If Dixon plays, Memphis a contender

Michael Dixon, now at Memphis, averaged 13.5 points and 3.3 assists for Missouri in 2011-12. AP Photo/Michael Thomas

The Memphis Tigers should be a completely different team this season. No, not because Adonis Thomas left early after failing to live up to the hype or because Tarik Black, another underachiever of sorts, transferred to Kansas.

Coach Josh Pastner knows it. Everyone around the Tigers program realizes this could be a special season despite stepping up to the American Athletic Conference. Guards Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford and Geron Johnson are all seniors, incoming freshman Austin Nichols gives the team a different dimension and Shaq Goodwin has a chance to become a double-double guy in the middle.

But all Pastner can do is sit, wait and hope because the key to Memphis’ season remains in limbo. He didn’t play a single minute in 2012-13 after being suspended from his previous school following a pair of sexual assault accusations (no charges were filed in either instance).

Michael Dixon was supposed to team with Phil Pressey last season to form the nation’s most feared backcourt. The 6-foot-1 Dixon had thrived in his role as Missouri’s sixth man the previous season, averaging 13.5 points and 3.3 assists in 27 minutes a contest.