On Friday night, the FedEx Forum was packed 18,000 strong with Memphis Tiger fans sporting their blue and gray gear. For a moment, the fans didn’t want to sit down. Josh Pastner was happy with the crowd and he simply loves Tiger Nation. The newcomers Michael Dixon and Austin Nichols are excited how their season kicked off with a celebration and gave the fans a glimpse of what to expect this upcoming season.
Around this time last year, Michael Dixon was suspended the first six games of the season and eventually parted ways with Missouri due to two sexual assault accusations being made against him. His family and friends were in attendance to catch all of the action. Dixon was overwhelmed with how the fans greeted him.
“It was awesome man, just being in front of 18,000,” said Dixon. “Having my family and friends here and being able to start another year is just a blessing. I was happy and excited. I had a good time.”
Going into this season, the expectations are high and the fans are expecting a deep run in next year’s NCAA Tournament. Dixon feels that the team can achieve a lot.
“Like I tell everybody, this team doesn’t have a ceiling really,” said Dixon. “I think we can go as far as me, Joe, Geron and David Pellom who are all seniors can take us. I just think that we are a senior labeled team with a lot of freshmen and a lot of good young guys. It could be really special.”
Another newcomer, freshman forward Austin Nichols was given a nice ovation from the crowd when he came out. All of a sudden, he started dancing and he has a name for it.
“It was a lot of mixed dances, mostly the ‘Dougie’,” said Nichols. “You know I have moves, I can do the ‘Dougie’ but hey I just felt like going out there and being goofy.
“When people asked me what I was doing for tonight earlier in the week, I said it was a surprise. I think that was a pretty good surprise.”
During Memphis Madness, there was a dunk contest and scrimmage. Sophomore forward Shaw Goodwin won the dunk contest against Damien Wilson. In the scrimmage, what stood out was the fact that Nichols was in the right place at the right time for a rebound.
“I was in the right place at the right time. Trying to run the floor a little bit,” Nichols said. Playing against each other running full speed, not trying to hurt each other or nothing. “It was a great experience to play in front of the home crowd.”