PHILADELPHIA, PA (WMC) - With under a month to go before the Memphis Tigers men’s basketball season tips off, new head coach Penny Hardaway and company made the trip to Philadelphia for American Athletic Conference media day.
One thing is for certain as Tigers players addressed the media: Penny has won them over.
“He knows everything,” senior point guard Jeremiah Martin said. “That just comes from him being in our shoes. He was a Division I player at Memphis. He was a point guard. He’s so smart. That’s one thing we always say about our coach, he’s smart. He knows everything.”
Penny said coaching AAU and high school for years has taught him to keep a youthful spirit around his players.
"I just brought who I was. That's the energy I bring on every team I've gone to, and Mike and I aren't far removed from the league so we still listen to hip hop music. We still be able to relate to the guys," Hardaway said.
Penny said he wants his players to have fun because of the rigors of being a college athlete, and he knows they'll go the extra mile if he shows a genuine love for his players.
"He makes impressions of us and how we talk, and it's just funny. He's like one of us really," senior forward Kyvon Davenport said.
Another thing that doesn't hurt Penny's credibility with players is having his own brand.
The Tigers are getting new gear with Penny’s ‘1 Cent’ logo on it.
He also showed up to media day wearing a Gucci belt, which, not only, can get the attention of current players, but also recruits.