Memphis' Tarik Black Counted On For Tigers' Success

        After a strong freshman season, Memphis Tiger Tarik Black was poised for a breakout sophomore campaign, ready to lead his team as evidenced by Memphis' top ten ranking in the pre-season coaches poll. While the 6'8" power forward was consistent in his second-year in uniform (10.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, .689 field-goal percentage), he still has plenty of room to grow. And he will have to be if the Tigers want to return to the NCAA Tournament as the class of the C-USA.

        Head coach Josh Pastner lost top scorer and rebounder (18.0 points, 8.0 rebounds), Will Barton, to the NBA, as well as 6'8" forward Wesley Witherspoon, the team's third-leading rebounder (3.7) to graduation. Barton was the go-to player in any halfcourt setting, meaning Black will have to assert himself more in the low-post. Black is more than effective using his 240-pound of muscle frame around the rim, but attempted just six field-goal attempts per game; Barton was more than twice that (13 field-goal attempted per), so Black could see a fair share of those shots.

        The most concerning area for Black and the Tigers, is his rebounding. Barton crashed the glass as aggressively as any guard in the country, but the 6'8" power forward averaged just 2.8 defensive rebounds per game, a 12 percent clip. Quite surprising given his massive size and surprising presence around the rim (1.5 blocks per game).

        As a team, Memphis grabbed just 49.3 percent of available rebounds, good for 222nd in the country last season, and that was with Barton and Witherspoon. If Black doesn't improve his work on the glass, this Memphis team could get pounded on the boards.

By Staff Writer - 9 - 18 - 12