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November 8, 2013

Surgery on Pellom's Knee to Cause Tigers Some Shuffling

The U of M Athletic Department broke the news Thursday afternoon that Memphis Tigers senior forward David Pellom is expected to miss the next five weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

Pellom transferred to the team in the spring after graduating from George Washington and was able to play immediately after missing all of last season with a wrist injury. During his junior season in 2011-12, he averaged 10.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, while racking up a string of double-doubles in Atlantic 10 play.

The injury to Pellom will force head coach Josh Pastner to make some personnel moves in his absence. Freshmen Kuran Iverson and Nick King both are expected to play bigger roles on the wing than inside, but the injury to Pellom makes it likely that both will see minutes at the forward position.

King and Iverson both played forward in high school, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem when they do play at the spot. The biggest impact will likely come with sophomore Shaq Goodwin and freshmen Austin Nichols and Dominic Woodson.

Goodwin and Nichols are expected to be starters, but Nichols would have rotated out much more with Pellom. Nichols is already looking at an increased role and the Tigers haven't even played their first exhibition game against Christian Brothers yet, which happens tonight at the FedEx Forum. Austin looked great on offense versus Baylor in closed scrimmages but still needs to play stronger and tougher with the ball.

Goodwin has been the Tigers' most consistent player--you read that right, not just post player but most consistent Tiger--throughout fall practice and was a no-brainer for the starting line-up. In the weekend scrimmages versus Baylor, it was the absence of Goodwin which most contributed to the Tiger losses.

Pellom's absence will likely have the largest impact on the minutes of Woodson. The space-eater is the only other true big man behind Goodwin and Nichols, so Woodson will have to be ready to step up. Woodson did not meet Pastner's weight expectations coming into camp but was forced into action over the weekend due to Goodwin's injury and the unavailability of King.

Once Pellom returns, expect Woodson's minutes to dry up.

The news of Pellom's surgery isn't ideal with the season starting in a week, but Pastner offered reassurance in a statement saying that the surgery on Pellom was minor and he would be back soon. In the meantime, Memphis has to adjust on the fly with the season opener set for next Thursday, Nov. 14, against Austin Peay and this year's preseason tournament, the Old Spice Classic, starting on Nov. 28.

The Tigers also travel to Stillwater, OK to take on Oklahoma State in a non-bracketed game on Nov. 19 as a part of the Old Spice Classic. There, the Tiger guards, led by the self-titled "Three Kings" (Chris Crawford, Joe Jackson and Geron Johnson) will be sorely tested by national Player of the Year candidate Marcus Smart.


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