Well, Tiger hoops fans, the wait is over.
The 2008-09 University of Memphis basketball schedule was released Wednesday, and fans will get to see plenty of their Tigers this season with 18 home dates at FedExForum. Times and television games will be announced at a later date.
As has been during the John Calipari era, national games highlight the 2008-09 slate. The Tigers host UMass, Syracuse and Cincinnati, and travel to Georgetown, Gonzaga and Tennessee. The Memphis schedule also has five games with Calipari facing former assistants Derek Kellogg (UMass), Chuck Martin (Marist), Bruiser Flint (Drexel), Steve Roccaforte (Lamar) and Tony Barbee (UTEP).
"Everywhere I've been recently, fans have been asking about this season's schedule, and I'm excited to get it out there," said Memphis Director of Athletics R.C. Johnson. "As John likes to do, the schedule has a national feel to it, and I know our fans enjoy those high-profile games.
"I also like that we have 18 home games for our fans to watch us play in person at FedExForum. I know our fans enjoy seeing their Tigers, and we always try to schedule as many home games as possible."
The Tigers' 18-game home slate starts Nov. 4 when they host Christian Brothers in their lone exhibition game. Memphis regular season begins 11 days later on Nov. 15 with the home season opener versus Fairfield at FedExForum. The game also is an opening round contest of the 2008 O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
Following the regular season opener, Calipari faces the first of his five former assistants when Kellogg brings his UMass Minutemen to the Bluff City on Nov. 17. Other Calipari former assistants visiting FedExForum this season are Martin with Marist on Dec. 2, Flint with Drexel on Dec. 22 and Roccaforte with Lamar on Jan. 3. The final Calipari versus former assistant match-up is set for Feb. 21 when the Tigers travel to El Paso, Texas, to take on Barbee's UTEP Miners.
Memphis continues its history of playing in-season tournaments when it travels to San Juan, Puerto Rico, Nov. 20-23 to participate in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The Tigers open tournament play in Puerto Rico against Chattanooga on Nov. 20, and then meet either Seton Hall or Southern Cal in second-round action on Nov. 21. The Tip-Off's other bracket features Fairfield, Virginia Tech, Xavier and Missouri.
After returning to the mainland, the Tigers play eight of their next nine contests at home. The home stretch begins Dec. 2 against Marist and continues through the Jan. 7 Conference USA opener versus Marshall. In that span, Memphis hosts Big East Conference foes Syracuse on Dec. 22 and Cincinnati on Dec. 29. The Dec. 22 game is Syracuse's first-ever visit to the Bluff City, while the Tigers and Bearcats meet for the 67th time in their long-standing rivalry.
The lone road contest in that December-early January, home-dominated stretch is a Dec. 13 game at Georgetown.
The Tigers begin defense of their Conference USA regular season crown Jan. 7 against Marshall. The C-USA title defense gets tough late in the league schedule, as Memphis plays four of its final seven conference games away from FedExForum.
Like the previous two C-USA seasons, Memphis plays league home-and-home series with Houston, SMU, Southern Miss, Tulsa and UAB. The Tigers' one-game C-USA foes are Marshall (home), UCF (away), Rice (home), East Carolina (away), UTEP (away) and Tulane (home). For a second-straight year, Memphis closes the C-USA schedule at home, this time versus Tulane on Mar. 7.
In January and February, the Tigers step outside C-USA play and face in-state rival Tennessee on Jan. 24 in Knoxville, Tenn., and Gonzaga on Feb. 7 in Spokane, Wash. ESPN Gameday is scheduled to televise the Memphis-Gonzaga match-up.
2008-09 University of Memphis Basketball Schedule
October - 17, Memphis Madness (FedExForum)
November - 4, Christian Brothers (Exhibition); 15, Fairfield; 17, UMass; 20, vs. Chattanooga (O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off); 21, vs. Seton Hall or Southern Cal (O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off); 23, vs. TBD (O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off).
December - 2, Marist; 13, at Georgetown; 17, Arkansas-Little Rock; 20, Syracuse; 22, Drexel; 29, Cincinnati; 31, Northeastern.
January - 3, Lamar; 7, Marshall; 10, at UCF; 13, at Tulsa; 17, UAB; 21, Rice; 24, at Tennessee; 28, at East Carolina; 31, Houston.
February - 4, at SMU; 7, at Gonzaga (ESPN Gameday); 11, Tulsa; 14, at Southern Miss; 18, SMU; 21, at UTEP; 26, at UAB; 28, Southern Miss.
March - 4, at Houston; 7, Tulane; 11-14, Conference USA Tournament (Memphis, Tenn.)