Tigers insist they've grown up since losing regional final to UCLA in 2006 Print
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Tuesday, 01 April 2008 13:24
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 MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -John Calipari settled in and watched the tape of Memphis' loss to UCLA in a regional final two years ago. He saw his Tigers scared, taking bad shots, rushing themselves.
``It made me sick to my stomach, but I looked at it,'' he said Tuesday.
Chris Douglas-Roberts was a mere freshman in that 50-45 loss in the Oakland Regional in 2006 along with Robert Dozier and Antonio Anderson. Joey Dorsey, the Tigers' rim-shaking dunker and shot blocker, was a sophomore.
But it's Douglas-Roberts that Calipari has mentioned often in recent weeks as the guy he had to bench in that loss after four turnovers.
Turns out it was only three, and a look at the videotape has changed Calipari's impression of Douglas-Roberts from that game.
``He wasn't as bad as I thought when I watched the tape. He was a little better,'' Calipari said.
And Douglas-Roberts is much improved two years later. Dorsey makes the highlight shots with his slams along with freshman point guard Derrick Rose flying through the air to the rim.
But the Tigers' All-American is a big reason why top-seeded Memphis (37-1) breezed through the South Regional and into the school's third Final Four. Calipari said UCLA (35-3) will see the mature Douglas-Roberts on Saturday in San Antonio.
``His ability to shoot balls. His ability to score in traffic. His physical play because he's gained weight. You're not going to throw him around and do stuff they did in that game,'' Calipari said.
Douglas-Roberts had six points and six rebounds in that loss. He wasn't alone in struggling. Dorsey had two points and six rebounds before fouling out, Dozier added six points and eight rebounds. Anderson had more assists (three) than points (two), but it wasn't pretty.
Dorsey said there are a lot of memories of that loss, none good.
``I was very young. We were happy to be there. Chris Douglas, he was very young, so it's a big deal for us to go back up against them, a great deal,'' Dorsey said.
Douglas-Roberts, the Detroit native, had only turned 19 two months earlier. Now the 6-foot-7 guard/forward weighs in at 200 pounds and said the difference is he's two years older and more experienced.
``It's not payback. That game was two years ago. ... It's the next game for us,'' Douglas-Roberts said.
Douglas-Roberts is the top scorer left in the NCAA tournament with 90 points in four games, three ahead of UCLA's All-America freshman Kevin Love (87). Rose has added 82 himself, giving Memphis the top-scoring duo left in this tournament.
This will be the third straight Final Four for UCLA, the first for the Tigers after three consecutive regional finals. But the Tigers warn not to think the school's first Final Four appearance since 1985 means they're happy just to be packing their bags. Douglas-Roberts said they aren't ready to settle for making the trip.
``We smell it. We're too close to lose. That's how we feel,'' Douglas-Roberts said.
``We're just ready to play. If we don't have momentum in a Final Four game, if we're not excited to play, then something isn't right. I know my team is ready to play.''
Anyone doubting that commitment only had to show up for practice an hour early. Dorsey already was on the court working up a sweat with former Memphis and NBA star Penny Hardaway, practicing drives to the basket, jumpers and free throws for the guy who averaged 37.3 percent at the line this season and 1-of-3 in his past two games.
``That's been a big thing for me throughout my career at Memphis is my poor free throw shooting. I was riding into the gym today and I heard they were getting (on) me,'' Dorsey said.
If UCLA wants to try to slow down the Tigers with Love and the Bruins' physical, grinding approach, bring it on. Douglas-Roberts points out this group of Tigers has played through everything, from run-and-gun to walk-it-up.
He didn't mention the junk defenses thrown at them ever since Southern California forced them into overtime Dec. 4 in a game Memphis won 62-58.
``It doesn't really matter. They can't really dictate the tempo unless we allow them to,'' he said.
 

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