Memphis head basketball coach Penny Hardaway wasn’t in the mood Thursday night.
On the heels of a 70-62 loss to SMU, the Tigers’ head coach sat in front of reporters with a sour taste in his mouth.
“[It was] one of the worst games of the year,” Hardaway said. “I have to stay on the drawing board. Man, he keeps fighting. That’s all I can do. That’s all I know.”
Memphis (9-8, 3-4 AAC) has now lost eight of its last 12 games.
Hardaway seemed to be done with his media availability after his opening remarks; then came the questions.
When asked whether or not the Memphis native had lost faith in his ability to get the most out of the team, Hardaway responded…well, harshly.
“These outlets get angry sometimes when it comes to me, (it’s) that we don’t have our full list,” he said, waving his hand in the air. “You all know we don’t have our full list. So stop asking me stupid questions about whether I feel like I can do anything.”
Penny Hardaway’s answer to whether she can get the job done in Memphis.
“Stop asking me stupid questions about if I feel like I can do anything. If I had my list like them, then I feel like I can do whatever I want.” pic.twitter.com/WA79u6Y7bc
— Cassie Carlson (@CassieCarlsonTV) January 21, 2022
The Tigers have been plagued by injuries this season.
Memphis leading scorer DeAndre Williams? Out of.
His assistant leader, Landers Nolley II? Out of.
Jayden Hardaway? Also outside.
He got senior Alex Lomax back from an ankle injury after five games, which is a positive sign.
Sophomore guard Earl Timberlake, freshman Emoni Bates and freshman Jalen Duren have also missed games in recent weeks.
Because of this, freshman Tadarius Jacobs has been on the court the past two games playing significant minutes and Josh Minott, another freshman, started against SMU.
So why are the Tigers struggling and why did Hardaway lie to reporters Thursday?
The injury bug.
Hardaway seems frustrated that members of the media aren’t airing the team’s struggles and the team’s high number of injuries.
“If I had my roster like (SMU), then I feel like I can do whatever I want,” Hardaway continued. “I am training very hard. My children are playing very hard. I’m not ashamed of anything.”
“We have four freshmen starting, everyone needs to act like it. Act like we have 17 and 18 year olds trying to learn how to play against 22, 23 and 24 year olds. Come on man. Stop disrespecting me, brother. Don’t do that. I work too hard.”
Memphis got off to a slow start, missing 11 of 12 shots in the first few minutes and falling to the Mustangs 32-21 at the half. Tyler Harris made 7 of 12 field goal attempts, hit the Tigers’ only 3-pointer of the night and led Memphis with 17 points. The Tigers made 1 of 12 3-point attempts and couldn’t cut the deficit below seven points during the matchup.
The loss to the Mustangs marks the Tigers’ third straight loss and according to the Memphis Trade Appealthe team’s current record (9-8) is the worst record in 17 games since the 2004-05 season.
Despite the record, Hardaway’s is focused on getting healthy.
“We’re sore, man. Our roster is depleted right now of guys that can definitely make a difference and help young guys get through this. Right now, they have to learn as they go. It’s tough.”
The Tigers are scheduled to travel to Tulsa, Okla. this weekend to face the Golden Hurricanes, who haven’t posted a win since Dec. 16. Memphis will try to snap the team’s losing streak with a road win.