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7/17/2007 11:38:00 AM
Blog Q&A With ... Memphis' Joey Dorsey
Memphis' Joey Dorsey grabbed 9.4 rebounds last year, but says this season he'll average 15.
For the latest edition of the Blog Q&A series, I chatted with Memphis' Joey Dorsey, who was one of 14 players to pass the first cut in USA Basketball's Pan American Games trials last week in Haverford, Pa. The 6-foot-9, 260-pound power forward left a strong impression on the U.S. team's selection committee, playing the role of beastly rebounder and looking like a potential starter alongside Georgetown's Roy Hibbert in the post. Dorsey, who averaged 8.5 points and 9.4 rebounds for the Tigers last season, was also one of the more outwardly goofy players in the camp. During the final seconds of a scrimmage on the day before we spoke, he begged one of the camp's photographers to shoot flashbulbs at Duke's Jon Scheyer while he was on the free-throw line, in hopes of distracting him so Dorsey's white team would pull out a victory. The following is an edited transcript of our conversation.
Luke Winn: You grew up in West Baltimore; do you still connect, or look up to, any basketball greats from back home?
Joey Dorsey: I'm actually really close with Carmelo. We talk a lot, and work out together a lot. Rudy [Gay] is down in Memphis, and me and Rudy are real close. I stayed with him before he went out to Vegas [for the NBA Summer League]. It's mostly those two; I knew Carmelo back when he transferred from Towson Catholic to Oak Hill, and I ended up wearing his number  my freshman year at Memphis.
LW: But you've changed it since. Why?
JD: People said I put a lot of pressure on myself by having Melo's number going into college, and I didn't have very good first year. So I switched to 32, Amare Stoudemire's number, and I think I played pretty well doing that. But I'm changing it again for this season, to 3.
LW: And who's that one for?
JD: Coach Cal [John Calipari] wants me to be Ben Wallace so bad, that I thought I might as well just go and be Ben Wallace. I gave in. Both coach Cal and Larry Brown -- he came down for a coaches' clinic -- kept saying, ‘Just be Ben Wallace. Get every rebound and dunk everything.’ So that's what I'm going to try to do.
LW: Are you cool with the Wallace comparisons?
JD: Yeah, I'm cool with it. He's a great player, and I have a big body, I'm real athletic, and one of the strongest guys in college, so the Wallace stuff stuck on me. I've even got the braids, and I'm ready to let the bush out, so it's going to be crazy.
LW: You're going to pick out the Wallace 'fro for games?
JD: Oh yeah. I think they're ready to come out with a bobblehead doll at Memphis with the number 3 on it and my afro. I told the fans I'd wear my bush out this year for them.
LW: You also changed your first name -- from Richard to Joey -- your freshman season at Memphis. Can you explain why?
JD: I was at Laurinburg [Prep, in North Carolina], and they were calling me Richard. But I got the name Joey from mom when I was really young. I jumped around a lot as a kid -- I was real energetic and hyper, and she was like, 'I'm going to name you Joey, like a baby kangaroo,' and it stuck from there. So when I got to Memphis I told the announcer to call me Joey from now on. I didn't like hearing 'Richard Dorsey.' It just didn't sound good.
LW: The jumping around, high-energy rebounding thing is your M.O. at Memphis. How closely do you pay attention to your personal rebounding stats?
JD: I always pay attention. That was one of my biggest things coming into last year -- I wanted to be top five [nationally] in rebounding. I'd always think of things like, how in the game against Tennessee I had about 15 rebounds in the first half, and then fouled out with just 15 rebounds. I was so upset about that, because I knew I could have got 25 rebounds that game.
LW: And what's the goal for this year?
JD: I want to lead the country in rebounding with 15 rebounds a game.
LW: You issued a pretty strong challenge to Greg Oden in the Elite Eight last year, saying you were Goliath, he was David; you were underrated, he was overrated, and then the game didn't turn out very well. How much is that still on your mind?
JD: I've heard so much about that Ohio State game this year. I let my teammates down; I apologized to them after that, because my mind was somewhere else. I was going through a lot of family problems right before that game started. But things happen, and that's why I came back this year. I wasn't going to leave on a note like that.
LW: Did the family problems lead you to say the stuff about Oden, too?
JD: No, not that part. I was just trying to hype it up. I wanted it to be a big matchup, because I'm a great rebounder and he's a great player. It's the same thing as when me and Roy [Hibbert] are going to play each other down in Memphis; people are going to try to hype that up, too.
LW: If you come into another game like that, would you hype it up in the same way? Call an Oden-caliber guy overrated?
JD: No way. Nooo way. The next time I go up against a big guy like that, I'm going to let the giant sleep.
LW: Is that your call or coach Cal's demand?
JD: Coach Cal said you learn from your mistakes. Let 'em sleep.
LW: You have a big-time freshman of your own, Chicago point guard Derrick Rose, coming in this season. I'm assuming you've had a chance to play with him a little bit; what were your impressions?
JD: The first day Derrick got there we played pickup, and me, him, CD-R [Chris Douglas-Roberts], [Robert] Dozier, and Antonio [Anderson] were on the same team, just like a starting five. Rose was amazing. Amazing. I didn't know the kid was that quick -- the first time we threw the ball in, he was down the court in three dribbles. He sees the floor very well and gets all his players involved. He just knows where everybody's at; I'm going to love playing with him because he likes to run, too.
I know he's going to throw me a couple of lobs, and I'll throw him some too. I threw him one coming down on the break, it was back-and-forth, pass, pass and I threw it up to him, without knowing how high he could jump. The kid is athletic. We have to find minutes for him, because I guarantee he's a one-and-done player. He's that good. I'm going to enjoy playing with Derrick Rose this year.
LW: Those old Laurinburg guys -- Anderson, Dozier and Kareem Cooper; do you live with any of them at Memphis?
JD: We actually have a house -- 11 bedrooms, all basketball players, so mostly everybody stays there.
LW: How did you find that place?
JD: It's an on-campus thing; Coach Cal did it. It's almost like a mansion. You can get lost in there. It's decked out, too; the living room's got 42-inch flat screens where we can watch game tapes, or review player personnel. Or we can go upstairs where there's a theater, and just watch movies.
LW: Are you a fan of the HBO show The Wire, seeing that it's set in your hometown?
JD: Oh yeah, I watch it. That's right around in my neighborhood. West Baltimore. And all that stuff in actually happens back home. It's so bad that I stay in Memphis a lot. I go back home for probably three days to see a couple of my friends there, and then I'm out.
LW: And the slang in The Wire is accurate, too?
JD: They sound just like us. Like, how they say the number "two," or I’m going "too." We say it different in Baltimore, like "tue."
LW: Any scenes filmed on blocks where you once lived?
JD: Yup, there was one when Omar came up to the projects. He was like, 'Throw the bag out the window!' and they dropped it to him. That was my neighborhood. We used to stay in the apartments probably a block away from there.
LW: I remember that. One of Omar's dealer-robbery binges.
JD: Right. He was collecting everything. Robbing them with a shotgun.