SAN ANTONIO Before tip-off, Joey Dorsey was on the big screen inside the Alamodome with a videotaped announcement: "There's a new powerhouse in college basketball."
He and the Memphis Tigers sure backed it up.
Unlike a year ago in this building, when his smack talk about Greg Oden backfired, Memphis' burly big man did a great job hunkering down the middle in Memphis' 78-63 victory over UCLA in the national semifinal Saturday night.
Dorsey was in the middle of everything all game, providing the big rebound, screen or blocked shot, even mixing in a few assists, all while helping slow Bruins freshman star Kevin Love. He managed to dominate without scoring a single point.
"I'm mad at myself for not scoring," said Dorsey, whose 0-for-3 included an alley-oop oops and a dunk blocked by Love. "All my teammates are telling me, 'You don't have to worry about scoring. Do what you do right there, get 15 rebounds per game, and we're going to win.' So I'm happy about my performance."
Now the 24-year-old senior gets to end his up-and-down career in style playing for the national championship Monday night against Kansas.
You can almost already hear him saying: "Bring it on."
"All year long, he's been intimidating teams," fellow forward Shawn Taggart said. "He's a monster. Without him, we really don't go."
In 27 minutes, Dorsey had 15 rebounds six on the offensive end with two blocks, two assists and a steal. Perhaps most importantly, he had only three fouls, which let him stay on the court to help frustrate Love.
Banging mercilessly with his 6-foot-9, 265-pound frame and Ben Wallace-esque playing style, Dorsey wore the kid out. Love scored only two of his 12 points in the second half.
"You could tell he was tired out there," Dorsey said. "My teammates came to me and were like, 'Joey, run down the court ... because he's not running back."'
All tournament, coach John Calipari has given Dorsey the homework assignment of writing out his dream scenario for every game. The one he penned for this game was titled "No Love for UCLA." He wrote that Love had 10 points and 10 rebounds; 12 and nine is darn close.
Dorsey's performance was the perfect make-up for what he did last year in the regional finals against Ohio State. A day after saying Oden was overrated, Dorsey had four fouls, three rebounds and zero points, while Oden scored 17 and was the difference-maker in the Buckeyes' victory.
On Friday, Dorsey told former NBA and college coach Larry Brown that he was going to redeem himself.
"He said, 'It's not a chance for you to redeem yourself. Just go out there and play and have fun. ... Just go out and play harder than him,"' Dorsey said.
Mission accomplished, right? Wrong.
"It's not wiped out yet, because our first game at the Alamodome last year we won," Dorsey said. "So we've got one more game to go."
Knowing the Oden thing was still bothering him, why did Dorsey tape the pregame message?
"They got me with that!" he said. "I didn't know they were going to show that before the game. That could've given them some momentum right there."
Well, UCLA did score the first five points, and was up 10-6. Then Memphis answered with an 11-2 run that featured a 3-pointer and a dunk by Antonio Anderson, flying layups by Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts, plus a pair of free throws by Douglas-Roberts.
Dorsey? He was all over it, too.
His rebound led to Anderson's 3. After Memphis went up 13-12, Dorsey preserved it by blocking a layup by Love, leading to Douglas-Roberts' layup. Then Dorsey got another defensive rebound and threw the outlet pass that set up Anderson's huge dunk, which brought the crowd to its feet and let UCLA know these guys from Conference USA were as athletic and talented as everyone said they were.
Late in the second half, with Memphis up 61-52, Love blocked just the third shot Dorsey tried. It could've helped build some momentum for the Bruins. Instead, Dorsey back came down the court and threw his 6-foot-9, 265-pound body into the path of a shot by Russell Westbrook, a swat so well-timed that Tigers fans began chanting "Joey! Joey!" when he came back to the offensive end. All he did was grab another rebound, leading to another basket for Rose.
"When I missed that dunk, I ran down the court so fast," Dorsey said. "Coach says every possession counts, so I couldn't miss that dunk and let Westbrook lay that ball up. I had to go down and block it."
The Tigers' mascot came out before the game wearing a T-shirt that read, "Joey Dorsey for Mayor." There's even a billboard in Memphis that says "Joey for mayor."
"I haven't seen it yet," he said, smiling. "Maybe I should when I come back to Memphis."
Thanks to him, that won't be before Tuesday.