As a photojournalist with a particular eye for sports, capturing images of the University of Memphis Tigers and the Memphis Grizzlies is a thrill a minute regardless of the competition or the outcome.
For Memphis Grizzlies players, joining the sick and shut in does not come as a surprise. Tony Allen and Ed Davis have now been added to the injury list.
After recently losing center Marc Gasol (left MCL sprain) and Zach Randolph (toe injury), Allen missed Thursday's home game (Dec. 5) against the Los Angeles Clippers with a hip contusion. In the second quarter of the match-up, Davis left with a left ankle sprain and did not return.
The Grizzlies fell to the Clippers 101-81 in front of a crowd of 15,112. But it wasn't a lack of effort or energy that caused the loss. At least Randolph doesn't think so.
Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley was back in his normal space – mind and body – on Tuesday (Dec. 2). He didn't have to carry the weight of the team.
"I thought Mike Conley didn't look as tired as he normally does because we put our bodies on people and got him open," said Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger.
"Then he can make plays. He's dropping it off. He got 14 assists. I can imagine a lot of those are to our bigs when they're rolling to the basket or punching it underneath the backboard."
Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger entered the interview room with his usual demeanor – calm. Memphis had just suffered a fourth straight loss at the FedExForum, losing to the struggling Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night.
"I have no idea to be honest," Joerger said, responding to a question about why the team is having such success on the road (five consecutive victories), yet struggling for a win at home.
"I don't know why we ease into games. It's something that I've talked about in the first three timeouts. We have to hit, we have to screen, we have to get people off of Mike Conley and we have got to get Mike Conley off a big number. We just let them get their hands on us and muck everything up."
Every time a team takes the field, it has to be ready to play. Plenty of great teams have been beaten by lesser opponents because they overlooked their competition.
The University of Memphis Tigers are by no means a "great" football team, so it is even more essential to come into every game ready to give all. Headed into their game this past Saturday (Nov. 30) against the Temple Owls, the Tigers were actually a 10-point favorite.
Perhaps that line got to Memphis' head because the Tigers certainly didn't live up to that projection. It was Senior Day at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and unfortunately it wasn't the send-off that the upperclassmen would have imagined.
The last time the University of Memphis's basketball team met the Oklahoma State University Cowboys, OSU's sophomore guard Marcus Smart had a career day scoring 39 points, more than all four of Memphis' senior guards combined. At one point in the first half of that game, Smart was outscoring the Tigers by himself.
So it was easy to see that containing Smart would be the focal point of the rematch in Orlando on Sunday evening (Dec. 1). During the first half, Memphis was able to do just that but still trailed by 10 (42-32) at halftime and it looked like the Tigers might be setting themselves up for a big disappointment.
Then it happened. The Tigers rallied in the second half Memphis outscored OSU 41-26 and defeated the No. 5 Cowboys 73-68 to win the Old Spice Classic.
"We have been through situations similar to this," said Memphis center Marc Gasol, fielding questions from the media before the Grizzlies faced the Houston Rockets at FedExForum on Monday night (Nov. 25).
Gasol was referring to the fact that he will be out for the next few weeks recovering from a left knee injury he sustained in the loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Memphis on Friday (Nov. 22). An MRI revealed a left MCL sprain, putting the All-Star center out indefinitely.
"It's going to be a little different," said Gasol. "Roles are going to change a little bit, but I'm confident the team is going to play the way they are supposed to."