Some late nights, when you’re already soundly asleep, the CHIEF is awake into the wee hours of the morning watching hours of college basketball and corresponding with beat writers across the country to bring you the best scouting reports and game predictions on the Memphis Tigers’ opponents. Consequently, the CHIEF’s FILM ROOM series is born, only at The BarnBurner.
South Dakota St @ Memphis | ESPN3 | 8:00pm CST| KenPom No. 65
Tonight, your Memphis Tigers play host to third-year Head Coach T.J. Otzelberger’s South Dakota State Jackrabbits. I reached out to MATT ZIMMER — SDSt’s beat writer for Argus Leader Media — for his thoughts on this match-up.
What have the Jackrabbits fans thought of head coach T.J. Otzelberger and the job he’s done so far?
T.J.’s been a pretty big hit. Two seasons, two NCAA tournament berths, and the first one in particular helped endear him to the fan base because it was fairly unexpected and came after a difficult regular season.
He’s established himself as a strong recruiter and brings a little more charisma to the job than predecessor Scott Nagy. For most Jacks fans, the question is how long before he gets poached by a larger program.
Where do you think SDSt ranks in the Summit League?
They’re an overwhelming favorite in the Summit League this season.
Who’s the best SDSt player we may know about?
Senior big man Mike Daum is one of the most well-known players at the mid-major level. He’s been named Summit League tournament MVP in each of his first three seaons, was freshman of the year and Sixth Man of the year as a freshman and Summit League player of the year as a sophomore and junior. He just became SDSU’s all-time leading scorer and has a good chance of reaching 3,000 career points by the end of the year, something only eight Division I players have ever done.
Who’s the unsung hero of the squad?
Sophomore David Jenkins has become a pretty good wing man for Daum — he was freshman of the year in the Summit League last year, but if you’re looking for someone a little more unsung than that it’d be either Tevin King or Skyler Flatten. King is the team’s top defender, while Flatten is an athletic wing who can get hot from outside and score points in bunches.
Which newcomers will have the biggest impact?
Owen King is a true freshman that plays regularly. He was an all-state quarterback who could’ve played Division I football, and he hasn’t looked out of place on the court. Alex Arians and Matt Dentlinger are redshirt freshmen that have played well, too.
How would the Jackrabbits pull out a win here in Memphis?
I’ll be honest, I don’t know a thing about Memphis, so it’d be hard for me to say. Usually the Jacks are at their best when Daum is having success scoring inside and out, attracting enough attention for Jenkins and Flatten to get hot. SDSU likes to run and likes to shoot the 3, which makes it tough to key on Daum. If they’re hot early they could give Memphis some headaches.
Conversely, how best would Memphis protect its home court?
Get Daum in foul trouble. He’s not a great defender to begin with — if you go after him in the post you can potentially get easy points (if you have a good offensive post player), and force him to risk getting in foul trouble.
Jenkins and Flatten are good shooters, but they’re much easier to keep track of when Daum is on the bench.
The Tigers (now 3-4) have struggled a bit as of late — losers of three of their last four games — but to be fair, they’ve played a difficult schedule thus far. Memphis had No. 20 Texas Tech on the ropes and couldn’t finish them off, but the team seems to be improving (emphasis on seems). As I’ve previously researched and opined:
Opponents currently higher in #KenPom than MEMPHIS:
-Wichita State (x2)
We will not be favored in any of these games. But #GTG still tho
— CHIEF (@TheBarnChief) November 28, 2018
I am a big Memphis hoops supporter and will remain so during this young season.
HOWEVER, we’re not a very good basketball team & we’re playing a lot of very good teams. So we’re going to lose quite a few games this year.
I want to see:
-one W against a better team
— CHIEF (@TheBarnChief) November 28, 2018
In fact, shortly before the Texas Tech game, I took the temperature of this young Memphis team and identified some trends I noticed in the first six games:
Penny Hardaway ends his radio show like this: "I'm appreciative of everyone who's coming. We're trying to build something special."
Went to most of Tubby's radio shows. It's certainly much livelier these days, even with the team 3-4.
— Mark Giannotto (@mgiannotto) December 4, 2018
Updated Team Stats:
Not a damn one of ’em — I haven’t seen consistent enough play from any of these Tigers to decisively award then my self-declared prestigious “King Hooper” designation. Maybe next week, fellas…
[whispers under breath while knocking on wood] Isaiah Maurice’s play and defensive motor have significantly improved though —
Next Man Up:
UAB (5-2) comes to the Forum this Saturday (12/8) for a noon tip. One of the much coveted double-header Saturdays (Tigers and Grizz both playing). Later that evening, LeBron’s #Lakeshow (and accompanying media circus) rolls into town.