DeSoto County Hoops to Feature Plenty of Hustle
DeSoto County parents and kids may always remember their first hockey game, concert, circus or rodeo at the Landers Center in Southaven, but suddenly there’s a new form of entertainment coming to town.
In conjunction with the National Basketball Association’s Memphis Grizzlies, the Memphis Hustle will be playing their first season in the newly renamed G League (the G stands for Gatorade).
Twenty-three of the team’s 24 games are scheduled at the Landers Center, with the November 24 contest against Salt Lake City to be played at FedExForum, home of the Grizzlies in Downtown Memphis.
“We couldn’t be more excited,” said Executive Vice President of Business Operations John Walker. “As neighbors, we see all the great things that are happening in DeSoto County. When the idea for launching a franchise in the area was being talked about, about a year ago, we certainly wanted to look at Landers as a potential place to play, so we could expand our fan base into Northern Mississippi and provide some family-friendly entertainment and some high-quality basketball to the folks in DeSoto County.”
The Hustle’s first home game is Nov. 4 versus Sioux Falls, a Western Conference Midwest Division foe, which also includes Iowa and Oklahoma City. The season runs through late March.
“It is gaining momentum every day,” Landers Center Executive Director Todd Mastry said. “The accessibility, I think, is the biggest thing. It’s a very intimate setting to watch basketball.”
For kids, pregame and postgame memories will be made, according to Walker.
“Fans are going to be able to get up close and personal with the players,” he said. “I’ve been to a couple of G League games, and there’s a lot of interaction between the players and the fans – autographs, handshakes, selfies. There’s an awful lot of mingling that goes on, and I think fans will find that really fun.”
The organization, Walker says, is also going to be very community-minded, such as the carrying forward the NBA’s Read to Achieve program, a “year-round campaign to help young people develop a life-long love for reading and encourage adults to read regularly to children.”
“That will very much be a part of the fabric of the Hustle,” he said. “Folks down there in DeSoto County should expect to see the Hustle players and coaches out and about.”
Another aspect sure to delight the masses on game nights is affordability.
“Group rates start as low as $5,” said Walker. “You can come out with your junior league team, or your church, school or company. We’re going to be putting together some promotional nights, where families can get in for $20-25, so we think it’s something that will be a big hit. So far, the reception has been real good.”
The Hustle will be coached by Glynn Cyprien, a former assistant at the University of Memphis.
Said Mastry: “We’re really excited about the opportunity to host the Hustle and to watch these players grow, and graduate them to the FedExForum playing with the Grizzlies.”
Chris Van Tuyl is a DeSoto County resident and former newspaper journalist who enjoys the company of his wife and pets, and watching sports.
2017-18 Memphis Hustle home schedule
4 — SIOUX FALLS, 7 p.m. 5 — SALT LAKE CITY, 5 p.m. 10 — RIO GRANDE VALLEY, 7 p.m. 17 — IOWA, 7 p.m. 24 — SALT LAKE CITY*, 7 p.m. 25 — ERIE, 7 p.m.
2 — DELAWARE, noon 9 — GREENSBORO, 3 p.m. 10 — OKLAHOMA CITY, 4 p.m. 13 — IOWA, 7 p.m. 22 — AUSTIN, 7 p.m. 31 — NORTHERN ARIZONA, 1 p.m.
2 — RENO, 7 p.m. 4 — OKLAHOMA CITY, 7 p.m. 27 — FORT WAYNE, 7 p.m. 29 — TEXAS, 10:30 a.m. 31 — RIO GRANDE VALLEY, 7 p.m.
9 — AGUA CALIENTE, 7 p.m. 21 — NORTHERN ARIZONA, 7 p.m. 24 — RENO, noon
10 — SANTA CRUZ, noon 14 — SIOUX FALLS, 7 p.m. 20 — AUSTIN, 7 p.m. 23 — SOUTH BAY, 7 p.m.
* — played at FedExForum in Memphis