Memphis head basketball coach Penny Hardaway was in no mood Thursday night.
On the heels of a 70-62 loss to SMU, the Tigers head coach sat in front of reporters with a bitter taste in his mouth.
“[It was] one of the worst games of the year,” Hardaway said. “I’ve got to stay at the drawing board. Man, just keep fighting. That’s all I can do. That’s all I know.”
Memphis (9-8, 3-4 AAC) has now dropped eight of its last 12 games.
Hardaway seemed just about done with his media availability after his opening remarks– then came the questions.
When asked about whether or not the Memphis native has lost faith in his ability to get the most out of the team, Hardaway came back… well, hard.
“This media gets kind of f–ed up sometimes when it comes to me, (is) we don’t have our full roster,” he said, flinging his hand in the air. “Y’all know we don’t have our full roster. So, stop asking me stupid, f–ing questions about if I feel like I can do something.”
Penny Hardaway’s answer to if he can get the job done at Memphis.
“Stop asking me stupid f***ing questions about if I feel like I can do something. If I had my roster like they did, then I feel like I can do whatever I want to do.” pic.twitter.com/WA79u6Y7bc
— Cassie Carlson (@CassieCarlsonTV) January 21, 2022
The Tigers have been riddled with injuries this season.
Memphis’ leading scorer DeAndre Williams? Out.
Their assist leader Landers Nolley II? Out.
Jayden Hardaway? Also out.
They did get 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 all missed games in recent weeks, too.
Because of this, walk-on freshman Tadarius Jacobs has been on the floor the past two games playing meaningful minutes and Josh Minott, another freshman, got the start vs. SMU.
So, why are the Tigers struggling and why did Hardaway lay into reporters Thursday?
The injury bug.
Hardaway appears frustrated that members of the media aren’t putting the team’s struggles and the team’s vast amount of injuries together.
“If I had my roster like (SMU) did, then I feel like I can do whatever I want to do,” Hardaway continued. “I’m coaching really hard. My boys are playing really hard. I’m not embarrassed about nothing.”
“We have four freshmen starting, y’all need 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 old guys. C’mon man. Stop disrespecting me, bro. Don’t do that. I work way too f–ing hard.”
Memphis had a slow start, missing 11 of 12 shots in the first few minutes, and went down to the Mustangs 32-21 at the half. Tyler Harris made seven of 12 field goal attempts, made the Tigers’ only three-pointer of the night and led Memphis with 17 points. The Tigers made one of 12 three-point attempts and couldn’t cut the deficit to fewer than seven points during the matchup.
The loss against the Mustangs marks the Tigers’ third consecutive loss and according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the 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 hurt, man. Our roster is depleted right now of guys that can definitely make a difference and help the young guys get through this. Right now, they’re having to learn on the fly. It’s hard.”
The Tigers are slated to travel to Tulsa, Okla. this weekend to face the Golden Hurricanes, who haven’t recorded a win since Dec. 16. Memphis will attempt to snap the team’s losing streak with a win on the road.