-Daniel Webber (Commentary)
We are in the middle of March Madness and ESPN is recognizing college basketball's top 75 moments in the history of the NCAA tournaments. Memphis is acknowledged in a couple of those moments. Of course, one of the moments that made the list is a memory that Tiger fans would like to think never happened, which was the loss to Kansas in the 2008 National Championship Game (Ouch! It still stings me to re-create it in this story.).
On the other hand, there is a moment in the history of the NCAA Tournament where the Tigers were also recognized that grabbed my attention and is kind of synonymous with today's Tigers. At number 43 on ESPN's College Basketball top 75 moments in tournament history is the play of Andre Turner in the 1985 tournament.
Twice in that tournament Turner knocked down a game winner to help the team advance to the next round. His first heroic moment came in the second round of play against UAB. He swished in a 17 foot jumper with five seconds left in the game. The encore of his heroics came in the Sweet 16 against Boston College, when he made another jumper inside the arc in the final seconds of the game. That Memphis team, whose core was made of mostly Memphians, reached the Final Four and lost to Villanova. Fast forward 28 years later and we have a similar storyline brewing. Like the tale of "Andre the Giant," this years group of Tigers will have to rely on the play of another vertically challenged guard in order for them to have a stellar postseason run, and his name is Joe Jackson.
Jackson, named the Conference USA Player of the Year, didn't have a high scoring run in the league's tournament last week. As a matter of fact it was his teammate Chris Crawford who lit up the place, and was named the tournament's MVP. In spite of what was considered a low-scoring outing, Jackson was still able to remain efficient and help his team win its third consecutive C-USA Tournament Championship. In the three games played at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Jackson averaged 12 ppg. on 50% shooting from the field, a 3 to 2 turnover ratio, and 1.6 steals, all while playing 35 minutes a game.