Column: Money can’t buy wins, Penny 

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Memphis lost again this weekend, this time to UConn by three points. Head Coach Penny Hardaway came into the season with very high expectations and has fallen short on many of them.  Photo by Jessica Hill/AP.

Memphis lost again this weekend, this time to UConn by three points. Head Coach Penny Hardaway came into the season with very high expectations and has fallen short on many of them. Photo by Jessica Hill/AP.

Memphis basketball is falling apart. They’re currently on a three-game losing streak, and all three losses have come to teams they beat earlier in the season. After starting the year 11-1, they’ve sputtered out in conference play, going just 6-6 and finding themselves in sixth place in the conference. 

Going into the season, they had one of – if not the – best recruiting classes in all of college basketball. Not only did they secure the No. 1 overall recruit in James Wiseman, but they also brought in a second five-star recruit, Precious Achiuwa. On top of that, they got five more four-star recruits: Boogie Ellis, DJ Jeffries, Lester Quinones, Malcolm Dandridge and Damion Baugh.  

It was by far the highest-rated class in the American Conference and edged out Kentucky and Duke for the No. 1 spot in the country. 

Wiseman played three games at Memphis, but according to ESPN after it was discovered that head coach Penny Hardaway made a payment to his mother of almost $12,000, he was suspended for 12 games and then eventually withdrew. 

Still, with one five star recruit and five four stars, this team should be at the very least ranked and easily the best team in the American. There were just 15 schools that managed to snag a five-star recruit and of the ones that didn’t, just five managed to get four four-star guys. Memphis has both. 

They shouldn’t be getting doubled up by Tulsa as they did less than a month ago when they lost 80-40. 

This Memphis team is set up to be the biggest disappointment in college basketball this season. 

In an article in The Athletic from October, Penny Hardaway is quoted saying that this Memphis team is going to win the National Championship. 


It has been a tough season on all fronts for Hardaway and Memphis. WIth expectations of competing for a national championship, their 17-8 will not get them close to that.  Photo by The Daily Memphian/AP.

It has been a tough season on all fronts for Hardaway and Memphis. WIth expectations of competing for a national championship, their 17-8 will not get them close to that. Photo by The Daily Memphian/AP.

“I know when I have something special,” Hardaway said. “When I see this group in action, see their abilities, I know what’s at stake and I know what’s out there. The teams like Michigan State, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, all the usual suspects. I’ve studied the film. I know who they are, but when I look at this group, I just say to myself, ‘We’re going to win a national championship.’” 

Now, it’s going to be virtually impossible to get an at-large bid, and they look like a long-shot to win the American Athletic Conference Tournament. 

On top of that, their recruiting class for next season is looking like a flat out dud. By dud, I mean they haven’t locked up a single recruit for next year. With Wiseman already out the door and Achiuwa likely to follow at the end of the season, this team that’s already extremely underachieving will have nowhere to go but down. 

It just goes to show that raw talent can be easily wasted with bad coaching and development. 

There are 350 Division I college basketball programs. Of them, Memphis is ranked No. 342 in turnovers per game, giving away just under 17 possessions per game. They have a clear lead in the American, with the 11-14 and 4-8 in the conference USF Bulls coming in at No. 301 with 14.9 turnovers per game. In the national standings, Memphis ranks right behind St. Peters University and right ahead of Houston Baptist. 

They’re sloppy, and they’re a waste of talent. 

Of the top-six recruiting classes according to 247 Sports, five of them are currently ranked. No. 1 Memphis is the only one that isn’t, and they’re not even close. 

Money can’t buy wins Penny, and it certainly can’t buy national championships. You still have to coach them, and that’s if you don’t get found out. 


Jorge Eckardt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at Jorge.eckardt@uconn.edu. He tweets @jorge_eckardt31.

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