Former Knick Penny Hardaway is struggling through a three-game losing streak, just like the current Knicks team, as head coach of the Memphis Tigers.
On Thursday night, after Memphis dropped a 70-62 game at home to SMU, Hardaway’s frustrations showed, but not with his team’s performance on the court, rather the questions he was facing once he left the hardwood.
Speaking at Thursday’s postgame press conference, Hardaway responded to a reporter’s question regarding his belief that he can still get the job done as the program’s head coach, immediately going into a tirade about how the media has covered his job as head coach this season.
“I think the one thing I could say to this media, because this media gets kind of f--ed up sometimes when it comes to me, we don’t have our full roster,” Hardaway said. “You know don’t have our full roster. 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.”
Hardaway’s tenure as head coach began with playful interviews with reporters, saying the Memphis program “wanted all the smoke” and wanted to have championship expectations, and even said back in 2019 that he saw his program competing with the Dukes and Kentuckys of the world for a national title. But the Tigers, who opened up at No. 12 in the preseason AP poll, are now just 9-8 on the year and have lost eight of 12.
Memphis has indeed battled injuries and COVID-19 issues over the past month, and started three freshmen and a sophomore transfer on Thursday night. But it is still tough for Tigers fans to swallow after nabbing two top recruits following an NIT title last season. But Hardaway made sure it was known that he believes his program’s struggles are nothing more than current circumstances.
“I’m coaching really hard, my boys are playing really hard, I’m not embarrassed about nothing,” Hardaway said. “We have four freshmen starting. Y’all need to act like it. Act like we’ve got 17, 18, 19-year-olds trying to learn how to play against 22, 23, 24-year-old guys. Come on man.
“Stop disrespecting me, bro. Don’t do that. I work too f---ing hard. I work way too hard for that. Y’all write all these f---ing articles about me, and all I do is work. We’ve got young kids on the floor.”
Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1