Wading In With a Few Thoughts to Begin 2014

Friday, January 3, 2014, Vol. 129, No. 2

1) A shout-out to Tennessee State Parks’ First Hikes of 2014 program. My wife and 15-year-old son and I spent part of our New Year’s Day hiking 5.8 miles at Fort Pillow State Park in Henning. Great way to step into the New Year. Even if we did order pizza after returning home.

2) Good place to be Saturday, Jan. 4: FedExForum. At 11 a.m., the University of Memphis men’s basketball team tips off against Cincinnati in its first home American Athletic Conference game. Then at 2 p.m., the Lady Tigers play No. 1-ranked Connecticut. Admittance to the Lady Tigers’ game is free. It would be great to see a packed house for the men’s game and a lot of fans stick around for the women’s game. Besides, when else do you get to see the top women’s hoops program in the country?

3) The Grizzlies were to begin a three-game road trip on Thursday, Jan. 2. With a 13-17 record, they really can’t afford anything less than a 2-1 trip. After playing at Phoenix, Denver and Detroit, the Grizz have a four-game homestand against San Antonio, the Suns, Atlanta and Oklahoma City. They need to go 3-1, but given the competition and how bad they have been at home this season that seems pretty close to impossible.

If the Grizz go, say, 3-4 in this stretch they will be sitting at 16-21 with the season almost half over. They then probably would have to win 30 of their last 45 games (which would put them at 46 wins) to have at a good shot at the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

Put it this way: If you’ve been holding your May calendar open to see when Grizzlies playoff games might be, you can go ahead and make other plans now.

4) Happy to give credit where credit is due, so bravo to the Tigers for hitting 8 of 19 3-pointers (42.1 percent) in their win at South Florida. But I stand by my assertion that this team is not as good at shooting threes as the players and coach Josh Pastner believe.

This is not just rooted in the opinion that they like to shoot threes too much, though they do, but also in the belief that most times the guards will have an athletic advantage that should allow them to drive to the rim or dump off to the big men from a drive and also get to the free-throw line. Those are higher-percentage plays.

Yes, the Tigers will have other games here and there when they shoot a good percentage from behind the arc. But there will be nights like the 2-for-17 performance they had against Southeast Missouri State and better teams will make them pay for such poor shooting.

I’d like to see the Tigers keep their 3-point attempts to 15 or fewer. If they don’t, bank on them shooting themselves out of a couple of conference games they otherwise could have won.

5) A story in the works for down the line: The Grizzlies’ game presentation, which is really about everything but the game. I’ll delve into all the various bits, from Fact or Fiction and Kiss Cam to Great Moments in Literature with Jon Leuer. Stay tuned for that.

Don Wade’s column appears weekly in The Daily News and The Memphis News. Listen to Wade on “Middays with Greg & Eli” every Tuesday at noon on Sports 56 AM and 87.7 FM.