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Memphis prepares for Boise State in first round of NCAA Tournament

Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 6:57 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 17, 2022 at 5:00 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Penny Hardaway remembers the feeling of playing in the NCAA Tournament. He calls it the most fun he’s had in his life. Now he’s in it in a coaching capacity, but says the feeling of anticipation remains the same.

“For me, the preparation is still the same because I have to prepare my team,” Hardaway said. “Being the point guard or the guard on the team or the better player, the best player on my team, just kind of preparing my mind for different scenarios, different situations, not trying to overthink it, because it’s still a basketball game, but also to be prepared like when I was when I was a player.”

Hardaway went on to say, “I’ve watched six games of Boise and just trying to get everything in my mind so when the game starts it’ll just be kind of stained on my brain.”

Boise State and Memphis met last year in the NIT when Memphis won by three. This year, both teams agree they’re much more talented. Boise State won the Mountain West Regular Season Title and Tournament Championship. They each pride themselves on defense. Boise State held opponents to an average of 60 points per game this season. Tigers opponents averaged 68 points.

According to Boise State head coach Leon Rice, “I think both teams are pretty strong, pretty athletic, pretty aggressive. Those are the similarities. The offensive styles are a little different, but mostly the defense and how their defense creates so many highlight plays and so many transition points. That’s probably the biggest difference in the two.”

Hardaway said the Broncos identity is, “Toughness and chemistry. I think they believe in one another. They have a great system. They run it like a well-oiled machine, and their toughness. I think they get gritty when it gets down to the last parts of the game.”

Hardaway believes defense travels. He’s telling his players if they play good defense and rebound it should calm their nerves they might have, which typically come on the offensive end.

9-seed Memphis tips off in the first round of the NCAA tournament against 8-seed Boise State, Thursday at 12:45 PM CT.

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