Things can get out of hand in the heat of the moment, especially in sports. But for Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway, things stayed out of hand in the days and weeks that followed the 2018 Tennessee-Memphis matchup.
After Rick Barnes voiced his frustration on Hardaway’s Memphis Tigers flopping last year, Hardaway responded with a tirade of a press conference, which included him calling Barnes “low class” and finishing with a “Rick Barnes, get the f*** outta here.”
Before today’s rematch, Hardaway and Barnes could be seen chatting at mid-court. After Hardaway’s Tiger’s beat Tennessee 51-47, Penny admitted that he had some regrets about how last year played out.
Penny: Some of the things I said last year, they make me cringe now. That’ll never happen again. Coach Barnes and I talked about it a little bit today.— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) December 14, 2019
Penny: I would love to keep this rivalry going. This rivalry needs to stay. I shouldn’t have said what I said last year. I take responsibility for that. We need to keep playing these guys.— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) December 14, 2019
Rivalry aside, good for Penny for admitting that. Last year’s drama was ridiculous, one-sided, and quite honestly immature. Even that seems clear now to Hardaway.
Hopefully this is the beginning of another renewal for this series. This game needs to be played every season. You saw why today. You saw how much it meant to both sides.
Tennessee and Memphis will meet again next season in Nashville, but things are up in the air from there. Rick Barnes said a few weeks ago that he didn’t see the series continuing, but Hardaway expressed his desire to keep it going once again today.
Maybe putting 2018 behind them will allow a new deal to get done.