Memphis’ Allen plays bigger than his size | NevadaAppeal.com

Memphis’ Allen plays bigger than his size

DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer

NEW ORLEANS, La. – Don’t be fooled by Memphis point guard Andre Allen. He will be the smallest player on the court today at 5-foot-9, but he plays much bigger than that.

Allen, who scored 14 points off the bench on Friday, was named after former Memphis point guard Andre Turner.

According to reports, Turner was rated the nation’s top point guard when he was in eighth grade, and he never grew another inch. He turned down some scholarship offers to walk on at Memphis.

“It was just something I wanted to do,” said Allen, who is averaging 5.4 points a contest. “I always wanted the chance to put on a Memphis uniform.”

Certainly Memphis coach John Calipari is happy that he has Allen on his side.

“He’s a unique kid,” Calipari said. “He’s from Memphis, from one of the poorest in the county zip-code wise. It’s an area of Memphis where they take great pride in their children. They take great pride in basketball.

“He didn’t grow, but he was always a competitor. He could have been a football player, in fact he did play football. He is so fast. The biggest thing about him is he is so competitive. At this time of the year, this is what he lives for. I’m not afraid to go with him. He played so well (Friday), I just stuck with him.”

Calipari said it’s key for guys like Allen and other guys who come off the bench and even guys who start, to accept their roles.

“If there is any selfishness on your team, you are finished,” Calipari said. “We are all holding onto a rope, and it’s the team that lets go that is usually the one that is not having any fun because players don’t understand their roles.”

SHORTENED BENCH

Nevada played just eight players in its opening-round win over Creighton on Friday, a big difference from the regular season when it used to play 10 or 11 players on a consistent basis.

“Last week was the league tournament and I wanted our players to be fresh,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “Knowing (Creighton coach) Dana (Altman) as I do, every possession was going to be important, and I played our most experienced guys on the team.”

The only freshman to see action was 6-11 JaVale McGee, who contributed two points and five rebounds in nine minutes.

Will Nevada employ the same ironman strategy today?

“We’re still talking things over,” associate head coach David Carter said. “It depends on the flow of the game.”

With Memphis wanting to speed the game up, it’s likely that Fox will use his bench a little more.

VISUALIZING FREE THROWS

Memphis’ 61.3 effort from the free-throw line is one of the worst marks in the country, and the team is trying a new approach.

“We just began to use this new visualization thing,” sophomore guard Chris Douglas-Roberts said. “He told us to begin to visualize ourselves making 20 straight. When you visualize, you don’t miss. We laughed at first, but he (Calipari) was dead serious. We usually shot some before and after practice and before games but in practice we don’t anymore.

“I don’t do it everyday, but I do it a lot. It’s a mental thing and if you visualize it more than likely you’ll make them. You will make them if you think you can.”

Robert Dozier said the team isn’t too worried about it.

“Like coach Calipari said, we miss free throws a lot during the course of the game,” the 6-9 Dozier said. “When it comes down to crunch time, we make them 85 percent of the time.”

EYE ON KEMP

Nevada guard Marcelus Kemp is uppermost in the thoughts of Memphis players after his 27-point effort against Creighton on Friday.

“It can sometimes be impossible to stop a big guard like that,” said Antonio Anderson, who will probably draw the initial assignment. “I won’t have to stop him myself because I will have my whole team to help me. He brings a lot to the table and can rebound and shoot well. He is a physical guard with a good all-around game.”

KNOWING NICK

Several reporters who have never seen Nick Fazekas play have commented on the lack of facial expression during the game, and the fact that he often looks “sleepy.”

Nevada coach Mark Fox laughed at that.

“He’s so misunderstood,” Fox said. “He’s more athletic than people realize, he’s tougher than people realize and stronger than people realize.

“That’s just Nick. He looks sleepy, and he’ll go out and get 28 (points) and 18 (rebounds). He quietly gets it done.”

With Fazekas, you never know whether he’s 6-for-6 from the floor or 0-for-6 from the floor. It’s almost like he has a golfer’s mentality.

•Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1281