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VOL. 133 | NO. 120 | Friday, June 15, 2018

Daily Digest

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Hardaway: Sam Mitchell Will Join Tigers Staff

University of Memphis head basketball coach Penny Hardaway confirmed that former NBA Coach of the Year Sam Mitchell is joining his coaching staff.

Hardaway made his comments during media availability at his youth basketball camp. Mitchell was NBA Coach of the Year following the 2006-07 season with Toronto. He also has been an NBA assistant. This, however, will be the 54-year-old Mitchell’s first college coaching position.

Mitchell, who played 13 years in the NBA, also has coached the U.S. Virgin Island national team and in recent times worked with an Adidas elite basketball program for high school players.

Hardaway’s assistants are now complete with Mitchell joining Tony Madlock, a former Hardaway teammate with the Tigers, and former Memphis Grizzlies player Mike Miller.

– Don Wade

FedEx Institute Hosting Women’s Hackathon in July

The FedEx Institute of Technology at the University of Memphis will host a women’s hackathon July 20-21.

The event, ATHENAtechne, is intended to cultivate a positive environment for women in technology and hopes to draw from across the region.

The free event is open to women and girls who are at least 10 years old.

Sarah Holland, the founder of Memphis Women in Technology, says opportunities for women in tech have grown in the last decade.

“Despite this, we see real challenges as these young women make the transition into professional environment,” she said in a written statement.

The institute’s goal is become a national destination for emerging tech innovators.

“That mission necessitates a commitment to building the diversity of our technology community,” said Cody Behles, assistant director of the FedEx Institute. “Sometimes the best way to do that is to cultivate opportunities that encourage participation in unique ways.”

To register or get more information of ATHENAtechne, go to athenatechne.com.

– Bill Dries

Tigers Men’s Basketball Releases AAC Schedule

The American Athletic Conference has released the 2018-19 men’s basketball league schedule and the University of Memphis, under first-year coach Penny Hardaway, will play single games against four opponents – UConn, SMU, Houston and USF – and home-and-away games with the seven other league schools.

The Tigers will play home games only against UConn and SMU, while playing only road games at Houston and USF. Memphis was 5-1 against those four schools last season.

The U of M beat UConn twice last season and SMU in Dallas, the only game against the Mustangs during 2017-18. In the team’s only meeting against Houston, the Tigers upset the No. 23 Cougars at FedExForum in late February and they split their two regular-season games against USF.

Memphis will play home-and-away games against UCF, Cincinnati, ECU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa and Wichita State. The Tigers will be playing at Wichita State for the first time since the Shockers became American Athletic Conference members last season.

The dates for the conference schedule will be announced later.

Cincinnati finished 16-2 in conference play last season, followed by Wichita State and Houston at 14-4. Memphis finished fifth at 10-8.

Overall, the Tigers finished 21-13 last season and reached the semifinals of the AAC Championships held at Amway Center in Orlando. The 2019 AAC Championships will be played at FedExForum.

Memphis returns guard Jeremiah Martin, the league’s second-leading scorer at 18.9 points per game, and two other starters: 6-foot-8 forwards Kyvon Davenport and Mike Parks.

Under Hardaway, the Tigers signed one of the nation’s top recruiting classes, a group that includes highly regarded Memphis-area guards Alex Lomax and Tyler Harris.

– Don Wade

Blues City Youth Program Traces Whitehaven History

The Whitehaven Summer Youth Experience Program will featured a theatrical presentation of the history of Whitehaven at the program’s Thursday, June 21, finale.

The program by the Blues City Cultural Center is one of several summer initiatives for youths between school years.

The finale will be presented at Southwest Tennessee Community College’s Whitehaven campus, 1234 Finley Road, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

– Bill Dries

Grizzlies’ Henry to Attend World Cup Qualifying Camp

USA Basketball has announced Memphis Grizzlies guard/forward Myke Henry will be part of the roster for the USA World Cup Qualifying Team training camp that gets underway Wednesday, June 20, in Houston, Texas.

The training will be used to select the 12-man team for the USA’s third window of FIBA World Cup Qualifying games, which sees the U.S. face Mexico on June 28 in Mexico City, then Cuba on July 1 in Havana.

Henry, a DePaul product, signed a two-way contract with the Grizzlies on Jan. 13. He appeared in 20 games with the Grizzlies during the 2017-18 season, averaging 5.4 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.55 steals and 1.1 assists in 18.9 minutes per game. In 11 games with the Memphis Hustle, Henry averaged 18.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 27.0 minutes per game.

The USA will hold training camp June 20-26 in Houston, and the team is expected to be announced prior to the team’s departure for Mexico on June 26. The player selections are made by the USA Basketball Men’s World Cup Qualifying Team Committee.

– Don Wade

Longtime Elvis Drummer D.J. Fontana Has Died

D.J. Fontana, the drummer who helped launch rock ‘n’ roll as Elvis Presley’s sideman, has died at 87, his wife said Thursday.

Karen Fontana told The Associated Press that her husband died in his sleep in Nashville Wednesday night. She said he had been suffering complications from breaking his hip in 2016.

“He was loved by everybody all over the world. He treated everybody like everybody was his friend,” she said.

Fontana rose from strip joints in his native Shreveport, Louisiana, to the heights of musical history as Presley’s first and longtime drummer.

They met on the “Louisiana Hayride,” a popular and influential radio and TV country music program based in Shreveport. Fontana, the staff drummer, asked to join his group for a session broadcast in October 1954.

A regional act at the time, the 19-year-old Presley had been recording and touring since the summer with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, the musicians Sun Records founder Sam Phillips brought in after Elvis turned up at the Memphis, Tennessee-based label’s studio.

“The Blue Moon Boys,” as they called themselves, had been playing a blend of blues, pop and country that was unique at the time; but it was missing something crucial.

“Elvis and Scotty and Bill were making good music, but it wasn’t rock n’ roll until D.J. put the backbeat into it,” the Band’s Levon Helm told The Associated Press in 2004.

Elvis returned often to the Hayride, and in 1955 Fontana became a permanent member of the group, working with Presley through much of the 1960s.

Influenced by such big band drummers as Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa, Fontana was admired by Helm, Ringo Starr, Max Weinberg and many others for his power, speed and steadiness, which he honed during his time with the Hayride.

“I heard Scotty and Bill and Elvis one night and knew that I couldn’t mess up that sound,” Fontana later said. “I think the simple approach comes from my hearing so much big band music. I mixed it with rockabilly.”

– The Associated Press

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