Rod Strickland stopped in to our Madison Avenue offices recently to reflect back on his first foray into coaching, how he learned a new way to see, coach and teach the game under John Calipari, and the opportunity he had to mentor one of the most vicious, skilled and devastating point guards to ever wear a college uniform.
Rod Strickland- Reflections on 2008 Memphis Tigers
After a 17-year NBA career, Strickland retired from the league in 2005 with the recognition of his peers as being among the best point guards to ever play the game.
In 2006, he was hired by Calipari to be the University of Memphis’ Director of Basketball Operations. When the 2007-2008 season tipped off, the Tigers boasted the No. 1 overall recruit in the high school Class of 2007, a preternaturally gifted point guard and athletic marvel named Derrick Rose.
Calipari had assembled and coached some excellent teams at Memphis since his arrival in 2000. His first season, they went 21-15. By 2003, he had them back in the NCAA Tournament and in 2006 and 2007, they were knocking on the door of the Final Four after consecutive Elite Eight losses.
But with Rose running the show as a freshman, and with Strickland serving as his point guard Yoda, the Memphis program fielded its best team ever in program history.
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On the 10th year anniversary of that 2008 team, which went 38-2 and lost the national championship game to Kansas 75-68 in an overtime thriller, they are easily recalled as one of the most dominant and exceptional teams to hit the college hoops landscape in the last decade, despite the fact that they didn’t win it all.