penny is frustrated with the locker room and I don’t doubt the validity of his claims. However, putting it on full display for the general public and coming as close as you can to naming names, without naming names, is going to do nothing to improve the locker room. Those guys not hustling, not playing team ball, etc. should be called out…in the locker room/team meeting room.
 
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TheMookieMonster

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So, he calls out the veterans for being jealous of favoritism of the 5-star freshmen, and in the same interviews, he says that the veterans aren’t playing with passion and don’t care at all about the team and he’ll be playing those who care.

Sounds like he is just going to play the freshmen even more and piss of the veterans even more lol. This could get even uglier!!
 

cardvolfan

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I think we all deserve full details on this particular story:

A few hours after Memphis’ 82-79 loss at Georgia on Wednesday night, Emoni Bates, the Tigers’ much-ballyhooed, highly scrutinized freshman guard, asked his coach, Penny Hardaway, to remove him from the starting lineup.

Bates, all of 17 years old, had shown flashes of potential while scoring 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting, but he committed four fouls and two turnovers in 26 minutes. The loss came five days after Memphis’ 19-point drubbing at the hands of Iowa State, and it was dealt by a Georgia squad that was riding a four-game losing streak. The 6-foot-9 Bates’ request to come off the bench was an uncommonly mature move for a player his age to make, but it also reflected the discomfort and desperation he and the entire team were starting to feel. “I was very surprised, but I understood,” Hardaway said. “He’s a 17-year-old kid who just wants to get comfortable.”

On Saturday, Bates came off the bench for Memphis’ game at Ole Miss, and he looked anything but comfortable. In 28 ragtag minutes, he shot 1-of-10 from the floor (0-of-4 from 3-point range) and scored seven points. His teammates were no better as the Tigers committed 20 turnovers, shot 2-of-11 from 3 and lost their third straight, 67-63. They will fall out of the rankings when they are released Monday. The Tigers were ranked No. 12 in the AP’s preseason poll largely because of the decision of Bates and fellow freshman forward Jalen Duren to reclassify and enroll as freshmen. It’s only early December, but the season already feels like it’s in tatters.

As the once-promising season has quickly spiraled downward, Hardaway has gone from confused to frustrated to downright pissed off. The focus of his ire is not his freshmen but rather the older players who, in Hardaway’s view, have been selfish, unwelcoming and destructive to the bottom line. “We’ve got so much negativity in our locker room with veterans being jealous,” Hardaway told The Athletic during a telephone interview after Saturday’s loss. “Everybody’s trying to get to the NBA off the ranking we had, but nobody is willing to sacrifice minutes, touches, anything. It’s been miserable. You can imagine what a 17-year-old is thinking as he’s trying to figure it out.”

Hardaway declined to name names — “I don’t want to do that. I don’t have time to deal with angry parents,” he said — but the three upperclassmen who had been in the starting lineup with Bates and Duren were 6-foot-5 junior guard Lester Quinones, 6-7 redshirt junior forward Landers Nolley and 6-9 senior forward DeAndre Williams. Quinones and Nolley combined to shoot 1-of-5 with four turnovers Saturday, while Williams had two rebounds in 23 minutes to go along with 13 points. Duren was limited to two points and four rebounds in 21 minutes because of foul trouble.

Hardaway said he intended to shake up the lineup in the days ahead, distributing most of the minutes to the players he believes will play the hardest and put the team first. “I’m going to have to be a complete ******* from this point on and only play the players that care,” he said. “There’s a group of people on this team that if I played them, I really feel in my heart we could be undefeated or only have one loss. The main reason we have these losses is the veterans don’t want to take the young guys under their wings. They want it to be about them. So when adversity hits, they run. I guarantee you we’ll start winning because you’re gonna see guys out there who care and will carry out the game plan. They might make mistakes, but there are not gonna be any character issues.”

Asked if had enough “a$$hole” in him to switch things up so drastically, Hardaway laughed. “I’ve got a lot of ******* in me. I’m from the ’hood. I’m respectful because my grandmother raised me the right way. But if you’re destroying the team from the inside and not caring, that’ll make me snap.”

Hardaway said he noticed a problem brewing as soon as Duren and Bates arrived on campus in September. “There was tension every day,” he said. “It kind of calmed down when we started playing because we playing against lesser talent. But once we got more nationally televised games, everyone went their separate ways.”

Hardaway is right to be frustrated with his team’s play, but he shouldn’t be all that surprised that chemistry issues have cropped up. Bates and Duren have great potential, but they are clearly not prepared to carry such a heavy burden out of the gate — especially since they didn’t arrive on campus until later in the summer. Most every coach bemoans the individual agendas that creep into a locker room and divide older and younger players. The potential for jealousy is especially high when the newcomers are highly touted prospects who garner huge attention.

Yet, Hardaway said he was taken off-guard by the extent of the resistance. “I didn’t think there’d be any issues,” he said. “I thought those guys would welcome the young guys with open arms. I know there’s going to be a jealousy factor and everybody’s not going to be happy that you have two young guys come in that have big names, but I didn’t think it would be like this. This is a tug of war over who wants to be the man.”

Even as he criticized some of his players, Hardaway was emphatic that the blame for Memphis’ troubles should fall squarely on his shoulders. “This is all on me. I’m the head coach,” he said. “I’ve tried to think it through as a guy that played the game. Our problems have nothing to do with X’s and O’s. We have character issues all the way around.”

Despite his frustration, Hardaway saw some things he liked during Saturday’s loss to Ole Miss. He said he liked Bates’ energy, and he noted that the team missed 14 free throws and still had a chance to win. Turnovers have been a huge problem all season. The Tigers average over 19 per game and rank 352nd in the country in turnover percentage, according to KenPom. Hardaway believes that problem results from players trying to beat defenses by themselves. “That’s not how we teach,” he said. “We had it under control (against Georgia), and we only had 11 turnovers. The 20 turnovers (Saturday) came from guys trying to do too much and breaking off the offense. That’s a big part of what’s going on. We’re playing nationally televised games, and they’re trying to be seen.”

Beyond dealing with the frustrations of his team, Hardaway has been stung by the criticism he has received from fans and the. media. “Being attacked personally like this, that shocks me,” he said. “People don’t understand what’s going on in the locker room. I know I’m the head coach, but I’ve seen other people get more grace than what I get. I understand I’m a former NBA player, I said I want to win a championship and all that. But I hear announcers going at me personally. You can have your opinions, you can go at me professionally, but don’t go at me personally.”

Alas, Memphis’ schedule won’t get any easier from here. The Tigers play No. 16 Alabama at home on Dec. 14 and No. 13 Tennessee in Nashville four days later. If they lose both those games, they will be operating with precious little margin for error in the AAC, where the opportunities for quality wins will be hard to come by. Hardaway is not giving up on his season or his team, nor is he deflecting responsibility for what has happened to this point. But he knows his team is running out of time, and he’s eager to get the turnaround started. In his fourth season, Hardaway has yet to make an NCAA Tournament, though he’s won 20 games in each of his first three seasons and the NIT last March.

“It gets very daunting and frustrating when you’ve got to deal with the whole gamut,” he said. “I’m not taking any pressure off myself. Again, it’s on me. I have to fix it, and I promise you I’m gonna fix it.”
Poor me……poor, poor me. Yet, he’s going to fix it. When you look at this absolute mess, it makes me even more thankful to have Barnes.
 

golfballs

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What’s the story w Turgeon? I’m sure they’re expecting more but he’s not a bad coach. Aside from Oats who I can’t imagine would go there, the names on that list are definitely worse than Turgeon. Kind of ublocky last year w COVID. That was a pretty good team. Could have made a run in march.
 

Delmar

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A couple of issues with Penny. What was he doing this summer when they should have been team building and integrating the youngsters and the veterans? Isn’t that the head coach’s job to do that? Did he think the veterans were going to be happy with him installing unproven freshmen into the starting lineup over them? Everybody down here thought he was just going to roll out his NBA credentials and all of college basketball was going to bow down. Obviously that isn’t working out. Conned some good recruits to come in the last two years but that doesn’t matter if you can’t coach. You can cover a lot of sins in high school and AAU ball with talent but not at the college level. His inexperience is clearly showing.
 

cardvolfan

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Hopefully this dispels the idea that all you have to do is assemble talent and roll the ball out there and let them play.
Jerry Green essentially had that approach. Incredible talent that just couldn’t put it together. They didn’t come close to meeting their own expectations because coaching leadership was non-existent.
 

gordonr24

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Memphis-Tennessee game will be one for the ages.
Tennessee is definitely the better team. Better coached and plays well together. Memphis is currently a catastrophe and broken. Talented but just like our 2016 football team, poorly coached and Penny is a terrible leader.

As long as we show up ready, we should take care of business. Penny will make sure they’re up for the UT game. It’s Memphis’ biggest game of the year and for UT, it’s just another solid nonconference matchup.
 

ColinS

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Tennessee is definitely the better team. Better coached and plays well together. Memphis is currently a catastrophe and broken. Talented but just like our 2016 football team, poorly coached and Penny is a terrible leader.

As long as we show up ready, we should take care of business. Penny will make sure they’re up for the UT game. It’s Memphis’ biggest game of the year and for UT, it’s just another solid nonconference matchup.
"It's Memphis' biggest game of the year" That's my concern. If they are gonna lock in and be focused this will be the game. We better bring our A game. I don't expect anything but a close game.
 
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cncchris33

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"It's Memphis' biggest game of the year" That's my concern. If they are gonna lock in and be focused this will be the game. We better bring our A game. I don't expect anything but a close game.
I do expect it to be a de-facto home game for Tennessee, as there are clearly more Tennessee fans in the mid-state than Memphis fans. Plus, I expect our local fans to travel much better. That should only help to work in our favor.
 
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