Memphis will bring heat, count on it

Memphis straight ahead.

Flash back to the end of the last basketball game between Louisville and Memphis — the championship game of the Conference USA tournament during the 2004-05 season. U of L enters the fray with a 28-4 record, needing a win to improve its seeding in the NCAA tournament.

No time on the clock. Darius Washington, Jr., thumping a fist into his chest, striding confidently to the free throw line, having been fouled by Francisco Garcia. Louisville clinging to a 75-73 lead. He will have three free throw attempts.

Total silence at the Pyramid, reflecting the collective tension of encounters between the teams over the years, the unpredictable, the unexpected so much a part of the series.

U of L fans getting that sinking feeling as Washington makes the first shot, visions of a devastating defeat presenting themselves. But the next two shots rim off the basket. He crumples to the floor face down, this hands covering his eyes, an image that lingers today for anyone who witnessed the episode.

As occurred after a four-year lapse in the series during the early nineties, it is difficult for some to imagine the intensity of the on-again, off-again series. But Memphis has been as good, if not better, in recent years than it was when the series was in full blossom. Having U of L on the schedule with a 9-0 record is all the inspiration a 5-3 Memphis team needs to get it going.

Think the rivalry is in the past? Think again. Here’s that 2004-05 finish:


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Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

One thought on “Memphis will bring heat, count on it

  • December 17, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    We know exactly what the grudge matches,games and series are all about here in the uk as we too have some Monster Derbies with 2 teams that either hate each other or are simply bad neighbours in sporting terms.

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